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.
Surely a woman has greater dignity to the Christian than the ancient Greek, however. It’s no secret that the ancients treated their women and children as property over whom they had the power of life and death. Women were often considered little more than tools to reproduce the character of the father in his children. Similar legal arrangements for the sexes are not alien to old Christendom, but women were granted a higher metaphysical status, as children of God created in His image. Marriage, then, was not intended to be a merely utilitarian arrangement, but also an affair of the heart. Men were expected to love their wives and children enough to die for them. Additionally, Christian marriage requires the genuine consent of the female in order to be valid. Hence it was among medieval knights that our modern conception of romantic love was born. However, it’s only in our modern era that Christians have come to make arguments in favor of total equality between the sexes, which makes for less-than-ideal conditions for romantic love.
True romance requires the tension created by the attraction enabled by sexual polarity. In order for true love to exist, the two sexes must be allowed to develop the virtues particular to themselves that bring forth the fire of passion. BAP recommends to his readers “abandonment to such instinct.” It is only under conditions of healthy expression of sexual differences that Christian marriage as a regulating force even makes sense and is able to bear spiritual fruit.
The second point on ethnic differences is more difficult to defend from a Christian standpoint. However, it is worth clarifying BAP’s position somewhat before addressing it. BAP is mostly concerned with preserving the human preference for the development of higher life which, he argues, has manifested more often in some ethnic groups than others. Most of his overt racism is consequently directed towards the “the Orient” and their cities which he describes as “steaming piles of humanity” with little respect for privacy, cleanliness, or beauty in any capacity. Han Chinese civilization, in particular, BAP sees as the ultimate manifestation of yeast life in human form. BAP says that the ancient Athenians had contempt for the “civilized and slavish life of the Asian.” Thus, he repudiates “IQ fetishists” who praise the Chinese for their supposed high average intelligence. Citing Herodotus, he argues the Greeks had much more respect for Africans and Arabs. They especially admired steppe nomads and pastoralists, such as the Scythians and the barbarians of northern Europe. “The Greeks admired the power and freedom of the barbarian far more than the ‘civilized’ way of the slave, and his false intelligence.” It is the development of that power and freedom within civilization with which BAP is most concerned and for which he so admires the ancient Greeks.
What is so distinct about Western civilization is that it is somewhere in between the barbaric and civilized styles of life. In particular, BAP argues that the European city is “an attempt to preserve free and barbaric life within the confines of the city. It’s an attempt to exalt and develop certain tendencies of that free life that could presumably benefit from the arts, the science, and the leisure that can only be promoted inside a city.” Thus, the West, more than any other civilization, has made space for the development of higher life within the bounds of civilization.
Like his intellectual mentor, Friedrich Nietzsche, BAP is arguably more of a classist than a racist. Hence, he credits the glory of antiquity and of Christian European civilization to their respective noble castes in particular. He says it was the “conquering aristocracy that really made Europe stand out from the morass that the rest of the world.” BAP is not so much concerned with entire ethnic groups as he is with those few individuals in any given ethnic group who dedicate their lives to something more than mere survival. “Peoples are nature’s circuitous ways to great specimens.”
BAP desires space and support for the truly excellent to be able to develop their talents to the fullest. The men BAP praises most are men of adventure, such as Bob Denard and Mad Mike Hoare. They were courageous warriors whom he believes recaptured the “spirit of the Bronze Age” in our time. Denard and Hoare lived free lives of warfare and exploration, like Bronze Age warriors of old. They were enabled to develop and express their powers in a way that few men are today. He also praises great mathematicians, like Evariste Galois and Carl Friedrich Gauss, whom he characterizes as “monsters of will” expressing their power through their dedication to a life of the mind. For BAP, what is most important is that such exceptional men are allowed to thrive.
There is nothing here, insofar as BAP is endorsing aristocracy as a natural product of human and civilizational achievement, that is entirely at odds with Christianity, albeit, as noted, BAP’s more racialist comments are less defensible. The latter need not be endorsed for BAP’s more general comments vis a vis aristocracy and inequality to be accepted. (As argued already, the character of BAP’s Euro-centrism and general elitism, whether racialist or classist, need not detain us here.)
After all, St. Paul also writes in his first letter to the Corinthians that each person is born with different talents and has a different role to play in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The importance of class has also never been contradicted by the Christian tradition. Noble knights and aristocrats were respected throughout the Middle Ages as vanguards of the people’s safety and paragons of virtue. Like Jesus Christ, whom the Father enthroned as Lord over creation, the Christian noble was expected to embody Christ’s love and sacrifice for the sake of those under his protection.
