I’m not going to lie. I’m such a fangirl, through-and-through. Whether I’m gushing over The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s beautiful poetic writing style, or freaking out while watching North and South, or because Mumford & Sons and The High Kings have such good music, or swooning because Les Mis is on and who doesn’t swoon when it’s on (seriously though?), or dying because I’ve just read an amazing book on the life of soon-to-be Saint Pope John Paul II… (basically, doing typical homeschool nerd teenage girl stuff), I’m into it. Fully. Trying to be fully engaged, fully alive. Trying to love life to the greatest extent.
But the problem at hand is that when I like, I don’t like. I love. And when I love, few things will get me to change my affections. And this can be hard, because sometimes, it’s quite easy to be smitten with certain people who don’t even know that you exist. I do hope that you know what I’m talking about…
Anyway. So I’ve been thinking about all of this and I’ve been trying to ask myself… Is there a fine line to the ethics of fangirling over actors and other celebrities? Where could it morph into emotional unchastity? How is what I am doing different from what the screaming masses of stereotypical teenage girls are doing? (To answer the last question, I think that one of the main differences is that I will NOT choose heroes based on looks alone. And I fangirl with utmost great dignity. Well… you know. Not the screaming way, but the philosophical way. *grins*)
Here, I’ve compiled half-a-dozen tips that I’ve been (almost subconsciously) trying to put into good use. Basically, it’s simple. Love your faraway heroes with all your heart, pray for your faraway heroes with all your heart, and remember to be a shining light of grace and beauty for the simpler, everyday heroes in your own life.
- Thou shalt value thy heroes not only for their looks or their talents, but for the full weight of honor that God hath bestowed upon them when He made them in His image and likeness.
- Thou shalt do thy research, and based upon the facts that thou wilt acquire, conduct thyself appropriately.
- Thou shalt pray for thy heroes often, that they may be the best of themselves and that they may find the path to Heaven, where hopefully thou canst talk with them for eternity.
- Thou shalt use the AMDG test.
- Thy heroes shalt lead thee to a better understanding of chivalrous action and the honor of authentic womanhood.
- Thou shalt not set impossible barriers for thyself and for any other man.
Now let’s dig a bit deeper. First and foremost. It’s easy to get outraged and indignant when men treat women with little respect. Sadly, it’s even more common for girls to cheapen the dignity of men. Do we look beneath the attractiveness of our heroes to find their souls? The human body, although beautifully made and crafted in the image of God, is but a shell. Really, the soul is what matters.
You could say, “He has gorgeous eyes.” But I challenge you – look through the eyes. If his eyes are that beautiful, then why don’t you stare into them for a moment? The eyes are the windows to the soul. Look at them. Are they filled with a true sense of joy? Are they mocking, perhaps, and a bit despairing, or tired? Does true nobility shine through those depths?
Point number two. It’s pretty simple. Do research. Is he truly a good man, or is the body beautiful and the soul corrupted and in need of redemptive love? I would seriously never dream of fangirling over a man who had only good looks. For me, his deeds would tarnish his handsome face.
Point the third. Pray. Pray. My friend and I have a running joke that’s not quite such a joke – we think that some of our favorite actors may just be indeed called to the priesthood. It’s a sweet thing that we talk about often. But… but just what if that’s true? And how awesome would it be? Let’s take a moment and think about JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. Both devout Christians, the former was responsible for leading the latter to the realization of Christ and His glory. We all know that God makes everybody for a purpose. Our heroes have a purpose in this life (and the purpose is not exactly running away from that rabid, screaming girls who go far beyond normal to stalk them). Pray that they find that true purpose.
Number four. The AMDG test. (It’s short for the Ad majorem Dei gloriam test, which means “for the greater glory of God”.) When we’re praising an actor, are we giving thanks to God? Are we giving credit to its rightful source? Or are we attributing all goodness to the actor himself? Do we acknowledge that God created all of the Darcys and the Knightleys of the world? Do we keep in mind that all of their talents come from God and should be used solely to lead others to God? We should always be looking for the wonderfulness of the human spirit. Give glory where glory is due.
Five. When I swoon over the Tom Hiddleston quote that says that women should be respected, it also galvanizes me (well, as soon as I recover from the swoon, that is… *smiles*) to delve deeper into the meaning of true womanhood as set down by Mary’s example and Pope John Paul II’s words. If I want men to read that quote and put it into practice, I guess that I want to be a better girl as well. Otherwise, the guys in my life will read that quote and dismiss the idea of truly living it out because, really, why should they if I’m not being the lady that I should be? Do we look to our heroes as inspirations? Do we admire their chivalry in the right context? Does it make us long to become more ladylike and Blessed Mother-like?
Point the last. It’s important to remember that we don’t actually know these men very well. In fact, we don’t know them at all. We can admire things that they say in an interview and we can appreciate the little things that they do on camera. I could look at you and tell you that so-and-so went to Cambridge, and so-and-so knows how to speak French, and I-have-no-idea-who used to live in wherever, and on and on… And sometimes I’m dumb enough to think, “Wow, we need more people to be like him.” Or else my thought process goes something like this. “1. Goodness, he’s amazing. And noble. 2. Too bad he’s in England.”
But really, if you think about it, I don’t know him. At all. And I don’t feel the need to know him, no, not when I’ve been blessed to know so many wonderful others. And all that information? It’s all trivia. Trivia about a glamorized man. So don’t go about thinking that in real life, he’s perfect and so much better than the people that you may really, truly know.
In Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara fell in lust (because I’m not going to say that she “fell in love”; if anything, it’s the exact virtual opposite) with a man named Ashley Wilkes. She was captivated by him because he was so different from the rest of the county swains. He seemed to be nobler, of a loftier dignity. She had already made up her own mind about the type of man that she would be willing to fall in love with – Ashley came along, and she smacked her aspirations and dreams onto him.
“He never really existed at all, except in my imagination. I loved something I made up, something that’s dead. I made a pretty suit of clothes and fell in love with it. And when Ashley came riding along, so handsome, so different, I put that suit on him and made him wear it whether it fitted him or not. And I wouldn’t see what he really was. I kept on loving the pretty clothes – and not him at all.” (~ GWTW, 816.)
Oh, Scarlett – you turned down the prospect of true, thrilling love for a dream. “So do I marvel at you, who have bartered heaven for earth.” (Anton Chekov, “The Bet”) She missed true love. It went on its course, it departed from her, all the while when she was moaning over Ashley, straining to sit by him, doing little things like that to satiate her lust. She was wallowing over something impossible and dead while life coursed by her.
Wow, I’m in no way saying that we’re all like that. (I know I’m definitely not like this, and I believe you aren’t either. Which is good, right? *smiles*)
The whole world isn’t composed of our lofty heroes. Every single man out there is definitely not your favorite actor. (Wow, think about that – that would be a bit creepy, yes?) Nor are they all JRR Tolkiens. (Or Combeferres.) Mainly, the world is composed of good people. They’re not flashy. They’re not famous. But they’re true. They’re the determined men with the “plain, decent, everyday common rightness” (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) Like Samwise Gamgee. Unassuming. Simple and good.
Never forget that.
The sixteen-year-old young lady who goes under the nom-de-plume of Peregrin (variation of Latin for "traveler", "foreigner") is ever searching for the good, true, and beautiful as she journeys back to her true home.