There’s a lot of good stuff in Alan Noble’s response to Eric Metaxas’ recent statements regarding our culture’s crisis of manhood, but I just want to highlight his response to Metaxas’ claim that “all men want to live heroic lives”:
…let’s take another step back from heroism altogether; is it good to encourage your young boys (or girls) to be a hero? Is that natural, deep, basic desire to be the protagonist in the story of your life admirable? Does it lead to Christian virtues?
In my experience as a boy (and even now, as oft-day-dreamer adult), the desire to be a hero almost always manifested as a desire to attain my existential justification through personal greatness. It was an alternate salvation—a salvation through being a heroic savior. If I could do something heroic, even if it cost me everything, then I would know that I mattered. I was worth something. My existence would be assured, and this assurance would be verified by those around me.
I still want to live a heroic life. But I don’t think I should. I think I should want to live quietly, to do all that I do until God and for my neighbor, and to do all this without believing that through my quiet suffering I am redeeming myself.
This really jumps out at me because I confess, I want to live a heroic life — or at least, what I think is a heroic life. But is my vision of the heroic life truly Biblical, or has it been shaped by cultural pressures and norms in ways that, though seemingly noble, actually run counter to Christ’s instructions? This is a hard question, and it’s one that’s become increasingly relevant now that I have children of my own, including two sons.
Oh, and then there’s Noble’s response to Metaxas’ criticism of videogames:
Why videogames? Why not point out that watching football isn’t heroic? Or working on cars? Or Tweeting? Or any other of the myriad ways people waste time in the 21st century?