Dashing Debonair (And sometimes Dastardly) Dragons
I am a man who very much likes dragons. Strange, is it not, this orthodox fellow who likes Roman Catholicism and Christ Jesus so much, liking something the Devil is described as in the Bible? Liking such a Western symbol of Evil and Destruction does indeed seem out of place when it comes right down to it. My fondness for the great scaly beasts is probably harmless, but many of the more Fundamentalist Christians, and even some Catholics, I have spoken to seem to find it slightly unnerving, or even blasphemous, for my tastes to lean in that direction. One such couple went so far as to say that I had within me a desire for the Occult that needed to be eradicated, along with my love of music that is not explicitly and overwhelmingly Christian. I believe they were Independent Baptists, who according to some other denominations which contain people I know, tend to be overly sour-puss in their beliefs and very uncompromising on any matter whatsoever related in the slightest to Faith. I wonder if they and the Westboro Baptist Church have anything in common? After all, I highly doubt Hell awaits me if I wear a shirt that has a dragon on it. I own so many that I would surely burn. As I write this, I am in front of my giant blue wyvern poster. Next to a book shelf chock full of tales involving or centering around dragons, among other things so many miss out on because they automatically assume that looking foul means being foul, as opposed to the fact that Evil often wears a noble face and has a nasty habit of being the most busy in God’s own house. I would wager that the Devil does not attack through so obvious means as to only use fantastical trappings as his vehicle. He has better weapons, ones that I sadly am familiar with.
But I digress. Why do I like dragons anyway? I have a few answers, probably both profound and yet as childish and simple as tiddlywinks. The best answers are that way by nature.
The most simple of these explanations ties in, as many things do, to Dinosaurs. These great reptilian creatures have stalked the halls of my mind since before I could name more than one of them. There is something vast and glorious about their size, be they diminutive like Compsognathus and Avimimus, or gargantuan like Giganotosaurus and Ultrasaurus.
They have a distinctness that to my aesthetics, encompasses the Glory of Creation the way whirling galaxies and nebulae might in the eyes of an astronomer or astronaut. To me, dinosaurs reveal the Power and the Glory of what the Lord has made, and it is a beauty too great to be ignored, though many might deny its link to God. There is no child who will look at an Allosaurus raising its toothy maw to the sky in a triumphant roar, hooked hand-claws extended in primal fury, and not be moved. Some might fear, and others might stand in awe, but all shall be moved. And so it is with anything that displays the Greatness of God.
So I ask you. What are dragons but dinosaurs scaled up and with more decoration in various places, physical or otherwise? Man has an innate respect for that which is larger than himself, and what is more overmastering than a creature millenia old, with wings that blot out the sun, breath that turns steel molten, claws that tear down castle walls, muscle and sinew that crumble mountainside in their grip, a gaze more intense than any bird of prey, and an alien intellect that almost breaks down your very will as it speaks with a voice that rocks the roots of the stone you stand upon. What are dragons and dinosaurs, or indeed, the vastness of Creation, but a mirror or window in which to see the Divine?
I also like to look at how Dragons, and their opposites, the typical Knight, fight. Knights, after a certain point, to me, seem more than a little weak. They find an animal, and bend it to their will, and call it a noble steed, and ride into battle dominating another of God’s Creatures. They press a blacksmith into their service, and have him forge armor and weapons with which to fight, again asserting mastery over another. The very armor and weapons themselves are not what the Good Lord has given them. There is a distinct lack of trust there, in relying not on what God has given you, but on what you can squeeze out of Creation and your fellow man. Dragons, however, are different. Their only weapons and armor, despite their effectiveness and lethality, are those granted to them by the Creator. All a dragon’s fiery breath, impenetrable scales, cruel talons, cunning intellect, colossal size, vast wings, and hideous strength are what he is born with. The very fact that he takes to the wing on the wind, something that has long been poetically called the Breath of God, implies a sense of trust in something he does not control, something he must learn to work with and not against, or be cast to the ground. I see no reason why this utter reliance on using the Gifts given to you by the Grace of God and this complete reliance on His machinations that you cannot always see but trust to support you should not be upheld as Righteous and Good. In short, my view of dragons is something anything good Christian should aspire to be.
For fairness’ sake, I will flip the fairy story right-side up again. A righteous Knight can be just as good, and more identifiable of a character. His struggle seems far more akin to our own, by nature of his very humanity. A righteous Knight knows what God has given him is good, yet he also knows that such gifts include hands to craft and a mind to conceive wondrous things for the greater Glory of God. In kindness and humility, he asks the smithy to craft him weapons on protection of the finest steel, for there is a scaled terror to slay. He treats those items with respect for the power they hold, and finds a horse that he makes a bond with, and trains and cares for, with whom he rides to battle. Before he fights, he kneels and prays for the Grace to do as God Wills in this fight. As for the wicked Dragon, he wakes and wallows in his own strength and might, though it was all a gift from On High. He uses these gifts blasphemously and with great selfishness, killing and devouring all before him. He feels that no one is more powerful or more cunning than he.
In summation, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, even a dragon can be Holy when it is pointed towards the Glory of God.