“Theirs Not To Reason Why…”by Buzz on 30/10/2011
When in doubt, blame the dead guy.
Captain Nolan had an important task: Take orders from Lord Raglan to Lieutenant General Lucan during the battle of Balaclava on Oct. 25, 1854.
Raglan had spotted some Russian troops…well, let’s let Wikipedia tell the tale:
Lucan received an order from the army commander Lord Raglan stating that “Lord Raglan wishes the Cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French Cavalry is on your left. Immediate.” Raglan in fact wished the cavalry to prevent the Russians taking away the naval guns from the redoubts that they had captured on the reverse side of the Causeway Heights, the hill forming the south side of the valley. Raglan could see what was happening from his high vantage-point on the west of the valley, but Lucan and the cavalry were unaware of what was going on owing to the lie of the land where they were drawn up. The order was drafted by Brigadier Richard Airey and was carried by Captain Louis Edward Nolan, who carried the further oral instruction that the cavalry was to attack immediately. When Lucan asked what guns were referred to, Nolan is said to have indicated, by a wide sweep of his arm, not the Causeway redoubts but the mass of Russian guns in a redoubt at the end of the valley, around a mile away. His reasons for the misdirection are unclear, as he was killed in the ensuing battle.
The Light Brigade charged into the face of heavily fortified Russian artillery positions, outnumbered almost 10-1, and — being mad Englishmen — pulled it off! They succeeded in disrupting the Russian artillery and killing or injuring a number of Russian gunners in the process.
Oh, but at what a cost! The English had suffered worse military disasters, but this, as eyewitness French Marshal Pierre Bosquet observed, “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre. C’est de la folie.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson got the final word on the matter with his poem, The Charge of The Light Brigade:
Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.
They never figured out who to blame for the debacle and since the surviving generals were all lords or wealthy upper class
gits gentry, in the end it was decided Captain Nolan was to blame for his ambiguous arm gesture, not Raglan for failing to be precise or Lucan (who hated Raglan) for failing to provide adequate support or Cardigan (who actually led the charge) for failing to say the 19th century equivalent of: “I’m not stupid, I’m not expendable, and I’m not going.”
But Raglan’s strategy to prevent the Russians from moving guns was a sound one; the orders were not wrong, simply vague, and the problem eventually got laid atop the grave of Nolan who, when asked just what the #@%& did Lord Raglan mean, made a gesture that (according to the survivors) they interpreted at the time as instructions to charge into the heart of the enemy’s artillery.
Since he didn’t survive the charge, it’s kinda hard to figure out what he meant.
I’ve been having a discussion with some readers recently regarding the concept of Sola Scriptura, the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.
It will probably be a surprise to them that I agree with it.
The source of our discussion has been centered on exactly what the Bible says.
“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”=“Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do and die”
…but what does it say?
This series of apologetics is based on a careful rereading of scripture through an editor’s eyes.
I’m not the first person to make any of these observations, but I am trying to consolidate a lot of ideas in one series.
I believe the Bible. I believe it tells us the Truth.
I don’t think everything in it is of equal spiritual value.
I don’t think any thinking person does, either.*
We are created in God’s image.
And God ain’t stupid.
The message is not wrong. The message is not false.
But we’ve got 5,772 years of ambiguous arm-wavin’ by apostles and prophets and preachers and poets and philosophers and Pharisees and Sadducees and Essenes and nuns and monks and mavens and metaphysicians and translators and scholars and kings and politicians and well meaning Sunday School teachers.
Instead of actually reading & trying to comprehend the original, we take the mental shortcut of just letting the arm-wavers indicate what we should/should not believe.
I don’t believe the arm-wavers are charlatans.
I don’t believe they’re insincere.
I believe they spoke/wrote the Truth as they understood it in the context of their time, their place, their culture, and their own personal histories.
But I think we as Christians need to stop blindly following ambiguously interpreted orders and instead ask to see the actual written instructions.
What does the original text say?
What is the Truth?
That’s what we’re diggin’ for here.