“At its deepest level of meaning…The Hobbit is a pilgrimage of grace, in which its protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, becomes grown-up in the most important sense, which is the growth in wisdom and virtue. Throughout the course of his adventure – and every pilgrimage is an adventure – the hobbit develops the habit of virtue and grows in sanctity. Thus The Hobbit illustrates the priceless truth that we only become wise men when we realize that we are pilgrims on a purposeful journey through life.”
“…The Hobbit parallels The Lord of the Rings in the mystical suggestiveness of its treatment of Divine Providence, and serves as moral commentary on the words of Christ that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). In these… aspects, it can truly be said of The Hobbit, as Tolkien said of The Lord of the Rings, that it is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.
“On one level, Bilbo’s journey from the homely comfort of the Shire to the uncomfortable lessons learned on the Lonely Mountain, in parallel with Frodo’s journey from the Shire to Mount Doom, is a mirror of Everyman’s journey through life… We are meant to see ourselves reflected in the character of Bilbo Baggins and our lives reflected in his journey from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain.”
I was completely struck. I had never thought of The Hobbit in this way before. That Bilbo’s journey was like the journey of life, the journey that everyone must make. I immediately thought of how silly it had been for me to be mad at Bilbo for leaving his home! The adventure was necessary for him, it enabled to grow up and become a much better person. It was extremely selfish to want him to just be occupied with his own affairs and not care about the dwarves’ business at all. In fact, that is what the book went on to say:
“The Hobbit begins with Bilbo’s desire for comfort and his unwillingness to sacrifice himself for others. His heart is essentially self-centered, surrounding itself with the treasure of his own home, an ironic and symbolic prefiguring of Smaug’s surrounding himself with treasure in his “home” in the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo, on a microcosmic scale, is, therefore, nothing less than a figure and prefigurement of Smaug the dragon. He is a afflicted with the dragon sickness. His pilgrimage to the Lonely Mountain is the means by which he will be cured of this materialist malady. It is a via dolorosa, a path of suffering, the following of which will heal him of his self-centeredness and teach him to give himself self-sacrificially to others.”
The little bit of this book that I was able to read before my brother took it back to college with him opened my eyes to some very important truths. I had some “reality” thrown into my dreamland. I begin to see, more clearly than before, how important suffering was. How it was necessary to have obstacles in your life so you could overcome them on your way to eternity, and how good those things actually are. So this commentary on The Hobbit planted the seed, but then what really strengthened it and caused the seed to blossom was reading The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings taught me to really grow up. It showed me courage and bravery in a whole new light. It showed me Sam and Frodo, struggling against incredible odds to accomplish a deed that seemed impossible. It showed me how “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” It showed me the rewards for perseverance and not giving up. It showed me incredible characters that I could imitate. It called me step out of myself and start taking risks. To leave my comfort zone. “To become who you were born to be.” It urged me to stand up for what's right. “There’s a lot of good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
"We all face our daily dragons and we must all defend ourselves from them and hopefully slay them. The sobering reality is that we must either fight the dragons that we encounter in life or become dragons ourselves. There is no "comfortable" alternative." ~ Bilbo's Journey
I owe a lot to J.R.R. Tolkien. And Joseph Pearce. They have both shown me so much, and helped me to grow in ways I could never have imagined before. Courage and trials inspire me so, so much now. I have a stronger appreciation for the deeper things of life – the real things. Like when I was watching The Scarlet and the Black the other night for the second time. Man, all those WWII stories just blow you away. When you find out at the end, that Colonel Kappler, the Nazi Gestapo, actually converted to the Catholic faith after Fr. O'Flaherty was his only visiter in prison... It's amazing. I love being inspired by those kinds of things now, and I have Tolkien to thank for opening up the doors for me. For showing me how important it is to leave your comfort zone and get out and do things.
"The wizard's unexpected arrival is connected to his desire to wake Bilbo up from his cozy slumbers. In doing so, he also wakes us up from ours. It is for this reason that he wishes to send Bilbo on an adventure, which, he informs the hobbit, will be "very good for you–and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it." Bilbo is not convinced. He has "no use for adventures," which are "uncomfortable things." Little does he know it, but the fact that adventures are uncomfortable is the very reason for their usefulness. Gandalf wants to remove Bilbo from his comfort zone so that the hobbit can experience reality in its full and expansive richness. Bilbo needs to venture beyond his home, which is an extension of his self, in order to experience the truth that is beyond himself and grow in the space that it provides. In short, the purpose of Gandalf's visit is to help Bilbo grow-up." (Bilbo's Journey)