Tuesday, April 03, 2007

On Hobbits, the Shire, and the Kingdom of God's Left Hand

In continuing to consider the believer's dual-citizenship in the kingdoms of Christ and culture, I would like to broach a topic of which the Bible speaks at length and in detail, but which is often ignored from the contemporary American pulpit (either because it has become so ingrained into our psyches that we don't really have the necessary perspective to think critically about it, or simply because we're afraid to ask the kinds of questions we should be asking):

Work, Money, and the proper use of our Time.

To kick the discussion off, I'll quote from the Prologue of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring "Concerning Hobbits" (bet you didn't see that one coming):

"Hobbits are an unobtrusive people; they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth. They do not like machines more complicated than a water-mill or hand-loom. They do not hurry unnecessarily. At no time had Hobbits been warlike, and they had never fought among themselves. They imbibed or inhaled, through pipes of clay or wood, the smoke of the burning leaves of a herb which they call pipe-weed or leaf [and developed a keen interest in the brewing and drinking of ales]."

My reason for this allusion is Tolkien's clear intention to present the lives of Hobbits as an ideal one, and the Shire in which they dwelt as a metaphor for the idyllic kind of life free from the pressures and hectic pace introduced by the industrial revolution.

The overarching question, then, is whether our lives reflect, even in a small way, the enjoyment of the pleasures of the kingdom of God's left hand, or whether we are so bound to our (legitimate) secular vocations that we have become incapable of being the moms and dads, wives and husbands, and even the human beings, that we desire to be?