Shire Justice – what the hobbits have to teach us about justice and shalom

With Peter Jackson’s long-awaited film ‘the Hobbit’ currently being screened, it seems appropriate to highlight the second chapter of the forthcoming book Carnival Kingdom, by David McIlroy.

David is a practicing barrister and senior lecturer in Law and Justice at Spurgeon’s College, London. He is author of A Biblical View of law and Justice (see link below) and has published a number of other books and articles. See his blog at

Here is a brief summary of his chapter:-

Reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings gives us a picture of another world, near enough to our own for it to inspire us to think again about how we order our lives in the twenty first century. One such picture is the Shire and its justice. David McIlroy claims that ‘shire justice’ is akin to the Biblical idea of shalom, something that every society needs if it is to flourish.

Below are some brief snippets from David’s chapter:-

“What Tolkien shows us in his descriptions of the Shire at the beginning and of The Lord of the Rings is what a just community could look like, how it could be corrupted, and how it might be restored. He dares us to imagine ‘Shire Justice’.”

“There are three secrets to shalom. The first is that shalom is built around good relationships between people. The second is that shalom requires an intimate understanding of what God wants. The third is that shalom demands that no-one is excluded from participating in society.”

“The shalom which the hobbits enjoy is the consequence of the virtues which they display, the virtues of enjoyment, contentment and hospitality.”

In a world of increasing cynism, violence and de-personalisation, Bilbo Baggins and co. provide us with a few pointers towards just communities, friendship and the biblical concept of Shalom that we hope will serve to re-envision us as we enter a new year.

Happy New Year from the jusTice initiative!!

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