On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.
Along the lines of my last post regarding civility I have been thinking about crusaders, and not just the ones from days of yore. Yes the sins of the crusades of the 11th -13th centuries and beyond have be well documented. We moderns scoff and judge the political intrigue and religious manipulation that resulted in some of the most un-Christian acts ever committed on planet earth. But as they say hind sight is 20/20. As one who fancies himself a bit of a historian I have found that it is easy to sit centuries removed and cast judgement on those who lived long ago. Our modern lenses the way we see things. Our lenses sharpen and even hyper focus on certain events, because they are important for us now and other events are less in focus because, well we just don’t think they are as important. So our idea of justice is skewed, our idea of what was important may not be what was important way back when.
Ok… I do have a point some place here…. oh, I think this might be it… Crusaders are not dead. They are alive and well today, and I am not talking about your local Roman Catholic high school team.
Crusaders dwell among us today, and while they no longer ride stallions, nor wear suits of armor, they are all around us and how they go about their quests has changed very little, at least in reputation, over the years.
In our modern debates about just about anything the crusading ones emerge very quickly on their high horses, covered in armor of righteous indignation. These crusaders can take on many forms, some maybe folks from some conservative church someplace in the middle of no place protesting on street corners or at military funerals, hurling invectives and nasty slurs to point to the holiness of their cause and how God is on their side. Ok, that one was easy and pretty obvious, but try having a conversation about what the bible says about our relationships, and you will find people mounting their modern high horses on both sides of the issue pretty darn quickly. No Pope could rouse a legion of crusaders more quickly than any of todays “hot button topics.”
I call these modern folks crusaders because they display many of the same traits. Roland Bainton a reformation scholar pointed out four characteristics of a crusader.
1) the cause is holy
2) the crusaders are godly, the enemy is ungodly
3) God fights for the crusaders and against their opponents
4) the war is prosecuted unsparingly. Take no prisoners.
I believe they are true now as they were for the first crusaders.
Like those crusaders of the past today’s crusaders are no less impassioned, their energy is fueled by a pious fury that holds no quarterfor people with who feel differently for whatever reason. There are folk on both sides of most modern issues that fit this profile, but the ones the baffle me the most are those who are intolerant of intolerance. In this light it seems that when you are a crusader, you have no time for mercy, you leave no room for forgiveness to be requested nor granted, and grace belongs only to you and those who march under your banner.
Much like those early crusaders it isn’t as if there is not some element of “justness” to their cause, there almost always is, but often the cause becomes the end all be all. In such a cause there is no room to grow, no room to see the other side of an issue, no room to see what God may be up to in all of this, because when you are “right”, it becomes your god.
That being said, there are places, and I think I have been fortunate enough to be in one of them where people for the most part are able to climb down off of their high horses and walk together knowing that there will be differences and that God is not done teaching, guiding and blessing us yet. In this space, we may differ on many topics, some of them may even have eternal ramifications but in the grace and mercy of God we can talk, we can learn, we can grow our relationships as children of God and in that relationship we can trust in His salvation and not our own self-righteousness.