Five things to learn from “The Hobbit”

Gabriel Belmont looks up at his destination: Dracula's castle
Gabriel Belmont looks up at his destination: Dracula’s castle (from Castlevania)

Since I mentioned “The Hobbit” in my biographical page at the top of the blog, I thought it might be worth linking to something about it.

This is from the Art of Manliness blog.

The 5 things:

  1. You can aspire to and achieve greatness no matter who you are and no matter your stage in life
  2. A great leader knows when it’s time to step back and let go
  3. There are some things in life we just have to accomplish on our own
  4. To simply continue on is one of the bravest things that can be done
  5. A great story always has conflict or hardship

And my favorite of the five – the one that had meaning for me – is #5:

5. A great story always has conflict or hardship. Imagine your life as a story. Not too long ago, we even had a guest post about this — our life is a journey, and a heroic one at that. Imagine yourself sitting down with your grandkids and telling them the story of you. “Well, I made some money, bought a few cars, sat around and watched TV for a few hours every night, and that’s about it.” Pretty boring, isn’t it? Now imagine that you can start hours worth of stories with, “I explored…I traveled…I fell in love…I fought and won…I overcame…I sweated…” Not only would the story be better, but you likely would be far more satisfied with the course of your life.

J.R.R. Tolkien agrees. “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyways.” He is saying that a life of good ease is a boring one. It’s often what the American dream aspires to, but the reality is that personal growth, and even enjoyment, are things that come out of some kind of challenge. Whether it’s huffing and puffing and groaning your way up a mountain for the view at the top, or getting laid off and finally realizing you don’t want to be in a cubicle anymore, joy is often found after a bit of trudging. Don’t shy away from challenge. Embrace it, and know that someday it’ll make for a great story.

The Hobbit was the first big book that I ever read as a child, and I think that it inspired me to move far away from home as soon as I completed graduate school, so I could make my fortune. An adventurous spirit isn’t free – it has to be put into a boy by what he reads. When I was young, I read “The Hobbit”. You should make your children read “The Hobbit”. Put into their minds at a young age the idea that life is an adventure, that dangers and hardships are normal, and that character counts. Put into their minds that all goodness requires sacrifice. I think that things are going to get harder for Christians going forward so it’s better that they be ready for it.

4 thoughts on “Five things to learn from “The Hobbit””

  1. Very nice post, WK!

    Before I became a Christian, I read many books on Allied POW’s in Germany during WWII, and the things they did in their battle against the Third Reich. I think that God may have used those books to prepare me for the Christian life, even though they were not Christian books, per se. Looking at your 5 virtues or attributes above, I think that they satisfy each one quite well. I appreciate your posts on things like this, including your military ones.

    1. I’ve actually been thinking about whether this might not be a reason why some people shy away from the Christian life. Are people really willing to put aside their own feelings and put God at the center in their relationships with others, acting as an ambassador when it is hard and uncomfortable to do that?

      1. Great question! I do not think that I ever actualized that line of reasoning, because I was a very hard-working atheist. (Which is itself, something of a self-refutation.) But, I DO think that a lot of the New Atheists are a different sort.

  2. “An adventurous spirit isn’t free – it has to be put into a boy by what he reads.”

    This is also a reason to homeschool. Public schools (even some private schools) have become too feminized and make their reading materials, discussions, and even playground play more in keeping with girls’ interests rather than what boys need and are interested in. Kids don’t read many books about fighting, warfare, or rugged adventure anymore.

    Home schooling parents can bring back the classics and find books that inspire young boys to make plans, achieve goals, face difficulty, and not give in to pressure or seek comfort – and to value this outlook on life.

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