Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

On wargames, history and heroes: “this story shall the good man teach his son”

Memoir '44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Memoir ’44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Reposting this old post because Dina and I spent Friday night playing games again! And this is one of my favorite posts. Last night was Portal 2 and Orcs Must Die! 2.

Last night, I played through the Pegasus Bridge scenario from the Memoir ’44 wargame with Dina a few times. We actually played the online version of the game, using Steam. She was very gracious to play a wargame with me, which I don’t think is necessarily the first thing on most women’s lists of things to do on a Thursday night! I appreciated her agreeing to learn how to play and then playing with me several times. I think that Christians need to plan and execute more “together” activities like that – activities that involve interaction, co-operation, communication and engagement. We try to avoid doing things where we are both spectators. Playing wargames is not the only thing we do – we also do Bible study and cooking lessons (for me), for example.

Anyway, the point of this post is to express the deeper meaning behind playing wargames. I think that it is important to recognize and celebrate those who have demonstrated good character, whether it be now, or in the past. I think that it is important for us to search out the best role models ourselves, so that they will influence the way we act in our own lives. The second world war was a clear example of good versus evil. Anyone on the Allied side who demonstrated bravery and courage should be celebrated for safeguarding the security, liberty and prosperity that we enjoy today. In the case of Pegasus bridge, the hero is Major John Howard of the British paratroops.

Here is a quick re-cap of his exploits that day from the New York Times:

Maj. John Howard, the commander of glider-borne British infantrymen who seized the strategically vital Pegasus Bridge in the first battle of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, died Wednesday in a hospital in Surrey, England. He was 86 and had lived in Burford, near Oxford.

Under cover of night on June 6, 1944, six gliders carrying 181 officers and men of the Second Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry landed on the eastern flank of a 60-mile invasion front on the northern coast of France. The regiment had a heritage going back to the battles of Bunker Hill and New Orleans, to Waterloo and to World War I. Now its soldiers were in the vanguard of the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.

Major Howard’s D Company was ordered to seize two bridges, one over the Caen Canal and the other spanning the parallel Orne River. If the Germans held on to those bridges, panzer units could move across them in a counterattack isolating 10,000 British paratroopers jumping behind the British invasion beach known as Sword, where infantry forces would arrive at daybreak. And Major Howard’s men sought to strike swiftly to prevent the Germans from blowing up the bridges if they were overwhelmed; the British needed those bridges to resupply their airborne units.

British Halifax bombers towed the gliders over the English Channel, then cut them loose.

Major Howard’s lead glider landed at 12:16 A.M., only 50 yards from the Caen Canal bridge, but the glider’s nose collapsed on impact, knocking everybody aboard unconscious for a few seconds. The soldiers quickly emerged, and over the next five minutes the men directly under Major Howard killed the surprised German defenders.

The nearby Orne River bridge was captured by other troops in Major Howard’s unit, and soon the words ”Ham and Jam,” signifying mission accomplished, were radioed to the airborne.

Two British soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the operation.

Over the next 12 hours, British paratroopers and commandos reinforced Major Howard’s men, and British forces were able to move toward the city of Caen, their flank having been protected by the capture of the bridges.

On July 16, Major Howard received the Distinguished Service Order, Britain’s second-highest award for valor. On the 10th anniversary of D-Day, he received the Croix de Guerre Avec Palme from the French Government, which had renamed the Caen Canal span Pegasus Bridge, for the flying horse symbolizing the British airborne. The road crossing the bridge was later renamed Esplanade Major John Howard.

Why is this important? Well, it’s important to think on the things that are excellent. There are so many things in the culture that are not excellent that we are confronted with every day. We have to make it our business to do things together where goodness is celebrated. Especially when manly virtues like courage are celebrated. We don’t do that much anymore. And I think there’s a connection between wargames and Christian apologetics that we need to deliberately encourage.

Here’s an excellent passage from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” that makes the point:

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (4.3.43)

This is from the famous speech in which King Henry charges his men to fight well before the famous Battle of Agincourt.

