Not a Tolkien quote: Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation

Screenshot: Finding God in the Lord of the Rings (c), Burner, Ware
Screenshot: Finding God in the Lord of the Rings (c), Burner, Ware

Although I am quite happy to write additional installments of my series Things J.R.R. Tolkien has never said, done, written or had anything to do with I think I will have to write another post called ‘Why any decent Tolkien fan should not become a member with Goodreads or end his/her membership as soon as possible.’ Why? Because of the massive influence Goodreads has and its unwillingness to correct mistakes in their quotes’ database people are spreading nonsense like wildfire. I love Tolkien quotes and this isn’t one.

Screenshot: Finding God in the Lord of the Rings (c), Burner, Ware
Screenshot: Finding God in the Lord of the Rings (c), Bruner, Ware

This is a rather easy thing to find out about. Yes, with Goodreads this is a misattributed Tolkien quote but if you simply enter that particular line with Google Books you will very quickly find page 40 of Kurt Bruner’s and Jim Ware’s book from 2006, Finding God in the Lord of the Rings. The full quote is as follows:

The most renowned true story reflecting this reality is that of a boy named David. A young shepherd with no military experience, David volunteered to confront Goliath, the mighty giant of Gath. All of Saul’s men, including David’s older brothers, had refused the call to fight Goliath. But David knew that his life was about more than his own personal safety, and that sometimes the smallest and least likely are called to do more than any expect they can do. And so he raised his hand when others wouldn’t, gathered five smooth stones, and confronted the enemy of good. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

It is the invitation to water the seed of courage found deep within your heart. It inspires the passionless dulled by comfort and ease to resist the urge to place personal safety and preservation above the call to adventure, and instead, to become a hero.

Reflection: We were made to be heroic.

Now, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you consider such titles relevant, important or helpful but a line like this in any of Tolkien’s creative works, starting off with ‘Living by faith …’ would simply not work. For many obvious reasons a serious Tolkien reader knows. And even though these paragraphs sound like taken from a movie script – at least with some lines – I’d like to make clear this particular line has been taken out of the book Finding God in the Lord of the Rings by Bruner/ Ware and then misattributed to Tolkien. It is not a Tolkien quote.

If you are logged in with you will also be able to browse through the book and find the line.

Please, do yourself a favour: Don’t use Goodreads. Just don’t. And don’t believe in any website posting “Tolkien quotes” en masse. No, not even the publishers do things right, I am sorry to say.

Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of, a specialist blog centering on worldwide Tolkien fandom, geekdom and research. He works as a freelance translator, journalist and writer and is the founder of the German Tolkien Society as well as a co-founder to RingCon, Europe's formerly biggest fantasy film convention. You can find him in cafés all over the world sipping an espresso blogging, writing, reading. At one point he was married to an extremely lovely French lady by the nickname of Sauron. Yes, that Sauron. He is also active with the International Tolkien Fellowship on Facebook and the Tolkien Folk on Instagram.