The Medieval Age Mindset

The Medieval Age Mindset

If Christendom is to be restored, it will require men who model themselves on the knights of the Round Table: men of faith bound in loyalty, prepared for war, and dedicated to a common cause. Perhaps the standard set by Arthur and his knights is too high for men of a world such as ours. But maybe some are willing to take up the task and to recapture what glory of old Christendom is still possible for us in this age.

Heroes of Christendom Surpass Bronze Age Legends

Ever since the publication of the infamous Bronze Age Mindset, conservatives of various stripes have entered into a seemingly endless conflict over what to make of its erratic prose and challenging content. A number of conservatives, especially those of a more religious inclination, have denounced the book and its author as anti-Christian and fascistic. Yet, there can be no doubt that Bronze Age Pervert holds great purchase among younger conservatives. Further, even a growing number of strongly religious conservatives embrace the text as an empowering exhortation, finding little conflict between BAP’s message and their faith. Can it be that the king of frog Twitter may actually have something to teach conservative Christians?

In order to answer that question, we have to understand what the “Bronze Age mindset” is according to Bronze Age Pervert. Luckily the pseudonymous author tells us explicitly in the third part of his book. According to BAP, there are two principles that set the mindset of the ancients apart. The first was that the secret desire of every Greek was to be worshiped as a god among men. The second was that, for the classical man, life was characterized by the competition of life against life; force against force. The Greek conceived of nature as a manifestation of an inner fire, seeking to gather and discharge power, as Heraclitus described. Every particular being was understood as a manifestation of this universal power, and each being sought the expression of its inner force and differentiation, as a consequence. Hence, the classical man would train and beautify his body in the gymnasium with the aim of attaining eternal fame among men through victory in war. In BAP’s view, it is this vision of life that led to the greatness of classical antiquity, which stands in stark contrast to the spiritual poverty and effusive ugliness of postmodern society, described by BAP as an “iron prison.”

Despite what BAP’s critics argue, there is a great deal of overlap between his worldview and the Christian tradition, particularly the medieval chivalric tradition. Unfortunately, those aspects of Bronze Age Mindset that resonate with Christianity have been obscured by Christianity’s modern pharisaic expositors seeking to reduce Christianity to a mere set of moral axioms. Let us explore this exhortation, section by section, and see for ourselves what a Christian might have to learn from Bronze Age Mindset.

Inner Fire and Physical Beauty

The first part, “The Flame of Life,” serves as an elaboration on the metaphysics of BAP’s Heraclitean vitalist philosophy. BAP argues that the nature of life is not merely a struggle for survival, as Darwinists claim. He argues that there are two kinds of life: “yeast life,” which reproduces aimlessly, and “higher life” which seeks to develop itself upward through greater complexity. “Higher life means many fancy and mysterious things too of course but at its most basic it has to do with differentiation and structure. Yeast is an ‘amorphous blob’ that expands, whereas a higher organism has different parts with different functions, different organs, different systems within itself.” Life at its best is as Nietzsche describes: the development and expression of power. Life is best, in other words, not when it exists for the sake of being—but when it aims at something greater. “Life has a thing inside it that reaches beyond itself… if you don’t reach beyond yourself you are dead!”

The Christian can certainly find agreement in many of these points. After all, the Christian life is about perfection of the soul and spreading the message of the gospel so that others might do the same. All Christians are called to be transformed by God’s love in order that they are able to put their life on the line for God and neighbor. We are always to be reaching beyond ourselves until the end of our lives when we are judged by Christ according to our works.

For BAP, human life can go the path of yeast or the path of higher life, and typically it takes to the former. Human life becomes yeast-like under conditions of pressure, such as slavery or in overcrowded filthy cities. To illustrate the point, BAP gives the famous example of the “longhouse,” which is the prehistoric default communal setting of humanity, where the young were browbeaten by “the old and sclerotic” and “matriarchs.” Under such conditions, human life “devolves… aesthetically, morally, intellectually, physically.” The alternative is the “life of the immortal gods who live in pure mountain air,” symbolized by the “aesthetic physique,” which is a physical manifestation of “energy is marshaled to the production of higher order.” He concludes that “Those who forget the body to pursue a ‘perfect mind’ or ‘perfect soul;’ have no idea where to even start. Only physical beauty is the foundation for a true higher culture of the mind and spirit as well.” Since any given organism, including the human, is its physical body, life on the ascent must begin for BAP with the development and the perfection of the body.

The tension here lay therefore in the exaltation of the body over the soul. A Christian certainly cannot abide by deifying the body at the expense of the soul. However, the body does play a central role in Christian theology. After all, God Himself took on a physical human body in which he lived, died, resurrected and ascended to heaven. All of mankind is also expected to be resurrected at the end of time in order to enter the New Jerusalem or into eternal punishment for all of eternity. We are creatures intended to possess a physical body and we are incomplete without one.

