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Monday, September 21, 2015 The Courage of Quite Small People

(Posted September 21, 2015)

For those of you not familiar with Joseph Laconte's A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War...

... let me orient you briefly and recommend your own reading of this book which holds great value for warriors in any walk of life, particularly those in military uniform. In short, this insightful dual biography recounts how the traumatic World War I experiences of two of history’s great Christian writers, C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, et al.) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings, et al.), impacted their spiritual and emotional lives and shaped the themes embedded in their great works. I will provide several blogs reflecting on different themes drawn from Loconte’s insightful writings. This one will focus on “The Courage of Quite Small People,” the title of a section in one of Loconte’s chapters which discusses the nobility of individual warriors and their demonstration of individual resilience.

I have always admired the American soldier (in my Army experience), and by extension all members of the U.S. military, and their families. In particular, I honor our military’s ‘blue collar’ workers, men and women who do their duty despite not being in a position of rank or authority to know if their sacrifices even matter. While one might question the wisdom of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, or the sanity of World War I charges by tens of thousands of Allied infantrymen across ‘no man’s land’ – yet the nobility, courage, and selfless service of our individual military members is without question. Tolkien and so many others were understandably disillusioned by the seemingly purposeless slaughter that was World War I (with 6,046 average deaths per day for over four years); yet, Tolkien was careful never to demean the significance of the soldier at his post:

  • “I have always been impressed that we are here, surviving, because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds. The hobbits were made small, he explained, to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men at a pinch.”1

Diving deeper into Tolkien’s transference of wartime perceptions into his writing, author Loconte writes: “…the character of the hobbit was a reflection of the ordinary soldier, steadfast in his duties while suffering in the dreary ‘hole in the ground,’ the front-line trench.”2

Speaking specifically of the hobbit Sam Gamgee’s quest against insurmountable odds, Tolkien in Lord of the Rings writes:

  • “But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam’s plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue.”3

Perhaps you agree with me that Sam Gamgee represents the ordinariness and the nobility that is within each of us. In essence, he became a true resilient warrior just as each of us are challenged to be resilient warriors, regardless of profession, gender, age, or status in life. John 16:33b (NASB) states: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Sometimes, for all of us, hope seems to die; yet, when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to “Christ in you, the HOPE of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

The message is simple, yet profound. We are all foot soldiers, small creatures, in the galactic struggles that rage about us. We seldom can know the degree to which our individual actions affect outcomes, seemingly wasted in the magnitude of the struggle. Most of the time we have to walk by faith that our actions do matter, our lives do matter. We have to walk by faith that our small, timid steps into the darkness epitomize the great nobility and courage that our Lord would desire of us.

From the pages of Resilient Leaders: “FAITH is the bridge which leads from FEAR to COURAGE.”4 The hobbits reached courage, despite being “quite small people.”

So can we – through our faith in the person of Jesus. To Him Be All The Glory!

1 Loconte, Joseph. A Hobbit A Wardrobe And A Great War, Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2015, page 76.
2 Ibid, page 75.
3 Ibid.
4 Dees, Robert F. Resilient Leaders, San Diego, CA: Creative Team Publishers, 2013, page 90.

Put on your thinking cap.
Tell us what you think about this latest Resilience Blog!

Respond with a comment on this blog post or on the LU Military Affairs Facebook page! To comment on the blog post, click the "Comments" link at the top of the page.

Respectfully in Christ, 

Bob Dees
LU Institute for Military Resilience


PS: The next Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) Webinar entitled

"Honor to Whom Honor is Due"

will be presented by Major General Robert F. Dees (U.S. Army Retired)
Associate Vice President for Military Outreach

8 PM on Thursday, November 12, 2015. 

Join us for this very special webinar, hosted by Major General Robert F. Dees (U.S. Army Retired), as we celebrate and honor service members, veterans, and military families through the sharing of personal testimonials and stories from our Liberty University military family. Stay tuned on www.Liberty.edu/IMRWebinars for more information on how to honor your loved one during this webinar. Please also be sure to RSVP to confirm your attendance. This is one event you will not want to miss!

See you there for a powerful time as we give
"Honor to Whom Honor is Due "

Register at www.Liberty.edu/IMRWebinars.


Posted at 10:24 AM | Comments (1)
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