Monday, February 18, 2008

Chivalry




"What is meant by chivalry? . . . It was the code of conduct evolved for the knights of the Middle Ages, that is to say for an elite and increasingly hereditary class of warriors; it accepted fighting as a necessary and indeed glorious activity, but set out to soften its potential barbarity by putting it into the hands of men committed to high standards of behavior. . . . The ideal knight was brave, loyal, true to his word, courteous, generous and merciful. He defended the Church and the wrongfully oppressed but respected and honored his enemies in war, as long as they obeyed the same code as he did. Failure to keep to accepted standards meant dishonor, to which death was preferable."

Mark Girouard, The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman, page 16.

Yes, yes, I know. We don't live in nineteenth-century England but in twenty-first century urban, secular, postmodern Wherever. But, if we are Christians, we will resist the corrosive, everything-debunking cynicism of our times. Isn't the glory of our gracious Warrior enough to put some idealism back into us? Isn't Christ glorious enough to set us apart for chivalry and knighthood and honor and bravery and selflessness and dignity and manhood? Let's be careful not to fall short of our high calling just by laughing off greatness in an unthinking echo of the despair of our times.

Rise up, O men of God!