This is the Hour of the Shire

By William Langley

This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (Romans 1:25).

The council of Elrond is good counsel for us all. The darkness of dark times casts a shadow of despair on those who try to penetrate the future. The momentum of a stone rolling down a hill is impossible to halt, so too is the degradation of our society. This is how the wise among us see, but maybe we need look for the foolishness of God and His folly. Where are the small things that will shake the towers?

The sane commentators of our situation tend to predict ruin. In a few short decades, there has been a great slip down the proverbial slope, and we have descended further than the old among us could have ever guessed or predicted. This lends an air of pessimism to predictions of the future since there are no signs of slowing. The wise cannot find the signs and neither can the fools. Reason suggests a bleak future, and bleak will it be if we let reason lead us there.

The elevation of reason is what has led us to this point from our pinnacle. Reason has been set up as an idol instead of a tool. However, it is a cold god that cares not for its subjects. It has led to efficiency and productivity the likes of which have not been seen before. It has led to marvelous advancements that have allayed the worst of human suffering. But it has also led to depravity and cold calculations. It has justified the deaths of millions of those who were deemed to be non-contributors.

Instead of reason, we should elevate hope. Reason, alone, leads us to despair. It tells us there is no hope and that our society is doomed. Nevertheless, remembering the folly of God, we know there is always hope. Just as grace abounds where sin abounds, so is hope where there is despair. There may be no reason for hope except the reason of faith.

Some may contest this point and give into despair. Reason after all is a true method to know things, but it remains a natural method. Above it is the supernatural, and hope belongs to this realm. It does not contradict what reason tells us; it does show us what we are not able to see merely through reason. This is because we lack the ability to see the reasons of God or the causes that will bring about the victory that has already been won. 

In trusting to hope, we are not abandoning reason, instead we are trusting that the wisdom of the wise pales in comparison to the foolishness of God. Throughout history he has confounded the wise by using the weak to conquer the strong. A great example is Saint Joan of Arc. When the might of French chivalry had failed, a young teenage girl was called to overcome where they could not, and God’s victory was attained.

An important point should be taken from this though. Namely, that even though we hope, we must also act, with the grace of God, to affect the change our hope dictates. The great heroes of the passed hoped for victory, and this hope was the cause of their heroic actions that overcome evil. Moreover, it was the impetus for the strength of their actions. In hope let us fight to see the tower of the wise shaken by the Shire-folk.


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