C.S. Lewis, popular for ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’, stated in 1 of his non-fictional operates, ‘Mere Christianity’,
‘The moment you wake up, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the 1st job each and every morning consists in listening to that other voice, that point of view, letting that other stronger, quieter life come flowing in.’
In other words, our path toward getting totally human includes a recognition each and every day that we are not the centre of the universe. The difficulty is we reside in a culture that tells us that we are and that we really should normally get what we want. We are all buyers now relating to every little thing in terms of consumption – not just buying, but education, well being care, and religion. But getting a customer is not the height of what it signifies to be human.
I am reminded of this on Saint George’s Day – 23rd April – the day devoted to the patron saint of England. We almost certainly know the story about the knightly George and the dragon. But what do we know about the true George?
All we know is that George, or Georgios, was born about 270 BCE, almost certainly in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey), not England. At the age of 17 he entered the service of the Emperor Diocletian as a Roman soldier.
Diocletian was for most of his reign tolerant of religious minorities, but about the turn of the century public opinion blamed the refusal of Christians to participate in pagan sacrifices for a series of unfavourable events and omens, and the Emperor ordered all Christians to conform to the Roman sacrificial program or else drop their positions. These opposed to Christianity pressed for punishment, and an Oracle from Apollo at Didyma was broadly interpreted as calling for the suppression of Christians. So on 24th February 303 BCE Diocletian’s ‘Edict against the Christians’ was published. A spate of persecutions followed, and quite a few Christians died like George the Roman soldier and Christian martyr.
The Roman historian Eusebius, writing twenty years later, spoke of a soldier who was executed on 23rd April 303 BCE for this act. George was identified with Eusebius’s soldier, which is why Saint George is remembered on 23rd April to this day.
There are many theories of why Saint George is depicted with a dragon in Christian iconography. One particular theory suggests that the Roman soldier, George, refused to kneel prior to an image of a dragon or a serpent – possibly on a Roman Common – and that this is exactly where the story of ‘Saint George and the Dragon’ originates.
But even stories possess truth and let us to discover the truth inside ourselves. C.S. Lewis knew this, exploring the truth of his Christian faith by way of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ as substantially as he did by way of any of his theological writings or radio broadcasts. Lewis’s pal J.R.R.Tolkien held to a equivalent principle in his writings that revolved about his popular trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Part playing games such as ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and digital versions such as ‘Dragon Age’ have constructed upon these stories and created them for our personal age. All of them in some methods appear back to earlier stories such as ‘Saint George and the Dragon’. And in that story George had to face a query. Was he the centre of his personal universe or was their some thing extra worth defending? A dragon that necessary defeating? The true George faced the dragon by refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
George would almost certainly have remained a saint principally revered in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Asia had it not been for the Crusades. The crusaders journeys introduced them to the icons of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and they have been impressed by the depictions of the courageous soldier-saint slaying a dragon and rescuing a damsel in distress.
They basically did not have an understanding of how the symbolism of iconography operates, and that George’s dragon stood for evil, or maybe Diocletian, and the attractive princess for Christianity, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or for the Church itself. Not understanding how to interpret what they saw, they developed their personal interpretations.
Sadly, this expressed itself in the crusades with acts of violence beneath the guise of ‘knightly valour’ and currently Saint George is hijacked by intense English nationalistic tendencies in some quarters. If only they knew who the true George, or Giorgios, was.
But if we can strip away the layers of legend we are nonetheless left with a small pinch of truth. George, the Christian who stood up to some thing terrifying and was in a position to do so not mainly because he believed he was at the centre of the universe but mainly because he knew he was not. Realising we are not the centre of the universe is a very good point as the history of map producing can illustrate to us.
500 years ago persons believed the Earth was flat. We know this from the history of producing maps. Everyone who has been a scout knows not only that Saint George is their patron saint but some thing about map reading and map producing.
If you go to an archive and appear at any maps from 500 years ago you will see that maps of Europe have been fine, but the additional away from Europe they got, the much less correct they became. In uncharted locations a Latin phrase can usually be located:
‘Hic Sunt Dracones’ or ‘Here be dragons.’
So in the history of map producing, dragons represented the worry of the unknown. As we know it took explorers to go into the unknown and to face these fears. That is why we have correct maps currently. To me, Saint George’s Day is about facing worry – facing the dragon. For the true Saint George it mean’t facing the worry of getting persecuted for what he believed in as a Christian.
What could facing the dragon appear like in our personal age?
‘Hic Sunt Dracones.’
We will all encounter these words, and not just on historical maps. Remembering the true Saint George may possibly support us face these words wherever we may possibly encounter them. I keep in mind a hymn I employed to sing at college, ‘When a Knight won his Spurs’, which in 1 of the verses says the following:
“Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed
and let me set absolutely free, with the sword of my youth,
from the castle of darkness the energy of the truth.”
Living these words exactly where ‘there be dragons’ lies the path to correct chivalry.