Archive for Chivalric values

Truth, Grace & Justice

The trinity of love consists, according to Christian Schwartz book “The 3 colors of love”, of truth grace and justice. The scriptures rarely mention truth or grace without mentioning justice, but what if any is the relationship between the three?

Grace is the word most often associated with love, when someone is graceful we understand this as loving, forgiveness is easily understood as god's love in action. Truth on the other hand is often perceived as hard and ungraceful. Justice is even harder than truth and is often symbolised with a sword.

So why does the scriptures insist on bundling these three concepts together (look In the original texts for: Haesed, aemunnah and sedaqua)? Why would a scholar like Christian Schwartz hold that these three are the sum of love, that love cannot be without any of these components?

Let's start with love, to love someone or to be loving towards someone implies relationship, and so it is within the framework of relationship we must understand love. You cannot love someone without seeing them (to be seen is to be loved, to be loved is to be seen). To see someone does not mean just to perceive their person, but rather knowing them. To truly know them, or to know the truth about them. Unless you know the truth about a person, unless you see behind the mask, you do not truly love them, you love the mask, the fictional character you have been shown. This is not true love. So truth is a prerequisite for love.

To show the truth about oneself, one must feel safe, one must feel that the other person will not judge who you truly are, you need the other person to be full of grace, forgiving, accepting. And so grace becomes the prerequisite for showing up as oneself. Although it must also be said that even in the face of grace, it takes great courage to she'd the mask, to be vulnerable and show up as oneself. If grace then is the prerequisite for truth, and if truth is the prerequisite for love, then truth and grace are both vital components of love.

How does Justice fit into this matrix? Before we can answer this we must ask what is justice? A simple answer would be that justice is things set right. Although many people associate justice with punishment, this is not the same as justice. Justice is what happens when the kingdom of god comes about, when things are put right, relationships set in their proper place. To find out that something is unjust, that a relationship is unbalanced, that someone is taken advantage of, we must first know the truth about the involved parties. Injustice hides in secrecy, truth brings injustice to the light. When the truth is known justice can happen, things can be set right. People whom live under oppression (injustice) often stay in it because of shame, sometimes because they think it is their own fault the injustice has happened (this is often the case when a corrosive “gospel” of blame and sin management has been preached). Shame can only be dispelled by the graceful truth, it is not your fault! So grace is required for the truth of injustice to be known. However justice does not happen just because the truth of injustice is known. For justice to happen the other party in the relationship must be addressed so things can be set right. So truth must be spoken again, but for the offender truth spoken without grace will most often not be heard. Furthermore in relationship there needs to be balance, each person involved must get from the relationship what they need from the relationship, this is justice. It is important to remember that this does not mean equally or exactly the same as each person is unique and their needs are equally unique. Justice is never blind, unbiased. Justice needs to see the truth and take the side of the oppressed, the have not. Justice is the kingdom of god, a relationship set right, the world set right one relationship at the time.

So these three: truth, grace and justice mark the complexity and completeness of love.

To tell the truth about oneself so justice can prevail one needs an environment of grace. To tell the truth about another so justice can happen one must do so with grace to be heard.

I feel this is summed up beautifully in Mika 6:8

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 TNIV)

Here it is, we are to do what is right, this is not a list of do's and don'ts but rather whatever constitutes justice in the present moment, what is god's vision for this moment, in this relationship. We are also to love mercy, to love grace, to act gracefully and seek out grace communities, to surround ourselves with grace. And then we are to walk humbly, what does this mean? The word humble comes from the Latin humus, which means earth, so we are humble when we are down to earth. This is not to cast our eyes down and be submissives, but rather to be true, to know the truth about ourselves and neither think to highly or to lowly about ourselves, to not pretend to be something we are not, but to just be who we are, true.

 

People are still having sex

I have been putting of writing this post for nearly a week now, I get both uneasy and angry just by thinking about it.

