Thursday, January 05, 2006

Courage

I watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe last night. Wow. While watching the movie, something struck home inside me near the end of the movie. I'm going to assume that everyone reading this has either seen the movie or read the book, if you haven't, then you might not want to continue reading.
Anyways, the part that I'm thinking about is when Aslan is telling Peter that he must lead the army of good creatures into battle. Peter isn't too enthused about this; he tells Aslan that he doesn't know how, that he's scared to do it.
Fast forward to the battle scene. The two armies are facing each other on the field. The Witch sends her armies to attack Peter's army. Peter hesitates for a second, then swallows his fear and leads the charge into the enemy. He fights courageously, and his forces win the battle (with the help of Aslan and his cavalry, of course!).
So here's what ran through my mind when I was watching this: Why can't that be me there?
Before I go any deeper, I have to say this: I was not trying to say "Why can't I be saving Narnia from the White Witch?" I was thinking "Why don't I have any place to demonstrate/find/learn courage?"
The concept of real courage and sacrifice are somewhat foreign to our culture. We sit in our safe houses in North America, watching war movies and eating popcorn. There's not much that can test our mettle in a real way.
I'm not sure exactly what I want - but I think that many men share this dream of mine. I want to be in a situation where something more than my pride or my money is at stake. Maybe even something more than my life. And I want to fight for it, and overcome evil. However, the only situation I can think of that would accurately satisfy this dream is a battle. Something where I am actually wielding a sword or other weapon, and it is me versus my enemy. A battle of wits and skill. In any situation where one's life is on the line, everything truly unimportant is stripped away, and you are left with a man's character.
John Eldredge talks about this in his book Wild at Heart. Eldredge mentions the movie Braveheart, where William Wallace is courageous, strong, and fights for what he believes in, no matter what. He says that men want to be like that, and not like Robert the Bruce, who betrays Wallace.
So, I have this desire in me to prove myself. The only problem is this: how do I do it? I feel that joining the army would not accomplish any of this, because there is no imperative "evil" that needs to be defeated. So what do I do? How do I prove myself? How can I find out if I am truly like Peter, who swallows his fear and overcomes, or if I am like Robert the Bruce, who turns his friend in for money and power?
At this time, I have no answer.

7 Comments:

Blogger ty said...

hey friend, I give you three bonus points. 1, for mentioning the chronicles of narnia, some of my favorite books, 2. for mentioning Wild at Heart, my favorite book, and 3. for asking a truly good question. It is true that none of us hear in N America have to lug around a sword, or may ever use one, but yet, I think we still have a battle to fight, a very real battle with lives on the line. Sure, we probably won't get stabbed to death in this battle, but these bodies are just boxes to hold the real stuff anyway. no, we have to fight for souls. there is a very real enemy out there, and he's taking hostages daily, only with Hell, their are no peace agreements. these hostages live in death. Like Lucy, with her little bottle, we have the cure that will heal the wound, and if we don't share it,share Christ, they will die. So many hurting people...

So, I guess the question you asked and the answer we seek is, will we be like Peter, and fight to share the gosple with those who need to hear it, or will we be like Bruce and strive for the more comfortable route, the empty route.

4:02 AM  
Blogger JAnie & DAve said...

Hi Matt, Neat! Though i have one thing to add: i think females want that too. Courage, adventure, and defeating huge enemies! I think that those are attributes and experiences that are valuable to the human race!
But you are right, where and how can we find that???

take it easy, Janie

7:04 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

I just watched that movie this weekend too. It was truly amazing! I've never read Wild at Heart...but I have read Captivating (the 'female' version)...Great book!! Janie is right, females also long for adventure and courage.
What I found challenging was the idea that each of the kids (except Edmund) was given a gift, and they needed to find the courage to use them, because nobody else could do it for them. I guess that's how our life is, we each have our own God-given gifts...and if we don't use them, we aren't only letting ourselves and God down...but everyone else in our 'army'.
You're right about us lazy N Americans! I think a major strategy of the evil side here, is to convince us that there is no battle going on.
Great thoughts, Matt! It's great to hear another person's perspective!

