Jesus as Ideal Ranger

Those of you who know the famous RANGER! video ("You'll fight tigers!") will remember that it included among famous Rangers Jesus Christ. In a new book, Chaplain Captain John McDougall of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, attempts to make the point with more seriousness.
“As I drove up the Cascade Mountains, I started thinking about how much my Rangers resembled Jesus – selflessly willing to give their lives for other,” McDougall said. “God took this simple thought and then inspired me to write an entire allegory about how Jesus was like an Airborne Ranger.”

McDougall, a United States Military Academy graduate, recently published Jesus was an Airborne Ranger, a faith-based illustration of the warrior ethos of Jesus Christ’s ministry in relation to the mentality and characteristics of the members of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

McDougall, who has served as 2d Ranger Battalion’s Chaplain for three years, was inspired to write the book when he realized that his Rangers were generally unaware of the strength of Jesus as depicted in the Bible.

“My desire to write the book came from the realization that the Jesus of many churches is a weakling – someone that our Rangers cannot relate too,” McDougall said. “I wanted to introduce them to the Warrior Christ that I see in the Bible – someone bold, disciplined and unafraid.”
I have two competing thoughts about this. The first one is that it mirrors almost precisely the tactic Fafhrd used in Lean Times in Lankhmar to address the unpopularity of his chosen diety:
As delivered over and over by Fafhrd, the History of Issek of the Jug gradually altered, by small steps which even Bwadres could hardly cavil at had he wished, into something considerably more like the saga of a Northern hero, though toned down in some respects. Issek had not slain dragons and other monsters as a child—that would have been against his Creed—he had only sported with them, swimming with leviathan, frisking with behemoth, and flying through the trackless spaces of air on the backs of wivern, griffin and hippogryph. Nor had Issek as a man scattered kings and emperors in battle, he had merely dumbfounded them and their quaking ministers by striding about on fields of poisoned sword-points, standing at attention in fiery furnaces, and treading water in tanks of boiling oil—all the while delivering majestic sermons on brotherly love in perfect, intricately rhymed stanzas.
Fritz Leiber was playfully mocking the actual course of alterations of the tone of the Gospel stories as Christianity spread north into lands that had been less Roman and more barbarian. It worked very well at the time, and might work again (as indeed it worked for Fafhrd in the tale).

The second thought is that there is a kind of validity to the move. As the perfect man, all things proper to men are fully realized in Christ. This change in emphasis of focus isn't changing Jesus in the same way that Fafhrd was changing Issek: it's merely attending to a different aspect than before. The danger to the move is that in focusing on areas where men are already strong, it draws their attention from what Christianity can best help them with: recognizing and confessing to the areas where they are weak. Perhaps it's a good approach, still, insofar as it builds a trusting relationship between man and God. Confession is easiest where trust is deepest.


Texan99 said...

The other danger is the train of thought: "Jesus was perfect; whatever He was like is good" to "This is good, in my opinion" to "Jesus must have been like this." Fine, unless maybe the stories that come down to us about Him make it pretty clear He wasn't like that at all? It's one thing to say, "He never played basketball, but I bet if He had, He'd have been awesome," and another to say "I think math is great, so He must have been a fabulous mathematician," or even "I really place a high value on business success, so He obviously was a capitalist." No one ever says the latter, really, but they say the equivalent, which is things like "Jesus would vote for the minimum wage if He were alive today."

There are things which may be excellent human endeavors in their time and place, but which meant nothing whatever in Jesus's life. We shouldn't be too free to make stuff up about Him just to give randomly chosen positive human characteristics an extra divine glow--not even to sell our religion to otherwise reluctant populations. Otherwise what stops us from saying "You know, pregnancy is pretty cool. Jesus must have borne a child"?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I see such moves as valuable correctives. We live in an era where only an insipid milk-and-water Jesus is considered credible. Reading the NT gives a fairly different impression. The humorous lines "When you ask yourself 'What Would Jesus Do?' it pays to remember that one of the choices is tipping over tables and whipping lots off guys back out into the street." Or also Who Would Jesus Bomb? Uh, Sodom and Gomorrah, apparently.

But that Jesus obscures parts of His nature as well.

Texan99 said...

That I do agree with, completely.

Grim said...

"Unafraid" was the word the chaplain chose that bothered me most, Tex. I mean, most of the time, I guess: but we all know the story of the Garden of Gethsemane.

That's just one part that Rangers might really need, at times. Jesus wasn't laughing at the thought of the cross, nor did he laugh on it: but he did his duty all the same.

Texan99 said...

Right, that important distinction between "courage" meaning "feeling no subjective fear" and "doing what's right regardless of fear."

J Melcher said...

"When you ask yourself 'What Would Jesus Do?' it pays to remember that one of the choices is tipping over tables ..."

And (mercifully) tying a pedophile to a millstone and casting him into the sea; as opposed to the unspeakable punishment Jesus was tempted to ACTUALLY inflict.

(and I think this is intended literally, but it might be useful to many of us to consider it, er, FIGuratively) If you happen to be a fig tree, and Jesus finds you aren't producing figs, prepare to wither and die...