(Post by: Madie Hobbs)
I have often wondered what point many schools have in assigning their students difficult, classic stories to read. Just the other day, I was speaking with one of my close friends about the books she was reading for school, and they included things like Beowulf and the Canterbury Tales, things many great scholars would tell you to read. However, she mentioned just how many students could read these entire volumes and still miss the entire point of them. So again, I asked myself, what is the point, and why have students been made incapable of grasping the divinity in such works?
While attending a conference about classical education a couple of weeks ago, I found the answer to my questions. The explanation came, I am sure you will be very happy to know, from The Lord of the Rings. The speaker recalled to my mind Sam Wise Gamgee, a fierce little hobbit going on a perilous journey through Middle Earth with his master, Frodo, who he serves faithfully. Sam is always begging to either tell or be told stories, which is not an unusual desire to be found in Hobbits. But, in a particularly difficult time in his adventure, Sam recalls these old stories of brave knights and heroic courage and realizes these stories have never really come to an end.
He glances around him and notices the various things he and Frodo have been given to help them on their journey, and he realizes these gifts have been key “characters” in several of the great stories he loves hearing about. In one of his darkest moments, he realizes that the great stories, and the brave knights with heroic courage, have not been abandoned to the past. Rather, these great stories which had inspired and comforted him his entire life, are still being continued, through the efforts of two little hobbits, and their loyal friends.
Sam realizes that he now plays just as significant a part in the story of the Ring as someone like Elrond, a great Elven king, or Isildur, a prince who was too weak to destroy the evil Ring when he had the chance. The power to save Middle Earth or condemn it to destruction now rested on his tired little shoulders.
I believe one of the main reasons I have always loved to read so avidly, is because somehow I have always realized that we can continue the great stories. The brave knights and heroic courage did not wither away between their pages, but can be manifest once more inside of everyone who dares to imitate their bravery.
But you are probably all wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with what is supposed to be a spiritual blog post on this Thursday noon?”
Well, now it is my turn to pose a question to you.
If something like the public education system can completely strip the wonder and sight from a young human being, and render them so blind they cannot see beyond their own pretentiousness, what then do you think they will blind these children to next? What great story would not be in their best interest to have their students continue?
As Christians, we need to start connecting the dots, and open our own eyes to see that if they can rob so great a story as Beowulf of all its power, you need not doubt that their successes will lead them to heftier enterprises.
If they can silence the great stories, they will undoubtedly try to silence the greatest Story. If they can make it so their students read verse after verse of something like the Aeneid and feel no emotion stirring up within them, it will not be long before those same students read verse after verse of Scripture and feel exactly the same thing. Nothing.
My challenge for us today is this: do not succumb to blindness in a world which is predominately overtaken with it. Be the person who sits down with Scripture, who sits down with Jesus, and allow it to awaken your wonder anew. Allow it to shape you into a person who simply will not fit the mold of society, and who dares break the mold with their heroic courage in continuing the greatest Story ever told.
No doubt it will be even more rewarding than sitting numbly in a classroom and ignoring the reason why you have been sat there.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).
SO, WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= Are you willing to wonder?
= What are you going to do differently?
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