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3 Day Journey

Interchanging Melodies Online Summit will be held over three days where each day will begin with an interview with a noted Tolkien aficianado and continue with talks from other Tolkien experts

10 Tolkien Experts

Everyone will have access to lectures and interviews from 10 notable Tolkien scholars that you can watch live or at your own pace

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Online Community

We will host online spaces where you can nerd out with other Tolkienists, ask speakers questions, and discover where you can interact with the featured Tolkien scholars' ongoing work

The Summit's Vision

Interchanging Melodies aims to bring together diverse (a)religious voices to dialogue, lecture, and reflect on Tolkien's theology, his religious outlook, and (a)religious engagement with Tolkien from scholars and fans. The featured speakers will engage with topics from Tolkien from atheist/agnostic/animist perspectives to Tolkien and spiritual direction.You will have access to pre-recorded and live talks and interviews with Tolkien aficianados, where you can engage with them, ask the big questions about Tolkien, and incorporate these engagements into your own Tolkien experience.

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Tolkien Experts

Alan Sisto

Tolkien & Faith

Alan has been reading Tolkien for over 40 years, which is astounding, as he's only 39. Or something like that. An all-around Tolkien nerd, Alan can be found enjoying Tolkien’s lesser-known works — “Leaf by Niggle” is his favorite — just as often as he gets lost in First Age histories and Third Age adventures. If Alan could live anywhere in Middle-earth, it would be the Shire — in a quiet, and hopefully luxurious, hobbit hole in the hillside with both well-stocked libraries and pantries. He notes that his current location of Southern California is decidedly not the Shire.

Alan spends much of his time producing The Prancing Pony Podcast, Today's Tolkien Times, and The Rings of Power Wrap-up, and still wonders how he got to be such a lucky hobbit! 

He and his former cohost of The Prancing Pony Podcast, Shawn Marchese's upcoming book Why We Love Middl-earth will be released in September of 2023.

John Garth

Tolkien in a Post-Christian Age

Writer, editor and researcher John Garth is well known for his ongoing work on J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and creativity, and was awarded the Tolkien Society’s Outstanding Contribution Award in 2017.

His first book, Tolkien and the Great War (2003), won the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award, for which his second, Tolkien at Exeter College, was a nominee. His latest publication is  The Worlds of JRR Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth (Princeton University Press; Frances Lincoln). A further book, examining Tolkien’s creative life as a response to the crises of his times, was begun while a Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute, Nevada, and is still in progress.

Other publications include chapters in the Blackwell Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien; in Catherine McIlwaine’s Bodleian Library exhibition book Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth; and in a forthcoming volume in memory of Christopher Tolkien.

Garth has spoken on Tolkien to specialist and general audiences in the US and across Europe, as well as on television and other news media. He has taught courses on Tolkien, and sometimes C.S. Lewis too, for Oxford University, the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, and Signum University.

After reading English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Garth worked for the London Evening Standard for many years. Besides his work on Tolkien, he writes and edits more generally, both in print and online.

Dr. Robin Anne Reid

Tolkien & Atheism/Agnosticism/Animism

Robin retired from Texas A&M University-Commerce in May 2020 and moved to Bellingham, Washington in October 2020.  She is enjoying retirement which is allowing her to finish the scholarly and writing projects she never had time for before. Her current major projects include a queer anthology on Tolkien's work, co-edited with Christopher Vaccaro and Stephen Yandell, as well as an anthology on racisms on Tolkien (under contract with McFarland). When those are submitted, she will begin work on her monograph about atheist, agnostic, and animist readers of Tolkien's legendarium. She runs the Tolkien Studies Area for the national Popular Culture Conference and encourages all interested in Tolkien's legendarium and the adaptations and transformative works to join us in Chicago in 2024. After leaving Facebook in 2022, she set up a Substack newsletter, Writing from Ithilien, which she is using to post about Tolkien scholarship:

Dr. Lisa Coutras

Tolkien and Beauty

Lisa Coutras, PhD, is a theology scholar, author, and speaker. She holds a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies from King’s College London, where she had the privilege of studying under the tutelage of internationally known theologian and C.S. Lewis scholar, Alister McGrath. She also has an MTh in Applied Theology from the University of Oxford, as well as a BA in Philosophy and Writing from Houghton College.

Dr. Coutras enjoys giving lectures and presentations on the theological aesthetics of J.R.R. Tolkien. Her book, Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth, was published in 2016 by Palgrave MacMillan.

Rev. Tom Emanuel

Tolkien, Beyond the Author

Born and raised in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, the Rev. Tom Emanuel (he/him/his) has been visiting Middle-earth for as long as he can remember. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow where he studies fandom, progressive Christian theology, and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. His current research explores twenty-first century reception of The Lord of the Rings amongst nonreligious fans. Tom lives in Glasgow with his spouse and their two children, whom he is already inducting into the “deplorable cultus” of Tolkien fandom. You can reach him by email at or find him on Twitter as @RealTomEmanuel.