Consequently, it would make sense that training the body is relevant to the perfection of the spirit. Austerity through fasting and abstinence has always been common practice for Christians seeking to direct instincts and emotions toward their proper end. In this sense, Christianity is decidedly against the gluttony characteristic of the contemporary American approach to food. Further, training the body to increase physical power, and consequently beauty, is in no way alien to Christianity. The medieval knight, for instance, would have found physical training an essential aspect of his lifestyle in order to prepare for combat, since a strong body would have been necessary to defend the innocent in battle and gain honors thereby. The knight also beautified himself with ornate sets of armor and weaponry. In the medieval world, strength and beauty were to be put in the service of loving self-sacrifice. Although there is something to be said for potential excess or vanity, strength and beauty directed toward noble ends can only ever be a good thing.

However, love of beauty in itself does not exhaust the issue, since for BAP what is most important is the beauty of the body itself. Although Christianity is not anti-body or against physical beauty, as previously acknowledged, the Christian tradition does not seem to exalt the body in the same way as the classics have. Where in antiquity the young handsome quick-footed Achilles was considered to be the ideal human type, Christians have tended instead to idolize the monkish priestly type, like St Francis of Assisi for whom bodily beauty is unimportant, and in some cases considered a hindrance.

A major aspect of BAM’s appeal is the sexiness of his aesthetics, to put it bluntly. As it turns out, men want to be physically powerful adventurers and warriors, and women are attracted to men who embody that type of ethos. For Christianity to survive and appeal to men in the modern day, it must move beyond the preaching and navel gazing of the priest, and provide an ideal with some vitality in it. Emulation of priests and monks has certainly had some appeal, as evidenced by the tendencies of many modern traditionalists and integralists. Further, there is nothing wrong with priests as such, but merely their exaltation as a model for all men. It’s not priestly moralizing that establishes (and re-establishes) civilization. Instead, that is the prerogative of the noble warrior or knight who wrests territory from the hands of the enemy and secures it against threats internal and external. It is Lancelot that ought to serve as a model for Christians today. Endlessly preaching about the need for a rejection of modernity in favor of communitarian escapism comes off as stuffy and weak. Calling men forth to friendship and adventure with concrete benefits makes for a much more attractive message.

C.S. Lewis acknowledged this specific point in his essay “The Necessity of Chivalry.” Lewis argues that in order for Christian civilization to thrive, it must produce men like Lancelot of the Arthurian mythos. He describes Lancelot as “a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-of limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth.” He argues that the knight is the middle ages’ unique contribution to mankind, as the middle ground between the ignorant brute and the effeminate man of culture. Unfortunately, it would appear many traditionalists today fall into the latter camp, advocating forms of escapism and self-comforting admonitions of their enemies, rather than actively taking up the fight. If only Christians would have heeded Lewis in his exhortation to emulate the chivalric ideal.

For the knight to do his work, he must develop a powerful physique that strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies and inspires those squires under his tutelage. However, he will not fall victim to the vulgar body obsession of many modern bodybuilders and fitness influencers. His beautiful body should not be abused for the sake of vanity or licentiousness, nor is a well-developed body alone sufficient for the knightly vocation. Rather it ought to reflect a more beautiful soul and serve as an instrument of God’s will.

Human Biological Hierarchy

Elaborating further on the significance of the body, BAP argues in the second and third parts that there are politically important biological differences between the sexes and among ethnic groups. He argues fervently that there are insurmountable biological and behavioral differences between men and women that have severe political consequences if ignored. Although women have a penchant for positive characteristics, such as farseeing intuition and childlike carelessness, BAP considers giving women authority to rule over men to be a fatal mistake. In BAP’s view, rule by women results in the stifling of freedom and life’s proper development.

This should not be controversial to the Christian, since scripture itself attests to the same reality. Various passages from Old Testament wisdom literature contain warnings for men against the wiles of women who lead men to ruin when men submit to women. “Give not your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings” (Proverbs 31:3). Additionally, the prophet Isaiah associates rule by women with waywardness, as he says, “My people—children are their oppressors and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths.” (Isaiah 3:12).

The New Testament is in some ways even more explicit than the Old. For instance, Saint Paul writes in both first Corinthians and Ephesians that men ought to be the head of their wives and families just as Christ is the head of the church. “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:22-26). In the traditional Christian view, wives submit to their husbands and husbands sacrifice themselves for their wives, just like Christ. It’s also very telling that Christ Himself appointed only men as apostles to lead his church. This fact has been used as a justification not only to support the general assertion that men should occupy leadership positions but also the more particular practice of ordaining exclusively male priests, as maintained by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. In any case, the polarity of male and female has always been accepted by Christians and is explicitly preached in scripture.

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