Alfred, Calvin, and Tolkien
On a recent journey from our little hamlet in middle Tennessee to the bustling metropolis of Nashville, I was accompanied by my 10-year-old son, Calvin. The journey takes about an hour, which gives ample time to listen to a lecture en route. Dr. George Grant willingly rode in the mp3 player on the dashboard, while Calvin was happy to have the whole backseat to himself. I asked Dr. Grant if he would tell me about Alfred the Great again, and he obliged.
Dr. Grant began with a lengthy quote from G.K. Chesterton’s, Ballad of the White Horse King. He then proceeded to tell us the story of this great king of Wessex; the king who united a band of tribal chiefs to defend his home and his people from the onslaught of the Viking hordes; the king who sang and prayed with his troops before battle; the king that redesigned a navy in order to quell the pagan plunderers before they reached his island. As Dr. Grant spoke I recalled what I’d learned about King Alfred from Ben Merkle’s book, The White Horse King. So I paused our inimitable orator to tell my son about shield walls and bezerkers, about Guthrum and the Danes, about bravery and cunning, about a king that learned humility through hardship. Calvin commented how much the Middle Ages sounded like Middle Earth, and I agreed. Externally I agreed. Internally I rejoiced that my son was avidly listening to my stories and listening well enough to have made a connection between Alfred and Tolkien.
I love King Alfred. I want to be like King Alfred, and I want my sons to be more like King Alfred than I will ever be. Long ago, I realized that you can’t force your children to love your heroes, but during that conversation with Calvin, I realized that you don’t have to. Your love for your heroes will be infectious. Your children will simply catch it. I love King Alfred because King Alfred loved King Jesus and that love saved a nation from utter destruction. I love King Jesus and I want Calvin to love King Jesus more than I ever will, so that he and I can sing with Alfred and his troops, with Tolkien and his hobbits, and with our beloved Dr. Grant,
When the enemy comes in a’roarin’ like a flood,
Coveting the kingdom and hungering for blood,
The Lord will raise a standard up and lead His people on,
The Lord of Hosts will go before defeating every foe;
Defeating every foe.
For the Lord is our defense, Jesus defend us,
For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend.
Marc is a husband, father, teacher, and land surveyor in middle Tennessee. He has been blessed beyond belief by the God of heaven and earth.