A rebirth of Christian chivalry that advances the Culture of Life by encouraging, empowering and emboldening Christians to cherish, defend and advance faith, family and freedom.
What the ArchAngel Institute means by “Christian Chivalry”
The Broad-Stone of Honour (authored by Kenelm Henry Digby in 1822) helped re-image chivalry in a challenging post-Revolutionary (but pre-modern) age. That influential work offered the following definition:
Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world.
Notice the crucial balance: right thoughts and honorable actions.Lord Alfred Tennyson, in Idylls of the King (1872), reduced the definition to these four simple instructions:
follow Christ the King.
Please note that the first and last address the right thoughts about life, the second and third address honorable actions.
The line that Tennyson penned after these four attributes is of great interest:
“Else, wherefore born?”
Both the Digby and the Tennyson definitions have in common the balancing of the subjective (how one believes) with the objective (how one acts.) It is this balance that is lacking among America’s citizenry in this hour, and it is this imbalance that most imperils Christian civilization. Too many claim a heavenly allegiance while living only for earthly priorities – the values of mammon, pleasure or mere hobbies. Too many Christians differ from their nonChristian neighbors only in church attendance. Too few can point to the centerpiece of their lives (as revealed by their passions and bank accounts) and ask, begging the question, “else, wherefore born?”
When the Institute references Christian chivalry, it means the ideal balancing of the historic doctrines of the faith and the general expression of the same in one’s personal life in a fashion calculated to maximize impact upon the social order.
It is the balancing of our precious freedom in Christ with our duties to the Almighty and each other. When this balancing occurs in a family, in a community or in society-at-large, the result is Christian chivalry. When Christian chivalry is waning the result is social decay and chaos. When Christian chivalry is on the increase the result is renewal, rebirth, reformation, revival – and even revolution.
This is idealistic, yes, but that does not render it an unattainable goal: To quote the late, great songwriter Rich Mullins,
Well, I do not know that we can have a Heaven here on earth, but I am sure we need not have a Hell either. What does it mean to be human? I cannot help but believe that it means we are spiritual that we are responsible and that we are free that we are responsible to be free.
Higher Education and the Book of Love, Never Picture Perfect album, 1989.
Our freedom and responsibility, when properly balanced, bring forth Christian chivalry advancing the Culture of Life.
Grace flows from nature, when nature is rightly ordered.
What does the ArchAngel Institute mean by “Christian Chivalry?”
The Long Answer builds upon the Short Answer, adding the following:
The question of what constitutes Christian chivalry is a crucial question that is being asked with some frequency and some urgency in this hour. As the last throes of modernity (now called post-modernity) are crashing hard against America’s shores, its pounding waves wearing down the foundational stones that once supported our “more perfect Union,” many are wondering how the Republic is to be preserved.
No less authority than Justice Antonin Scalia has commented on this erosion, stating that, “Day by day, case by case, the Court is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize.” (Recently quoted by Presidential candidate and U.S. Representative Ron Paul, at Whose Justice, at http://www.lewrockwell.com)
Justice Scalia does not stand alone in the opinion that America has slipped away from her moorings.
The Institute believes that the Founders of our American Experiment would heartily agree with the learned Justice.Our social order can be re
newed and even reborn. The rebirth begins with, to borrow from the prophet Malachi, with the call to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:24.
Turning to America’s founding fathers, we find ourselves face to face with courageous men of honor who build a Republic with the sure knowledge that only men of valor could keep it.
This “greatest generation” of Americans realized that only the “old code” of honor and valor and virtue could preserve what they had, with God’s help, wrought.
Consider James Madisons speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention June 20, 1788:
Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
Let us not ignore George Washingtons First Inaugural Address one year later:
There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
What is this honor, this virtue, this eternal rule of which the Founders speak? Ask ten sociologists and get twenty answers. Their opinions carry little weight with the Institute. The crucial question is answered by history, for our Founders also stood on the shoulders of giants as do we.
They honored their cultural fathers, building a nation out of the best of Europe’s cultural patrimony as should we.Most of the threads gathered to weave the American tapestry came to the Founders from the age of Christian Chivalry.
Wikipedia offers the following overview of chivalry:
When examining medieval literature, chivalry can be classified into three basic but overlapping areas:
Duties to countrymen and fellow Christians: this contains virtues such as mercy, courage, valor, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor, and in the servant-hood of the knight to his lord. This also brings with it the idea of being willing to give one’s life for another’s; whether he would be giving his life for a poor man or his lord.