Stephen Court wrote the following in his blog the other day:

Evangelicals Encouraging Contraception for Singles?

http://t.co/w0Y29aLA It turns out that 80% of American Evangelicals are going to hell. That is, they admit to being involved in fornication (and intentional, habitual sin as implied by ‘being involved’ keeps you out of heaven). This is a ‘Christian’ application of the harm reduction fallacy (that we blogged on last week – scroll down or ‘find’ on the page).

So it it seems it is that simple, these Evangelicals who admit that they have sexual relations (although there is no mention whether these relationships are committed, loving relationships) are simply going to hell by Court's judgement. because they are intentionally involved in an activity that according to Stephen Court is a sin.

The sin in question (I am guessing) is fornication (Gr. porneia) another one of these words that are hard to define what they actually mean. In OT times this was an action that would mean somebody was unclean (until the evening) not condemned. The graver offence, that of adultery, that is actually dealt with in the ten commandments is not a sexual crime but that of wanting (coveting) or making designs to acquire somebody else's property, and as disturbing as it may be that women where considered property and that property law has become an integral part of our sexual ethics that is not what is discussed in this article.

So on that shaky ground Steven Court is announcing that 80% of American Evangelicals are going to hell. It never ceases to amaze me how fixated the evangelical church is on sexuality (The lady does protest to much) . I wonder how many of the American evangelicals are intentionally and habitually over eating or intentionally and habitually sponsoring slavery, human trafficking and other injustices just by their comfortable life styles. Sure you could argue that some of this is not intentional but as a Christian in this day and age I think claiming ignorance about justice issues is a bit naive and lazy. Not to mention all the Christians gossiping and hating each other within their churches or denominations and that is narrowing the scope not to include the hatred and bigotry towards LGBTQ persons or persons of other faiths.

Following this logic not only are all evangelical Christians (with maybe some few shining examples) going to hell but the rest of the world and all other Christians with it.

I am reminded of the old 'Judge not lest ye be judged'. I am also thinking that sex education, even for Christian single are of the utmost importance. I have said it before and I feel the need to say it again: THIS IS SOMETHING WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT!

When I as a young single Christian asked questions about sex to my Pastor I was told: Patrik, don't ask me to bless your perversions. And with that the conversation was closed for all times. The only ones who would receive any kind of sex ed in church where married couples and that consisted of, you need to do it and when you do god will bless it (best case scenario, although I do have a friend who was told to open the windows during intercourse so the demons could fly out) then the course would move on to how it was important to spend time together, light candles and work on keeping the romance alive (and yes I agree that this is important, but it is not sex ed).

I wonder is it really our job as Pastors and fellow Christians to add a new law to our friends and church membership, surely our job is to encourage people to seek god and listen to the voice of the spirit in any and all relations whether sexual or not whether within marriage or not?

To quote the song “People are still having sex”, and they will no matter what rules, judgement and/or condemnation we spew from the pew. Everybody (unless asexual) have sexual drives and will on occation act on these especially young singles. It really does not matter if we consider this part of our brokeness as a result of the fall or as a blessing and a part of our original glory, we still have to face the fact that this is a core issue and if we want to be a part of peoples lives we need to accept the fact that they are sexual beings with active sexualities (and this applies whether or not they are actually having intercourse at this time in their lives).

I would rather they had safer sex with their heads screwed on and informed consent on all sides rather than headless secret sex that leave them just screwed with broken lives, relations, hopes and dreams.

Sacramentally branded

A few days ago I was talking to a friend who was showing of a beautiful griffon inked on her arm, I let slip that next time we’d see each other I would be branded, she looked at me nonplussed and said “you have always been branded”. I was stunned into silence by the truth of that statement.

Anyone who has been following this blog will know about my encounter with God in Wales and the giving of my new name. Before I left Wales I had decided to tattoo the name on my body lest I forget who I am created to be. I voiced it as an idea around the campfire the last night as an idea but it felt when I spoke it like a promise to God, or perhaps a promise to myself. And now it is done, I have gotten my first tattoo. My God given name in hebrew.

