Friday, October 17, 2008

Secret Origins, Pt. 2

We've been talking about how unplanned events happen to men to make them heroes this week. In the case of Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man) we see that Steve becomes a hero because he survives the tragedy that befell him, much like Joseph overcoming his destruction at the hands of his brothers.

In the case of Peter Parker (Spider-man), we see that Peter was a social misfit - and once empowered, he became selfish only to be corrected by his emotional culpability in causing his Uncle Ben's death: he snottily let a robber escape and that man later kills his kind uncle.

Heroes don't ask for the job, but somehow they get it all the same. No matter how foolish they were beforehand. Now I want to talk about heroes who have to be humbled before they are heroes. I want to talk about Thor.

Thor has gone through several re-iterations, but the Thor I grew up with was the Dr. Donald Blake version: a frail but brilliant physician who needed a walking cane to get around. Gentle and able with that gentleness to help others in their weaknesses, we see Dr. Blake as a compassionate man, unwilling to harm anyone. But his origin is that - while on vacation in Scandinavia - he and his assistant Jane Foster are faced with a terrible force of invading aliens. Real over-the-top stuff. In trying to hide from them, they find shelter in nearby cave and a rockslide separates Dr. Blake from her.

In trying to find some sort of lever to move said rocks, Donald Blake finds a stick laying on the ground. He struggles under his own power, but cannot begin to move them. Finally, in sheer anger and frustration, he strikes the rocks with it - only to find himself transformed in a flash of light and thunder! He's become 6'8" blond powerhouse, rippling with muscles and holding a large hammer!

"Whosoever holds this HAMMER, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of THOR!"

Real Excalibur-ish stuff. Real "oh-boy-are-the-bad-guys-in-for-it-now!!" stuff.

Thor comes blasting out of the cave. Thor whips butt. Aliens leave. 'Nuff said, True believer.

But just anyone can get this power, this power of Thor? Wellllll - no. You have to be worthy or you cannot even begin to pick up the hammer. What makes a man "worthy" enough? Self-sacrifice. Humility. Nobility. Few others have actually wielded his hammer Mjolnir (myoll-nur). Steve Rogers was one. An alien hero named Beta-Ray Bill was another. Both willing to give up their personal lives to aid their people/nation. Good guys. Heart-rendingly sacrificial.

But the reason Donald Blake got the power of Thor wasn't because he was such a nice guy from the get-go. It was because he had become humble. Truly humble.

You see (we the readers find out much later), Donald Blake wasn't first.

Thor was first.

Thor had been stomping around in Asgard (Heaven) and Midgard (Earth), was needing a lesson in humility, so Odin, the "All-father", transformed him, sent him to Earth to live as a mere man to straighten him out - a weak mortal, a crippled man. And instead of being a warrior, he became a physician, a healer.

When the time was right, Odin called him out and permitted him to be empowered AGAIN, his lesson in humility having been learned.

Heroic Warrior -> Overconfident -> Humbled -> Healer -> Leader -> Real Hero

That's the pattern we see.

You can also see it here, in Moses, once proud Prince of Egypt, as he now faces the living God - after he had killed a man




I chose this snippet because a large STICK is used by God for Moses to show his rightful authority over the Israelites. Stan Lee, who is Jewish, could not resist giving us a powerhouse hero who was known for carrying a big stick. ;)

But like Moses, we want to run from our destiny as leaders. We know it will be tough. We know we will face opposition. We don't have a choice really, though, folks. Once we have been humbled - so having power doesn't go to our heads - we can be lifted up.

It was true for Joseph. It was true for Peter Parker and the apostle Paul and Thor and its true for us.

"Humility comes before honor" goes the proverb. It must, if it is to be a blessing. It must.

It was pride that caused the archangel Lucifer to become Satan. C. S. Lewis that nearly over-quoted Oxford don wrote this on the sin of pride:
"According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."
Oh - one last kicker - so you don't fall into some false, self-effacing whininess about 'how BAD you are.' (Read Lewis's full essay.)

Jesus Christ affirms as THE Son of God we are to be 'gods'. No - not God Himself or Lord of Creation -but rather His progeny, and thus little 'gods' in every good sense you can imagine. I know, I know. Don't freak out. I am only quoting scripture:

John 10:32-36
Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?

Folks, we Christ-followers are to judge angels one day. We might as well let God humble us as much as possible NOW so we will be glorious and honorable and loving and kind and in eternal glory as soon as possible.

God does not have grandsons. He only has sons.

Go be a healer and watch your glory return, son.

Amen.

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