'Artistry and Community': Hobbit Night at Asbury

WILMORE, Ky. — The bare feet gave them away.

Hundreds of Asbury University students gathered over the weekend to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s literature, including dozens of die-hard fans in hobbit costumes of shin-length pants, cloaks, suspenders and — a mark of commitment on a chilly, rainy evening — bare feet.

Hobbit Night, a project for one of the Communication classes at Asbury, included remarks from Trustees Hall Resident Director Quinn Gervel and Professor Joshua Overbay, as well as a reception with refreshments, a Middle Earth-themed photo booth and crafts.

Asbury students offered live entertainment before the presentations.
Asbury students offered live entertainment before the presentations.

For many students, the evening was a well-timed study break before this week’s final exams. Before the presentation, students from the Music Departments entertained the audience with toe-tapping fiddle tunes, and Media Communication majors created a video that combined artistic imagery inspired by Tolkien’s work with a song featured on the trailer for the upcoming film release of “The Hobbit.”

“The video of Asbury students singing as drawings of ‘The Hobbit’ moved across the screen was the best part of the evening,” said senior Jarrod Ingles, a fan of Tolkien’s work since middle school. “It emphasized both the artistry of Tolkien's work and the feeling of community that his created world inspires in his fans.”

Ingles was first introduced to “The Hobbit” almost by accident — though as Asbury Professor Devin Brown commented in his book, “The Christian World of The Hobbit,” coincidences concerning Middle Earth are more likely considered Providence.

“I first became a fan of Tolkien's word in the sixth grade,” Ingles said. “As my family prepared for a Christmas trip to visit my father's family, I forgot to pack a book until the last moment, so I ran into the house and grabbed a random book off my bookshelf. The book I grabbed was ‘The Hobbit,’ and since that car ride, Middle Earth has been my second home.

“I am excited to see how the movie handles all the adventures of the White Council. For this movie, I am excited to see Gandalf retrieve the map and key from Thorin's father, who is trapped in the dungeons of the Necromancer.”

Quinn Gervel spoke on journeys from a Middle Earth point of view.
Quinn Gervel spoke on journeys from a Middle Earth point of view.

Both “The Hobbit” and Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” feature stories that have captivated millions of readers both intellectually and emotionally.

“The interest I have isn’t the obsessed infatuation that many people have, but rather an intrigue in Tolkien’s perspective, the power behind what he was able to create, and how he was able to create it,” said Gervel. “Out of his own worldview, his ‘sub-creation — his terminology — of Middle-earth is an interesting and complex work of art that, I believe, touches upon an inherent universal longing shared by all of humanity. The response to this is evident because ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ continues to draw countless readers. I did a paper on Tolkien and spiritual formation in grad school, and that served as a natural springboard for my doctoral studies.”

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