Miracle battles and unknown soldiers

Here’s a random thought, spurred by that Crusades movie.

On the flight to L.A., I brought with me a copy of the book by that author who is suing the makers of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. There are only ten pages scattered throughout the book that refer to Balian, the character played by Orlando Bloom, and it seems to me that author James Reston Jr. is basically just repeating what has long been available in the medieval sources, but Reston apparently thinks this film owes enough to these ten pages that it’s worth a legal battle on his part.

Well, whatever. The thing that strikes me is how Reston alludes to the fact that the Crusaders were motivated by Bible passages such as Joshua 23:10 (“One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you”). Never mind that Joshua was addressing the Hebrews over 2,000 years prior to the Crusades; this passage was apparently interpreted as a promise that God had made to the Templars.

Thing is, I find myself remembering how, when I was a boy, I used to wonder about all the Israelites who must have died in battle, all those times that they were granted miraculous victories here or there. I was a huge Star Wars fan, as most preteen boys were at that time, and I vividly remember being struck by the images of X-wing pilots being showered with sparks in their cockpits just before their fighters exploded, and I remember wondering what it would be like to die in a battle and never know whether it had been worth it. Y’know, Luke’s best friend Biggs died in Episode IV, but did he ever know that his sacrifice had made the ultimate defeat of the Empire in Episode VI possible? Heck, did he ever find out whether Luke succeeded in destroying the Death Star?

So, anyway, with Star Wars on my brain, I turned to the Bible and read the stories of Israelites winning battles here and there, and it didn’t seem plausible to me that they had won these battles without suffering any casualties. So, y’know, whenever I would read about God granting victory here or there, I often wondered what the individual soldiers or their families made of all that. I often wondered what it would be like to be one of those bit players who never came close to seeing the whole narrative.

Like I say, just a random thought. Though it does kind of tie in to one of the key themes of Kingdom of Heaven, which is whether God is willing things behind the scenes even though some of the players don’t know whether to believe in him.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • Sel

    wow thats pretty cool, those same thoughts crossed my mind as a kid with star wars and the israelites. I think biggs death amplfies those fears we have as a kid of losing someone close to us.


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