In the world of Hobbiton there was not a lot of temptation to do great evil – gossip was probably the prevailing sin of the shire. But in our world today we have a lot of temptations which lead our souls into dark places. I have noticed lately the lack of children in our homes and churches and I am struck by the omission to do a great good – specifically the good of bringing children into the world and raising them to be wonderful productive citizens of our country.
I wonder if the greatest temptation in today’s world is to simply not really live in the world but to live inside our own heads. I see so many people attached to so many electronic things and kids with their eyes glued to small rectangular boxes and adults who never make eye contact any more. I have to wonder if the reason people don’t have kids is because by necessity kids require a definite amount of unselfish time and energy – the focus must be on the baby or the baby will not thrive. Then little ones need conversation – or at least they want conversation, play time, attention time and of course food and clean clothes, a home and all those necessary little things that pull us away from our own selves and our inner thoughts. Being in relationship with a needy person conflicts with the complete self absorption of an electronic world. We may e-mail, or tweet, or whatever but it is done at our convenience. Kids seriously get in the way of such personal time convenience.
But then I wonder about what will happen to us if there are fewer and fewer kids. I look at the baptismal font and realize it is hardly ever used. Where are the baptised babies? Where are the kids learning their faith traditions? Where are the teenagers apprenticed in the good deeds of serving their society? Where are the workers who keep our culture alive with creative innovation?
I think one of the most charming things about Hobbiton was the fact that it was full of families content to BE families who lived, worked and played together. They didn’t need to fill their minds with super-heros, fantastic gymnastic accomplishments, blood sports or fantasy games – but they worked the soil, they grew their food, they nurtured their animals, they knew nature and they fed their souls through the profound reality of the good earth under good stewardship.
The greatest evils of our times may not be in just what we have done to ourselves and each other – but in what we have left untended, uncared for and unloved.