Preparing Our Children, the Halflings, for Spiritual Warfare

My husband and I are currently doing our annual-ish review of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we're halfway through "The Two Towers" right now.

Last night, much of the focus was on two Hobbits (small & simple people, for those of you who, *gasp*, might not be familiar with LOTR), named Merry & Pippin. Long story short, they end up in the care of a talking tree herder (who is a tree of sorts himself), Treebeard. Gandalf, the incredibly powerful White Wizard (good guy), has charged Treebeard with keeping up with them and not letting them fall into enemy hands.

So then, as they're walking through the forest at one point, Treebeard says to the "halflings" in his care:
I told Gandalf I would keep you safe - - and safe is where I'll keep you.

I couldn't help but think of what a picture this is of Christian parenting. We're charged to care for these little "halflings" we've been given. It's only for a season, and even as we care for them and try to keep them from harm, there's a war brewing. The enemy wants to gain control of our little ones, and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy their simple souls.

And yet, then, even as I was thinking on this comparison, it came to mind that later in the film, Treebeard lets these two Hobbits walk into open war with him. Their lives are in danger, and yet he protects them as he can, and they begin to fight alongside him.

What a beautiful picture for Christian parents!

There is a time for walking in the forest with our children, protecting them, planning, keeping them safe, and educating them about the real risks of the battle around us. But then there is a time for walking into the battle with them, letting them fight alongside us, and eventually releasing them to fight as skilled and well-taught warriors in the spiritual battle raging in the world around us. I want to walk as not only a care-taker of my children (protecting them from harm, as far as I am able), but as a mentor and instructor for them- preparing them for their future struggles against the enemy. We fight a crafty adversary, but the One with Whom we stand is far stronger!

There is joy in knowing that however dark the battle gets around us
(birth control given out to middle schoolers, pornography disguised as entertainment, the devaluing of all that is true and right, and all other forms of "advances" the enemy is making in our generation), there is a sure and victorious outcome if we stand on the Lord's side.


Crystal said...

Great post. I agree. It is a good example of Christian parenting.

My husband and I both love this series. Tolkien was an amazingly talented writer.

Anonymous said...


Erin said...

Cool! I have seen that movie many times but never thought of it in that way. We so often forget that we are not just raising up children to follow Christ but also to be future spiritual warriors for our God.

(p.s. I have to admit Two towers is one of my favourite movies. Treebeard is the coolest and I love the Rohan people.)

Katy-Anne said...

I hope this doesn't come across as rude, because that is not my intention, but I can blunt sometimes. I personally don't understand why so many Christians think LOTR is great. My opinion is that it's evil and wicked and that we should stay as far away from it as possible. It's got magic, witchcraft and all manner of things, and even if it's supposed to be "good" magic, the Bible indicates that none of it is good. The Bible says witchcraft is an abomination and God never speaks nicely of magic either. So I've never understood why God's people love something so much that is against Him.

Jess said...

Thanks for your comments and your question. I'll briefly tell you why we love it, and let others speak up for themselves as they so desire.

(1) It is a story that clearly defines good and evil. Not only that, but the good characters are admirably good, and the evil characters are despicably evil. Evil is depicted accurately: as unsettling, immoral, with each evil character wanting his own way. Good is depicted accurately: as worthy, brave, difficult, but worth striving for.

(2) The characters are rich, deep, and worthy of study.

(3) The sorcery/magic all operates in a clearly fictional world.
There aren't hobbits, long-living dunedine humanish people, dwarfs, and talking trees in real life. Any grade schooler would be able to scan the plotline of the stories and a description of the characters and realize that none of this actually exists.

So there is a clear line of fiction vs. reality, and yes- you have to suspend your "disbelief" of the fictional in order to enter into this imagined world. (Much in the same way as Lewis' Narnia.)

This, in my view, stands in STARK reality to, say, popular TV shows that show teenagers casting spells, or even the age-old "Bewitched" (whatever you think of it) or "I Dream of Jeannie", or for that matter, Harry Potter (which, whatever you think about it, seems to operate in a fairly "human" world).

I like that LOTR is CLEARLY fictional. My boys aren't going to want to grow up to be a Hobbit- they'll know that's impossible. But I hope that they WILL be able to learn from the Hobbits and grow in character through exposure to excellent literature like this.

(4) It is written in such a way that you desperately desire good to win. (And it does!) This, also, stands in stark contrast to shows where morality is displayed as relative or shifting. In LOTR, there is a clear delineation of good and evil, and characters choose to line up with one or the other. The viewer finds themselves "rooting" for good.

These are just some of the reasons off the top of my head. I'm sure others could add more. Let's see if they do.

Mrs. Elliott said...

Great post! My husband and I also enjoy the LOTR series. You are absolutely correct, a parents role is to shelter and protect. However, as you said, it is also to train and equip children for the spiritual battles they will encounter as they get older.

Anna S said...

Hi Jess - I have read LOTR 3 times and never thought about that particular episode the way you put it - but you definitely have a point here!

Katy-Anne said...

Fictional or not, I know God doesn't like witchcraft, He says so in the Bible. To God there is no such thing as "good sorcery". It doesn't matter that "good" wins, because the sorcery makes it wrong. I do believe the same thing about C.S. Lewis' works too, I won't read or watch those, or allow my children to. I know that "most Christians" do it, but I'm not "most Christians". I can't stop you or anyone else watching or reading that stuff, but still I can't say that it's "good" because "good wins" if it has bad things in it. If you do a wrong thing to make something right, the thing is still wrong.

I hope this doesn't sound judgmental. I used to dabble around in witchcraft and satanism and it's not a joke and it makes me sad to see Christians view it every day thinking that because good wins, it's a good thing.

Kim said...

I don't like LOTR - it's too...blah.'s not even sci-fi, but it's just too "other world" for me. I actually fall asleep watching them, usually, because they bore me. (I am hiding my head in shame because I know that most educated people who are not morally opposed to it really like LOTR.) I do love Harry Potter. Probably because it's written for a less mature audience. ;)

LisaM said...

There are a lot of fictional accounts of things out there that reflect "reality" and seem "safe", but in truth do very little to edify or give an clear illustration of the ideals of True Love, True Faith, Perseverance, Goodness, things which are Noble/Honourable, and lead minds toward the other powerful intangibles that God has given us, such as His power, angels, miracles, and the heavenly places. I like to see a picture of what could be - a true shepherd who is willing to give up his life for his sheep, to use your example - to help me further to find something to strive toward. There are very few pictures of whole armies of individuals fighting the evils of darkness - armies as one unit for one purpose - as you find in this fictional account. That's a picture of what it could be like in this fallen world. I hope that enough parents are brave and warrior like enough to stand in the path for those whom the Lord has given them. Thanks for sharing the neat word picture.
(BTW, I am a fan of the books more so than the movies, and I recommend Tolkein's (college level) essay on the use of "faerie" to learn about the spiritual.)

Tim & Richelle said...

Interesting thoughts - wanted to let you know that I linked to this page in my blog.