Saturday, April 1, 2017

Parzival's Meek Horse

The sombre mood continues in the Tavern as we await better news of the Southern Gal. I keep busy serving the customers with a heart being weighed down and weighed in the scales. Eyes are downcast and sad, but there is little sign of anyone breaking down. After all this is a Tavern fit for Knights and Heroes, Saints and those trying to be lesser sinners than they were yesterday. For we do not break: we are meek, here.

"Can a warrior be meek?", someone asked. "How can he not be", came a voice from a dark corner. "Is he not fitted for a higher purpose?"

But meek people are weak people, surely? I see far too many christians who think that way. These days everyone admires the 'kick-arse' hero. The Bruce Willis, the Steven Seagal, the Vin Diesel. I rather like Vin, he would have made a good knight. The firebrand 'pastor'? Hmmmm. Not so much.

Even the woman in films are made out to be soooo tough. Amazingly so considering their frame, weight, tendons and almost total lack of real muscle. Lara Croft and Xena the Warrior Princess may 'appeal' to some (I rather like Xena despite her being as queer as a two-bob note). 

But meek they ain't. 

None have the qualities of a fine horse.

I am reminded of my young friend Parzival; he who rode alone with just his horse for company. And what he put that steed to. It did not let him down and had not since the day he 'broke'. The horse that is. 

And the young Christian Knight himself too. He was broken-in - a tad too quickly as it happened, which was to his early cost, and mine ! - as we all have to be if we are to be fit for purpose.

He gained his Knighthood too early. He failed in his quest, snatching defeat from the open hand of victory. He failed to ask the Fundamental Questions.

For a while, until he had taken a few sound whacks and even sounder advices from old men, his horse was the better man.


People get the wrong idea about warriors and horses. One has been fitted for battle, war, violence, through training, practice and pain along the way: the other has to be made fit. Through training, practice and pain along the way.

Young Parzival had his share, I can attest. As did I.

Elizabeth Pardi sat and explained. They have the wrong idea of what being a Christian is about too.
Do you know what ‘meek’ of ‘meek and humble of heart’ really means?

My notion of what Christians are called to be was completely off.
A friend of mine once told me her agnostic sister-in-law had opened the Bible for the first time and happened to land on Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Irritated, she shut the book, convinced that her suspicions about Christianity ultimately favoring weak, blindly submissive individuals had been confirmed.
There was once a time when I couldn’t have agreed more with her. My notion of the ideal Christian – presumably a person fitting the description of meek – was someone who meagerly followed a set of rules they didn’t really understand and consistently maintained a monotonous disposition.

I assumed that qualities like passion, self-confidence and playfulness were in direct opposition to meekness and other such characteristics that Christians were called to emulate.
Even after I began practicing the faith, I was still put off by the word meek and everything I believed it to entail.
It wasn’t until I heard a talk by Fr. John Riccardo that 
I realized how misled I had been.

In explaining the original meaning of the term meek, Fr. Riccardo explained that the word as people tend to recognize it today is not at all how it was intended when used by Jesus in Matthew 5:5 and 11:29 or by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:1.
“Meek” was translated from the Greek word “praus” (pronounced prah-oos), which is a military term referring to a horse. As writer Sam Whatley explains in a River Region’s Journey article, “Wild stallions were brought down from the mountains and [trained.]”

Depending on their temperament, some were used for tasks like pulling carts and others were used for racing. 
The finest stallions, however, would be trained for war.

“They retained their fierce spirit, courage, and power, but were disciplined to respond to the slightest nudge or pressure of the rider’s leg,” Whatley writes. “They could gallop into battle … and come to a sliding stop at a word. They were not frightened by arrows, spears, or torches. 
Then they were said to be meeked.”

As Fr. Riccardo explained, meek in the sense that biblical writers meant it refers to strength that is under control.
It’s strength that knows when to assert itself and when to be passive, as opposed to reacting purely out of emotion. It’s strength that can effectively defend itself and what it values, all the while knowing that it, in itself, is not in control but is instead a capable and crucial instrument of the one who is.

When I heard this description of meek, clearly portraying neither a blind follower nor a passionless coward, it became clear why we are instructed to strive for such a characteristic. Anything else is either taking matters wholly into our own hands, inevitably leading to disaster, or washing our hands completely of any responsibility, thus deeming ourselves powerless.
In reality, like the warrior upon his warhorse, our relationship with God is meant to be a cooperation in which He holds the power. 
It is His far surpassing intellect and preparedness that guides the path, and our trained ability to remain in tune with his direction that enables us to walk it.
And so we in the Tavern pray to Him that His Will be done. We ask that He restore out Lady of the House, the Southern Gal.  He is the One in Charge.

She is a strong woman. Her accident, an all too common feature of our busy mechanised world, has brought her down. It has broken her body. But we all know very well, with utmost confidence, that it has not broken her courage, her tenacity, her willingness to accept whatever is thrown her way by fortune.  She will fight. It will not break her feminine spirit. Nor the gentleness combined with fierce love that we all know. She is not a fake.

Our SG has Christian Character.

Not like those 'kick-arse' women on the screen. The pretenders. The 'man-wannabes'.  They are 'characters'. They do not 'have' character. OK, to be fair, entertainment is about story-telling, but they have to be rooted in some vestige of reality or else be fairy tale.  Especially if it is an adult being portrayed.
One could argue that there were actual 'ShieldMaidens' but heck,
even archeologists have fantasies.
A Meek Knight is 'trewe': he is masculine. 

