I was working hard on my latest project, a yarn about a modern boy who wants to be a knight of King Arthur’s (who is not dead, you may recall, merely asleep), when a reader with the doglike name of Malcolm the Cynic wrote this note to a reader glum with the news of the times, seeing the barbarian everywhere victorious, and the forces of light everywhere confused, weak, and in retreat:
There is a scene in Stephen Lawhead’s novel “Arthur” that I found inspiring.
It is the legendary (and historical) Battle of Baedun Hill. Arthur and his men are outnumbered and backed up almost against the ocean; they have a route to escape (barely), but if they leave the enemy will become entrenched and they might as well give Britain up to the barbarians. The enemy is enclosed in a fortress, and has the high ground atop a hill. Arthur’s army survives only because of the onset of nightfall.
Throughout the book Arthur has repeatedly been winning incredible battles against impossible odds because he comes up with ingenious military battle plans – it is only because of his genius that they have made it to this “winner-take-all” battle. So the reader is waiting to read what brilliant strategy Arthur is going to come up with next.
Arthur tells his men to join him on the shore. He addresses them while standing in the ocean. Arthur declares to the group that the only way for them to win this battle is with the help of God, specifically, the Savior God Jesu. In front of his men, he adopts the Cross of Christ as his battle standard, then calls for all unbaptized to be baptized in the waters of the ocean that very night.
Merlin comes out and tells the army that the only way to win the battle is to build a wall of prayer. Arthur leads his men in prayer, then goes off to sleep.
When his men wake in the morning, they find a curious sight: Arthur is out lugging rocks around. The various kings and battle leaders don’t know what to do; one by one they go out to convince Arthur to come in, and after talking all end up joining him. Arthur is building a wall of prayer, and with the help of his men the city is surrounded by nightfall. The enemy, watching from their city fortress first mocks them, then becomes afraid, because they are blocking their own escape: Nobody blocks their own escape unless they know they’ll win.
Through a combination of mingled confusion and fear, as well as, presumably, divine intervention, the barbarians (lead by a British traitor) don’t leave the fortress until nightfall…as it so happens, the only possible time of day Arthur and his men can theoretically win the battle. The fight is extremely bloody, but when morning comes, Arthur and his men have won the day, as if by miracle, and Arthur is afterwards crowned High King of all Britain.
This is a longwinded way for me to say that the only way for us win – the culture war, the spiritual war, the war against the Jihadist terrorists who wish to destroy us – is to build a wall of prayer. That, right now, is our battle plan. And far from being hopeless, even faith the side of a mustard seed can move the very mountains.
So let us pray without ceasing. The Cross of Christ is our standard, and He is our King. And though we may suffer the long defeat, at the end of this Advent is the birth of a Savior; the victory of the world will not last. Eternity is on our side