Monday, August 27, 2007

A Better Dragon Story

Time to return to my roots. Let’s talk about Dragons.

Thanks to my friend Assistant Village Idiot, who recently published a post decrying the de-fanging of the dragon in modern western culture. As often happens, AVI goes for the jugular and ends up firing directly into the heart and out the other side making a hole the size of a basketball. I recommend reading his post on dragons because that’s what got me going on this stream of consciousness riff. Then come back here and hang on because some of this might actually make sense. (I’m not editing this – it comes out how it comes out- and I’m feeling pretty ranty tonite)

So, why would anyone really care about how this culture, our culture, views and portrays dragons. Well boys and girls, it’s all about the story. Our culture is essentially shaped by the kind of stories we tell and hear, and the way we tell and hear them. We ourselves, as atoms of culture, are shaped by the stories we engage ourselves in. Why do you think it is that movies and television are such powerful influences on our culture? It’s because they tell stories in an especially powerful and compelling way and they tell lots of them. We are constantly being washed by stories – washed and soaked and saturated and waterlogged and marinated. The stories we hear most get into our bones and we can’t ever really get them out except by replacing them with new stories.

Dragons are a narrative object. They are antagonist, protagonist, creators of conflict, vessels of metaphor. Dragons arise from and manifest the worst and most pernicious and evil aspects of ourselves and the world we live in. Dragon is the embodiment of evil great and evil small – and the size has little to do with how dangerous it is.

If there is no evil, if Dragons are really our friends, then does that change the way we think about evil? Are we more willing to live with our own personal dragons? For most of our Dragons are personal. Evil is not all Hitler and Osama. It’s easy to look at those goons and say, “Well, at least I haven’t killed 6 million jews today. I must be alright.” That’s letting yourself off the hook too lightly.

What are your Dragons? Be honest now. You have them. Here is one classic list from the Ancient Writings: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” There are other lists, but this is a good one to start with. I might also add laziness, greed, fear, ignorance, injustice, oppression, slavery, addiction and apathy. Think these Dragons don’t live in you? Think again. Look again.

You must kill them. There is no room for truce or parlay. Instead of chatting with it, our Parents ought to have asked for the Angel’s sword and lopped the head off the serpent in the Garden. no. The only right response is to go after him hammer and tongs, no mercy, to the death. Using a different metaphor, Jim Rohn puts it this way:

"You cannot take the mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you devastate."

So here is a story for you. You discover a dragon ruining the kingdom of your Life. So you ride out to slay it. You call it by name and run to battle. You thrust and cut. You are thrown down. You rise again. You beat and bleed. You fight on and on until, with the help of Dragon Bane, you slay the beast. The worm lies before you and you place your foot on it's head, blood dripping from your sword and sweat from your brow. You shout a challenge to the other serpents to let them know that you are coming for them too.

I like that story.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

You convinced me that my offhand thought about cozying up to dragons being an indicator of our culture's denial of evil has something to it. Thanks.

Paragraph Six. Please, no more lists. Those are all dragons of mine; except orgies, which no one has ever invited me to, so I can't really count as a conquered sin.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

BTW, when you missed my sermon you missed my whole discussion of weeds and false narrative.

Lynne said...

in some models you DO handle weeds, and do not need to devastate them. Weeds are pioneer plants, and with careful soil maintenance through perennials and avoiding the destruction of tillage, you really never have to deal with pioneer plants, and they can occupy their natural, and important niche far more easily.

What pioneer plants do--in the event of trauma to the land or soil, they spring up quickly to cover the soil--protecting the humus from being eroded by the elements.

Just another interesting take, perhaps, on the idea of how we human beings deal with the world both outside and inside of ourselves.

Dubbahdee said...

Lynn, I take your point about an alternate view of weeds. And this certainly is true in the world of gardening. In our family, we have purposely left a large swath of our property to the pioneer plants. Fine with me. Less lawn to mow.

It does, however, rather drain the metaphor of it's moral power, don't you think?

If we start thinking of sexual immorality (for instance) as a "pioneer habit" in our lives...well, I think you can fill in the rest.