Chick Flicks, John Stuart Mills and Everything Manly!

Confession. So I was watching a chick flick the other day with my beautiful bride. I won’t say which one, because I don’t want to throw myself under the bus too much, but it is one of her favorite childhood series growing up. I will also confess that I was somewhat interested in it. I mean, I was awake for the whole thing. But, there was a scene in this movie that got me thinking. The time frame I believe was during the first world war, the main characters were a couple who had just returned home to their small town from living in New York. Every able-bodied male was lining up to sign up to go to war and defend his country.

The lines were long. There was a spirit in this town, it was their duty to go to war, there was a sense of honor to go fight and protect their country, their loved ones. Everybody was doing it and it seemed like just about everyone was supporting it. Sure wives and families were distraught when their husbands and loved ones would come home and say I have to do this, but there was an overall acceptance and willingness for the wives and families to sacrifice for this cause.

Men in Line

The Dream

It wasn’t really until a couple days later when I started praying about this blog that this scene really got me thinking. Recently there are a lot of people talking about this “missionary option” or “missionary impulse” that Pope Francis talks about in his recent revolutionary Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. In it he states,

“I dream of a “missionary option,” that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

It begs the question, what exactly is this “missionary option” or missionary impulse that he is dreaming about?

War is an Ugly Thing, But Not the Ugliest of Things

When I was a freshman at the Air Force Academy we had to learn a lot of military quotes and other, what seemed to be at the time, useless information. The only quote I can actually remember was one from John Stuart Mills on his thoughts on war. In it he states, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. He who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” Yes, I, Erik Martin, can still and just did, quote John Stuart Mills, but why this quote?

Many years ago there was a popular book floating around Christian circles titled “Wild at Heart.” In it the author describes what he thinks are the three main characteristics of the heart of every man, what drives men even as small boys. The three that I can remember are that there is an Adventure to be had, every man yearns for adventure even as a small boy. There is a battle to be fought, deep inside every boy is a warrior, a noble cause to fight for. That’s why superheroes are so popular among children. The final driving point of every man’s heart is that there is a beauty to be rescued.

When I put all this together, I think of this beautiful young girl named Lupita who I met yesterday and who I yearn to fight for and rescue from the life she currently has. Lupita is 6 years old, beautiful little girl. Her story, however, is very ugly but sadly not uncommon here. She lives with her grandmother and alcoholic uncle. She and her grandmother came to the house yesterday begging for a dispensa (bag of basic food items, like flour, sugar, oil, rice, beans, salt). She hardly ever sees her mother who works nights cleaning a local factory for Chrysler for pennies. She doesn’t go to school I assume because her mom can’t afford it. She stays home watching things that a 6 year old shouldn’t ever be watching because her other uncle who also lives with them, doesn’t go out looking for work, and stays home watching things that he probably shouldn’t be watching either. And to top it all off, she has no father, like many children here. Who is fighting for her, who is rescuing her and all the Lupita’s in the world?

Lupita Compressed3

A New Dream

We as Americans, I believe, are an impulsive country. We impulsively shop, we impulsively do things, but I think the majority of the time, we impulsively do things that are selfishly motivated. I also believe in the heart of every man is an innate desire, an impulse if you will, to do something great with his life for others, to fight and protect others, and to love others intensely. Ol’ boy Mills was wrong. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is more important than yourself and that nothing is more important than your own personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being truly free unless transformed, loved and fought for by the exertions of better men than themselves.

Currently in our world today there is a decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is more important than themselves. It takes the form of apathy, greed, self preservation. It’s called the “America Dream”. The devil has twisted this desire for greatness, this desire to serve and protect others and transformed it into the “American Dream”; a desire for wealth, a desire to protect and rescue oneself above all, a desire for comfort. As Pope Benedict once stated, man was not created for comfort, he was created for greatness! America needs a new dream. It’s the Popes dream, a missionary option, a missionary impulse.

For the majority of young men right now, being a missionary is not even an option. Sadly, parents are often forcing the hands of children, go to college, get a good job, make lots of money. They don’t even have the option in the summer, “get an internship!” What if there was a missionary impulse, a missionary option? What if every man who thought about becoming a missionary impulsively followed that desire? To have a patriotism that goes beyond American borders. To make a difference in this world armed with Love, truth and mercy. To get in line to sign up to be missionaries, to give your life for a good cause, to fight for those who cannot fight, like Lupita. After all, there is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13) America needs a new dream, a new option.

Lupita compressed5

Get In Line

There is a war going on now. It’s been going on since the fall of man and will continue until the end of time. “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) This is the battle at hand. What if men were lining up to sign up to fight this battle and the lines were long in every country of the world? To offer their lives in the defense of the Lupita’s in the world? This is the missionary impulse I think Pope Francis is dreaming of, capable of transforming everything.

Living this year as a missionary in the desert in one small town in Mexico in a really big world filled with General Cepeda’s and Lupita’s, I see the darkness, the despair, the lack of life. People who lack hope, joy and love.  Lives completely empty, colorless.  When I think of impulse I also think of a wave, somewhat like a Tsunami if you will. But wherever it hits instead of leaving destruction, it cleanses and restores. Colors are more vibrant, the sun is shining brighter, there is abundant life and vegetation. A Tsunami of love.


I believe whole-heartedly that this is the impact that a missionary impulse can have. Turning a bitter valley into a place of springs. (Psalm 84) This is a call for all men to reflect on their lives.  Are you living for yourself or are you living for others? Are you trying to save and preserve your life and way of living or are you trying to make someone else’s life more abundant?  “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We were created for this adventure, we were created for this battle to be fought and we were created to rescue this beauty. What do you want for your life? “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16:26) The time is now!  The time is now for men of God to rise up, the time is now to live for what you were created for.  Be impulsive for the Gospel! I don’t know too many people that think about life as a  missionary.  Begging others for a living, leaving all your comforts, selling all your possessions, struggling to communicate in another language. If you feel the impulse to be a missionary, follow it, act on it!    Men of God, the time is now to get in line!  The Lupitas of the world are hungry for someone to fight for them, to rescue them! Stop looking around for others to fill that gaping hole.  It starts with you, get in line!

Wondering how you can begin to do this, check out this video for the upcoming Proclaim conference!


~ by martinsonmission on September 3, 2014.

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