You can read more about the history of the British Airborne division and Pegasus bridge. The famous historian of the second world war Stephen E. Ambrose also wrote a history of the Pegasus bridge battle, called “Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944“. You won’t find many military historians better than Stephen E. Ambrose!

You might be surprised how many men are interested in military history and wargames, precisely because men instinctively look up to men like John Howard who embody qualities like bravery and courage. We have a dearth of moral character in this society. And we don’t do much to teach young men about manly virtues, even in the church. I think that it is important for us to think of creative ways for us to present good character to our young men. Young women should also learn about good character, because they must separate out the good men from the bad when they are courting.

Thanks to Dina for helping me to edit this post!

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Apologetics helps young men to resist being shamed by their secular peers

A post by Nick Peters about young people and apologetics, at the Christian Apologetics Alliance blog.

Excerpt:

Now picture a teenage youth who is a Christian. Is he on the outs with his peers in any way? Well if he’s a good and observant Christian, he’ll be a virgin (since most teenagers in high school aren’t married). Will that lead to any shame to his peers? Yep. Especially since they consider “getting laid” to be a rite of passage and a sign that you are a real man or woman.

So what happens with a boy who’s seventeen and can drive and who is with the guys who are talking about their sexual exploits and the guy has nothing to contribute? If he is asked why he’s not “getting some” he replies that he is a Christian. Is that going to win him any friends? Nope. His “friends” there will most likely mock him for believing in antiquated ideas that science has disproven and tell him he needs to get with the times. Result? The young man is shamed.

Now imagine instead if he’s told the latter part about how his ideas are antiquated and instead, he’s able to make a rational case for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Do you think he’ll be able to be shamed the same way? Sure, his friends can still mock him, but he can take the mockery as a sign that they cannot answer his arguments. The young boy has honor then, rather than shame. He might not be sleeping around, but he can hold his head high knowing he can stand up against his peers.

[...]No one wants to be embarrassed, and that includes youth, but if our young people think they can do something that none of their peers can do, it will help them to have that honor that they seek, and there is nothing wrong with seeking honor. Remember the parable where Christ told us to take a lowly position at a banquet so our host would say, “Move up to a better place” and we would be honored? He was saying that that is the proper way to receive honor. Don’t just go out and try to grab it. Let it be given to you.

There are many things that a young person can be ashamed of, but if they’re intellectually unprepared, being a Christian is something that they may be shamed for. In the face of temptation, they need a reason to be obedient rather than just, “The church says so” or “Mom and Dad say so.” Neither of those will be seen as honorable positions. They need to know for themselves why it is that they hold the stance that they do. If they are waiting until marriage, they need to know why. If they believe a man rose from the dead, they need to know why.

That youth are eating this stuff up should tell us something. Youth don’t want to be shamed in the eyes of their contemporaries. They won’t mind holding a different position as long as they can defend that position. If they cannot, then the tide of social pressure could be enough to get them to abandon that and if their emotions and wills start acting against Christianity, it is only a matter of time until the intellect follows.

That excerpt is basically a summary of my life – that’s how I started out as a teen – with apologetics. I’ve been a Christian the whole time in between then and now. I think many parents and churches are wondering how it is that you get a young man to stand up to the culture and peer pressure. The answer is apologetics, and I think integrating Christianity with every other area of knowledge helps as well. Winning arguments over and over is an excellent way to build a suit of armor against temptation and peer pressure.

And in speaking to young people who were raised as Christians then fell away, the common denominator is that they were uncomfortable claiming to be Christians in a secular environment. We have to have a plan to help our young people deal with pluralism and peer pressure. Apologetics is the best answer I can think of.

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Why do so many women read 50 Shades of Grey?

Lindsay has a very popular post about it on her Lindsay’s Logic blog.

