Saturday, October 8, 2016

And if we follow Christ

The Warrior Ethos, by Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D., forward by Sifu Al Dacascos.

From the writeup on this book at Amazon:

The Warrior Ethos is a daily motivational book for martial artists and warriors. There are 365 quotes, commentaries and affirmations, one for each day of the year! The reader can read the text for the day, spend some time reflecting on the meaning for him or her, and then use the affirmation during his or her meditation time. The foreword is written by the legendary martial artist, Sifu Al Dacascos. The Warrior Ethos is endorsed by some of today's most respected martial artists. In addition to the quotes, commentaries, and affirmations, there is a entire list of all the quotes used in the book, plus a very comprehensive index which makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. The Warrior Ethos is a book that will motivate and inspire you every day of the year. This book is literally packed full of wisdom! The martial arts and warrior philosophy will make your think and inspire you to live a better life. This is one book that EVERY martial artist should have in his or her library!

I have not read this book. I am probably not going to read it. I have never practiced martial arts, though I approve of them, admire genuine practitioners, would urge my grandchildren (if I had any) to practice martial arts for physical discipline and self-defense, and enjoy watching some martial arts films.

What annoys me is the mistaken appropriation of the term ‘warrior’ by both secular and religious (specifically Christian, but also Islamic) culture, which applies it to a multitude of attitudes and activities that have little to do with its real meaning, but which supply the illusion of power to the powerless.

In my not-so-young youth, I also broadly and verbally abused the term ‘warrior,’ applying it to people I liked not only to encourage but also to flatter them. I applied it to myself, unbelievably, even though I hadn’t a shred of real courage and never even learned how to defend myself in a playground fight.

As a budding poet, I wrote what I thought were pearls of sage wisdom about the state of being a warrior. Ten years ago I published this poem written even longer ago, prefaced with my thinking on the topic, which has not changed since then, but become even more certain as I look about me and within me.

Because of the glib and unmerited use of the word ‘warrior’ by some of today’s Christians in reference to their performance as ‘prayer warriors’, ‘worship warriors’ and the like, I have been reluctant to publish this poem that I wrote many years ago. We don’t confer on ourselves the title ‘warrior.’ It is to be conferred by others, best of all, by God Himself. He is again forming heroes as prophesied in my poem.

The spiritual warrior is violent and fierce.
He is violent in scattering the enemies of the Cross
and fierce in opposing sin.
His lips do not sow threats or boasts.
His eyes are twin swords.
Because the power he wields is infinite,
he is perceived as gentle.
Because the power he wields is not his own,
he wields it with humility.
He honorably protects the victims of the warfare.
He battles only his enemy.

I quoted my preface above verbatim with only one minor edit. I blush now at my pretension in announcing that I prophesied the advent of heroes, but no more foolishly or pridefully than did Whitman in his epic poem Leaves of Grass, and probably for the same reasons, hopeful, well-meaning.

I liked my poem then, and I still do, for its epigraphic cadence, borrowed probably from my reading of the Tao Te Ching within the context of my Christian faith. I still think that it speaks the truth about the nature of a genuine ‘warrior.’ What I doubt is that it can emerge in real people, not just in heroic art.

Now that I am beyond the age of physical ‘warriorhood’ and hopefully wizened enough to reserve my verbal assaults against enemies I or society must combat to those truly worthy, my armchair exploits are confined to watching my favorite heroic and martial arts films—300, Red Cliff, and Musa the Warrior.

I need not provide corrective counsel to youths male or female of whatever age or polemical persuasion as they try to empower and define themselves by their particular ‘warrior ethos.’ To be a real warrior, if that’s what they want to be, will not spare them relinquishing any and all their romantic illusions.

If we are speaking of being real warriors in a cause, social, political, religious, we must realize that it will never be enough to be ‘a majority of one.’ I mean, all we can do is opine to those nearby, but the cause isn’t helped one budge. We have to be willing to follow a leader and unite with others in the same cause.

That, sadly, is something most of us have proven ourselves unwilling to do, because we put our personal welfare and comfort ahead of even our most fervent causes. It’s exactly this hypocritical ‘warriorhood’ that may forfeit the next presidential election, handing over power to the dangerous and unworthy.

But thinking less gloriously of ourselves, whether we be warriors or not, let’s stand up for what we know is true, and if we follow Christ, let’s be the kind of warrior He was, is, and shall be, sowing not threats or boasts, honorably protecting the victims, and wielding power with humility, for His victory is ours.

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