Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Concerning Hobbits, Pt. 2

See Anke's work here:'re not quite finished with The Hobbit, and my landlady's child-like request to have it read to her just before bed-time is an ongoing source of affectionate bemusement to me.

Tolkien excels in describing the material world, the environment of forests and trees, lights and darks. He paints his hobbits as true Epicureans, shameless in describing how much the hobbits (and the elves or the dwarves) enjoy their drink - mead, ale, elvish wine, beer, etc. - along with their magical hosts - typically genteel vegetarians who put out cheeses and breads and honey and butter and fruits to feast upon.

I certainly don't suspect Tolkien of being a pre-PC vegetarian; in the stories of King Arthur and Medieval romances, meat being served (while traveling) was a rarity. The other items kept longer and, of course, in the case of cheese and wine merely grew better with age. But I find his Eden-like descriptions innocent in their lack of meat in the mouths of immortals.

He also has, between Beorn [in The Hobbit] and Tom Bombadil [in Lord of the Rings], very mysterious and powerful protectors of the woodlands and animals; they are ancient beyond time and not quite 'civilized' themselves. Little explanation is given, but I suspect Tolkien's great distaste of modernization and mechanization - coupling it with men's greed and expansive ruthlessness - is found in his giving prominence to these two guardian immortals of Middle-Earth. They care for the child-like hobbits and keep them safe, but warn them to 'stay inside' their residences each night and not to worry nor venture out from under their roof of protection.

Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and from that tradition, he was bound to pull from his heart and mind some Biblical allegories. I find similar things said of Yahweh in the Old Testament. I find His great promises of protection and guidance if the children of Israel will simply obey Him and trust Him. He is a fierce warrior Who feeds them and will fight for them.

But they must listen and heed His voice. Especially when it is dark outside.

Its funny, because one of the missed pleasures of many professing Christians is obedience. If we obey, we shall see what is good - though there may be trials, perhaps many trials - we will be taken to places of peace and joy.

So as I read The Hobbit to my landlady on an October night, with winds blowing outside, and the echo of autumn thunder in the background, I find myself content. I need no more than this, for this season. She has seen many battles in her home; now it is a place of peace. No longer do drugs and cursing and unhappiness taint its rooms, but rather God's Word lives here and is spoken day after day, week after week, year after year.

Compounding and amplifying this joy is the fact we are studying Ephesians, where Paul, a devout Jew, trained under Gamaliel, is affirming the non-Jews that God has also chosen them to be part of His people, His covenants, His promises, all because of Jesus Christ - and that is where the blood enters in.

It is not animal sacrifices that reconcile us to God. It is a Man's.

This is what protects us from the wrath of God. Like Beserker Beorn and Master of Woods Tom Bombadil, this fierce God of the Jews who would strike dead any who touched His ark of the covenant is now offering safety and peace to those who confess His Son's blood as the only true payment for sins. The only sure covering in a world of hatred and evil.

We in Christ may rest secure. A Lion protects us, for a Lamb has died for us.

Let the winds howl as they may. Let what strange dreams may come.

The hobbits are secure in the House of His Love, under His protection.


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