Jan 10, 4:26pm
This has been an ongoing debate in many circles ever since Tolkien's writings were published.
It can be a difference in worldview
Personally, I think it's often just a way people see the world. Those who do not need much imagination, and/or a sense of the transcendent to operate in the world do not understand people who do, because they have never deeply experienced things of that nature, and they are still doing fine. But those of us who do would find the absence of such things a lot like losing an arm--or a lung for some of us.
Thinking beyond what the material and practical world offers us I think completes reality. Think of it as a color spectrum: birds can see more colors in the spectrum than we can. If they couldn't experience those colors, they could still see, but something real and important would be missing, especially since by nature they are designed to used and experience those colors. Like the birds, those of us who enjoy fantasy aren't just escaping, but are seeing the world in different ways, which shows us possibilities in the real world that we might not have thought of otherwise.
It also gives us a way to experience beauty and the best qualities in people, as well as encounter evil and the worst qualities in people in a way that can't be easily explored in the real world. But those things do exist in reality, so to see them in a different light in a fantasy book helps us to understand their true nature, and better ways to think and deal with it in our day-to-day lives. And Tolkien's ideas can inspire us in the real world to be better people, and relate to each other more bravely and kindly.
Also, one thing that people don't always realize is that while the Hobbit is a children's book, LOTR is not. It's intended for adults.The themes in it about loyalty and courage and sacrifice; the importance of beauty and freedom, and understanding between races; and even things about military strategy are all very grown up. Much of LOTR is beyond the understanding of children, although it can certainly be enjoyed by older children. But they miss a lot. I certainly did. I tried it at age 11 and had to give up. By age 12, I got more. As an adult, I really started to grasp the deeper themes.
(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on Jan 10, 4:26pm)