A wonderful treatment of the Hunt in classical Christian (especially Catholic) and medieval tradition, and its significance for today; a gratifying emphasis on St. Hubert (Hubertus), who in addition to being the patron of hunters, gamekeepers, foresters, and many more, is also one of several personal patron saints (with St. Michael, St. Benedict, St. Bede the Venerable, and St. Julian of Norwich) of my own.
“For in truth, the hunter is the great exemplar of manhood. Anything a man wishes to do, he must emulate the hunt in so doing. Ortega y Gasset states that, ‘Like the hunter in the absolute outside of the countryside, the philosopher is the alert man in the absolute inside of ideas, which are also an unconquerable and dangerous jungle’ (op. cit., p. 152). This is true in all else, whether it be a father who hunts for a living [e.g., seeks the means of supporting himself and/or his family, not necessarily one who is a professional hunter], or an artist who hunts for inspiration, or a writer who hunts for ideas, or a priest who hunts for souls. In attacking the very notion of the hunt (let alone its reality) the modern day world is really attacking masculinity itself.”
This seems as good a place as any to make note of the fact that, if I choose to focus a good bit of attention on manliness and Christian manhood in this blog, there are two reasons for this: the first is, of course, that I am a man, myself! Second, I believe that there has been a cultural shift from a perhaps excessive lionization of the male half of the species to a devaluation and even degradation of men and manhood over the last several decades, at least in “pop culture.” For evidence, just look at television, where in an ironic riff on the old faux “madonna/whore” characterization of women, men are too-often portrayed as either knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, or as incompetent, irrelevant milquetoasts. Part of my goal in this blog is to help redress the balance, promoting and portraying men, and especially Christian men, as both active, energetic, influential agents in the world and as philosophical, spiritual, and moral agents, as well.
As Leon Gautier writes in “Chivalry: The Everyday Life of the Medieval Knight“: ““Chivalry is the Christian form of the military profession: the knight is the Christian soldier.” In a word [knighthood, and the same could be said of Christian manhood, rightly practiced] is militant Christianity. But this is neither a religion confined to Sunday worship, nor a profession restricted to barracks; nor yet are the religion and the profession at all separate from each other. It is the armed defense of the unarmed Truth.”
Similarly, Christian men are called to defend the Good, the True, and the Beautiful – both in their own families and in society at large – with whatever “weapons” may be appropriate, whether they be actual, physical weapons (when or if appropriate), the “weapons” of words and arguments, active participation in the life of one’s parish, or civic responsibilities such as voting, serving on juries, or other forms of service (as Boy Scout leaders, for example). For all of these, as for the warrior skills of the medieval knight, the Hunt can provide useful physical, psycho-emotional, and moral training.