This name describes the me I was created to be, Gods intention for my life (Calling as a naming process is incidently the theme of the book I am writing in my spare time), something that has been true from the minute I was conceived until this day and will be the truest part of me no matter what I do with my life. Now I have lived most of my life trying to be my own boss, convinced that I cannot trust anyone else and I have not stood as firm as my name suggests, but it is a name to grow into, a calling to holiness and wholeness, a calling to truth and purpose. It is the truest part of me.

And so it is very much an outward sign of an inward grace. My tattoo a visible sign to remind me and others what God’s intention was and still is with me. And so it is a sacramental tattoo. My friend got it right in one, I have always been branded on the inside, all I have done is posted a reminder on the outside.

The greatest honour

First I read it on facebook, then I read it on twitter, and then a whole blog post describing how I got beaten in the Schola at my own game (ground fighting). I get a bit bewildered at this, what’s the big deal?

But I realise that I have been there to, when you are no longer a beginner in martial arts and you can roll with the best and suddenly you score a few wins against a trainer, a black belt, and it is a big deal. I remember my first win against Gabriel ..

Truth to be told, it should be a big deal! For me to. Understand me correctly here, I get beaten by my students all the time, in fact I have never had a serious student that has not beaten me! This either means that I am that lousy at fighting or that I am a really good instructor, and I will let my students be the judge of which is true. I fight my students all the time, I put no prestige in winning or loosing, as long as I win or loose well. It is important to always fight to your ability, to never perform badly. I do fight at the level of my students (this does not mean letting them win), I pace myself according to their investment in the fight. I match strength and speed when I can (I have many students who are stronger than me) And I may allow a student to gain an advantage (like a mount or a guard) to allow them to practice their skills. But I never let them win, if they win it is because they executed the right technique at the right time and I could not have stopped it at the time.

Why do I say all this? To make Mackans win less important? No! But to try to get a cross our philosophy: winning or loosing matters little, it is how well you fight.

I am not ashamed when I am beaten by my students. It is the greatest honour I know. It is a testament to all the time and effort I have put in training and coaching them. If I where afraid they would beat me one day I would have to keep a secret bag of tricks (black belt techniques) that I don’t teach in fear that they might win over me. No, I teach every trick I know regardless of the level of the student, I give away all my secrets, hoping that one day they will get all the little bits together and beat me at my own game.

So Mackan, to your victory VIVAT! May there be many more!

Faith, Trust and Pixie dust

Do you need faith in god to be a knight? The question was asked on my youtube channel. The simple answer is yes and no!

You must have faith to be a knight! Faith is one of the Knightly virtues and there can be no Knighthood without faith. How will you be able to believe in a greater good without faith, how can you choose love and the high road when all you see is selfishness hatred and the low road. It takes faith!

Now having said that I also must point out that for me faith is not simply answering the question: “is there a god?” No for me god is a reality I live in, it is to real to require any faith on my part. It’s an irrefutable fact in my life. Faith for me is to trust god in the little things, to trust that he loves me when I can’t love myself. To trust that he will forgive me when I don’t feel I can forgive myself. To trust that he listens when I cannot feel his presence and to trust that he speaks when I cannot discern his voice.

It requires faith to trust god, to trust other people and to trust that the world can be better than it currently is. It requires faith to believe that the world IS more than meets the eye. Not everything is as it seems. There is magic in the world, and wonder it requires faith to believe that and to see it.

Yes you must have faith to be a Knight. Maybe you do not need faith in god, maybe all you need is faith in love (God is love) or faith in truth (I am the truth) or faith in life (I am the life) or faith that you are walking the right way (I am the way) even though everyone is walking in the other direction. Aslan says in C.S. Lewis, the last battle, You cannot serve virtue and not serve me!

