Diary of a Media Priest

Daily observations and tips for anyone who wants to reach out and change the world.


Heed the Headphones in Hobbiton!

diary of a media priest Mar 03, 2024
An image of Bag End at the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand

On a lovely spring morning, I set off for Middle-earth. Or rather, the movie set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Shire, where the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo begin, was built in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island countryside for Peter Jackson’s films. And you can still visit it, all the hobbit holes are there.

A young man in the coach bus was listening to music on his phone. The electronic music leaking from his headphones was so loud that the whole group could hear it.

As we walked along the narrow paths between the orchards and the Hobbit houses, everyone kept their distance from the boy. The music from his headphones ruined the magic of being immersed in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

When we reached the big Party Tree where Bilbo speaks to his birthday guests in the film, our guide took the boy aside. Music that annoyed other visitors was forbidden during the tour. He put his headphones away with a huff.

Rules, prohibitions, and regulations are not only there to prevent us from doing something. They are there to safeguard something else, whether it’s the peace of nature or the safety on the road. The same applies to the rules, laws, and commandments in the Bible.

The ten commandments protect people and their neighbors from themselves. And when Jesus drove the sellers and merchants out of the Temple, he did that because he wanted to preserve the space and the silence where you can encounter God from the worldly noise that hinders such a meeting.

At the end of the Hobbiton tour, the group gathered at the Green Dragon Inn for some food and drink. I noticed that our music fan was now chatting with the others in the group, having a good time. The magic of Middle-earth had finally reached him too.

Fr. Roderick Vonhögen

PS: In my booklet ‘Lent for Little Folk’ I share some tips on how to make space in your life and how to free yourself from what holds you back in the footsteps of Bilbo and Frodo. You can download it for free from this link: mediapriest.com/lent

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