Tag Archives: douglas wilson

Abide and Endure and Exert Valor Always

Bold Beowulf replied, that brave son of Ecgtheow,
“Sovereign king, do not sorrow – it seems better to me
To finish the feud as friends wreaking vengeance
Than sorrow in silence. We simply decide
To abide and endure and exert valor always,
To find dignity in death. When his days are all done,
The worthiest warrior is well remembered.”

Beowulf: A New Verse Rendering by Douglas Wilson

Book Review: Her Hand in Marriage

her-hands-in-marriage-doug-wilsonThere’s no one like Doug Wilson for catching foxes, lighting firebrands, and burning down egalitarian cornfields. And he always makes it look like fun.

In Her Hand in Marriage, Wilson sets forth a case for courtship that is at once biblical, cogent, and (dare I say it?) entertaining. Yes, entertaining. I do not mean easy or fluffy or flippant – this book is no joke – but as with most of Wilson’s writing, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself, whatever the subject matter may be. He’s just that good.

Modern recreational dating, argues Wilson, “can safely be considered as bankrupt.” It has broken down, proven itself destructive rather than constructive, and highlighted our need for a more biblical way of doing things:

Apart from biblical dating or courting, there are many destructive consequences – emotional, sexual, and spiritual. But if a young man seeks to initiate a relationship, and takes full responsibility for the relationship under the woman’s father, there is scriptural accountability and protection. It is the purpose of this book to define, defend, and describe how biblical dating or courtship works.

And a most excellent defense it is, however short. Wilson covers an astonishingly broad range of topics in only ninety pages. The book is divided into five chapters: the first addresses the authority of parents; the second and third deal with the preparation of sons and daughters; the fourth and fifth deal with the culmination and details of courtship. There’s also an appendix entitled “The Garden”, which beautifully captures the thrust of Wilson’s case in parable form.

Of course (and as my Mom noted in her review), we’re told from the get-go that there must be a distinction between principals and methods:

Because our contemporary practice of recreational dating has failed so miserably, many Christians are hungry for alternative methods. ‘Just tell us what to do!’ In this arena, as elsewhere, the Christian life is approached as though it were a paint-by-numbers kit. But nowhere is this kind of ‘connect the dots’ thinking better calculated to bring disaster than in the realm of courtship. We are men and women with sons and daughters, not social engineers playing with interchangeable, interconnecting tinker toys. This simplistic but destructive mentality is revealed in questions like, ‘How man times must a young man come over before the young girl’s father should allow him to sit next next to her at the dinner table?’ The author of this small book frankly confesses that the answer is none of his business, and that he doesn’t really care. Seek to understand principle, and appropriate methods will follow.

I commend this book to you as a practical, scriptural, and just downright sane handling of a tricky and often misunderstood subject. On a related note, if you can get your hands on a copy of R.F. Capon’s Bed and Board, it’s the perfect companion read.

He’s Got It Down

While Mom was out shopping last week, she took the Littles to the store to pick out a treat. As his sisters went straight for the animal figurines, Jedediah – the lone boy in a group full of girls – made a beeline for the manly stuff. In case anybody’s wondering, the kid is three. I’d swear he’s really older than that, but every time I make a comparison to Benjamin Button, I get slapped.

Anyway.

In this case, the “manly stuff” was a set of knights: decked in plastic, weapons of minor destruction in hand, ready for games of war. Then he picked up a dragon, too.

To which Mom said: “No, you can only pick out one thing.”

To which he said: “But the knights need to kill the dragon.”

He ended up with both. Obviously.

Because, as Lewis would say: “Since it is so likely that children will meet with cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

Because, as Chesterton would say: “Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Because, as Wilson would say: “What is the point of the whole Bible? Kill the dragon and get the girl.”

Little bro’s got it down.

No Swords (or Pruning Hooks) Allowed

This article in TIME by Christina Hoff Sommers is well worth a read:

As school begins in the coming weeks, parents of boys should ask themselves a question: Is my son really welcome? A flurry of incidents last spring suggests that the answer is no. In May, Christopher Marshall, age 7, was suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months earlier, Josh Welch, also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At about the same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world.”

In all these cases, school officials found the children to be in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance policies for firearms, which is clearly a ludicrous application of the rule. But common sense isn’t the only thing at stake here. In the name of zero tolerance, our schools are becoming hostile environments for young boys.

