Concerning Hobbits

As a more avid reader/watcher of Lord of the Rings than you (yes you with the orc mask) – by which I refer to the 17 times I’ve watched all three of the extended DVDs, which means – let’s see now, 210 minutes per movie, times 3 = 630, times 17, carry the two – 5040 minutes or 84 hours I have spent having my brain soaked in an alternative reality of epic proportions - I have come to the conclusion that I love Hobbits. For Tolkien, they represented the farmers of his country, the straight-forward, no-nonsense workers of the land. And for me they represent the simple of our Church, the straight-forward, no-nonsense saints of this age.

While I – and perhaps you – may agonize over the mystery of communion, of whether or not we can fully understand such sublime contradiction, the Hobbits of the Church say “Amen” and move forward. While I grow concerned over the doctrine of pre-destination, the Hobbits of the Church laugh it off and move forward. They are those who, when we tell them our problems, our intricate psychological wounds and life-long doubts, look at us seriously and say, “I’ll pray for you,” leaving us spluttering, “That’s it? No prophecy? No full psychological profile?” They seem to characterize all of the beatitudes; meek, poor in spirit, peaceful – already I think of a man, Mike by name, who helps carry titanic and awkward pieces of sound equipment for an Adoration night at my church, with joy and generosity unmatched. The humor lies in that Mike is 6′ 6″ and wears Metallica shirts, but I say Hobbit nonetheless. Or when I lived in Germany, a certain Desmond who had an interesting sock collection and a holiness that radiated hope and innocence – at the age of 60-something. Or that old lady – yes that old lady – in the mantilla, praying rosaries before every daily mass, as much a part of the front pew as a hymn book. I know I – God please don’t smite me – have sneered at such a person, in jealousy of such simple faith. “How can you know the harsh reality of the world, sitting in your rosary-praying bubble? How will you ever face opposition with such homely piety?”

The truth is that there is greater adventure in their simple “move-forward” faith than in all the peaks and troughs of the worldly Catholic. The truth is that they wrestle with demons too fearsome for me to handle. The truth is that it is they who will carry the ring to Mordor, that the course of history will be changed by the smallest of heart, not the loudest of voice.

Hobbits remind us that it’s all about peace, and lasting peace – that heaven is the Shire, a piece of green and a winding river, so simple and beautiful that it breaks our hearts. We complicate, we complicate, we complicate until we forget that the goal of our religion is to be happy, here and forever. Hobbits remind us that it is a virtue to be content, that the hope of joy everlasting should put to cease all of our quarrels, especially the ones in our own heads. When God called the little children to him, I do not believe he did it out of mere benevolence, but out of necessity. They are warriors, these simple-faithed, and of the best kind. The song “Concerning Hobbits” is full of that truth, that we need to prioritize, that God and joy come first and everything else follows. And I do believe, if we can restore that innocence, if we can find that contentment, if we can have the strength to live simply, alive and fulfilled, then the adventure will come knocking, and then – and only then – we will have the constitution and courage to accept it.  

So let’s raise a half-pint of The Green Dragon’s finest
in the hope that we might all become hairy-footed and holy.

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  • Zita Louise

    *Evil Laugh* Nice post. I was only slowly converted to a deep appreciation of Hobbit faith and virtue. It takes a while for Elves like me to appreciate the heartiness of hobbits. They are indeed remarkable creatures. And now I would just like to say that it takes about an hour to read each chapter of Lord of the Rings out loud, and there are 62 chapters. I have read them aloud twice. So that makes 124 hours. plus the two read-throughs that I have done silently to myself in about half the time. So, another 62 hours. Then, though I don't watch the movies very often, I'd estimate that I've spent a good 40 hours with them. What have we got now, 226? That's not counting all the time I spent rereading favorite chapters, the Silmarilian, time on discussion boards and Tolkien criticism and biographies, and the research and preparation necessary to host Hobbit Day and Ring parties annually for the last ten years.I'd just like to point out that I am not wearing an orc mask and nobody out-geeks me when it comes to Lord of the Rings (unless they speak elvish). Cheers.

  • Marc

    well,elen sila lumenn' omentielvo, my fellow geek, and to be quite honest that simply cannot stand up to my re-enactment of favorite parts while reading them, complete with costumes, swords and pipes, or my failed attempt to record myself saying ALL the lines of all the movies.

  • Marc

    Or the time when my friend had a quote off, in which an individual has 5 seconds to say an exact quote, back and forth, until some one runs out. An hour and half, baby.

  • Zita Louise

    "Be careful, friends. Speak no secrets. Here is a scholar in the Ancient Tongue."A star shines on the hour of our meeting. Embroidered that on a messenger bag for my best friend (Pippin) along with the Ring inscription and the Tree of Gondor.And these reenactments, did they occur in public? We got to the end of Boromir's death scene and realized that we were in a public park and the kids at the playground and their parents were staring at us. Or the time we were in the cheap theater watching FotR for the fourth or fifth time, sitting in the front row (in costume), yelling the lines with the actors on screen and singing along with the sound track. Good times.No mellon, you cannot out geek me.

  • Frank

    I'm happy to consider myself a half-ling!

  • Sean

    I can't watch LOTR that often. I have to wait months on end before I got through it, just so I can capture the full impact of it all. But wow. I hate on those kind of people, too, the people in the "rosary-praying bubble". You can let your ego swell, mocking such folk.

  • Sean

    And that's not a good thing.

  • Brandon Vogt

    Man, there a few songs that inspire wonder and enchantment like "Concerning Hobits"–its a regular on my iPod. When I listen to that song while jogging through town, I see everything around me in a new light. The old man watering his front lawn, the lady sitting on her front porch rocker, the kids rolling around in the grass–they all incarnate the Shire.I've long held the same affection for the "hobbits" of our world, but I've always thought that Narnia's Mr. and Mrs. Beaver were Shire emigrants. They would have fit right into the Shire, for they, like the hobbits, exude all that's simple and good in the world: they're homely, relentlessly familial, spiritually near-sighted, and have a child-like trust that good will prevail over evil even if they don't know how.It seems that Tolkien and Lewis were both so concerned with the simple because that's also what concerns God.

  • Sandy

    Actually it would be 10,710 minutes spent watching the movies and 178.5 hours. I know you said you were bad at math, at least in this case the real number helps your cause.

  • Marc

    THANK YOU!!!But I do believe I've been out-nerded.

  • herenvardo

    This is great – a Fellowship of Tolkienites!My geekhood extends to my daughters, Therese (Yaviel) and Patricia (Aratanie). For a change, I seem to have been outnerded, as well – regardless of my bi- or tri-annual reading of the Red Book and quintennial reading of the Silmarillion.Plus, I was also born in South Africa! Ha!

  • Barbara

    Mae govannen! I randomly found this blog a little while back and it has certainly become one of my favorites. I loved this particular post. I never considered those people as Hobbits…yet it struck a chord with me (Catholicism + Tolkien = WIN). It's getting harder and harder to adhere to a faith in a world that grows increasingly hostile towards our attempts to lead holy lives….making your work here all the more important. Keep it up!On another note, while we're outgeeking ourselves…I have all Lord of the Rings albums on my mp3 player, devoured each Tolkien book I've ever laid hands on, and watched the movies to the point where I can quote them in every day life…to the delight of fellow Tolkienites and disdain of all others. I've also hand sewn my own costume and hand drawn a portrait of myself surrounded by Middle Earth's finest(including Beren, Luthien, Tom Bombadil, Glorfindel, etc). I've resolved to name any future sons after the Archangels, but if it's a girl…Galadriel. How is that for geeky?