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Christian Insights from the Chief Bard

J.M. Diener

February 2017

Stephen R. Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle is one of my favorite tales, second only to The Chronicles of Narnia. In it, Lawhead retells the story of Arthur, cleansing it of the mire and muck and elevating it to the tale of true heroism and honor it should be. However, the most enthralling character in the series is not Arthur, but rather Merlin Ambrosius, or Myrddin Emrys, as Lawhead calls him, the Chief Bard of Britain. Stripped of the darkness of sorcery and savagery he was saddled with over the years, Myrddin Emrys stands as a champion of Light, Truth and the Christ. The most profound thoughts on Christian faith and life found in the Pendragon Cycle issue from his lips or his pen. And here are a few for your edification and consideration:

The Enemy is subtlety itself, keen, vigilant, tireless, and infinite in resource. Ah, but evil ever overreaches itself, and very great evil overreaches itself greatly. And Lord Jesu, High King of Heaven, bends all purposes to his own, laboring through all things to turn all ends to the One. That is worth remembering.1

Great Light, the Enemy’s power is so fragile! The devils can use only what we ourselves will give them. Do you see? Give them nothing and their power fails; it falls like a spent arrow, like a blade broken and blunted.2

In order to welcome redemption, one must first embrace the utter hopelessness of failure. For how can a man look for rescue unless he knows he is truly lost?3

To be alive to the wonder of the commonplace, ... that is the very gift of a wildly generous Creator, who ever invites his creatures to contemplate the exuberance of his excellent handiwork. There is a deep and abiding joy at work in this worlds-realm, and we who toil through our lives do often forget this, or overlook it. But look: it is all around! Ceaseless, unrelenting, certain as the sunrise, and constant as the rhythm of a heartbeat.”4

“This, I believe, is the spirit's highest consummation – holding fast to faith by dint of will alone when the fire of certainty has grown cold. For when the fire-wind of ardor gusts high, even the weakest soul can fly. But when the fire dies and the wind fails, the real test of a soul's worth begins. Those who persevere through all things gain strength and find great favor with God.”5

“Great Light, Mover of all that is moving and at rest, be my Journey and my far Destination, be my Want and my Fulfilling, be my Sowing and my Reaping, be my glad song and my stark Silence. Be my Sword and my strong Shield, be my Lantern and my dark Night, be my everlasting Strength and my piteous Weakness. Be my Greeting and my parting Prayer, be my bright Vision and my Blindness, be my Joy and my sharp Grief, be my sad Death and my sure Resurrection.”6

  • 1Stephen R. Lawhead, Merlin, (New York: Avon Books, 1990), p. 367
  • 2Stephen R. Lawhead, Arthur (New York: Avon Books, 1990), p.220
  • 3Stephen R. Lawhead, Pendragon (New York: Avon Books, 1995), p. 69
  • 4Pendragon, p. 317
  • 5Pendragon, p. 384
  • 6Merlin, p. 210

How to cite this document (MLA):

Diener, J.M. Christian Insights from the Chief Bard. February 2017. Feb 18, 2023. <>.

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