So you cannot e a good Christian without walking the path of knighthood and if Lewis is right, then you cannot walk the path of true knighthood without becoming a good Christian.

Why transparency is NOT a chivalric virtue!

Transparency is a buzzword in todays world and especially in the emergent circles. As a church we need to be transparent and as Christians we need to be transparent so that people can know that we are what we say we are and of course to battle all prejudice against both Christian faith and Christian churches. More than ever do we loathe secret societies and lodges for their secrecy.

But I realise slowly that as great as transparency is as a corrective to the obfuscation and secrecy of church in the past it cannot be the future of the church and it cannot be a virtue that guides the path to knighthood.

Please understand me correctly, I still believe that honesty (the core of honour) and a safe environment to truly be oneself is crucial to the Warriors path, I am no longer certain that transparency is.

Let me explain! Transparency and openness, while great in itself completely removes the need for trust. If I know al there is to know about you and can follow your every move every day, I have no reason to trust you, I do not have to trust you because I know all there is to know about you.

We learn to trust each other when we do not know what the other person does once around the next corner. Only privacy allows us to trust each other, and more importantly only privacy allows us to practice and grow in trust.

Trust is the same thing as having faith, and faith IS a chivalric virtue. God does not build faith in our lives by full disclosure. On the contrary God, when asked for a name, answers tongue in cheek, “I am who I am”, walk with me and find out is implied.

It occurs to me that while we often say in modern society that one has to earn trust, I believe to the contrary that, when I trust you, you are built up and become more trustworthy by my faith in you. If I on the other hand mistrust you and require you to prove that you are trustworthy before I trust you, I undermine the relation and mistrust and betrayal are more likely to follow.

This is why transparency is not a chivalric virtue, and why we are called as warriors and knights to trust others before we have reason to trust. Because a broken heart is better than a cold or dead one!

What's in a name?

Names are powerful things especially when they describe you well. In the Bible names where given to reflect the parents hope or their expectations. In all sorts of warrior cultures names where given to describe a warriors prowess and aptitude or a name was given for the warrior to grow into.

In the Guardian Angels I was called “Harlequin”, no put aside all those sleazy images of romance books, Harlequin was from the elite elven warriors of Warhammer 40k, performers and formidable warriors, spinning and somersaulting over the battlefield with deadly grace. The name was chosen by me, I was an actor (a poser) wishing to be a warrior, what name would fit better? I also had the tagline that went with my name: The dancer of death, the weaver of shadows and the great avatar of the laughing god.

If we disregard the links to a non-existent fictional religion I wanted to be the dancer of death, deadly and graceful in battle. The weaver of shadows was a tip of the hat to the ninja warriors I was so taken by as a boy but also a hint that I was a master of deception, I had everybody fooled (or so I thought). The laughing god was my tribute to my subversive view of the god of Christianity, that God was indeed a God with humour, a God for whom Joy and freedom was paramount.

At Bootcamp in Wales Craig held a session on the “new name”, the white stone given to all believers in Revelation 12. We where asked to ask God what is my new name? Apart from the fact that I was sure that God would not answer this, I was also concerned that any voice I would hear would just be my own….

Before Craig had finished talking I asked the question: Lord what is my new name, what do you think of me? Immediately I had a word come to the forefront of my mind.

Faithful, you are Faithful!

Yea right!? God do you know me? I spent the next thirty minutes arguing the point. To be honest I am anything but… To start with, I have left God and the faith several times. I have been unfaithful in all my relations and would never ever use that word to describe myself. I have also spent years battling an addiction to internet porn and lust. Yet here I was trying to convince myself that this was not God but my own idea, I had just come up with this word by myself, but how could I?

And God speaks:

Faithful, you are faithful. That is What I made you, this is your strength and your glory. Pursue this.

