Thursday, January 14, 2010

Protect and serve

A mother comes to terms with one of the ways boys [and men] tend to be different in "The Killer Instinct" by Sally Thomas:
.... What I think I have come to understand about boys is that a desire to commit violence is not the same thing as a desire to commit evil. It’s a mistake for parents to presume that a fascination with the idea of blowing something away is, in itself, a disgusting habit, like nose-picking, that can and should be eradicated. The problem is not that the boy’s hand itches for a sword. The problem lies in not telling him what they are for, that they are for something—the sword and the itch alike. If I had told my aggressive little son not, “Be gentle,” but, rather, “Protect your sister,” I might, I think, have had the right end of the stick.

Several years ago, two boys in our parish, faced with a school assignment to form a “good-citizenship club,” surprised their mother by deciding to start a Eucharistic-adoration society. ....

If it seems a little unlikely, this vision of twenty teen and preteen boys choosing to spend hours of their time kneeling silently in church, let me divulge two secrets. The first is the name of the club: the Holy Crusaders. They chose, deliberately, a title that evokes knighthood, even war. No pastel, goody-two-shoes club, this. ....

These Holy Crusaders are, after all, ordinary boys—sweaty and goofy and physical. For them to take the Cross—to take it seriously—requires something like a sword. For them to take the sword, knowing what it’s for, requires the Cross. Heaven forbid, we always say, that our boys should have to go to war. Still, what even a symbolic knighthood accomplishes is the recognition that a boy’s natural drive to stab and shoot and smash can be shaped, in his imagination, to the image of sacrifice, of laying down his life for his friends. In the meantime, this is the key to what brings these boys to church. It’s not their mothers’ church or their sisters’ church; it is theirs, to serve and defend. .... [more]
The Killer Instinct | First Things