“Main text by Luke Hamilton; Following text by K B Napier”
(Note: The original article by Luke Hamilton it is reproduced here, because it is quite appropriate in its context. My own comments are given after the main article by Hamilton).
“Our stories are changing. Wonder and Beauty slowly eke from our world, unnoticed and unmourned. I used to think it was a natural cessation from the Neverland of youth; a necessary immigration from the immature trappings of youthful imagination to the logical constraints of a moribund maturity. However I’ve found that this is not just my perspective, draining of imagination and wonder as I age. Our stories, our heroes, are changing. Our children seem less prone to idealism, more immune to wonder; and this points to a tidal shift in the culture itself.
If you watch or read any contemporary fiction, often the hero of the story isn’t very heroic and the villain isn’t all that villainous. The hero might still be likeable and usually emerges victorious, but he’s a flawed and fallible creation, spawned by a culture growing terrified of morality. Instead of iron will and indomitable moral strength, our heroes are “complicated”. They dabble in addiction or are lovably lecherous. They have perverse sexual appetites or find themselves drawn to the “dark side” of humanity. Most often, they are weak and conflicted instead of strong and steadfast, as in times past.
Conversely, most villains are no longer depictions of the evil which exists in the dark recesses of our human capacity. They are usually more likeable than their whiny counterparts. Their immorality is mitigated by their snappy dialogue or the glimmers of morality we glimpse behind the unscrupulous behavior. Take Stannis Baratheon vs. Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. Stannis’s draconian morality is upstaged by Tyrion’s charming debauchery. The author shows us that Stannis’s moral certitude was just a mask covering his unabashed lust. We find ourselves rooting for the immoral character because the author puts him in better packaging, causing us to question our own moral foundation. After all, we don’t want to be like Stannis, do we? The Imp is so much more fun…
If any character does demonstrate unbending moral fiber, he or she is usually the punch line, later in the story. Case in-point, Homer Wells in John Irving’s Cider House Rules. The book received hefty acclaim, with the film taking home 2 Oscars. In it, Homer is a pro-life orphan who sees the world through a morally-absolute perspective and speaks out against the horror of abortion, which he observes while assisting the orphanage’s doctor in his medical duties. As the story progresses, the author forces Homer to realize his “foolishness” through a series of contrived circumstances which ostensibly demonstrate that absolute morality is only for the naïve or sheltered and that his moral certitude should be tempered with a healthy dose of relativism.
What is happening here? Are we all just growing up and seeing the world more clearly through progressively mature eyes? Are we finally throwing off the chains of Victorian morality and embracing the hedonism seeded in the 60’s and 70’s? It is my contention that the forces at work in this world have decided to attack the concept of heroism itself. We have an enemy which seeks to sow confusion and despair whenever possible and the elimination of a hero accomplishes both. Much as the figure of the father is under assault in the social arena, the hero is a target in the realm of entertainment. Both objectives accomplish the same task: a mournful, truncated existence, spent wandering through a maze of moral confusion. If we have no heroes, then we have no higher plateau of achievement and accountability for which to strive.
To combat this phenomenon, it is important to hold tight to our heroes, cementing them in our minds. For me, that honor belongs to two groups – the hero of the Christian faith and the American soldier. Both are ready to pay the ultimate price for that which matters the most. Both are comprised of fallen, faulty mankind, but also share the purity of intention to give their life for another; the soldier for his brother beside him and his countrymen at home, the Christian martyr for his Savior who first shed His blood for all.
Not all of us are cut from the cloth of a hero, but we too serve an important purpose. A hero lives on in the stories told by generations following. This Veterans Day, let us take the time to remember and teach about a hero. Not the conflicted and worldly type of heroes so prevalent today, but the type who lives up to the billing and inspires all who hear their tale.
“Not all of us can perform the deeds of heroes of the faith. But we can admire, love, and rejoice in them. We can battle unceasingly against the guile of oblivion that threatens the life of the hero. Mirrored in the love of the admirer, the deeds of the hero will appear even more beautiful than they were in reality. The admirer makes of the hero, who was also only human, a legend.” – Richard Wurmbrandt, Victorious Faith.
(Original source: (Jan Morgan, Media 10 November 2013)
Comments by K B Napier:
The above article is certainly true. And his reference to the American soldier is acceptable, especially as many in recent days have died in conflicts, with unabashed heroism. A ‘hero’ is one who, despite his fear, enters the fray and does what he has to do, for the sake of others.