Duties to God: this would contain being faithful to God, protecting the innocent, being faithful to the church, being the champion of good against evil, being generous and obeying God above the feudal lord.
Duties to women: this is probably the most familiar aspect of chivalry. This would contain what is often called courtly love, the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her all other ladies. Most especially in this category is a general gentleness and graciousness to all women.
But how do we bring these Wikipedia-stated concepts, now hoary with age, into our modern era? How should we then live? The answer to this question begins with an appreciation for what has been lost – and that appreciation is, itself, a revolutionary act in this politically correct age.
A SENSE OF HISTORY LEAVES THE HEART IN RUINS
Christian Chivalry in America was, at least in part, the “quaint” social order that seventy years of post-War affluence has pretty much undone. Margaret Storm Jameson made this point in her 1965 work, The Early Life of Stephen Hind, therein recording a grandmother’s mourning for the demise of
“[a]nother civilization … the one I was born into. It has died, I say, not vanished, because it was a living organism. A civilization based upon the family. What has taken its place is not alive; an atomized society, without security, without warmth, a chaos of fragmented mechanical relationships. O, I know as well you do, that in my world there was ignorance and poverty. But the right way was not to tear that world down and replace it by anarchy. The family base should have been extended, cherished, encouraged.” Patrick J. Buchanan opens his urgent The Death of the West (St. Martin’s Press, 2002) with the above quote. The death this grandmother mourns is the death of Christian civilization, the social order framed out by men of honor practicing Christian chivalry.
WOULD YOU GO DOWN WITH THE SHIP?
Consider the water-logged deck of the Titanic as metaphor. When that great lady went to her watery grave more than 90 years ago, most of the survivors were women and children. Male passengers bravely refused safe passage, instead scouring the ship for women and children to place in the less-than-full lifeboats.
This phenomenon of the weakest and “least fit” having survived is a direct byproduct of Christian Chivalry. It is the antithesis of the crass Social Darwinism that defines far too much of our modern age.
Chivalry was a code that made men into “gentlemen,” and, as gentlemen, rendered men willing to sacrifice to protect those who are more vulnerable. It is a code that caused men to realize that death with honor was more glorious than life without honor. It was a code that allowed men to go down with the Titanic rather than displace a woman or child who needed off the ship.
The Titanics manifest would later reveal that 74 percent of the women passengers survived while 80 percent of the men went to watery graves.
May God richly bless them for their great sacrifice on April 14, 1912!
Survivors of the Titanic gathered on the Atlantic coast many years later to dedicate a memorial to those brave men who chose to drown in the icy waters rather than take a seat that a women or child could occupy. The memorials inscription reads: To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved.
After all the survivors were safely aground, an officer of the Titanic was asked whether “women and children first” was the captain’s rule or the rule of the sea. He stoutly replied that it was the rule of human nature.
Maybe it was in 1912 – but it does not appear to be anymore. Men are preying upon the weak in record numbers, through abandonment, through sexual depravity, through “entertainment” mediums and through other modern and age-old means. The statistics are staggering and the news stories heartbreaking. Divorce alone (which is too often nothing less than a man abandoning the wife of his youth and their common children to satisfy his own selfish ego needs) is the cause of much social turmoil and cultural disintegration.
Men are called to model the rule and reign of the Almighty Father. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church, to cherish their children as God cherishes his creation. But modern men have rejected all of that, if not in thought, then certainly in action.
PLAYBOYS, JACOBINS AND TYRANTS NEED NOT APPLY TO THE INSTITUTE
Far too many modern men, those who are charged with the solemn duty of protecting the family, have in fact turned against the family. The “freedom” of the playboy philosophy has become the repudiation of honor, the death of chivalry and the unwinding of the family. Jameson was by no means the first to recognize that modernity and chivalry are mortal foes. That honor likely goes to Edmund Burke, who, when surveying the crash of modernit
“The age of chivalry is gone.That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.” Reflections on the Revolution in France.
