In the comment section on my previous post, blogging buddy Steve created an interesting discussion with some intriguing questions regarding the birth of David.  This reminded me of the extreme approaches to the concept of heroism in our culture.

For some, the possibility that a hero might come from less than honorable origins or might be less than perfect is troubling. They demand absolute perfection of their heroes. Others in our society seem to think we have no heroes. They seem determined to tarnish the reputation of any and all heroic characters. 

There is no need for our heroes to be perfect.  The Bible presents its characters with all their strengths and weaknesses. While David’s origins may have implications on a prophetic level, there are none on a practical level. The circumstances of ones birth in no way affects how that person may be used by God to accomplish great things.  If David’s life proves nothing else, it demonstrates a person can be imperfect and still be “after God’s heart.” As usual, the truth is far more nuanced than we wish to admit and lies somewhere in between Saints and Sinners.

My recent reading has included several items related to misconceptions about heroes:

At Britannica – Daniel Boone: Myth and Reality

 But Daniel Boone was far from a noble savage. He loved to read, often quoting from the classics or reading modern books such as Gulliver’s Travels to his companions around the campfire. Often portrayed as a country bumpkin, Boone was in fact careful of his grooming and appearance, a man of even disposition in whose household, a visitor reported, “an irritable expression was never heard.” Indeed, Boone practiced Quaker tolerance, and as an old man, at the height of his fame as an Indian fighter, he said that he had only killed three men in his lifetime—and then only in self-defense.

By Gerald Leinwand –Heroism in America

Heroes should be people who enlarge our horizons, ennoble our lives, or give us visions of what is possible rather than merely practical.  Modern media coverage and biographical research, however, often exposes the flaws of potential heroes.  We want our heroes to be simple, but in reality the hero is a complex individual and heroism a complicated phenomenon.

Related Post:
Saints or Sinners? (Neither and Both)


4 thoughts on “Heroes

  1. These two posts are so insightful Cameron. The Boone piece was educating.. don’t think that I would have guessed that the life description was his.. makes me want to learn more about him.

    I think that there is a difference between a hero and a hero-persona.. David was a hero to his contemporaries.. those who knew him and served with him.. for us he is more of a hero-persona. I guess the message is that being a hero is very personal.. anyone can be a hero but few have a hero-persona. That said, I guess both flavors of hero can be inspirational.. encouraging us to persevere and reach higher. Does that makes sense?

    About the saints and sinners post: I find it so interesting how many are out their attacking highly successful ministers (hmmm.. are these folks spiritual heroes to those who watch/listen to them?) in the name of theological orthodoxy.. sometimes I think that we protest too much.. maybe we don’t really like others’ heroes?

  2. Cameron,
    This is a great article. I think we need some heroes, and they don’t need to be perfect. After all the only perfect One ended up being crucified.

  3. Bob,
    That is an interesting distinction, and I think your point makes great sense. It is interesting to compare the perspective of those who live with a person with that of those who live afterward.

    As for attacks on prominent religious figures, I think that while there can be legitimate theologicial critique, some feel as if they must attack everything the person says or does. What begins as honest concern degenerates into “nit-pickiness,” (not sure of that word’s etymology?!?) and some seize the opportunity to vent their jealousy on the figure. For me, the key is balance. They are neither “saint nor sinner.”

    BTW…while typing this, I just noticed your kind addition of Nephos to your blogroll. Thanks! I hope you won’t mind if I reciprocate.

    Pastor Tim,
    Thanks for the encouraging word. Remembering the sinfulness of all helps keep things in proper perspective.

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