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Whether They've Made the Land, or the Land's Made Them, It's Hard to Say

For the first two posts of this week as we have looked at the Fellowship of the Ring, we first saw Frodo desiring to return home and then witnessed Merry wishing he had never left. It is a dangerous business stepping outside your front door, but Sam’s observation of the elves in Lorien shows a similar desire for the familiar.

“Now these folk aren’t wanderers or homeless, and seem a bit nearer to the likes of us: they seem to belong here, more even than Hobbits do in the Shire. Whether they’ve made the land, or the land’s made them, it’s hard to say, if you take my meaning.”[1]

Throughout this entire first third of the trilogy, Frodo and company have been on the run. They have been transporting a dangerous object towards its final destination, but they meet opposition in every direction. They have survived and continue to persevere in this journey that they are called to complete.

However, this is not the natural state of Hobbits. Hobbits are meant to be in the Shire just like the elves are meant to be in Lorien. The hobbits have been called out of their natural environment to an environment that does not fit them appropriately. They have to fight their way through adverse conditions in lands that are not made for them.

However, they continue on the journey because it is what needs to be done. During the Council of Elrond, Aragorn refers to comfort that is created for people as a direct result of another’s discomfort.

“If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.”[2]

Simple hobbits can live simple lives in an environment built for them. There is nothing wrong with that, but Gandalf and Aragorn had both watched over the Shire for years on account of Frodo, and he remained in his simple ignorance for years. He never knew his calling because the reality of his peril was unknown to him.

Once he understood his danger and had to go make a difference in the world, Frodo ceased to be in his natural environment. He made the difference because he was willing to step outside his comfort zone. The elves in Lorien, while certainly strong and noble, were not changing the world because they remained isolated.

They remained in the land that was made for them but made little impact for good while doing so.

In Christianity, we talk a lot about being in the world but not of the world. The main idea is that we have to interact with the world around us to help spread the light of Jesus Christ, but we are not to conform to the image of the world. If we’re going to do this and actively engage, we cannot huddle back in our safe spaces. We have to be willing to follow our calling and leave our comfort behind if necessary. We cannot afford to remain simple and hide behind the protection of others in ignorance.

[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), 360, Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid., 248.

This post first appeared on Entering The Public Square, please read the originial post: here

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Whether They've Made the Land, or the Land's Made Them, It's Hard to Say


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