Tolkien and T-Shirts

What could J.R.R. Tolkien, the legendary author of The Lord of the Rings, have to do with making custom T-shirt?  He definitely wasn’t involved in the practice himself; in fact, it’s hard to imagine the Oxford professor dressed in anything as casual or modern as a decorated T-shirt.  Those who have read his books are more likely to picture him in a traveler’s cloak or perhaps a suit of armor.  But the outlook that guided Tolkien’s thinking can be applied to all forms of creativity—even T-shirts.

To Tolkien, creativity was a natural result of humanity’s origin and purpose as recorded in Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his own image.”  Although the full meaning of that statement has been the subject of theological musings for millennia, Tolkien believed that at least a part of being made in the image of God is manifest in humans’ capability to be what he called “sub-creators.”  Because God is a Creator and we are made in His image, we are also naturally creative.  In Tolkien’s own life, that creativity took the form of an entire literary world, one which is so deep and complex that both professional and amateur nerds alike find it hard to fully grasp it all.  He invented entire languages as well as detailed histories of families, races, and even geographical features of his world.  He took his craft very seriously.

We at Uth Stuph feel the same drive to treat our part in human creativity with the respect and attention it deserves.  Creating custom T-shirts isn’t just about filling orders to us; it’s also part of a divine calling that we possess because we are image-bearers and sub-creators.  We are making something new for each and every customer we get to serve, and when we do that with excellence, we reflect the nature of the one who made us.

Some of our customers might find themselves allied with Tolkien’s idea that the Christian worldview as it exists in the arts is best portrayed in a more general, subtle way.  You won’t find allegory or explicit theology in the tales of Elves or Hobbits (despite the awesome Mordor Missions t-shirts we created). Similarly, not every shirt that we produce for your summer retreat or youth group has to have a giant cross slapped on the front.  Because we glorify God when we pursue good sub-creation, we believe that as long as something is done well, it helps to proclaim the grandeur of God in His creation through His sub-creators.

Mordor Missions

On the other hand, you might find yourself more in line with Tolkien’s dear friend and fellow writer C.S. Lewis, a man who made his mythological world of Narnia an obvious allegory to represent the Christian faith.  His delightful stories are jam-packed with demonstrations of what God has done for us as well as helpful lessons for the Christian life.  Your shirts can be that way, too; you can include a Bible verse, Christian symbol, or statement of faith to clearly display to those who see you that you belong to the people of God.

No matter what kind of design you choose to have on your shirts, our biggest concern at Uth Stuph is making your idea or message look as great as it possibly can.  We count ourselves fortunate to help you create something which gives glory to our Creator.  To get started on a new project, click here to get a quote or us a call at 1-800-242-9166.  We look forward to the privilege of serving you!

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