A woman is 'trewe' when she is feminine.

Another gal, Dawn Witzke was in too and she spoke to that.
The Strong Female Characters

I am thoroughly sick of strong female characters (SFC). I can’t turn on TV, watch a movie or read a book where the female characters aren’t superior examples of their sex in every way shape and form according to a feminist ideal. Knowing exactly what they want, they fight tooth and nail until they get it, never failing, never giving up, and never being hopeless.
In other words, boring.
Or silly.

For example, Game of Thrones (HBO version) has undeniable SFCs…the women who are not vicious and lethal are victims or pawns. Compassion is for the weak. These women use whatever means available, sex, violence, deceit, and manipulation, to get what they want. Those that don’t, end up dead. Those who show compassion, dead. Those who rely on help from others, dead. 

 SFCs are shallow automatons. These strong females are to be beautiful and sexy and smart and and ruthless and physically capable of body slamming a 800 lb gorilla all without breaking a nail. Not that they would worry about such trivialities as a broken nail, because worrying about broken nails is what women who are dependent on men do. 
Strong female characters don’t need help, especially from men, because they can do everything themselves.

Yes, I laughed, too.
 The closest characters in Game of Thrones to complicated characters with depth are Brienne of Tarth who, while strong and smart, is compassionate and has to be rescued on occasion by men; and Daenarys who is overly sympathetic and tries to be everything for everyone and it fails miserably. However, she takes advisement from others and realizes that she’s not perfect.

 There are SFC that work, River Song in Dr. Who, is the perfect example of a character who is strong. She can kick butt, she’s intelligent and she’s fun. 
I sometimes wonder if liberal authors remember what fun is, because their characters are not fun. But, I digress.
Digress away, m'dear. I rather like River Song too. She at least portrays a mature woman and not a little girl in a sexy policewoman outfit. 
Whether we realize it or not, fictional characters shape our views and actions. If these superwomen, who can do no wrong or ever fail, are the standard bearers for the sex, what is it doing to readers who can never relate? My guess, the same psychological damage caused by the standards set by photo-shopped anorexic models.
Is it any wonder that suicide rates have risen over 200% in pre-teen and teen girls, not to mention the 60% overall rise in the past 15 years, according to the CDC.

This is of course speculation. However, psychological studies have found that one of the leading factors of the rise in suicide is being attributed to unrealistic life expectations. And that romance novels can give women unrealistic views of relationships. So, it’s reasonable to think that the unrealistic examples of SFCs in entertainment is contributing to this dissatisfaction with the ordinary.
 How can one be satisfied with the ordinary, when the examples in literature and movies aren’t satisfied with the ordinary? And when you do get a female character with weaknesses, they are just as awful the other direction. Bella Swan in the Twilight series was an emotional wreck who is just shy of being a suicide victim.
The two dimensional character of Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades of Gray was little more than a sex doll for Gray. And, while some claim her as an SFC, Katniss Everdeen was little more than a puppet of circumstances and the people around her. She was used and abused, first by President Snow and then by President Alma Coin.

What I want to see more of are female characters who are complicated. Give me characters who accept that they have weaknesses, that they need help from, not only other female characters, but from males as well. Give me characters who are okay with being rescued, failing, and not being the smartest person in the room, but still have a will of their own. Give me characters who are flawed, who make mistakes, who aren’t perfect. 
Give me characters that I can relate to.
Yes, such are dogs, and who would send a Knight out on a dog like that?

Lord give us characters that can be 'broken-in' to a useful purpose. One that fulfills a Plan that we can only guess at.  To be Christian Knights. The further away from that ultimate, overarching Reality, devised and given by an Intelligence far above that of even this old and very intelligent Knight, that we strive to get, to  play out our own fantasies of power, the less heroic or even saintly we will be.

Let us be Meek.

Strong, intelligent, aware, purposeful..... and meek.

Tough times weigh us in the scales.

Drink deep.


And don't forget to check on the Southern Gal's progress.

Pray for Her.


  1. Meek and mild
    It’s strength that knows when to assert itself and when to be passive,"

    A description that accurately describes me. Most of the time I am quite passive but on the occasions when I become assertive, it takes everyone by surprise, they look up and take notice.

    It always takes me by surprise until I remember that I am normally the quiet chilled out, reasoned, rationally thinking person in the room.

    1. Even when a warhorse is still and quiet, it has a very powerful presence.

  2. As Fr. Riccardo explained, meek in the sense that biblical writers meant it refers to strength that is under control.

    If only Christians had understood that and explained it to people Christianity might today be a thriving religion.

    I can't help thinking that the misunderstanding of the concept has been deliberately propagated by traitors within the churches.

    1. Very possibly. Many people, churchy or not, often mistake compassion and caring for meekness: even cowardice. It has attracted a calumnous umbra. But as you acknowledge it is about a really firey strength, a power, a courage and all under control. Both self-control and acquiescence to a better power.

    2. The passive meek thing is one a number of factors that has driven heterosexual men away from the Church, especially the Anglican and Catholic churches. It has left the Churches dominated to a dangerous degree by women and homosexuals. And it has given the impression that Christianity is only for women and homosexuals.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..