It is true that those put up as modern ‘heroes’ are anything but. Instead, they are amoral (another word for immoral) and sinful. We need only look at the famed James Bond! Sadly, our children watch too many tainted ‘heroes’.
I have often said that my hero is the biblical David. His character was hewn from great stuff by God, and apart from his sad sin with Bathsheba, he is every bit the hero. He was staunch, godly, fearless in battle and strict in his morality and integrity.
Every time I remember what he did against the Philistines with his close friend, Jonathan, I cannot help a smile! They ran down a hillside into the Philistine camp, at night, yelling and brandishing their swords. The enemy were in a panic and began to kill each other, thinking there were many soldiers against them. And so the two young men vanquished the enemy on their own!
Angry at such outrageous arrogance against the Hebrews, it was David who, as a young lad, demanded to fight Goliath, and won the battle and the war. It was David who, on hearing that Saul was dead by his own hand, put two of Saul’s soldiers to death for daring to raise a word against their king... even though Saul was his enemy, David still treated him with courtesy and honour in death. The list of David’s moral and spiritual ventures, plus his utter integrity, are, to me legendary and worthy to be called ‘heroic’. The Bible has many of these men.
There are others who fill this role, too. Only a few nights ago I watched a documentary about the storming of Juno Beach by Canadian troops during WW2, and the parachutists who landed the day before to secure the beach-head. The re-enactment of the way one young officer made his way up the beach during massive fire from a bunker was truly amazing. To save his men he made his way to the bunker, cleared it himself with gun and hand-grenade, got into the bunker, found secret passages, then followed them until he discovered a roomful of Germans, who were taken prisoner! That was heroism! Many of those WW2 soldiers are worthy to be role-models for young people, as are some soldiers today!
I think of my own father. Before he joined the parachute regiment, he had already been fighting in Himalaya against guerrillas in the hills, and was already seasoned as a fighter. As a ‘para’ he was shot and injured twice, the second time also sustaining an extra injury when German fighter ‘planes attacked a field hospital. He was tied on the back of a medic’s jeep and could not move, so a bomb blast that caught the hospital tent blasted him with shrapnel in his head. Next thing he knew was sailing back to Britain on a hospital ship. But, before all that, he took a small party of men through woods and fields, heading for Pegasus Bridge. Their job was to clear the way for the main group, by finding and shooting snipers and booby-traps. This is an intense and very dangerous task, but he did it. Then, he was shot, and got his head injury. Yes, he is a hero in my eyes, because his declared aim was to protect the people of his country against Nazis, no matter what it cost.
Even in later civilian life he was a tough man, though usually very quiet. He was afraid of no man, and even protected my mother’s honour in an English town when a gang of bullying ‘Teddy boys’ surrounded her, shouting very crude things. My father just got in and dealt with them... none of them was left standing, though they tried to fight back! (Not surprising – he was an army boxing champion in India!). And this was the man who, in his fifties, had ALL his teeth taken out by a dentist, without anaesthetic! My approval is not for violence, but for character.
Even though he did not become a Christian until he was in his sixties, he was always upstanding, strong, and fearless, unafraid to deal with hard things in life. And that is why he was a great role-model. He committed sins at times, as do we all, but as a hero he certainly filled the bill.
Today, few Christians are able to be a hero, because they are afraid, or have tainted integrity, or allow fear to take over. Many remain silent when sins rage around them. They are no better at courage than any unsaved men in society. And this is why we now see foul things happening in the West. They will not stand firm, or stand up at all! They watch as cowards, from behind closed curtains, fearing to be attacked or denounced. It is awful to see such emasculated men!
So, friends, this might seem to be an odd article to publish, but it is necessary... WHERE ARE THE MEN OF GOD? WHERE IS THE HERO? Who can your children look up to and admire? Men who are Christians should never be limp-wristed and feeble! Do you know I am actually annoyed if I shake a fellow Christian’s hand and his hand is limp? Give me a firm, manly handshake any day! As for men who wear perfumes after shaving, and take great pride in wearing the latest fashions, well... I could not see them going through French woods fighting snipers or searching for booby-traps!
Reader, if you have children, read the exploits of David and other biblical giants to them. Tell them of the exploits of Christians who lead and stand firm. Do not let them follow in the footsteps of effete, weak-spined men who are too afraid for their own safety to be champions of others!
© November 2013
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