Sometime this summer, Robin Hood will return to film with Russel Crowe as his interpreter, and from the trailers it will be an angry, vengeful Robin that never smiles and would serve well the the Spartans depicted in "300." Aside from the values embraced and projected onto Robin in this movie, there's something they omitted that makes the story of Robin Hood incomplete. For the sake of realism, Robin is angry, dirty, blood drips from his forehead as he draws his bow, and a vital part of the human experience and the legend of Robin Hood is neglected- his merriment. This part of his character is so central that the title used in telling his story often involves the word "merry." Find the old books, older than the movies, and you'll see titles like "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood," and these aren't only for children. To be merry is a childlike thing, but not something reserved for children. They're only better at it than adults. A hero that can be merry, all the while fighting tyrannous and illegitimate kings, is far more dangerous than a hero who is unable to get past his anger and need for revenge.
Francis loved heroes and wanted to be one. I share that desire. The film industry would be crippled beyond healing if all of humanity woke tomorrow and lost their love for heroes and adventure. There is something true about them humans are drawn to. They're exceptional figures in history that provide us with scripts to act on in the smallest decisions. The Russell Crowe Robin Hood is real in the sense that he matches what the cynical would take as a hero, Francis and possibly the Robin Hood of legend would not. To be fully human is not an apology or an excuse to make mistakes. It is to rise toward God until we touch the created ceiling of our existence, covered in the most beautiful art, and there we meet God who takes us further into the divine. Chesterton wrote "Orthodoxy" as an apologetic for becoming Catholic. At the end of the book (not to spoil it for those who haven't read it) he says the one thing we'll be surprised by in heaven when we meet Christ Himself is his mirth. To be a saint is to not only express humanity in its fullness, but to reveal the divine; all saints are so because of God's power. And when a saint exists, all good things- from suffering for good to a sense of humor- are involved.
It smacks of geekdom to talk of honor, which I'll gladly accept. It also carries with it a goodness lost in recent times. And by saying there are honorable things is to say that there are dishonorable things- acts of ill repute. Yes, there is such a thing as a dishonorable person in our time, even if he or she isn't explicitly called such. To find a quick example, look to any of Kanye West's public embarrassment.
This is not a blog about heroes or saints. It is not one about my cats, garden, or what I cook. It is a comment on what I see as good, just, true, and worth writing about. I can't find the words to be more specific.