10:51 AM  
Blogger steph said...

what did you think of Wild at Heart...?
i would love to hear your prespectives!
i know i am a girl...but i am a very big fan of that book...
for a lot of reasons.

i admire that you have a desire in you for all that you wrote about. not alot of men have that any more...
i think it's important.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Wow, I go back to school and can't post anything anymore. Hopefully that will change once I get internet in my room.
Anyways, having thought on this a little more, I've come to a conclusion of why I want to fight this battle - it's somewhat of a desire to prove myself. I know that might not make sense, but it's a concept that's in Wild at Heart - the idea that men have this desire to prove themself, both to themselves and to others. Steph and I had a good talk the other day about competition, and we came to the conclusion that guys compete against themselves, to prove themselves in their head (I hope that all makes sense).
Lori - I really like what you said - "What I found challenging was the idea that each of the kids (except Edmund) was given a gift, and they needed to find the courage to use them, because nobody else could do it for them. I guess that's how our life is, we each have our own God-given gifts...and if we don't use them, we aren't only letting ourselves and God down...but everyone else in our 'army'."
You said that nobody else could use their gift for them, and I really think that you've touched on something important. We all have our specific part to play in our battle, and nobody else can do that for us.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Tristan said...

Hey Matt. I just discovered your blog, and I have to admit I'm impressed with the clarity and profundity of your thoughts. I also have to admit that I feel a little out of place posting here, but I'll drop off my two cents anyway.

It seems your readers have all latched on to the idea of a 'spiritual' battle raging in place of a physical one. I think there's some truth to this, but I also think the substitution is deeply unsatisfactory. The imagery of spiritual warfare is convincing to children; adults try to keep it alive by applying it to social and political circumstances, or perhaps by personifying their vices. But ultimately, I think these tactics basically just distract us from 1) the real 'spiritual' battle and 2) our aching discontent.

For all his broken philosophy, I believe that Chuck Palahniuk has his finger firmly planted on our cultural pulse. In Fight Club, Tyler Durden delivers a few particularly telling lines (quoted from memory, so they may not be exact):

"We are the middle children of history, man. We have no purpose, no place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives."

The spiritual war he's referring to isn't a cosmic struggle for lost souls framed with the flourish of demonological defeat. It is each person's gaze into the naked night sky, from which God stares blankly down upon us without the slightest sign of recognition. 'Our great depression' is the result of the knowledge that we are 'not' a part of a cosmic struggle; that God not only does not love us, but that he doesn't even care enough to hate us.

The cosmic spiritual battle referred to is clothed in the language of salvation: we fight (spiritual) to save the souls in bondage to the powers of evil. The truth is that this language (the fight *for* souls) is really just a mask for the true spiritual battle, which is the impossible fight for sanity and pride.

We all want a war to fight in. Most of us want a chance to prove our worth. To show our friends, family, and God himself that we are worthy of love or hatred. The doctrine of unmerited grace is the most fantastic, and most psychologically destructive of all Christian truths - it places the entirety of our value in the hands of God not once (the doctrine of creation), but twice (doctrine of unmerited redemption). Like an indifferent pet owner, God cleans our shit and feeds us thrice daily, and we anxiously look up for a sign of approval, and when we fail to receive it, must either accept our shame and inability to overcome it, or distract ourselves with warfare.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Tristan,
I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond quickly to your post, but you said a few things that I had to chew on for a few days.
First, I think you got the right idea when you quoted from Fight Club:
"We are the middle children of history, man. We have no purpose, no place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives."
Our war is that we have no war. If I'm not interpreting this correctly, please let me know.
Also, you said that "We all want a war to fight in. Most of us want a chance to prove our worth. To show our friends, family, and God himself that we are worthy of love or hatred." I think that this is also very important - what I have been mostly talking about is how I, as well as many people I know, want to prove their worth, to be measured and not found lacking. All of us need to prove ourselves, to prove something. My question to all of you is this: where does this desire to prove yourself come from?

12:25 AM  

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