Saturday, December 23, 2006


Personal resolution: dangerous is a moral quality. Any fool with the right tools can put a life in mortal peril, but it takes a real man or woman to be dangerous.

Brave words from someone who hasn't faced a fight since middle school, I know. Possibly naive and arrogant, I know. But I think I am probably in the mental company of most of our species' best and most experienced fighters.

More importantly, I think this is one of those things that has to be true, and if it isn't true then it has to be made true. "Dangerous" is an interesting word to a Christian. In the Kingdom of God, "dangerous" gets redefined. We are challenged, on the one hand, to let people strike us (a challenge I admit I find difficult - my gut instinct is more along the lines of "someone tries to kill you, you try and kill them right back;" points for the reference. But this is not the time to discuss the nuances of physical force in Christian hands). But on the other, we are told that

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of force seize it."

There is, I think, an interesting word play going on here. The Kingdom is pictured as under attack - and it is the men of force, the violent, the dangerous if I may, who attain it. I was watching Return of the King today, and I am reminded of Gondor under siege and the hard sons of Rohan who rode to its rescue: it takes a dangerous man to reach the City of the King.

How is a man dangerous who will let himself be struck by another? How is such a man to be described as a man of force? It sounds like a conundrum but I don't think it is. The ability to kill or injure, the ability to destroy - that is not what makes a man dangerous. Any coward who is willing to strike from behind or who can operate a weapon (even if that weapon is his fist) can destroy. The truly dangerous man or woman is he who can face such a one who wields destruction and overcome it by the force of who he is. The dangerous man is the one who can face an identically armed opponent and already have the advantage. The one who refuses to let hardship, however hard; or injury, however debilitating, dictate what he can and cannot do. Dangerous is a girl who can face the blow of a blustering coward without flinching. Dangerous is a Man who can walk through the midst of a murderous crowd untouched. We've all heard of such people, most of us have seen it at least once, and a few of us have been it, at least for a moment.

That is the sort of man, the sort of woman, who is morally dangerous. The sort of person who deserves to be called a man of force. The sort of person who seizes the Kingdom of God.

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