Saturday, April 9, 2011

The appeal of heroes

Rotten Tomatoes has a list of the most anticipated movies for 2011. What a list. What is it that attracts us to all these movies with such highly unrealistic, larger-than-life characters who save the world from all those wantonly evil villains out there?

I know I might see a few of those movies, and yet I feel a little guilty about it. I think that the reason I'm interested in some of them is because of the thrill ride they can be. And when done well, they can also provide such a sense of satisfaction in how they show an underdog-turned-superhero pulverizing an horrifically evil and egotistical bad guy (even if -- or maybe especially if -- the hero is a little bit flawed himself).

But I think the reason I feel a bit guilty about liking such films is because I wonder how much there's some kind of replacement-theology going on out there? What I mean is, I wonder if -- in the absence of people's convictions regarding a God who wants to save them amidst the obvious troubles of this world -- people feel the need to invent their own saviours to quell the need we feel for them. And then I go to be entertained by them. Is it wrong for me to find some sense of satisfaction in such flawed saviours?

Possibly, but what I'm more inclined to think is that the true Gospel story of a humble Saviour rescuing hell-bound sinners is such a compelling one, that story writers who don't even know the Gospel story aren't able to avoid re-writing it again and again and again. It's ingrained in us. People love the story of a saviour when all hope is lost, and God has provided such a Saviour! And there's nothing wrong with revelling in such a theme on a big screen. I simply hope that more and more people will recognize who the real Saviour is -- this Jesus who has offered Himself up for us -- and that more and more people in this volatile world will begin to find Him even more compelling than the Hollywood heroes ever could be.

But will they recognize a hero who humbly rides into town on a donkey, only to be crucified among criminals?

© 2011 by Ken Peters

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