For over a decade I have been an educator in one fashion or another. My teaching has ranged from Biblical Studies to Theology, History, English, Philosophy, and even a bit of Film. Similar to subject matter, in my teaching career the age range has varied greatly: some of my best students have been preschool-aged, while some of my most memorable have been my own grandparents. During this time I have seen a wide range of intelligences, learning styles, and interests, as well as met and mentored some wonderful people, inspired those who seemed uninspirable, and, in return, have been inspired myself. I have seen the beauty of good people who love the truth and seek it. In reflection on the best moments of the past decade, I can say without stutter or doubt, it has been a blessing. However, that is in reflection on the best moments.

More often than not, I am afraid I have found that a longing to store up the treasures of knowledge has been stolen. I cannot and will not try to pinpoint when or where this happened — I think it was done over a period of time. I will also not take a jab at who the watchmen were that let down their guard and allowed the enemy to creep in. I will not even dare claim that I know what form the enemy took when he climbed over the city wall. What I will say is this, for this I know certainly, the enemy has set something loose among us — dragons.

These dragons, of which I count at least three, though there may be many more I have yet to see, have slinked, slithered, and wormed their way into the hearts, minds, and souls of young and old. As a result, too often I have found the classroom to be a place of crushing naiveté, filled with people whose native thought is to stay uninformed, to remain unchallenged — they don’t know and they don’t want to know, for ignorance is bliss. Furthermore, I have encountered so many who are just enamored by the so-called fact that there is nothing new left to discover and are so overstimulated by digital distractions they have no will to seek out answers to life’s biggest and most important questions. Last, I have seen rows upon rows of eyes that believe nothing is certain enough to worry about attempting to learn anything for certain. These firedrakes have done their duty, their Master’s work, well.

These snakes of the Great Serpent have hunted down and hoarded up the gold standard of ethics. These devilish creatures have burrowed deep into the heart of our culture and hidden away the most precious gems that once guided people to goodness, beauty, and truth. Just a snap of their tales is all it took, then the walls crumbled and the deteriorating power of the elements rushed in, destroying libraries of imagination. With fiery snouts, they turned pages of reason into ash and consumed them. And now? Now they sit fat and gloat. They must be hunted down and slain, for their wind is picking up and their fire is spreading. The flame they began is growing hotter. Yes, their claws extend further than we are willing to acknowledge, even scratching at those we think are safe.

As an educator, it is my duty to find and train as many as will go out and face down the haunting danger of fire-breathers. It is my job and privilege to raise up a Saint George, maybe a slew of Saint Georges, that will seek these beasts with vigorous inquiry: “Who are these dragons? Who are these great destroyers of our culture that prey on all, even children, without reservation, who sit and sup with smoky grins? What are their names? Where can I find them?” And after their questions have been answered, after they have been prepared for the fight, they will gallop off, spear in hand, ready to slay or die trying.

Desolation

 

Every age has its dragons to slay:

Fiery serpents who will not relent,

Who hoard their gold with green discontent.

The scales plating their backs and chests

Feed the fear in souls unready for the test.

Slithering, sobering, nightmarish things,

These monsters that haunt your children’s dreams.

No mercy will slip from their forked-tongue.

No plea can crack the ice of such cold-blood slugs.

These desolate beasts will not have peace.

In this age, three of these serpents have I seen,

A relentless serpentine trinity:

Naiveté, Ennui, and Apathy.

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Citation Information

Donald W. Catchings, Jr., “Desolation,” An Unexpected Journal: Dragons 5, no. 1. (Summer 2022), 15-18.