Am I reviewing Method 6 in Anthony Esolen's Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (book club link)
Am I promoting the new movie which demonstrates heroism in action?
Does the titular adjective refer to an overactive imagination which capitalizes on flippancy, sarcasm, and derision?
Or the paradoxical resolution of the movie's name?
There is certainly enough dynamite in the film to blow mountains of heaped-up conformity and dullness sky-high.
Yet in Esolen's essay Pottering the Puny he eschews modern media and points us to the victories found in an host of ancient and historical literary superheroes, all of whom capture the imagination but not all of whom spring from Biblical standards.
The professor's methodologies provide significant insight into the proper application of these stories into our daily lives and the lives of our students, making them more suitable than modern day versions.
And that is good, but not all.
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), American educator, author, orator, and political leader provides an alternate definition of hero.
On the battlefield, when surrounded and cheered by pomp, excitement, and admiration of devoted comrades, and inspired by strains of martial music and the hope of future reward, it is comparatively easy to be a hero, to do heroic deeds.
But to uphold honor in ordinary circumstances, to be a hero in common life, that is a genuine achievement meriting our highest admiration.
Now those words epitomize heroism and capture faith-in-action for me.
Doing everything as unto the Lord (Col 3:23) and being a part of that gathering of the saints (Matt 23:31) leave every other notion in the dust. For is hero a Biblical term?
Does my favor for Booker T's summary mean I've fallen prey to the post-modernists who putate heroic equality?
Does upholding honor in ordinary circumstances trump a one-time, fortuitous rescue?
Frank and Will (main characters in the movie) were real, the situation plausible.
So, what is the difference?
It is admirable to have heroes and read about them, but your life is not doomed if you do not. It is more necessary to know how to size men up and wield a proper weapon. Thankfully, Esolen uses one example who is all about presenting the gospel (pg 144) and another which points to The Type, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. (pg 147)
The apostle John shares the secret to being heroic in I John 2: 14 (emphasis mine)
I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
Esolen understands this and calls us to arms (link to 2008 merecomments).
The holy catholic church, as the Body of Christ, is as always the first defender and last bastion of truth, goodness, and beauty in the God's world. Having preserved the Gospel of Christ in its fullness through the vagaries and degradations of countless heresies, the Church is now facing, quite possibly, the most significant and far-reaching heresy since the Arian controversies - the widespread rejection of revealed Truth and apostolic authority by the majority of the world's population as well as millions of the so-called "faithful."
The gross libertinism of the elite; the vague gnosticism and casual self-indulgence of the many, the willful indifference to the carnage of the innocent. It is the same old story.
So let us gird up our loins, welcome any allies who will join us in the rejection of evil, and armed with the assurance of ultimate victory, meet the enemy with the weapons of truth, courage, fidelity and love.
Thanks be to God for the joy of battle and the endurance of the church militant.
Onward, Christian Soldier!
That's why I'm keep writing about this book and relating it to my ordinary life.
But I do wonder if Unstoppable would make it into Esolen's Netflix queue?