Wise Advice from a Magic Grandmother

I’m reading the The Princess & the Goblin to our boys in the evenings.  It’s a bit over their heads, but it’s full of wonderful little theological insights:
The Princess’ Magical Grandmother (talking to the Princess when her friend Curdie can’t see the Magical Grandmother): “But in the meantime you must be content, I say, to be misunderstood for a while.  We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be.  But there is one thing much more necessary.”
Princess: “What is that, grandmother?”
Magical Grandmother: “To understand other people.”

A Wonderful Image

Wonderful quote from Dorotheus of Gaza, a mystic from the 6th century.  As she imagined, ” the world as a circle on the ground at whose center was God, she wrote, ‘Leading from the edge to the center are a number of lines, representing ways of life.  In their desire to draw near to God, the saints advance along these lines to the middle of the circle, so that the further they go, the nearer they approach one another as well as God.  The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another” (Judith Dupre, Churches, 156). 

(I just finished Churches for a study I’m doing for our local church.  It’s a great coffee-table book.  It’s huge, and you can get it cheaply on Amazon.  You need huge pictures to get some sense of what the magnificent churches of Christendom look, and feel, like!)

Peace Like a River

My wife and I just finished reading Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River.  It’s a beautiful book.  The best thing about Enger is that he’s a Christian writer who actually writes well.  The novel is Christian without being preachy.  It’s full of underhanded Biblical allusions and symbolism.  Be sure to read it when it’s cold in order to get the full atmosphere of Minnesota and N. Dakota in the winter! 

Enger has a new novel out, but I haven’t got to it yet:  So Brave, Young and Handsome.  Looks good!

Noah and Deucalion

Theophilus of Antioch (115-c. 181) notes an interesting connection between Noah and the mythical Greek character, Deucalion.  In his long treatise “To Autolycus,” Theophilus argues that the Bible is older than Greek mythology.  Along with other church fathers, Theophilus also contends that whatever was true or noble in Greek mythology was borrowed from Biblical truth. 

He draws this similarity bewteen Noah and Deucalion: “Noah, when he announced to the men then alive that there was a flood coming, prophesied to them, saying, Come hither, God calls you to repentence.  On this account he was fitly called Deucalion,” (Theophilus to Autolycus, III.xix ).  The editor explains that “Deucalion” derives from the Greek words, “Deute” (come) and “kaleo” (I call).  I don’t know whether this connection would hold up in a court of modern philology, but it ties in nicely with what 2 Peter 2:5 tells us about Noah, namely that he was a “herald [preacher] of righteousness” (ESV).  Perhaps the Greeks had some dim memory of this truth as they told the story of Deucalion. Theophilus also states, cryptically: “And of the ark, the remains are to this day to be seen in the Arabian mountains.” 

Spiderman Theology

Now that the Spiderman triology is complete, I’ve noticed a common theme.  None of the villains in the Spiderman movies is really evil.  They all have evil thrust upon them, either by some potion, invention, dysfunctional relationship, or an accidental gun-shot.  Additionally, in the last two movies, the villains have good motives–Dr. Octupus is seeking the advancement of science and Sandman is trying to save his sick daughter.  The third movie introduces a black blob which causes people to become wicked, but it only magnifies their latent wickedness.  It’s hard to actually blame those overcome by the black blob. 

Since the third movie highlighted the problem of evil (in the form of the black blob), it had to deal with forgiveness.  I was hopeful when Peter’s Aunt gave a little sermon about revenge and forgiveness, but I should have known better.  Her advice culminated in: “forgive yourself.”  Um, okay …  Perhaps that’s why the movie ended with meaninful looks rather than an actual apology from Peter.  The only real apology came from the Sandman, but that was an apology for an accident. 

So, once again, Hollywood skirts around the problem of evil and teaches our children that evil isn’t really their problem.  They aren’t really to blame for their actions–they just need to put on a new suit.  Of course, that’s part of the answer–we need to put on the righteous robes of Jesus (or, rather, He needs to put them on us).  But, we won’t realize the need for a new suit unless we realize the depth of our own sin.  Nor can we take off the black suit, even if we’re in a church bell tower–God Himself is the only one who can take it off.