08 October 2011

Biblica Britannica

Take a moment’s rest from your forward walk along the footpath of history and turn your head back toward 5th century Britain. Strain your eyes through that temporal mist, and you will make out the hazy outline of a figure named Arthur. Who was the flesh and blood original behind this heroic specter? Our most erudite historians can offer little more than speculation on this question, but that need not trouble us, for our concern is not with the reality behind the legend, but the legend itself.

When I taste the Pendragon myth with the palate of imagination, the flavor I encounter is decidedly earthy; That is, it holds within it the unmistakable character of Logrian soil: British earth.

Picture a warrior who is so rooted to the land of his birth that when he stands within its borders, he is stronger than he would otherwise be. He draws its nourishment up through his toes, feet, and thighs. He is connected to this Britain, and Britain makes him stronger.

The Bible is the godly man’s Britain. You may travel to other lands and profit much from the sights you take in, but plant your feet on the native soil of your spiritual birth, and you will begin to feel like Arthur standing in Logres.

One autumn night, I left my house to walk beneath the dark arches of trees that line the neighborhood streets. I brought my mp3 player and began listening to an audiobook, which opened with these lines:

Midway upon the road of our life, I found myself within a dark wood. For the right way had been missed...

It wasn’t long before the lost poet met up with a guide, the venerated Virgil, whom the poet describes thus:

Art thou then that Virgil and that fount which poureth forth so large a stream of speech? ...Thou alone art he from whom I took the fair style that hath done me honor.

As I listened to this poetic praise, I felt something happening: I felt my heart bending toward the pursuit of poetic style, twisting toward the attainment of literary fame. I stopped. The street was quiet but for the dry leaves rustling in the gutter. I changed tracks on the mp3 player and began to listen to something else:

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
In the way of sinners he does not stand.
In the seat of scoffers he does not sit.

But in the law of the LORD is his delight.
And on His law he meditates both day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water.
He yields his fruit in its season,
and his leaf does not wither,
and all that he does prospers.
 (Psalm 1, Authors Translation)

And then, in that moment’s return to this spiritual soil, I felt my heart uncurl and straighten in its desire toward something true, good, and strong.

There are many lands to wander in this literary universe, and all of them have their virtues, but I know of no other land that feeds the soul of man like the land which bears the earth of God’s word. Test it for yourself. Plant your feet in the soil of scripture, and see if you don’t feel like Arthur standing in Britain, with its nourishing energy rising through the limbs of your soul.


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