Excerpt:

I think women gravitate to 50 Shades of Grey (and other similar erotica) because they haven’t embraced the proper roles in sex and marriage. Feminism has taught them that they can never, ever, in any fashion submit to a man…unless it’s during sex, if that sort of thing is their cup of tea. Anything goes in the bedroom. Feminism told them that it’s degrading to be a stay-at-home mom or to submit to a husband or to want a lot of children. They should never have sex with their husbands unless they feel like it. They should never let a man make decisions for their family. But having a stranger use and abuse you sexually? Well, that’s empowering, don’t ya know.

The other factor at play is that women are most attracted to men when men are most masculine. It’s masculine and attractive to women for men to be in charge, confident, powerful, and robust. But feminism taught men to suppress these characteristics and taught women that any man who shows them is chauvinistic and oppressive. Thus men have learned to become passive and women have learned to hate and fear masculine men.

In much of life, the feminization of men may seem to turn out fine for both sexes. We live in a culture where we don’t often need a man to fight invaders and women can do most jobs. If the gender roles are rather blurred or even reversed, we can still survive. But in the bedroom, women have a hard time being turned on by a wuss. During sex, the natural differences of men and women are more noticeable and important. When that difference isn’t emphasized, it makes arousal more difficult. Women are turned on by a man’s more masculine traits. Opposites attract.

When women find their sex life hum-drum because they either have a feminized man or have effectively emasculated him by forcing him to bow to their demands in order to get sex, they often get excited at the thought of being dominated. Erotica, like 50 Shades, appeals to their innate desire to feel a man’s power and leadership, to be led and give up control. They may or may not realize it, but I think this is, for many women, the issue. They play a game of make-believe in their minds because feminism has told them it’s taboo in real life.

In my experience, young, unmarried women today have been taught to use men like commodities, for attention and fun, but the idea of letting a man lead them is totally alien to them.

First of all, thanks to feminism, they believe that men who excel at the traditional male roles and want marriage are defective. If you are a man who takes moral and spiritual leadership seriously and are knowledgeable in those areas, then you are immediately disqualified. Men like that are scary, because they think that truth is real, and morality is real. Avoid them – that’s what young women are told.

Second, thanks to feminism, young, unmarried women are told that premarital sex is normal and fun, so they go out and have it with men who are attractive, and not much else. All the better for them to lose the “stigma” of virginity, and to impress their friends. Naturally, when you are choosing men to have sex with in your teens, there is only one criteria (since they are all unemployed) and that’s appearance.

So young, unmarried women learn very early 1) that good men are “sexist” and “intolerant”, and should be avoided, and 2) that men are scum (at least the good-looking ones they had sex with were, and that means all of them must be). And the conclusion of this is that women have nowhere to turn for men to lead them. Once you wreck your vulnerability with sex all through your 20s, you can’t turn to a man – especially not a religious, moral man – and look to him for leadership. Anything is better than trusting a man, once you’ve made these mistakes.

I think the widespread interest in 50 Shades of Grey is exactly because women long for men to lead them. But thanks to feminism, they’ve wrecked their ability to be led in healthy ways by the right kind of men. Now they just want to go it alone. They wouldn’t know a healthy male-female relationship if it was right in front of them.

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Bad planning and expecting rescues from God makes Christians less effective

Normally I would post a study, but I’m going to make an exception and post this bit of fiction instead.

I found the story and adapted it:

A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.

A faithful Christian woman heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to herself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”

Her neighbor came by her house and said to her, “I’m leaving and there is room for you in my car, please come with me!” But the woman declined his offer. “I have faith that God will save me.”

As the woman stood on her porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to her, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the woman again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”

The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into her living room and the woman had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and the policeman saw her at the window. “I will come up and rescue you!” he shouted. But the woman refused, waving him off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

The flood waters rose higher and higher and the woman had to climb up to her rooftop.

A helicopter spotted her and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and he pleaded with the woman, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the woman STILL refused, folding her arms tightly to her body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the woman away and she drowned.

When in Heaven, the woman stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

And He said, “Daughter, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

If you are looking for God to help you to do something, don’t neglect the fact that God sometimes sends people to do his work, so that they can partner with him and experience him while doing his work. I think the lesson from this made-up story is that it’s good to not make plans that are risky and reckless, and therefore unlikely to work.

