This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Heroism as an opportunity for transcendence

We can summarize the ascesis of the traditional warrior vocation in a single term, or goal, which is heroism.

If the monk intends, through his own form of ascesis, to awaken the saint within himself, then the warrior, with his own form of ascesis, intends to awaken the inner hero.

If the monk’s practices and procedures, in addition to the environment he seeks or constructs for himself, are all geared toward facilitating the awakening of this inner saint, we can say that the practices, mentality, and environment of military discipline and war present the warrior with a corresponding opportunity to cause the emergence of the inner hero.

Both of these approaches are examples of asceticism, although in the Christian world it is largely forgotten that there are varieties here in question and that the way of the saint is not the only valid path to spiritual realization. This has been much to the detriment of cultural development, but there are reasons for it.

Both of these approaches (each adjusted to serve a specific spiritual type) involve an emphasis on one’s mortality and an acceptance of frailty and death as integral to the kind of spiritual sightedness that is desired, and as supportive of the emergence of the qualities that are needed.

Death is not contemplated for its own sake but as the obstacle to be overcome, in the sense that the practitioner reaches a point where he is able to face this great evil without wavering and without fear. For the saint, this culminates in death by martyrdom, as is well-known; for the soldier, this culminates in a heroic death on the battlefield. The parallels here should be obvious, and in both cases we can speak of victory through death and over death, which means that we are dealing with transcendent victory with a view toward immortality.

What is also brought into focus is the relativity of earthly life. Both the warrior and the priest are taught to be aware of how earthly and all its temporal values are only meaningful in view of some greater end, beyond life.

We know from the traditional teachings of religion that it is not absolutely necessary to die a martyr in order to achieve this kind of transcendent victory, and that it is possible for the saint to live as a saint. Likewise, it is possible for the warrior to act heroically and be forever changed by the act without that act having to be his last. Yet the extreme of death allows us to more easily demonstrate the convergence of the vocations.

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