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    Rerun: Don’t Forget to Slay the Dragon

    April 6, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    This post first appeared on March 31, 2009. You can view the original here. It has been slightly edited from the original.


    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Ephesians 2:10

    Some of us are born into trying times. I, for one, often wish I had lived during the latter part of King Arthur’s reign. This would be right after his defeat of the pagans, and right before the big battle in which he was killed. The Kingdom of Camelot, filled with virtuous knighthood, equity symbolized by round tables, and undeniably beautiful flowing dresses, is right up my alley.

    Just don’t remind me about the lack of running water.

    Another great time for living might have been after America had been established. The war in which she threw off the bounds of her unnatural subservience to England was over, and citizens were developing a new government based upon the created order.

    And there were still long flowing dresses, a definite plus.

    But I live now. We all do. I live in a time which is bringing the reversal of much that was accomplished by the Revolutionary War, where people in the last election cried out not for freedom, but for slavery to a ruler who might rule them in an unnatural, tyrannical way. A ruler who cares little for the Constitution which he vowed before the Creator to protect.

    My response is to alternately listen to {or read} the news and respond with rants and fear, or follow the model of my dear friend Lady Ostrich and stick my head in the sand.

    Ranting is interesting, but generally accomplishes little. And ostriches aren’t exactly known for changing the world.

    There is, of course, a monastic approach. This is one view of homeschooling in a nutshell. You take the legacy of great books, great minds, great thoughts, and you pass them down within the home, allowing little souls to marinate in virtue and nobility until a time when the world is again ready for greatness.

    And then there are those who are called to slay the dragon.

    Do you remember the scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo says that he wishes he had never been given the ring? This is one of the few times where the movie nicely parallels the book. Gandalf’s sage advice is that men do not choose their times, but they do choose what to do with the times that have been given to them.

    Frodo was a dragon-slayer in a metaphorical sense, just as his forbear Bilbo had been in the literal sense.

    Ancient tales remind us not to forget to slay the dragon, even when we feel that longing for our heavenly home.

    Yesterday afternoon, I sat down and read Margaret Hodges’ Saint George and the Dragon to the children. I can’t believe I put off acquiring this book for so long, for it is a treasure to behold and a joy to read. The children were enchanted! Here is another echo of timeless sage advice, given to Saint George (the Red Cross Knight) in the midst of a long journey which he knows will end in a battle with a ferocious dragon:

    Saint George and the DragonAfter many days the path became thorny and led up a steep hillside, where a good old hermit lived in a little house by himself. While Una rested, the Red Cross Knight climbed with the hermit to the top of the hill and looked out across the valley. There against the evening sky they saw a mountaintop that touched the highest heavens. It was crowned with a glorious palace, sparkling like stars and circled with walls and towers and pearls and precious stones. Joyful angels were coming and going between heaven and the High City.

    Then the Red Cross Knight saw that a little path led up the distant mountain to that city, and he said, “I thought that the fairest palace in the world was the crystal tower in the city of the Fairy Queen. Now I see a palace far more lovely. Una and I should go there at once.”

    But the old hermit said, “The Fairy Queen has sent you to do brave deeds in this world. That High City that you see is in another world. Before you climb the path to it and hang your shield on its wall, go down into the valley and fight the dragon that you were sent to fight.”

    Sometimes, when a fierce dragon is staring us in the face, we are tempted to skip the fight and venture off in search of the High City. The High City is our ultimate destination, to be sure. But first, we have work to do. This life isn’t all that there is, but it matters nonetheless.

    Words from the wise: Don’t forget to slay the dragon.

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    1 Comment

  • Reply Silvia April 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I would say wonderful post if it had not ruined the surprise of what a monastic approach is.
    I also thought about the dresses. Actually I thought about skirts and layers. I thought that was a sign of a poetic era versus the modern bloomers and postmodern jeans.
    But I also believe that the surgical organized (and luxurious) reclaim of vintage clothing from the white picture perfect chic blogs, even if it is hosted by a minority, it is not poetic. They still belong to Beverly Hills. My worn good will store jeans will be more in this line!
    Do you know that I did not have this book and I was going to make without it next year when I got it for 50 cents new at the good will store?

    Very nourishing, as always!

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