Back home battered with assaults on this one conviction I look up the hebrew word for faithful (allready know the greek pistos, to believe to have faith) and I am blown away by what I find. The most common hebrew word for faithful is ‘aman:

539. ‘aman, aw-man´; a primitive root; properly, to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet; morally to be true or certain; once (Isa. 30:21; interchangeable with 541) to go to the right hand:—hence, assurance, believe, bring up, establish, + fail, be faithful (of long continuance, stedfast, sure, surely, trusty, verified), nurse, (-ing father), (put), trust, turn to the right.

In this little word, I find the sum of all things I want to be. True, I want to be a true knight, full of truth (the hebrew for truth is emunnah derived from ‘aman). I want to be steadfast, loyal. I want to be a nursing father, to build others up. But more than anything I want to live the life where I trust God! Where I am full of faith, faithful.

No longer the dancer of death or the weaver of shadows, no longer the incarnation of a false god. I am faithful!

What is your name? Go ahead ask him, he wants you to know!


The Warriors Path

I have long been peeking at Crazy Monkey Defence, as any faithful reader of this blog will know. I am attracted to CMD as a martial system not only due to it’s effectiveness but mostly due to its philosophy. The founder of CMD, Rodney King have just posted this article on the way of the warrior and the The Warriors Path. Although I would contend that the way and the path of a warrior are inseparable, the points he makes are well made.

I especially like the stages of the warrior

Stage 1 – Conventional Slumber: Here you have to recognize and go beyond the conventional. One is required to wake up from what is seen as the traditional. Most people are seeking some kind of experience of being ‘alive’. They may feel their life is no too dissimilar to a hamster running the wheel. Their life is in other words seen as conventional and ordinary. In seeking for what is missing in their life, they need to answer a call, that will set them on an adventure.

When we talk about martial arts, you may have decided for what ever reason, that training in it, will answer or help you capture something you feel you really need in your life.

Stage 2 – Call to Adventure: Once you begin to awaken from your Conventional Slumber you now find yourself having to either choose to go towards the change you desire (Or feel forced to embrace), which will with any risk, bring about uncertainty and fear. At this point you have to decide if you will move forward or retreat to what is seen as the familiar (Go back to what is seen as Conventional Slumber).

Stage 3 – Discipline and Training: Once you are on the road of Adventure, you begin to realize that hard work lay ahead. You now have to accept teachers of various kinds. Training and lessons are hard, requiring discipline. The training, the lessons- tests you emotionally, physically, mentally, and in social settings.

At some point when you or your teacher feels your training is complete, you now want to test those skills you have learnt.

Stage 4 – Culmination of the Quest: This is where you test yourself (Or may be forced to test yourself). This is where you step up and see if you really have what it takes to do what you trained for or have been trained for. This is not necessarily the completion of the path, but it does represents a breakthrough, and will include insight and understanding about oneself.

Anyone who understands the WAY Of The Warrior would have likely progressed through Stages 1 to 4. But just because you are on the PATH of the Warrior does not guarantee that it will be one that will positively inspire your life and those around you.No one is born a gang banger, a mercenary or a criminal. Even they have to awaken from what is seen in their environment as Conventional Slumber.The young teenage boy who has been born into a rough, impoverished neighborhood, realizes that if he just stays where he is at he will become a target and a victim to the gangs in his area. He awakens from his Conventional Slumber to the realization that he has to make a decision, to join or to live a life of subjugation.Joining the gang for better or for worse is the Call to Adventure. Adventures don’t have to be positive to be ‘Adventures’. Once this young man has decided to take up the Adventure, he is subjected to Training and Discipline. He is taught the way of the gang. How to be a gang member.Finally he has to put all that he has learnt into practice. He is required to bring his Quest to Culmination, either by stealing that car or beating, killing a rival gang member. This is his initiation into becoming a fully fledged member of the gang.
In the same way someone in the modern martial art world who seeks to compete will move through a similar path. He will answer the call, go on the adventure, be taught how to fight, and ultimately culminate the quest by fighting in the cage.