There is even a medieval precedent for the free warrior specifically in the figure of the knight errant, who would travel across Europe on horseback seeking to accomplish honorable deeds. The Arthurian mythos pays tribute to such a lifestyle in the figures of Lancelot, Percival, Gawain, and others.
There will always be an elite in any society with unique gifts to accomplish higher aims than the average person, and that’s perfectly okay. Everyone can aspire to the holiness of Christ, but not everyone has the intellect of Thomas Aquinas or the strength of Saint Christopher. The important thing is that those gifts are able to be fully taken advantage of and put to their proper use.
All of that said, one’s value as a human is not determined by one’s heredity. Christians believe that all humans are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity. However, that fact does not oblige Christians to ignore that certain excellences may have a hereditary basis, and such natural excellences, when they appear, deserve to be given the space for their full development.
Ascent of Youth
The final point for which BAP argues in the third and fourth parts is that men need to be trained for war in order to be free and prosperous. “Life appears at its peak not in the grass hut village ruled by nutso mammies, but in the military state. In Archaic Greece, in Renaissance Italy and in the vast expanse of the heroic Old Stone Age, at the middle of the Bronze Age of high chariotry, lived men of power and magnificence in great numbers. We are in every way their inferiors. Physically, spiritually and in intellect they exceed us in every way.” In BAP’s view, it is the life of war and adventure that leads men to most fully develop their inner powers. After all, in order to be truly excellent in war, one must be physically powerful (and consequently beautiful), intelligent, cunning, and courageous. It is in the barracks and on the battlefield that these abilities are honed and given expression. For BAP, the perfection of the martial virtues is the perfection of life itself, as it is the clashing of force against force that essentially characterizes all life. Thus, it makes sense with BAP’s metaphysics that warlike societies most commonly give way to great outpourings of genius in the arts and sciences, as witnessed in Classical Athens and Renaissance Florence.
Most Christians have tended to treat warfare in a very negative manner, as something almost entirely evil. The standard Christian view has been that of Just War Theory, where strong moral constraints are placed on the conditions for which war might be carried out. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards for the conduct of war, but that in no way negates the necessity of preparedness for war.
In addressing the issue of warfare from a Christian perspective, it may be most appropriate to consult one of the first thinkers to offer a reconciliation of antiquity and Christianity. Dante Alighieri, famously the author of the Divine Comedy, lived in a period characterized by conflict over the role of the papacy and Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, with regard to politics and legitimacy. Dante believed that the Holy Roman Emperor had a sacral significance in Christianity as the inheritor of the legacy of antiquity. He argued in his De Monarchia that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection in the Roman Empire was evidence that the Roman Empire was ordained by God to serve as the center of Christian civilization. Dante argues specifically in Book III chapter 9 of his De Monarchia that the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor were the “two swords” of God to which Christ referred in Luke 22:38 meant to carry forth the gospel into the world, each containing its own legitimacy. The Holy Roman Emperor, as the successor to Augustus, Trajan, and Constantine was meant to oversee the temporal sphere of Christian political power and the Pope the sacral sphere. Each office held its own inherent dignity and legitimacy.
Although there is no Holy Roman Empire today (perhaps Eduard Habsburg has other plans), if the Roman Empire itself is considered sacred, then that grants the soldiers of the Christian Empire an inherent religious significance. Old Rome is transformed into Christendom through conversion. It is the warrior who fights to maintain Christendom that is the successor to the Roman legionnaire.
Dante elaborates on the supporting metaphysical arguments for De Monarchia book I, Dante Alighieri argues in accordance with Christian teaching that the telos of humankind is primarily the development of the powers of intellect, and secondarily the powers of action. In other words, it is the development of the soul that takes precedence and the capacity for action through the body that is of secondary importance. However, Dante also argues that it is only in times of peace that the intellect can be developed most fully and peace can only be secured through force of arms. This is why in Book II Dante states his belief that the Romans were the most noble race ever to exist. Their acumen in war and governance allowed them to create a lasting peace spanning from modern-day England to Egypt, which is why Dante thinks the second person of the trinity chose to be born within the bounds of the Roman Empire. In Dante’s view, God chose the Romans for their martial prowess and political genius to be the political bearers of the gospel message. Thus, perhaps surprisingly, this most divine Christian poet finds himself largely in agreement with BAP’s exhortation.
