On this day of American hero-worship, I have a few thoughts of my own for consideration:
Years ago, I happened to see a documentary showcasing an organization called the “Army of God”. Later, they covered Paul Hill, the man who shot and killed an abortion doctor back in 1994.
I wasn’t well read back then and was only a nominal Christian, but I remember getting very excited by that documentary. As Christians, we were telling everyone that abortion was evil because it constituted the murder of an unborn person. But this man, Paul Hill, had taken the truth to heart. Indeed – if we really believed innocent persons were dying, then violence is the only reasonable Christian response, right?
Years later, after becoming a Calvinist and a Presbyterian and learning about Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Gary North, I realized that Paul Hill had once felt (about these men) as I felt. In prison, Paul Hill wrote to Gary North, presumably pleading for sympathy, or at the very least, looking for a friend. Such was not to be found … Hill’s church excommunicated him, and when North finally got around to responding, he damned him to Hell.
Well, I don’t think Hill is in Hell. I think he’s in Heaven, surrounded by the loving ministrations of countless slaughtered unborn. And ever since discovering his letter, I’ve been unable to think the same way about Gary North. He betrayed Paul Hill and he betrayed Christendom; he’ll answer for it in the afterlife.
But this episode shows that the sanctity of Christendom is broken and those of us with regenerated hearts have been relegated to the dark forests; we’re the “underground men” now.
And it’s hard to be an underground man … it’s terribly lonely for one, but secondly, it’s an incredible internal struggle. Consider: I was born in 1982 and all my heroes (all the characters who shaped my childhood dreams) were Christless post-Christians.
The first was He-Man … the impossibly strong barbarian from a fictional universe. He taught me to appreciate violence.
The second most influential was Indiana Jones. He had aristocratic flare, good looks and the dogged determinism that made him an idol of worship for young boys like me.
Later, there was Rambo, but his movies were rated R and I was only able to watch them when visiting friends for sleepovers; friends whose parents weren’t as puritanical as mine. Still – we found ourselves wearing camouflage and playing “war” in the woods.
As I got older and began reading, I discovered Clive Cussler’s “Dirk Pitt” and routinely tried to imitate his mannerisms.
All of these characters have one thing in common: they’re post-Christian, liberals.
There was hardly any “air” of old Europe inherent in these men or their adventures. I only learned of old Europe through the faint hints given from my Grandparents – a tone of voice here, a look there, or through all the old late-night stories about the past…
So, it’s a great personal struggle. I consider myself someone of mid-level intelligence, and I’ve been self-consciously trying for the past few years to garner the old mind-set and re-ignite (in myself) the heroic “cowboy” or Knightly chivalraic attitude. I’ve been having to rely solely on the books and movie recommendations from “Cambria Will Not Yield” … and even with all that, it’s very difficult. Difficult to overcome the heroes of youth, who have now become, at best, old-circle friends who are trying to drag me back down the wrong path after having left them for greener pastures.
Enter Gary Cooper …
Last night I watched “Garden of Evil” and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen…it was refreshing in ways I can’t describe. It was like I was seeing the best of my grandfather on the television.
Of course, there’s also Sir Walter Scott – I’ve read a number of his novels, but none stand out like Quentin Durward for me. I sometimes catch myself asking “what would Durward do here…” … a better guide than Dirk Pitt, certainly.
The question will inevitably arise, though… what *would* these men, these old European heroes, do if they woke up in contemporary America?
I go back to thinking of Gary North and Paul Hill…
I can’t believe the old European heroes would want to indiscriminately slaughter all those around us. There would be no honor in that. If we are ever called on to kill a man, it must be with honor: “Turn around and defend yourself!!”
No… I can only see two possibilities for the awakened hero…
One, is to leave this place and find a new home, perhaps in the wilds of South America or in some uninhabited parts of Africa? Maybe, if he’s lucky, he might find one of the old hero women to accompany him into this new “west” (if he’s incredibly blessed he’ll find a Susan Hayward, heh).
But then there’s the second option … I’m calling this the “Robin Hood Contingency.” This is where the hero stays in the midst of the evil and fights them from the inside, living a life of constant danger as an outlaw; a dissident.
Whatever part of me hasn’t succumbed to complete cynicism, jumps at option 2, only, there will be no beautiful Maid Marian here – there will be no clever puns and good-timing forest companions. There will only be a lonely, demon-harassed hero, in the dark, constantly pursued, with no more hope for victory than whatever little comes with hope for miracles.
It’s a bleak choice for any man.
What would Durward do? What would the Virginian do? What would Gary Cooper do?