A more recent work by James Bowman entitled Honor: A History (2006), argues that cultural honor began unraveling in the West with the Great War, reaching its cancerous zenith and terminal point with the American flight from Saigon some sixty years later. Bowman would dub the modern era “post modern,” and identifies three central causes of the loss of cultural honor that destroyed American chivalry: modernized warfare, psychotherapy and feminism.
marsicon.jpgPut another way, we have made war “unmanly,” lacking in honor and too easily pursued by rendering it an industrial process undertaken from miles away against, too often, civilian population centers; we have given ourselves over to the therapeutic state, where all of us become “unmanly” victims, and; we (men) have objectified women while abdicating our moral responsibilities and eschewing true manhood. It is not just feminism; it is the feminizing of our entire culture that is throwing error codes at the dashboard. In early Roman law, the father’s authority, the patria potestas, was absolute, including evenbk_restoringgoddess.JPG the ius necis, the right to put to death members of his family. This was a pagan system, it was not Christian chivalry. In modern American law we now have the matria potestas. It, too, is a pagan system.
These corrosive elements, all of which have in common the abandonment of manly fortitude and Christian values, have brought us to the dismal cultural cul de sac in which we now find ourselves. Men have left their grand estate as guardians of women and children to pursue their own selfish ends, and pursuit of such “happiness” is sounding the death knell of Christian civilization.
Potestas, be it of the patria or matria variety, leads away from authentic Christian chivalry.
CHURCH TEACHING STRIKES THE NECESSARY BALANCE
The Catholic Church has recently set forth magisterial teaching on the subject of balancing patria and matria:
Male and female differentiate two individuals of equal dignity, which does not however reflect a static equality, because the specificity of the female is different from the specificity of the male, this difference in equality is enriching and indispensable for the harmony of life in society. Woman is the complement of man, as man is the complement of woman; man and woman complete each other mutually, not only from a physical and psychological point, but also ontologically.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 146, 147.
In other words, God Wills that men and women compliment one another, without either assuming the role of “potestas.” Christian chivalry is neither male hegemony nor male dominance.
The Church goes on to state that “Inextricably linked to the topic of rights is the issue of the duties falling to men and women …. The Magisterium underlines the contradiction inherent in affirming rights without acknowledging corresponding responsibilities. “Those, therefore, who claim their own rights, yet altogether forget or neglect to carry out their respective duties, are people who build with one hand and destroy with the other.”
Compendium, para 156.
We do well, then, to sponsor a new understanding of this necessary link between rights and duties. This is the link that post-modern society denies and destroys. We must resurrect the fallen tenets of Christian civilization if we are to restore our great Republic.
A REBIRTH OF HONOR,
A REBIRTH OF FAITH
AND A REBIRTH OF CHIVALRY IS LONG OVERDUE
Honor is how a man thinks of himself. Faith is how a man relates to his Creator through obedience to the laws of God. Honor and faith work together to bring about chivalry, which governs how a man relates the world his Creator has made.
All three are concepts branded politically incorrect in our neo-Marxist age. Teach any of these concepts at a State University, except in a mocking fashion, and just you might find yourself unemployed and blacklisted.
A rebirth of these crucial concepts is necessary, to quote from an ancient liturgy, “for our good, and the good of all His church.”
For our good because life is much better in a social order built upon Christian chivalry, especially for women and children.
For all of His church because Christian chivalry is that social progress which won the West to Christ.
Consider this excerpt from a celebrated fourth century historian. Eusebius of Caesarea documented, in about 325 a.d., what the world was witnessing as the Good News spread through Asia Minor and beyond:
Surely there is good cause, when one considers it, to wonder why of old, when the daemons tyrannized over all the nations, and men paid them much worship, they were goaded by the gods themselves into furious wars against each other …, and made slaves of each other and wore each other out with sieges,… but that at the same time with our Saviours most religious teaching the destruction of polytheistic error began to be accomplished, and the dissensions of the nations at once to find rest from former troubles?
This especially I consider to be a very great proof of the divine and irresistible power of our Saviour.
And of the benefit which visibly proceeds from His doctrines you may see a clear proof, if you consider, that at no other time from the beginning until now, nor by any of the illustrious men of old, but only from His utterances, and from His teaching diffused throughout the whole world, the customs of all nations are now set aright, even those customs which before were savage and barbarous;
so that Persians who have become His disciples no longer marry their mothers,
nor Scythians feed on human flesh, because of Christs word which has come even unto them,
nor other races of Barbarians have incestuous union with daughters and sisters,
nor do men madly lust after men and pursue unnatural pleasures,
nor do those, whose practice it formerly was, now expose their dead kindred to dogs and birds,
nor, strangle the aged, as they did formerly,
nor do they feast according to their ancient custom on the flesh of their dearest friends when dead,
nor like the ancients offer human sacrifices to the daemons as to gods, nor slaughter their dearest friends, and think it piety.