Exhibits X, Y, and Z in the Ongoing War on Masculinity. ‘Cause boys are just so freaking violent. If you see one behaving, y’know, the way boys normally do (wrestling, sword-fighting, playing army, etc.) be sure to call 911. We’ll send a squad car and a straightjacket right away.

What was it Lewis wrote in that magnificent little volume The Abolition of Man? “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Even this scathing indictment is too generous for us. We remove the organ because we hate the function. We make men without chests because we’re scared of what they might do if they had them. We laugh at honor because we know that honor is an antiquated notion best left to the Victorians. We castrate because the last thing we want is fruitfulness.

In Future Men, Wilson argues that “men who follow Jesus Christ, the dragon-slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And that is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle. And to beat the spears into pruning hooks prematurely, before the war is over, will leave you fighting the dragon with a pruning hook.”

Let us have our way, and pruning hooks will be banned, too.

Book Review: Angels in the Architecture

1885767400It’s time to get medieval.

If the above pronouncement induces chills, headaches, nausea, or sneers of self-righteous disgust, you may be suffering from an aggravated case of Chronological Snobbery. You can thank Mr. Lewis for the diagnosis; he described it as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and [even more important] the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.”

Therefore: if you think you’re allowed to sneer at anything “medieval” simply because it’s, well, medieval… think again. Think outside of your paltry little postmodern box. Think long and hard and well, because this is not a subject to be taken lightly. Not sure where to start? Luckily – providentially – there’s a book for that. It’s called Angels in the Architecture.

In this book – collaboratively written by Douglas Jones and Douglas Wilson – you will find sixteen essays on a wide variety of subjects (politics, poetry, technology, the family, the church, the state, etc.) but all of these are connected by a single unifying idea:

Christianity presents a glorious vision of culture, a vision overflowing with truth, beauty, and goodness. It’s a vision that stands in stark conflict with the anemic modern (and postmodern) perspectives that dominate contemporary life. Medieval Christianity began telling a beautiful story about the good life, but it was silenced in mid-sentence. The Reformation rescued truth, but its modern grandchildren have often ignored the importance of a medieval grasp of the good life. This book sketches a vision of “medieval Protestantism,” a personal and cultural vision that embraces the fullness of Christian truth, beauty, and goodness.

The alternative being disaster, we need to get our heads out of the sand, recognize how much we’ve lost, and (what is more) strive to recover it. This is not a nostalgic backward glance to “the good old days”, nor is it an alarmist shout designed to scare us into renouncing indoor plumbing and moving to huts in the wilderness. No, this is a clarion call to throw off the shackles of postmodern pride and prejudice, and to grasp the glorious vision that was once ours – the vision which we have traded, like Esau, for a mess of pottage. We have no excuses. The sooner we see this, the better.

Just a few of many favorite excerpts:

Modernity’s hatred of all things medieval should be reason enough for Christians to desire it. (Jones, p. 16) 

The truth of the gospel leads inexorably to laughter. Those who want to glower as they cling to the truth want something that can never be. Whatever it is they have in their hands, it must not be the truth, unless it is perhaps just a fragment of it. (Wilson, p. 72)

The man who stands in his justification is a man who has been enabled to really enjoy the bread on his table and the wine in his glass. (Wilson, p. 75)

We are far more comfortable removing our hat and lowering our eyes for the state than for the Church. Even though the full majesty and fire of the Triune God has been determined to bring blessing and cursing through the institution of the Church, we treat the Church with the same deference we give a community bulletin board – a little info, a little humor, a little opportunity. (Jones, p. 93)

The first victim on the altar of equality is always that of liberty. The second victim is a collective one, a long line of men, women, and children which stretches out of sight. Hearing modernists talk about the bloody abuses of the Middle Ages is like hearing a lecture on disease control by Typhoid Mary, and it is all a bit much. (Wilson, p. 168)

… the poetic mind cultivates knowledge by means of growth and gradual accumulation. We are not born desiring truth, but rather milk. Truth is not found primarily through the reflections of trained philosophers and scientists. It is found primarily through faithful mothers diligently spanking bottoms. We are designed and created by God to grow up into truth. (Wilson, p. 191)

Get this book. Get medieval. Modernity is overrated.