Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

The Hobbit: A Beautiful Story for Christmas

January 1st, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has garnered all sorts of reviews, yet amid the discussions of plot and the general techno-babble, perhaps one thing has been missed. What struck me the most about the film was the way it captured Tolkien’s meaning behind the idea of a “Hobbit.”  The character and adventures of Bilbo Baggins demonstrate the importance of ordinary common folk , as well as the idea that heroes are found in the most unexpected places.

As a Baggins, Bilbo can not imagine sacrificing the comforts of home for a life of danger, but Gandalf knows that Took blood flows in Bilbo’s veins and believes he will be an invaluable member of the company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, who are headed east to reconquer a lost kingdom of gold and defeat the dragon who hoards it.

Obviously, in many ways Bilbo is not the ideal pick for a quest to kill a monster and save a kingdom.  He wants to return home for his handkerchief, he has no experience using a weapon, and the thought of death makes him faint–literally. Bilbo’s inadequacies cause his companions to doubt him, and at one point Bilbo almost leaves because he feels he is a useless part of the baggage.  However, it is Bilbo who uses his wit to save the dwarves from being eaten by trolls, and at the very end of the movie, it is Bilbo who rushes into battle to save Thorin from being killed by his arch-rival Azog. 

One moment of dialogue that depicts this concept happens when Gandalf and Galadriel are discussing the fate of the company. Galadriel asks the wizard, “Why the Halfling?”  Gandalf responds:

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid… He gives me courage.”

The Hobbit’s portrayal of the unexpected importance of ordinary folk reminded me of I Corinthians 1:27-29.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

The Bible is littered with examples of God using the most unexpected people to accomplish great things.  He delivered his people from the greatest ruler in the world with someone who had spent 40 years as a shepherd.  He used another overlooked shepherd boy to defeat a blasphemous giant and become the greatest King of Israel.  Jesus’s handpicked disciples were a collection of uneducated fishermen.  The greatest apostle was someone who once was infamous for stoning and imprisoning Christians.  Just as Gandalf chose Bilbo as the fourteenth member of the company and asked Thorin to trust that he would prove himself invaluable, so God regularly uses people to do great things–people no one on earth would think to pick.

This is the great confidence we have as Christians, that God in His mercy does not use us and bless us because of who we are, but He chooses the low, weak, and despised of the world.

In this way The Hobbit points us back to the Great Story–the ultimate story of an unexpected and seemingly ordinary person accomplishing great things.  The story of a Child conceived by a young unmarried mother, born in the earthiness of a donkey stable, and whose first cradle was the trough from which the donkeys fed.  The only other humans who cared about the birth of this child were shepherds, the outcast of society.  His adopted father was a working-class carpenter or stonemason.  Somehow, from these humble beginnings, the Savior of the world was born–a man who would transform the future of the world.  It is the birth of this Child that we celebrate at Christmas.  As the bumblings of the unexpected adventurer Bilbo Baggins show how the ordinary and unexpected are used to accomplish great things, they point us back to the incredible humble story of Christmas.


Christmas: The Centerpiece of Scripture

December 24th, 2012

Recently I attended my second Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God concert.  The concert begins with a passage from The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.  After this last concert, I went ahead and bought it.  It is a children’s Bible that intentionally proclaims Christ from all of Scripture in the vein of Luke 24:27.  Over the past weeks, I have loved the life and perspective that this interpretation brings out of Scripture.

On the last Sunday before Christmas, I wanted to share the passage Andrew Peterson opens his concert with to reflect on. 

 

 “It’s like an adventure story about a young Hero who came from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life.

You see, the best thing about this story is—it’s true.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a  puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the baby that would one day—but wait, our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning…”

Supporting Orphans in Need During the Holiday Season

November 25th, 2012

During this time of year we often spend extra time remembering those in need.  One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions was watching Scrooge at the Roanoke Civic Center.  One memorable moment in Dicken’s famous story “A Christmas Carol” occurs when two people raising money for the poor during Christmas time approach Ebeneezer Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge. “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?” “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.” “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge. “Both very busy, sir.” “:Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.” “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?” “Nothing!” Scrooge replied. “You wish to be anonymous?” “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

This year my parents have decided to do something few would consider when it comes to helping those in need.  They have decided to adopt two children who are both HIV+ from Russia through Reece’s Rainbow recent recipient of the Cultivate Wines charity grant.  Talk about a big heart and going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping others.


Grab This!
 This won’t be an easy journey for them, but they are committed and stepping forward in faith.  Please read their story and support them through prayer and financially.  Be sure to check out there various fundraisers.  We are all looking for ways to help those in need during this season.  Please consider making a donation to a very tangible and direct effort.  A donation of just $25.00 or $50.00 can go along ways to supporting Mom and Dad with the paperwork and travel expenses associated with this Journey of Faith and Love.

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia