Books by Becka - Books to nourish mind, soul, and spirit
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Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues by Mark Eddy Smith

I’m blessed to be part of an extraordinary circle of friends who share faith and literary interests.  One dear lady in this group calls herself a hobbit among elves, by which she means that she doesn’t feel that she’s as erudite as most of the others (I don’t either, by the way, dear).  But this lady is largely responsible for getting a lot of important things done, working away behind the scenes to plan and pull conferences together and keep them running, making sure that in addition to the scheduling of speakers and performers, the little details – like beds and food and drink – are attended to.

This book reminds me of my friend.  In it, Mark Eddy Smith chooses to focus not on the grand, overarching plot of The Lord of the Rings, but on the undergirding principles, the “ordinary virtues” that strengthen and enable the characters to fulfill their destined roles in the larger scheme of things.

In The Two Towers, at a dark juncture in their travels, Frodo and Sam talk about stories, and how folks in stories often landed in their adventures through little choice of their own, and how the story they themselves are part of will be remembered.  Frodo insists that at some point in time to come, tellers of their tale will note that “Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.”  Indeed, none of our unassuming heroes would have got far without the generosity, perspective, humility, trustworthiness, wisdom, hope, imagination, perseverance, and other simple virtues deeply ingrained in their own natures and shown to them by those who provided help unlooked-for along the way. 
 
Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues may well be my favorite companion book to The Lord of the Rings, offering the gentle reminder that
 
     “living simple lives and cherishing simple pleasures are all that is required for our lives to have value.  We need not feel guilty when we suspect we should be doing more for God’s kingdom, for when he needs us he will call us, and until then we can be content to husband our strength, put down roots and enjoy the good things that have been given to us.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t seek to improve ourselves or minister to those around us, only that limiting our efforts to our immediate family and neighbors is sufficient until our calling has been revealed.
 
     When God does call us, it may be to a journey of danger and terror…(or) it may be that our calling is simply to live well in the midst of the community we were born in.  This is not to be despised.”
 

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