The same can be said for the mercenary and the criminal.All of these above have learnt through the Path to develop the Way. The traits necessary to use the ‘martial’ for what ever end they seek to create.But one thing separates all of the above from a true, virtues Warrior. All true Warriors after their Quest has Culminated, will Return and Contribute. In fact it is only in Returning and Contributing that he or she becomes a Warrior.

Stage 5 – Return and Contribution: The seeker, who is now the Warrior becomes the knower. In a sense the student becomes the teacher.

A Warrior returns to community. The “I” that began the Path becomes the “we.” The return shifts the individual, the Warrior from merely taking to contributing. Proceeding from this their is a loss of egocentricity. The Warrior unlike the others, the mercenary, the gang banger, the criminal, and the competitive martial artist who fights merely for his own ego, for his own glory- the Warrior brings back what he or she had learnt on the Path to POSITIVELY uplift those in his community (Or his gym).

The realization is that the journey was never about the Warrior, it was never about ‘him’, but had always been about the “we”. It was always about connection and contribution to something greater than himself. As Tick pointed out earlier, “[The] warrior [becomes] devoted to causes he judges to be more important than himself or any personal relationships or gain.”

This fits nicely into Ranger-Warrior-King that John Eldredge paints in “Fathered by God”.


It's MY IPod!

I have a brand new Macbook Pro, I had the older model that I bought just a few weeks before they released the new model. It was a great machine, great specs, great performance. But as the new model came out I got really sad. My machine was still a great machine but not as great as the new one. I called the store and they agreed to replace it and just as a bonus we where going to get the great deal with a free IPod Nano as well.

As this unfolds it turns out it took them two weeks for the macbooks to arrive at the store. And so we are no longer eligeble for the IPod deal. I go to the store disappointed and demand my IPod. The poor fellow in the store try to explain to me that it isn’t that he doesn’t want to give me an IPod, but he can not. I get flustered and in my mind I think I have a right to have a free IPod, after all didn’t everyone else who paid ridiculous amount of money for a mac get one. The Apple representative kindly reminds me that we are allready getting a £400 discount because we are students. I know he is right but I do not want to acknowledge it.

With the same attitude my youngest daughter has when she lies on the floor kicking and screaming to get ice cream just before dinner. I feel had. Why do I never get the good deal? Why do I never win the lottery (but you never play …. THAT’S NOT THE POINT)? I wan’t to scream out: IT’S NOT FAIR!

A quiet voice in my head reminds me of people starving in Africa and homeless people right outside this building of commercialism but the child within screams in outrage and then bargains. Yes, but I am getting a RED IPod that means at least some of the money is given to aids research.

At that outrageously ridiculous argument the card house in my mind crumbles and I let go. I am walking out of the store with a fantastic computer, the best one I have ever owned. Letting go of my silly notion of having my way frees me up to enjoy what I actually have. Letting go of what could have been, lets me just savor what is! Richard Foster calls this the freedom of submission and he states “In the discipline of Submission we are released to drop the matter, forget it. Frankly, most things in life are not nearly as important as we think they are.”1.

  1. Foster, Richard J. The Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper, 1998) p. 111 []

Why do I need sword fighting?


IMG_8545

Originally uploaded by gilbertdeschamps

Last week I was asked by one of my students, why do I need to sword fight? The question was asked with the implication: as a Christian, why should I spend my time on this.
The short answer was of course ‘You don’t!’ but as with everything, there is more to it than that. So Why do I need to sword fight?
I like it, it makes me a better person.

Physically, it keeps me fit. It helps me to develop and keep a healthy posture (Crucial for me as I have a bad back). I get to movce and work out, but since it is so much fun I forget that I am exercising.

Mentally, It is my outlet, my two hours a week where I do not have to think about essays and theological reflections.

Spiritually, the schola is the training ground and the testing ground for chivalric virtue. It functions as the crucible where impurities are forced to the surface and cleaned away. It is the mirror where I truly get to see if my life reflects truth, grace and justice in the microcosm of the martial art.

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