The courage to stand fast

In Stephen Crane's novel about the American Civil War, an Army private named Henry Fleming undergoes an intense inner conflict as he struggles to determine the measure of his courage in the line of fire. Crane depicts one scene where Fleming is surveying the aftermath of a battle that he has just fled. The young soldier wants his worth to show. "He wished that he, too, had a wound," Crane writes, "a red badge of courage." Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1960), p. 37 .

Crane's protagonist is primarily concerned with what he views as the nobility of animal courage. But the great need in contemporary life is for an even higher courage—moral and spiritual courage. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states, "There is too much animal courage in society and not sufficient moral courage." Science and Health, pp. 28-29.

Take your life out of limbo
August 8, 1983

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