Jokien with Tolkien in 2023
Reviewing the year's most popular and favorite newsletters
Here we are: at the end of 2023 and in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The week where time doesn’t mean anything, where we’re unsure about what day it actually is, and when every day feels like one of the greatest stills in cinematic history:
As 2023 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to look back on the milestones, most popular posts, and other favorite posts from Jokien with Tolkien in 2023.
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In 2023, Jokien with Tolkien:
launched a Discord channel (join us here!)
passed 5,000 Subscribers!
was chosen as a 2023 Substack Featured Publication
launched some official merch
None of this would have been possible without you who are reading this newsletter. Thank you! Thank you for reading, for your feedback and comments and input, for sharing, and for all your support. I love writing this newsletter and love that there’s folks out there who love reading it.
So what were the posts that you all loved the most? Here they are:
Nota bene: Substack is warning me that this post is “too long for email.” If it cuts off at some point, just open it in the app or online or click “view entire message” and that should take care of it!
Top 10 Most Popular Jokien with Tolkien Posts of 2023
The most popular post I sent out this year was also my most personal. At the beginning of 2023 my youngest brother died. I wrote this newsletter a few months later and shared some thoughts on Tolkien’s depiction of grief and loss in The Return of the King and how these truths about loss and healing might help and encourage us today.
I mashed up several Christmas carols (including “The 12 Days of Christmas”) with The Lord of the Rings in this recent newsletter.
Elrond’s story is one of hope amidst and in spite of profound loss. In this newsletter I reflected on Rivendell and what it (and Elrond himself) have to teach us about perseverance and hope.
This is my second year doing a LOTR-themed gift guide and I think it may become an annual tradition! Be sure to check it out if you got some cash or gift cards for Christmas and you’re looking for ways to use them!
This year I did three short humorous skits between Tolkien and Lewis and all three ended up on this list! In this one—which was the first—I juxtaposed the two authors’ approaches to worldbuilding and fantasy.
My most recent newsletter imagined the chaotic, ridiculous scene at the manger if a few characters from Middle-earth had showed up to pay homage to the Baby Jesus.
Similar to the previous post, this one involved a wanderer who most certainly was lost. But instead of ending up in Bethlehem, Gandalf here ends up in Narnia.
Lewis asks Tolkien the (seemingly) straightforward question of which towers are THE Two Towers and is flummoxed by the answer.
A humorous post about the many, many endings of The Return of the King.
Tolkien played a crucial role in C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. Here I imagine the follow-up conversation they may have had when Tolkien learned Lewis was not going to become Catholic like he was.
Other Favorite Posts of 2023
While they didn’t make the top ten posts, the following were nevertheless some of my favorite posts that I sent out this year:
What Easter Has To Do With Fairy-Stories — Here I explored Tolkien’s concept of “eucatastrophe” and how it links fairy-stories and Easter
The Good, the Bad, and the Funny Fellowship — a reader asked who I thought would make good additions to the Fellowship from other works of literature and who I thought would make poor choices. I had a lot of fun with this one and love that it led to this picture:
Jesus and the Halfling —Jesus has a humorous conversation with Pippin
Middle-earth Returns to the Multiplex this was my response to the news that Warner Bros. will be making new The Lord of the Rings movies and some stories and ideas I’d love to see make it into those films
Guest Posts of 2023
This year we had some wonderful guest posts and I wanted to wrap up this post by highlighting them once again.
- wrote about the meaning of Gandalf saying he was a “servant of the secret fire”
- explored Tolkien’s concept of the “cauldron of story”
- (or TeaWithTolkien as you might know her) shared an Advent reflection about the Star of Eärendil as a Sign of Hope
That’s all for this week’s Jokien with Tolkien newsletter and for 2023 too! Namárië: farewell, friends. Go towards goodness! Happy New Year!
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