I saw Man of Steel last weekend and as I was driving away, listening to a song on the radio (and I truly don’t even remember which one) I had this thought…
And I’m warning you ahead of time, it’s not a revolutionary insight. It’s kind of obvious, actually. But when it struck me I was amazed, nonetheless. So, forgive me for stating the obvious and finding it interesting…
We tell these stories about godlike superheroes. Superman who is so strong he’s crashing through walls without getting a scratch on him. Who doesn’t flinch under a barrage of bullets. Who’s strong enough to hold up a falling oil rig and not be scorched by the flames.
Thor gets knocked around by an entire SHIELD base but never beat up. He faces blasts from the Destroyer without… it’s too easy, I can’t say it. …BEING DESTROYED (I totally can!)
And the thing about our definition of “godlike” in describing our superheroes is not even their strength but their durability. They are, essentially, indestructible.
But when God actually came to this world His flesh was pierced. I have this image in my mind that I can’t conjure with words of the crown of thorns piercing His skin and blood running down the side of His face. And I marvel at how far away that is from any picture of Superman. He was wounded. He bled. He even died. He wasn’t anything like the men we call gods in stories.
And that dichotomy is what I find so interesting – that in our stories we define godlike as being invulnerable, impenetrable and yet that doesn’t describe God at all. It wasn’t that He was indestructible. It was that He couldn’t be defeated.
Because He was stronger than death, itself. It wasn’t that it couldn’t claim Him but that it couldn’t hold Him. That He wasn’t undone by His wounds; they are the mark of His victory. And the other fascinating thing is that it wasn’t that His blood couldn’t be shed, it was that there was power in His blood. Power enough to set all of humanity free.
And so I can’t escape this idea, no matter how obvious it is, about the difference between how we tell stories and what the truth actually is. Not because I need to reconcile the two. But because I’m intrigued that they’re so very far apart.
This is why I think there was an uproar about Harry Potter for a moment. We see that he is portrayed more god like than strong, indestructable superheroes.
I think that’s a good point – he was a much closer picture of a messiah figure than superheroes are. And also, when I was typing that sentence about how Christ couldn’t be defeated, it totally reminded me of Harry Potter and the big distinction she made between being killed and being defeated. But that’s a whole other blog entry – I mean, really, a successful expelliarmus spell makes the wand loyal to you? Harry must have a battalion of wands by the end.