The Right Coast

May 03, 2005
Let's hear it for the Crusades
By Tom Smith

This Friday, the entire family unit (except for 19 month old Mark, who is not old enough to wield a weapon) will be going to Kingdom of Heaven, the new sword and seige battle epic. (Reviews and much else here; follow the links.) I'm determined to enjoy it, even if it sounds like the politics will be annoying.

Some of the criticisms in the review sound dumb. You do not go to a Hollywood epic war flick expecting serious history. The history in Gladiator was barely recognizable. (Yes, Maximus was a bad, cruel emperor who did appear in the arena, but he was not killed there by a popular gladiator, who happened to be Marcus A's right hand man in Gaul . . . ) But it was still a great movie. Not a Great movie, but thoroughly entertaining.

Even if Orlando Bloom is too wimpy to be a good hero, there is still all the battle to be enjoyed. I'm determined to enjoy it.

As to the Crusades, my default position still is, but for them, there may not have been a Western Christendom. What we used to quaintly refer to as Western Civilization. Me, I like the West. Freedom, democracy, the rule of law, dignity of individuals, equality before God, all of that stuff, well, it works for me.

By way of a boast disguised as full disclosure, I note that my remarkable mother is a Lady of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, a Papal order of nobility dating (some say) back to the first Crusade. She gets to wear cool outfits, as Catholics are wont to do. So I am in the pro-Knight camp.