Thursday, January 23, 2014

A King, a Lady and a Dragon...or a Good Man is Hard to Find

Man, I am sure glad to be married. And lucky too. Seriously, if I was my father-in-law and the 22 year old version of me asked to marry my daughter, (uh, that sounds weird but you know what I mean), it would have been a short conversation starting with "no" and ending with "because you're an idiot." And I would have been right too.

"It ain't me, it's the People that say"
Tonight I attended a book forum on Chesterton's "What is Wrong with the World." It was attended by mostly women in their 20's. The prudent thing for me to do would have been to just shut up. But as I my father-in-law could have rightly said...I am an idiot, so I spoke up and tried to ask a question about Chesterton's anarchist Queen and the fear and trembling all men should rightly experience in her presence. Yeah, whatever dude. Anyway, I was sort of surprised at one violent turn in particular that the conversation took...apparently these young single women feel that one of the main culprits in "what is wrong with the world" is that there are no good men anymore. I tried to suggest that there are never any good men in the world until we are saved by the Anarchist Queen but I was speaking in the presence of my betters and it came out all gibberish. Hopefully it was at least flamboyant gibberish. I like to at least play the jester for Ladies of the Court.

One of the young men, also in his 20's and quite frankly, a guy who ought to fit the profile of what these devout young Catholic women might envision as "a good man," tried to offer some explanation or worse maybe, a sort-of defense on why there aren't any good men. I'm not sure any of these ladies were buying, but really, it was a no-win situation for the poor guy.

I think, in my own mind at least, I too in my early 20's fit the bill for "a good man." I think somewhere in my garbled idiotic head I thought my wife was doing pretty well to marry me. This is of course why my father-in-law would have been right, or at least part of the reason. But fortunately there is a freedom in realizing that you, as the guy, are always the one who marries up. And fortunately, this took a relatively short time for me to realize. Somewhere near the birth of our first child, I would have to guess. Men will not save the world. It is always women who save the world. They save it not by trying to be like men or by trying to get men or even by trying to assert themselves over men. They save the world by simply being women. In writing about the "Higher Anarchy" Chesterton puts it this way: 
But there is a further fact; forgotten also because we moderns forget that there is a female point of view. The woman's wisdom stands partly, not only for a wholesome hesitation about punishment, but even for a wholesome hesitation about absolute rules. There was something feminine and perversely true in that phrase of Wilde's, that people should not be treated as the rule, but all of them as exceptions. Made by a man the remark was a little effeminate; for Wilde did lack the masculine power of dogma and of democratic cooperation. But if a woman had said it it would have been simply true; a woman does treat each person as a peculiar person. In other words, she stands for Anarchy; a very ancient and arguable philosophy; not anarchy in the sense of having no customs in one's life (which is inconceivable), but anarchy in the sense of having no rules for one's mind. To her, almost certainly, are due all those working traditions that cannot be found in books, especially those of education; it was she who first gave a child a stuffed stocking for being good or stood him in the corner for being naughty. This unclassified knowledge is sometimes called rule of thumb and sometimes motherwit. The last phrase suggests the whole truth, for none ever called it fatherwit. 
 There is a Grateful Dead song about women being smarter that my sons find quiet problematic and will loudly contest whenever it gets played around the house. It's true though. My daughters are quite comfortable with the song and do not find it surprising in the least. None of this, by the way, absolves men of their responsibility to be gentlemen. My boys might be idiots, but they are at least gentlemen idiots, (also btw boys, if you read this at some point, I mean "idiot" only very loosely and with greatest affection and a strong sense of camaraderie, your Dad is still kind of crude sometimes in his articulation). In any case, my father-in-law lived in a house full of women and more importantly, he knew his daughter. And the truth is that she could only marry an idiot because all men in comparison to her would be idiots. But somewhere in the adventure of loving her and her being loved I might have at least been set on the path to becoming a good man. Perhaps, having a good dose of grace, quiet faith and humility, he had a sense that only his daughter could make something of an idiot like me. That Flannery O'Conner story about a good man being hard to find...that ends up pretty violently but in any case it doesn't click about a good man until everyone is taking a close look at death. And that is why I am so glad to be married. It is the best sort of death. I get to be slayed by truth and beauty in the person of my wife.

I have a little analogy that was generated in a discussion about a C.S. Lewis essay on myth around the fire after a few beers with my knucklehead buddies, (or at least that's how I remember it). In any case, it sort of works like this...every story is the sort of the same story, (especially all of the great stories), and essentially it is that everyman has a King to serve, a dragon to kill and a woman to save. So what to do if you are the woman? Well, I don't know for sure, I can't really tell it from her angle, but ultimately I'm guessing she is the real conqueror.

Sorry ladies, it's really less this...

and more this

Have your way Anarchy Queen.

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