Friday, July 24, 2015

Welcome Back to Middle-Earth for the Summer!

The whole building bridges thing seems to elude Thorin. And Herod.
And sometimes . . . . us.
As a summer break for me and, I hope, a fun treat for you, I'm going to spend some time here excerpting from my last book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth. You may want to review part One of Chapter Two here.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World
by Jill Richardson

Chapter TWO
(THORIN) part 2

1. What’s Herod doing at the start of the story? Why do you think he’s throwing this party? 
2. What do you think of his promise to Herodias? How did you guess it might end, even before you knew? What do you think made him promise something as crazy as anything she wanted? 
3. Why is he sorry for his promise? 
4. Why did he go against what he knew he should do? 
5. How do you think Herod defines a great king? How do you think God does?

Herod is dead drunk from too much birthday bubbly. He’s also drunk with power. See, he knows John’s “a good and holy man,” and his better self actually listens to John. But, his other self—the one who loves his power as king, delights in breaking laws he doesn’t like, and enjoys making extravagant promises only an idiot would keep—that is the self he lets win in the end.

Notice why he kills John--He was embarrassed to break his promise in front of his guests. OK, most people would be slightly embarrassed to have a human head show up on a serving platter at a birthday party. But not Herod. Herod has so much pride, he’ll kill an innocent man just so he doesn’t have to look bad in front of his friends. Maybe he shouldn’t have been focusing on trying to impress those friends by throwing some Donald Trump birthday bash complete with exotic dancing and lots of wine. How could his better self have kept this from happening?

Does Thorin act much like Herod? Does he sound like him? Not always--Thorin’s basically an OK guy, and he’ll help you out in a tough spot. But, when he has to choose between being generous to those who have helped him and “looking good” in front of his homedwarves, he picks the last one. T.O. knows what’s right, but no one is going to bully him into doing it. 

When the men and elves ask for a share of the treasure, he knows in his head they have a fair claim. He recognizes the need to live together peacefully for a long time after the dragon’s gone. He understands, intellectually, that negotiating would be a good idea. But he can’t give in, because he’s terrified of looking weak. He wants the feeling of superiority all his new wealth and position give him. No king gives away his treasure, right? He can’t back down--he’d rather they all die. And they might have.

Sometimes, backing down is the smart thing to do. There’s nothing wrong with having pride in things that have made you who you are. You can be, as the saying goes, “proud to be an American.” You can be proud of your Mexican heritage, or your African roots, or your Viking lineage. You can be proud to have godly parents who’ve taught you well and lived a great example.

But, what happens if you start acting like you deserve all that stuff? Really—did you do anything to earn your great hair, or brains, or salvation? When you start thinking that, it’s a quick trip to acting like only you deserve it—and everyone should know better than to try and get a share.

It’s tough for a guy to back down, and even tougher for him to admit he doesn’t deserve all he’s got. It’s way too scary to say, “Hey, I didn’t get myself here. I can’t stay here alone either--I need help.” But, if you never ditch your pride, you’re missing out on all the great things God wants to do through you, because you’re too focused on trying to prove what you can do by yourself.


Answer truthfully, now.
I think I’m really talented at: _________________________________________________________________________

Some of my natural gifts are (brains, looks, athleticism– c’mon, don’t be shy):
Some things I’m especially proud of are: __________________________________________________________________________

Think. Did you earn any of the things you listed above? (Get real. You did not deserve to be born with a straight-A brain or gorgeous baby blues. It was pure luck of the draw. You could’ve been born in Afghanistan you know.)

Did you earn some things by hard work or just keeping at it? Great! You can be proud of that. But did you do it by yourself? List ways other people helped you:
How can you show you appreciate help? What about God’s help?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.  (Philippians 2:3, 5-6)


Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a devotional using twenty J.R.R. Tolkien characters. It looks at what makes those characters who they are, where Scripture talks about the same kinds of people, and what it all means to a young person today. Interactive application and fun side additions included!  

 If you would like to find the book for yourself or a teen/young adult you love, you can purchase it here:

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