It does not take a prophet to perceive that this process now appears to be running in reverse, visiting great harm upon families and thus primarily upon women and children.Our Lord and Saviour placed social justice and biblical faith on parallel tracks in the Gospel of St. Luke, then asking a question that tomorrow’s headlines beg be asked:
“when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? St. Luke 18:8.
It is interesting to note that the Lord Jesus raised this issue in the context of an abandoned woman’s plea for “legal protection from [her] opponent.” (American Standard Version).
CHRISTIAN CHIVALRY CAUSES THE INSTITUTE TO FOCUS ON THE FAMILY
G.K. Chesterton, in his work Heretics, noted that the family was under attack by the forces of modernity. He further taught the family – rightly defined was the historic source of social stability. Note the inverse relationship this great thinker posited more than 100 years ago:
The family may fairly be considered, one would think, an ultimate human institution. Every one would admit that it has been the main cell and central unit of almost all societies hitherto,except, indeed, such societies as that of Lacedaemon [i.e., Sparta], which went in for efficiency, and has, therefore, perished, and left not a trace behind.
Christianity, even enormous as was its revolution, did not alter this ancient and savage sanctity; it merely reversed it. It did not deny the trinity of father, mother, and child.It merely read it backwards,
making it run child, mother, father.This it called, not the family, but the Holy Family,for many things are made holy by being turned upside down.
Has modernity not turned the Christian social order upside down? We now find ourselves in a social setting in which we are confronted with leaders and social manipulators who routinely call, in the words of a great prophet,
evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
The Voices of Dissent Point Out Our Collective and Tragic Failures
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor of ethnic studies at California State University, Hayward, is a radical leftist and outspoken feminist activist. Her body of work includes support for the SDS and Weather Underground in the sixties. During those turbulent years she penned the following, which is even more relevant now than it was at that time:In reality, the family has fallen apart. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, and the family unit is a decadent, wasteful institution for everyone except the ruling class for which the institution was created.” Feminine Liberation as the Basis for Social Revolution, Sisterhood is Powerful (1970)
Those who wished Christian civilization finished attacked the family to do just that, and then offered the tattered remnants of the family as proof that the final assault on Christian civilization was justified.
What is the antidote for such apostasy? Renewal. Rebirth. Reformation. Revival. Revolution. A rebirth of Christian chivalry as an act of godly defiance in the face of an apostasy foretold more than 1900 years ago:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. II Timothy 3:1-8
The themes developed above support the contention that our present social order fits this bill of ill health described by St. Paul in the first century.
What then should we do?
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS, MARCHING AS TO WAR
The following comes from a website seeking to fan the flames of a rebirth of Christian chivalry in this late hour:
Thepicture of the true knight as a Christian soldier emerges. Military glory and power were not enough. They must be gained and displayed in the service of the Church and of worthy ends. It was not without reason, wrote St. Bernard, that the soldier of Christ carries a sword; it is for the chastisement of the wicked and for the glory of the good.
Among other attempts to define the rules of chivalry, Lord Tennysons was the shortest and neatest: Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow Christ the King.
Tennyson’s chivalrous credo closely tracks the admonition of the Prophet Michah:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God Micah 6:8
It also closely tracks the call made by Pope Pius X during the dark years before World War I. That brave man realized that the time called for “a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute and truly apostolic.”
This same pope, who decried “modernism” as the “summation of all heresies” taught that “the times we live in demand action but action which consists entirely in the observing with fidelity and zeal of the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to self-interest or worldly advantage”
The good pope calls for chivalry, as do all men of courage and good will in such a time as this.
Codes of Chivalry
There is no single, accepted Code of Chivalry. A French historian resurrects the following as one of the more commonly recognized of the many Codes:
- Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.
- Thou shalt defend the Church.
- Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
- Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
- Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
- Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.
- Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if They be not contrary to the laws of God.
- Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.
- Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.
- Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
Contemporary Codes of Chivalry can be found on the Internet and in popular literature. They are aimed at men, calling them to a higher honor than is found in modern culture. Every father would do well to write a Code for his sons. One such comporary Code reads as follows:
The Ten Rules of Chivalry
- Thou shalt follow the dictates of moral conscience.
- Thou shalt be willing to defend your values.
- Thou shalt have respect and pity for all weakness and steadfastness in defending them.
- Thou shalt love thy country.
- Thou shalt refuse to retreat before the enemy.
- Thou shalt wage unceasing and merciless war against all that is evil.
- Thou shalt obey the orders of those appointed above you, as long as those orders do not conflict with what you know to be just.
- Thou shalt show loyalty to truth and to your pledged word.
- Thou shalt be generous and giving of ones self.
- Thou shalt be champion of the right and good at all times, and at all times oppose the forces of evil.
The above code is aspirational, inspirational, and, once again, profoundly politically incorrect. Others codes can be located in popular culture. The following is dubbed “the old code” in a swashbuckling Arthurian-legend like movie:
A knight is sworn to valour,
His heart knows only virtue,
His blade defends the helpless,
His might upholds the weak,
His word speaks only truth,
His wrath undoes the wicked.
Any of the above codes actually all of them are worthy of discussion and reflection. All are a far cry beyond the amoral and/or immoral codes of conduct promoted by Hollywood, professional sports or even our own governments.
The Institute encourages all parents, and especially all fathers, to teach these codes to their sons. The Institute encourages all men of good will to join us in advancing teaching and action intended to shore up and instill these codes in the next generation.
Our women watch on as we decide what kind of men we will be.
Let us be Christian warriors!
STANDING OUR GROUND FOR FAITH, FAMILY AND FREEDOM
It can be good to step back and view oneself through the eyes of one’s enemies. Rolling Stone magazine, in an article bannered The New Virgin Army (June 30, 2005) mockingly identified the “erotic dream of Christian conservatism” as being the following: “a restoration of chivalry, a cleansing of impurity, a nation without sin, an empire of the personal as political.
If that is the worse that our detractors can say about us, then the following verse is brought to mind: “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12
If it is a choice between what Rolling Stone mockingly describes and the pre-Chivalrous world that Eusebius documents (and it pretty much is), then those who stand with the ArchAngel Institute will gladly take the former, even if it does upset the editors at Rolling Stone, rabid feminists, new age therapists and the modernists and Jihadists making war on the Christian Faith.
Soldiers of Christ, to the ramparts! We have a dying civilization to defend – and a Living Gospel to advance!
Bonus Material: Book Review: The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry by Brad Miner (2006).
Don Panetti has posted a review on the web that breaks a recent book on Chivalry down into a byte sized serving. I have taken the liberty of edition Panetti’s analysis down further to make the points necessary to support the present discussion:
Brad Minor identifies three masculine archetypes as the foundation for the perfect man of chivalry the warrior, the lover, and the monk. These three traits define the character of the compleat gentleman.
Miners warrior is a man who has something to live for and is willing to sacrifice his life either to protect it or even to further it. The warrior is not necessarily a man of war, but a man prepared to do battle for that which he loves. His life is marked by preparation for something great and then is lived out pursuing those ideals to which he is called.
If Miners gentleman is willing to die for something he loves, it is because he loves deeply and with great passion. While romantic love definitely makes the list, it is not the sole occupant love of God, country, and cause are also worthy objects of a gentlemans passions.
Finally, Miners gentleman is a monk. Miner tells us that the word monk comes from the Greek monakhos, meaning solitary but Miners concept of aloneness is time for reflection and study viewed another way, the monk is a lover of learning and of truth. Running throughout the book is the theme sprezzatura Sprezzatura is the ability to think before one speaks, to grasp the gravity of words and actions; and even to know when inaction or silence is the best avenue.
Robert E. Lee stands out in Miner’s view as the complete gentleman. Miner finds Lee exemplifying the three graces of gentility: sociability, learning, and piety. Lee was first and foremost a warrior, and it is that role that Miner especially admires: Todays gentleman must be a warrior, a latter-day knight — one ready, willing, and able to sacrifice his life in defense of honor.
Bonus material 2:
The authors premise is that chivalry encapsulated the Western idea of manhood. If it had properly evolved into modern times, many of the social problems we suffer from today would be less significant. There would be fewer men in jail, fewer abused women, less corporate crime, and more politicians we could trust.