Weeping Among Hobbit Holes

A few years ago, my sister Bethany and I visited New Zealand. We spent several weeks on the North Island: hiking, sightseeing, visiting with friends, drinking coffee, and stuffing ourselves with fresh butter and cheese. It was awesome. (The scenery, the coffee, the butter, the friends, the cheese. All of it.)

During the course of our trip, we also visited Hobbiton.

Nestled in the center of a 1,250-acre sheep farm in the lush hills of Waikato, Hobbiton was built for the filming of The Hobbit movies, and it's The Shire brought to life.

If only the author could have seen this.

Writing didn't come easily to Tolkien. His creative process was a struggle from beginning to end, and although The Hobbit had worked out well enough, he often despaired of finishing the publisher-requested "sequel"--a sprawling saga encompassing both The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.

Contacting his publisher mid-project, he said, "My work has escaped from my control, and I have produced a monster: an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and very terrifying romance, quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody)..."

Standing in the center of Hobbiton, I was struck that while Tolkien didn't exactly create Middle Earth ex nihilo--out of nothing, as God created the universe--he certainly came close. Middle Earth, after all, came complete with its own history, creatures, topography, mythology, and fully-articulated languages.

Tolkien had created Middle Earth. 

He'd created it out of words.

And here it was.

In this way, Tolkien reflects something of what it means to be made in the image of God.

Our God is a Creator, and he's stamped creativity into our DNA; therefore when we create, we reflect him. Of course, we cannot create exactly as he creates; and we are no more the source of creativity than the moon is the source of sunlight. But though moonlight is dim, it's still light.

So we create, reflecting light into darkness.

That's what Tolkien did. 

He poured himself into his work, telling a version of the oldest and most important story: the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

In this way, Tolkien reflects the Imago Dei.

These reflections, on a bright April day in the middle of a sheep farm, left me wanting to weep among the Hobbit holes.

* * * * *


Zaleski, Philip and Carol Zaleski. 2015. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. New York: Farrarr, Straus and Giroux, 398.


  1. Wow, Ruth. Wow. This moves me a LOT.

  2. Great post Ruth! I have friends in New Zealand and hope to visit there one day!

    Good luck and God's blessings

    1. I hope you make it! New Zealand is one of a kind.

  3. Thanks for your uplifting thoughts, Ruth. What really encouraged me as a writer was that even the great Tolkien despaired some days if what he was writing was worthwhile. On those days when I think "my work has escaped my control" I'll do my best to remember that it's in God's hands and march on. Great pics too! My dream to go there someday.

    1. It's worth the trip -- and it really *is* a hike to get out to that part of the world from North America. But it's so worth it!

  4. Awesome entry. Awesome analogy. I went to New Zealand a few years ago, and if ever there was proof of God's existence, it's in that country, which He created with such mystical beauty. That was the perfect setting in which to film Tolkien's Middle Earth.

    1. YES! I want to go back and hike the South Island. All of it.


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