We don’t have to accept Dante’s reasoning about the significance of Rome in order to accept his broader conclusion about the role of the warrior in Christianity. The perfection of the spiritual virtues is most important to the Christian, but it is only among men who have also trained their bodies for war and are capable of heroic action for the sake of defending the innocent that the soul can find space to breathe. Si vis pacem, para bellum. Unfortunately, Christians forget this most fundamental truth because of the tendency to exalt the priest over the knight, as previously mentioned. It is only the man of war who can make civilized life possible and give it a vitalistic character.
A Few Arrows
In the final section, BAP calls young men to destroy the “iron prison” that stifles the proper development of life. He mostly blames the state of our modern world on democracy and the enfranchisement of women in particular. BAP argues that this allows demagogues “to rally the lower orders of the spirit,” which BAP sees as a recipe for civilizational destruction. He predicts that such a situation will result in the military eventually seizing power, but does not hold out great hope for a truly great man like a Caesar or Napoleon. However, if a Caesar or Napoleon is to come, BAP says that such a man “would need allies” to affect a political-cultural restoration. He also expects many great men will simply choose to build “fortresses on the edge of the civilized world… Such men will develop above all their physical powers and their ability to wage war. They will offer the nations defense in exchange for a price.” In other words, they will become adventuring mercs like Denard and Hoare, as previously discussed. BAP also calls his readers to also actively work against the “leviathan” by undertaking a great “downgoing,” entering into the underworld and sowing seeds of chaos. He wants his readers to do all they can to destroy trust in the regime. “Imagine even a world where the people, under relentless assault of contradictory and wild claims, would lose all faith in the media and government and doctors and believe nothing they hear through official channels anymore.” Thereby, more spaces of freedom will open up for the development of higher life and the potential for a great man to come to power. Hence, more than anything BAP encourages young men to prepare for war through military training, formal or otherwise, form strong friendships, and work to infiltrate existing institutions (military, academia, intelligentsia, etc.) and/or form parallel institutions to challenge the “leviathan.” In this way, as the global regime weakens, there will be men of high vision in position to take advantage of new opportunities for glory and change the world for the better.
Although we don’t necessarily need to oppose democracy in principle, actively work against it, or even necessarily expect its dissolution, the essence of the message is perfectly sound. If any real change or cultural restoration is to occur, there must be a group of capable men willing to put in work to fight the tyranny under which we find ourselves. The so-called “Benedict Option” will only leave faithful Christians open to further abuse. Running to the hills in order to live peacefully with a trad-wife and children in trad-community is not a real solution to the problems of our time. In fact, it’s tantamount to giving up the fight.
The solution also isn’t merely starting and raising good Christian families, as though such a thing should have anything to do with politics directly. Of course, there is nothing wrong with starting a family, and in many ways, it can be a great blessing, but it does nothing in itself to change our situation. BAP addresses this question directly: “I’ve seen many men, intelligent and well-educated, but weak in their core and much too concerned with women, who gave up all higher aspirations once a half-decent girl came along. I find it disturbing that so many think this kind of life is a great salvation for you personally or ‘for your race.’ This is ridiculous. By all means, marry and have children if you want, but don’t do it as a political statement or a form of action.” Strong families are absolutely paramount, but it has always been strong groups of men that change the world. It was the twelve apostles of Christ who lit the world on fire with the message of the gospel in their hearts.
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.
Let us return to the principle at the heart of BAM: the desire to be revered as a god among men. Men became god-like by harnessing their power and excelling all other men through victory in war. As already discussed, it is imperative for at least some Christian men to be trained for war and prepared to do the hard work of combatting a corrupt regime. However, the difference between the pagan Achilles and the Christian Sir Lancelot is that the former fights for his own honor and enrichment, while the latter fights for the sake of the widow and the orphan. Christianity doesn’t negate classical virtue but rather raises the moral standard. The Christian warrior is called to fight for Love and Justice. It is in this way that Christianity turned the Viking into the Norman. There is much to be learned from Bronze Age Mindset, but we should not hope for a return of the brutal pre-Christian past. The heroes of Homer make for beautiful poetic subjects, but their cruelty requires the tempering of love. Thus, while it may not be appropriate for a Christian to desire to literally be worshiped, there is nothing wrong with seeking to be remembered as a saint. Especially if that path to sainthood involves developing the virtues, allying with like-minded brethren, and working tirelessly to restore a tired and corrupt civilization that has grown increasingly hostile to faithful Christians everywhere. There is hardly any project in our age more worthy of vital men in search of honor and eternal glory.
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