Look at this passage from the Bible.

Matthew 4:5-7:

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

He will command His angels concerning You’;

and

On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

I think what I would say is that you should make plans that are likely to work without God, and then pray for it to work extra well, with his help. Don’t make a plan that will only work if you get a miracle, that would be putting God to the test. God is not honored by lousy plans that fail and make people of faith look like idiots. We have to appear as if we know what we are doing, and it is easier to love and lead others if we have our own life in order, first. For example, you can’t share with others if you own nothing.

Now I’ve actually done stupid things that were unlikely to work myself a few times. But I have found a good way to avoid doing this. If you surround yourself with good advisors, then they will tell you not to do stupid things, or they will tell you how to do something else that achieves the same result. It’s good to have advisors and good to let them know what you are planning to do so they can tell you not to do it. It works great.

There is another good post to read if you like this post, it’s on decision making and the will of God.

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How to prepare your kids for the pressure to be “cool”

This is a post from Pastor Matt Rawlings’ blog.

Excerpt:

[...]When any eighteen year old walks on to a secular university (or even many so-called “Christian” ones) they immediately feel pressure.  When a “cool professor” emerges trashing everything the eighteen year old has been taught by his or her parents to hold dear, the pressure intensifies.  If the eighteen year old dares to speak up, the professor will often ridicule the poor kid like a seasoned stand-up comic dealing with a heckler.  The other eighteen year old kids raised in Christian homes will see (or hear about it) and will feel even more pressure to conform.

Here is his recommendation:

We need to continue to train our kids in apologetics but we also need to prepare them spiritually for the battle they will face on college campuses.  They need to know how to engage the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, etc.  They also need to be connected with a community that will have their back.  I would not advise anyone to attend a secular university without making sure there is a strong Christian campus presence.  For example, I live in the Buckeye state and many of the young people I know want to attend Ohio State University (excuse me, The Ohio State University).  I always remind them to check out strong nearby churches like Xenos and groups like Ratio Christi led by the fearless Eric Chabot.

Everybody wants to be liked and everyone has a desire to fit in.  The pressure to be accepted is even stronger when a person is younger.  We need to train our young people to be apologists but we also need to recognize basic human nature including our ability to justify our behavior such as ignoring their training in order to sit at the cool kids’ table.  We need to train and prayerfully prepare.  Let’s get to work.

Pastor Matt had a quote from an article by Paul Vitz in his post, and I found the article. It’s on Leadership University, which is the web site that got me through college with my faith intact.

Here’s a bit of it:

I am not going into this to bore you with parts of my life story, but to note that through reflection on my own experience it is now clear to me that my reasons for becoming and for remaining an atheist-skeptic from about age 18 to 38 were superficial, irrational, and largely without intellectual or moral integrity. Furthermore, I am convinced that my motives were, and still are, commonplace today among intellectuals, especially social scientists.

[...]An important influence on me in my youth was a significant social unease. I was somewhat embarrassed to be from the Midwest, for it seemed terribly dull, narrow, and provincial. There was certainly nothing romantic or impressive about being from Cincinnati, Ohio and from a vague mixed German-English-Swiss background. Terribly middle class. Further, besides escape from a dull, and according to me unworthy, socially embarrassing past, I wanted to take part in, in fact to be comfortable in, the new, exciting, even glamorous, secular world into which I was moving. I am sure that similar motives have strongly influenced the lives of countless upwardly mobile young people in the last two centuries. Consider Voltaire, who moved into the glittery, aristocratic, sophisticated world of Paris, and who always felt embarrassed about his provincial and nonaristocratic origin; or the Jewish ghettos that so many assimilating Jews have fled, or the latest young arrival in New York, embarrassed about his fundamentalist parents. This kind of socialization pressure has pushed many away from belief in God and all that this belief is associated with for them.

I remember a small seminar in graduate school where almost every member there at some time expressed this kind of embarrassment and response to the pressures of socialization into “modern life.” One student was trying to escape his Southern Baptist background, another a small town Mormon environment, a third was trying to get out of a very Jewish Brooklyn ghetto, and the fourth was me.