Dr. Craig Boyd

Gandalf the Jesuit

Craig A. Boyd is Professor of Philosophy & Humanities at Saint Louis University, where he also earned his PhD in philosophy in 1996. His articles on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien have appeared in such venues as The Heythrop Journal, Christian Scholar's ReviewChristianity & LiteratureLogos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Life as well as in some edited volumes. Professor Boyd’s most current work on Tolkien is a forthcoming volume with Cambridge University Press titled, Tolkien on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. He has also written extensively on Aquinas’ theory of natural law, the virtues and vices, and Aquinas’ participation metaphysics. 

He (with Kevin Timpe) were the co-editors of Virtues & their Vices (Oxford University Press, 2014); he also co-authored with Timpe, The Virtues: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2021). 

His philosophical and theological works have also appeared New BlackfriarsThe Modern SchoolmanTheology & Science, and the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Among the books he has published are Faith and Reason: Three Views, with Alan Padgett and Carl Raschke (Intervarsity Press, 2014), Visions of Agapé: Problems and Possibilities in Divine and Human Love (Ashgate, 2008), and A Shared Morality: A Narrative Defense of Natural Law Ethics (Brazos Press, 2007). 

Kasey Hitt

Tolkien and Mysticism

Kasey Hitt, MDiv, has been a spiritual director for 20 years and is co-founder of Wisdom Tree Collective, a nonprofit which trains and brings together spiritual directors to offer in-person and online retreats, groups, and seminars.  She is both creator of and an instructor for Wisdom Tree Collective’s School of Spiritual Direction, a 2-year online spiritual direction training program. Discover more at Kasey lives with her husband, Russ, and their kids, Lainey & Alex in Mt. Juliet, TN.  Her high school daughter and middle school son will tell you that for years now, one of her favorite ways of waking them up for school is to walk into their rooms with her phone playing “Concerning Hobbits.”

Matthew Distefano

Tolkien on Fate and Free Will

Matthew J. Distefano is the author of multiple books, including the recently released The Wisdom of Hobbits, as well as the wildly popular Heretic! and From the Blood of Abel. He is an audio engineer, the producer of the Heretic Happy Hour podcast, cohost of Apostates Anonymous, and is a regular columnist for Patheos. He holds an undergraduate degree in Education from California State University, Chico, and has been in social work for over a decade, currently working as a Professional Service Coordinator in Butte County, California. In addition to his professional life, Matthew enjoys gardening, bicycling, and European football. He is a huge Tolkien nerd who one day hopes to live in Bag End with his wife and daughter. You can find his work at

Dr. Tripp Fuller

Tolkien and Process Theology

Tripp just moved back to North Carolina after three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology & Science at the University of Edinburgh. He recently released Divine Self-Investment: a Constructive Open and Relational Christology, the first book in the Studies in Open and Relational Theology series. For over 14 years Tripp has been doing the Homebrewed Christianity podcast (think on-demand internet radio) where he interviews different scholars about their work so you can get nerdy in traffic, on the treadmill, or doing the dishes. Last year it had over 4 million downloads. It also inspired a book series with Fortress Press called the Homebrewed Christianity Guides to... topics like God, Jesus, Spirit, Church History, etc. Tripp is a very committed and (some of his friends think overly ) engaged Lakers fan and takes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings very seriously.

Nick Polk

Tolkien and Process Theology

Nick currently serves as the Production Editor for Mallorn, the academic journal of The Tolkien Society and is a cohost on the Systematic Geekology podcast. He is a high school English teacher and has written various articles pertaining to Tolkien, adaptation, pop culture, and theology. He has co-hosted the Tolkien Heads class with Tripp Fuller from Homebrewed Christianity and is the creator of the Substack Tolkien Pop! where he writes on the various intersections of Tolkien and pop culture. When he is not reading something Tolkien related, Nick enjoys brewing and drinking coffee, listening to punk music, and watching TV with his wife Kelly. You can check out Nick's various projects on his Linktree:


When does the summit take place?

The summit is asynchronous and you can participate fully without being present at any specific time. The daily streaming session will take place from Friday, July 28th to Sunday, July 30th.

How do I get access to the summit content?

The complete summit content collection will be available on the password protected resource page. The downloadable audio and video of each session will be uploaded there and available for at least a year.

What happens after I sign up?

The email you enter when signing up will receive an email from tripp[at]homebrewedchristianity[dot]com. The email will include access to the resource page, details on how to join the live sessions, and more.

Can I sign up after the summit is over?

Yes! All the lectures and interviews will be recorded and saved on the resource page. When you sign up, you will have access to the summit content which you can watch and listen to at your leisure.