How Do You Tame Your Dragons???

Posted: August 11, 2022 in World On The Edge

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller. — Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)

How do you tame your dragons? Are you even aware of them, or do you hide them like most of us do? Do you know their names? More than likely, it’s one of these: envy, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, and pride.

Throughout life, our personal dragons never really leave us. They hover very close to the things we desire, waiting to turn us in harmful directions. So often, and in various ways–through people, or events– we are warned to beware of them, but just as often, we set the warnings aside.

In my novel, SHOOTING AT HEAVEN’S GATE, envy plays a big part in several characters, but specifically in Mal Hawkins. In fact, my Prologue begins with him.

Envy is a littleness of soul, which cannot see beyond a certain point,
and if it does not occupy the whole space, feels itself excluded.

—William Hazlitt



Dr. Malcom J. Hawkins III, Professor of Psychology at Bethel University, sits at home in his favorite chair with a pompous grin on his face. His hands move ritually up and down the chair’s arms, endlessly soiling the upholstered pattern of apples and bananas. Day by day, as he rubs the arms of the chair, the smell of rot increases. Day by day, he eyes the table beside the chair and the drawer where he keeps the gun he plans to show the fool. Day by day, he patiently assesses the progress of the despicable Ginnie Gillan, wife of the fool. Why is she so admired by everyone at Bethel? How is she even a tenured professor? He read her many publications—too many, in his opinion. Nothing but drivel about spiritual warfare going on beneath the surface of all the earthly things one does. She contends that great literature portrays a battle between personified love and hate, good and evil in the flesh. In one of her silly articles, she even challenges the reader to choose a side: “Whom do you follow?”
Ha! Mal follows Me, not Thee. He is interested in a more powerful deity, one who will not allow himself to be crucified but will live and destroy all loftiness, all goodness and love, leaving only the reality of down-to-earth hatred behind. Ginnie Gillan and all her kind must be destroyed. Not by him, though. Mal will keep his own hands clean. Instead, he has chosen the perfect pawn.

Oh yes, beware of people like Malcolm Hawkins. See them for what/who they truthfully are, for they can destroy you.

Some of my characters are often shocking, flamboyant, disturbed, unkind. And yet others are merciful, gracious, empathic, loving. My characters demonstrate the dualities of human nature. Edmund, in “Shooting at Heaven’s Gate,” allows himself to be used by evil. Rather than condemn his actions, I would like my readers to acknowledge the frailties of the human heart. We all are capable of doing great evil, but how do we come to that? I like to show reasons. And hopefully you will find reasons in this novel.

So, don’t seek clearly defined protagonists and antagonists here, however. These characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. But while presenting the repulsiveness of my character’s actions, my goal is to also present the opportunity they have to recognize the truth in supernatural grace, and to allow its better-urge, that distinct drive toward love.

Shooting at Heaven’s Gate, published by Chrism Press.

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