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Warriors in the Good Fight of Faith

2016-02-01 12:11 PM | Dave

   Billy Miles, the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) track runner and Olympic Gold medal winner, strove to restore to his people their original Native American spirituality. In a message to the young men of his race, he declared, “A Warrior is challenged to assume responsibility, practice humility, and display the power of giving, and then center his or her life around a core of spirituality,” a stark contrast to the bloodthirsty, war-like image we usually associate with the word, warrior.  

   The most well-known American Indian prayer, shared by several tribes, asks, “O’ Great Spirit I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy -- myself.”

   In our politically correct era, the archetype of male as warrior is attacked, derided as irrelevant to modern society, feared as a sexual menace, and we forget its deeper reference to self-mastery. In her book, You Are Happy: Circe poems, Margaret Atwood, writing at the height of the sexual political battles, ventured the opinion, “male as warrior … female as temptress. These two icons were counterfeit images … a route to much of the sickness that plagues the human psyche.”

   Though Jesus never used the term warrior, he sometimes taught perhaps more like Billy Miles than a modern, politically-correct male, “And they who shall thus take the kingdom in spiritual power and by the persistent assaults of living faith will come from the north and the south and from the east and the west.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 166:3.5)

   “Even the apostles were unable fully to comprehend his teaching as to the necessity for using spiritual force for the purpose of breaking through all material resistance and for surmounting every earthly obstacle which might chance to stand in the way of grasping the all-important spiritual values of the new life in the spirit as the liberated sons of God.” (166:3.8)

   Although Jesus is thought of as a man of peace, he tried to inspire his “vacillating and indefinite” apostles and evangelists to be warriors for the kingdom and seize it by “spiritual” force. “If you desire to enter the kingdom, why do you not take it by spiritual assault even as the heathen take a city they lay siege to?” (155:1.3, pg. 1726)

   Sometimes, though my father’s no longer alive, I would hear his voice saying, “but it’s all nonsense isn’t it?” As I must have done when I was a young boy, I deferred to him without objection, and would nod without answering. When I later turned to a growing faith in the spirit guidance I needed, my first pathways into faith were mystic entreaties, peaceful seeking. The words “take it by assault,” couldn’t have been further from my mind.

   Later when I reintegrated with my Ojibwe family, ancestors, and their history, I came to terms with their essential warrior culture. I saw the reality of the good fight of faith, was even uplifted by a truer understanding of the admonitions of Jesus. He elevated the brave spirit of a warrior to a level of courage even more sublime, “courage was the very heart of his teachings. ‘Fear not’ was his watchword … The teachings of Jesus constitute a religion of valor, courage, and heroism (140:8.20).” I’ve felt the urgency, the need to seize the kingdom without hesitation, as revealed to us by our True Chief, our Creator Son. Hopefully I can act on it with more dedication.

   “The courage of the flesh is the lowest form of bravery. Mind bravery is a higher type of human courage, but the highest and supreme is uncompromising loyalty to the enlightened convictions of profound spiritual realities. And such courage constitutes the heroism of the God-knowing man.” (143:1.7)

   I met a woman warrior the day my daughter started middle school. She was the vice-principal and she made an opening speech of welcome to the parents. I was expecting sweet reassurances, promises made that our girl would find protection here to grow safely to maturity. But this woman, a champion of the children, was also a realist who knew and understood the mean streets. She knew first-hand about the peer group influences, the pressures of popular culture that destabilize families. As her speech described each year of a child’s life, the words made vivid the challenges that come with each step. Like an orator, she began each paragraph with the statement “they are still at risk,” as their age changed. “They are thirteen (or fourteen, then fifteen) and they are still at risk,” repeated each time, like a mantra.

   That is what our faith is like. At each step of the way we are still at risk of stumbling, succumbing to doubt and darkness. “There is but one struggle for those who enter the kingdom, and that is to fight the good fight of faith. The believer has only one battle, and that is against doubt—unbelief.” (159:3.8)

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