[...]Another major reason for my wanting to become an atheist was that I desired to be accepted by the powerful and influential scientists in the field of psychology. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by my professors in graduate school. As a graduate student I was thoroughly socialized by the specific “culture” of academic research psychology. My professors at Stanford, however much they might disagree on psychological theory, were, as far as I could tell, united in only two things-their intense personal career ambition and their rejection of religion. As the psalmist says, “. . . The man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 10:3-4).

In this environment, just as I had learned how to dress like a college student by putting on the right clothes, I also learned to “think” like a proper psychologist by putting on the right-that is, atheistic-ideas and attitudes.

I blogged about Paul Vitz before. If you have not seen his lecture on the Psychology of Atheism, you really should watch it.

Natasha Crain at Christian Mom Thoughts had some practical advice for dealing with this, and in a minute I’ll give you my advice, because this peer-pressure thing was never a problem for me.

Excerpt:

[...]I do believe there are things we can do to help lessen our kids’ concern about coolness:

  • Make sure they have Christian friends. No, not just the kids they interact with each Sunday at church. Please don’t assume your kids’ “church friends” are a primary influence just because they rub elbows each week (and don’t assume that church friends are truly Christian friends). Look at who they spend time with on their own. Meaningful peer relationships with other believers make a big difference.
  • Give them perspective. By and large, the most well-grounded Christian kids I’ve encountered have been heavily involved in service. When kids have built houses in Mexico, served their local homeless, or come to the aid of disaster victims, they are more likely to have a level-headed perspective on why the perceived “coolness” of their beliefs doesn’t matter. Faith becomes a living, breathing part of their identity.
  • Be a family that is comfortable living counter-culturally. In the book Revolutionary Parenting, George Barna analyzed years of research data to determine what common factors exist in the child-rearing efforts of parents whose children remained strong in their faith into their adult years (he calls these kids “spiritual champions”). One major finding was this: “Parents are more likely to raise spiritual champions if they accept the fact that from day one their parenting efforts will stray from the norm and will put them at odds with parents who are pursuing a more conventional approach.” When kids are raised in a home where they become comfortable living differently than the world around them, they are prepared to carry that confidence into adulthood.
  • Give them Christian heros and role models. Our kids need to know that the world is filled with amazing people who love the Lord: athletes, scientists, missionaries, actors, writers, government leaders, business owners…the list goes on. Wherever your child’s interests lie, introduce them to Christian role models in that area and the stories of how they’re making a difference for God’s kingdom.

Now my turn. Peer-pressure wasn’t a problem for me growing up. We were poor, so we had much more immediate problems! But I had an answer to the problem of being different from the other kids – I was going to grow up faster than they did and be more mature by out-earning them. I always tried to be working at least one job, and I worked summers too – kept it up through high school and my undergraduate degree. That was my plan. So that’s my recommendation to young people. Get yourself the best job you can get as young as you can. Never let a summer go by when you are not working to earn money.

I also recommend listening to this Veritas Forum lecture called “Giants in the Land“, by the famous professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Walter Bradley. My favorite lecture of all time. When you are young and it occurs to you that you are not like other people, it’s a wonderful thing to have the words of Dr. Bradley in your mind. Here is my favorite part- he says: “Sometimes we protect our reputation too hard. And what we really need is to get our reputation absolutely destroyed so we don’t worry about it any more… On the other side of a very ruined reputation is real freedom… to do what God wants you to do… It’s the ripping the reputation off that’s a little hard, right? But once it’s gone, it’s gone.  And then you have real freedom.”

I value my freedom and I know that caring what people think of me takes my freedom away! I really recommend that young people read or watch the French “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990) (or the older black-and-white version) to learn the value of being who you are. If you are being good, you don’t have to care what people think of you – although you may need an alias now, since people on the secular left have gotten so intolerant. You can be yourself and be a hero. And that’s something. That’s a lot!

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , ,

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