A few months after me and my wife got married we were hanging out at the apartment one night and were trying to think of something we could rent from blockbuster to entertain us for the evening. My wife said to me that we should rent “Lord of the Rings” and asked if I had ever seen it. I told her that I had seen parts of it but never really had the motivation to sit through the entire saga. Well, this battle of what to watch went on and on until I finally gave in with a “well I guess I can give it a try”. This was me not knowing just how much this movie would affect my life. I know it sounds a bit mellow dramatic that a movie or story could change your life but I contend that the movie simply pointed me to a long forgotten truth within my heart. So needless to say after three movies and almost ten hours of awesome I fell in love with this journey. Shortly after watching the movie I went to my local library and checked out “The Hobbit” and began the literary journey into the world of Middle Earth. After I finished that book I dove into the books of the “Lord of the Rings” and was enchanted by everything this world had to offer. I think it is very easy to assume that this must be my dorky alter ego coming out and I would soon start dressing like Gandalf and talking like Gollum. Well I didn’t (kind of) and although I am one third Irish, one third French, and one third “nerd” the relationship I formed with this story was much more about me and my spiritual walk than my liking of the characters in the book. The reason this story intrigues me so much is because past all the elves, dwarves, and fantasy lore there was a golden kernel of truth. That truth is that to be a “hero” you don’t have to be Captain America or Superman. If you look at the popular hero culture in media and art today there are strict guidelines for these guys (or gals!). The first and most important rule is that you must have arms the size of Texas and abs of steel. The second rule is that you run head first into every battle with out a flinch of fear. The third is that you are remarkably good looking. The list of attributes associated with now day heroes are endless! The problem with the now day hero in our society is that they are so completely unlike us. I don’t have arms the size of Texas, I don’t have abs of steel, I am definitely not fearless, and although I clean up well I am no Channing Tatum. So where does this leave us? If we have a cultural view of heroes without flaws then one may say that in order to be a hero we have to be without flaws too (or at least certain flaws). This is why I fell in love with the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. The premise behind these stories is so raw. You take a hobbit for example; these creatures are puny, short, more than likely overweight, have hairy feet, grumpy, and HATE adventures! Now if I took a survey of the American people who are we more like? A hobbit or Superman? That seems like an easy one to me. This is (in part) the enchanting thing to me about Tolkien’s narrative in that it opens up the inside of us all and shows us that the struggle for relevancy in this world is not found in the talents or remarkable capabilities or an individual, but rather in the choices of the human heart. Let’s look at Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins of the Lord of the Rings. These guys are literally thrust into a war of epic proportions and for the majority of the time all they want to do is go home. However it seems fate has a different plan as they embark of the journey that is told in the books. Most of the time these two hobbits were uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty, afraid, lonely, confused, and most importantly tempted to quit. Now this to me seems a lot like a journey we face in our lives on a daily basis. The challenges we face are not likely those of ogres, wizards, orcs, and a burning eye of evil; but we too are in a battle of epic proportions and because of our very birth we were “thrust” into this battle. We have evil forces working against us and all face times of hunger, thirst, loneliness, confusion, and fear. The journey of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” is a tale about courage in the midst of this battle. The best way to define courage to me is “doing something despite fear, not in its absence”. The beautifully Christ-like comparison made in this story is taking a group of grumpy physically inferior isolationists (hobbits) and through the purifying fire of hardship and weariness they are morphed into champions of a land that is far greater than they. This story supports the idea that a “hero” cannot be one who is flawless. This is because if you are perfect than God cannot gain glory from you. God’s glory is made manifest in imperfect beings that “rely” upon his perfect love and strength to overcome. I think this speaks so much because in God’s eyes the very things that make us weak can make us strong! This golden kernel of truth I spoke about earlier is shown best in the Movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” when Gandalf and Bilbo are sitting across from each other and Gandalf is attempting to get Bilbo to come with them on an adventure to find the dwarves’ long lost treasures. Bilbo asks a very profound question to Gandalf in the film after Gandalf promises him gold upon his return to The Shire. Bilbo asks something to the effect of “Gandalf, can you promise I’ll come back?” and Gandalf says, “No, and if you do come back you will not be the same”. This is the invitation God gives us. If you stay in your comfortable place where everything is familiar and everything is expected you certainly will not be hungry, you won’t be wet, you will probably feel safe, and you will have voices to keep you company. However you will often peer out the window of regret as the years pass by and look into the wondrous night while dreaming of the roads beyond; this your eyes will never see. In somber sadness you will rationalize your decision to stay in your familiar fields with logical thoughts and actions but inside you know that your feet were meant for unfamiliar roads, your eyes were meant for unfamiliar sights, and you surrendered the rights to your heart away far too young because you were afraid. So I ask, “What is a hero?” Is it one who has immaculate strength, speed, and no fear? I think not. I think a hero is the individual with the most reasonable excuses to not go where God would have him go but he trusts in God to get him there anyway. It is the one who despite having the thick cables of obligation and comfort he finds himself running out in the street screaming “I’m going on an adventure!” just like Bilbo did.