Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I mean by Knighthood

There are some who complain about the emphasis on "chivalry" in the Church, seeing at as a mechanism for women to abuse men, and a smokescreen for men to use women. Some would even say that many men espouse knighthood as nothing more than a cover for objectification. I disagree. I would say that finding a man who espouses true old-fashioned knighthood is very rare indeed, if only for the general lack of martial ability. Martial prowess, or at least the lifelong pursuit of martial prowess, was an essential element of that knighthood (as opposed to modern knighthood which has nothing martial about it.) So a modern day knight, in order to follow the old code, ought at least to train in a martial art and be proficient with a gun. This is one of the problems with the modern shadowy "knighthood" that everyone talks about incessently, is that it is incomplete. They emphasize only the soft, gentle, velvet side of the fully masculine character of the knight. So we have men who endlessly preach the "warrior poet" ideal, who couldn't throw a decent punch to save their lives (or anyone else's life for that matter.) And even that basic ability is a far cry from the simple definition of a warrior, which is one who studies the arts of war and uses them.

So when I say that I pursue the concept of knighthood in a modern world, I mean that I literally practice the art of killing other human beings. I literally meditate on my own death and prepare for it on a daily basis. I actually pursue an elite physical fitness, coupled with martial arts training, and all the other arts of modern combat. I study and meditate on Just War doctrine, and the Theology of the Body, and various forms of pacifism and constantly refine my moral code which determines where, and when, and how I can justly kill. It has cost me a decade of my adult life to pursue this ideal, and it is still the underlying principle of everything I do. This is what I mean by knighthood; not that I have attained it, but that I pursue it every day, and most especially that it is not some vague collection of moral platitudes couples with archaic civil niceties. It requires the pursuit of real skills. When I say that I pursue knighthood, I mean that I can literally snap a man's neck with my bare hands, and I can literally rock a baby to sleep with those same hands. So if being civil and making a steady paycheck are all you've ever heard of "chivalry" then All you've ever heard is a waste of breath. Holding a door for a lady is meaningless if that is the extent of a man's chivalry. Valentine's day is bosh, if you don't have a soul of steel.

I think this is why I never really see eye to eye with many bloggers on the question of chivalry. To me it is a way of life, a virtue encompassing the pursuit of all virtues. It is a balance of extremes; the measured, committed, unswerving development of excellence in both extremes of masculinity. I pursue it for it's own sake, and for the sake of God, who calls me to it, and I don't much care whether any woman alive approves or disapproves. I accept and appreciate the support and encouragement of women who pursue their own femininity with the same dedication, but I don't give the naysayers a second thought. Truth be told, while most women approve the ideal on paper, in my experience, most are at least a little frightened by it in real life. Especially if they are not pursuing their own calling with the same determination, they are sometimes even totally put off. you see knighthood, when pursued in its entirety, makes you totally other. It makes you something that is not in any way more like a woman, but something that is unmistakeably and unflinchingly other. It doesn't take long for most women to get past the initial approval and realize that this ideal might just be more than they bargained for. It might get their man killed someday. It will certainly make him inaccessible on some level. In some ways he will always be beyond her influence. It means while she will always have his devotion and his love, she can never have all of his heart. In a word, he is "Not a Tame Lion." Loving a man like this requires a strength of femininity unlike any other for she will certainly have to die many times over in the course of their life together.

This kind of knighthood is my ideal. I take it very seriously indeed, having devoted my entire life thus far to the pursuit of that ideal. This might explain why sometimes all the angst over the place of "chivalry" in the Christian blogosphere seems like much ado about nothing to me.

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