Wednesday, October 7, 2015

From The Flash to Agents of SHIELD to Limitless: Heroes Don't Get Normal Lives

Oh  - Reverse-Flash, I mean, Dr. Harrison Wells,
I mean, Eobard Thawne, we hardly knew ye.
I sat down to watch the season premiere of The Flash and was stunned. I followed it up with an admirable Agents of SHIELD and ended my night by washing it all down with a sobering Limitless, before catching the liberal-bait that passes for TV news in Chicago. It all tied together, strangely.

O.K., so The Flash shows the final result of last season's finale, in which three people died to stop a time-traveling villain: our "Reverse Flash" a.k.a. Harrison Wells a.k.a. Eobard Thawne - who'd been our hero's trusted mentor. In a stunning classic example of time-travel causality, our bad guy is stopped by his grandfather - officer Eddie Thawne - shooting himself. With this self-inflicted gunshot wound, he stops Reverse-Flash and wipes him out of the timeline before our disbelieving eyes.

"That's all I ever wanted to be - your hero," says Eddie to Iris as he breathes his last.

In the feels, brah. In the feels.

Major Spoiler Alert!

Please Watch Episode First!

Did You Know It Was Really Cool?


O.K. - You Only Have Yourself to Blame...


Dr. Wells, THAT Was a Reversal
Now the corker: a lawyer shows up months later and tells Barry Allen that Dr. Harrison Wells, our bad guy mentor, left him a video will. Once he watches it, Barry will be granted all the wealth and property of STAR Labs. Barry wants nothing to do with it. He never wants to see Wells face again. He doesn't even want the team back together.

But after tackling the newest bad guy - Atom Smasher - on "Flash Appreciation Day" and nearly losing, Barry reconnects with his team and defeats him. He decides they will need STAR Labs if they are going to continue to fight the good fight.

That's when he hears what Wells gave up - 15 years of his life to mentor Barry, and now that he is dead, ["Bummer..."] he wants Barry to have what he built and even gives Barry what he desires most: justice for his father.



"We were never truly enemies, Barry; I'm not the thing you hate.... and so, I'm going to give you the thing you want most. It won't matter. You'll never be truly happy, Barry Allen! Trust me. I know you."

"Erase everything up to this point and give the following to the police: I, Harrison Wells, being of sound mind and body, freely confess to the murder of Nora Allen..."


[Mind = Blown]

This evidence sets Barry's dad free from prison. Once free, however, there is another gut punch: Barry's dad realizes he cannot come back and "restore his family" that time has passed. He too must leave.

So in one episode we got everything we wanted but the hero got nothing he wanted.

Blown away, I took a deep breath, and watched Agents of SHIELD, then Limitless.

Neither compared with the power of The Flash, but they were good stories, and this theme of heroic loss kept appearing: if you are the hero, you are not going to have the life you want.

You aren't going to be "happy" or "settled down." Not in the traditional sense.

In Agents of SHIELD, Agent May visits her elderly dad who ends up saying she cannot come home and settle down with him. She has "to get back up", like she always has.

In Limitless, our drug-enhanced super-genius realizes the girl he'd lost and has just won back cannot be near him, since a secret "handler" controls his life and will eliminate anyone who threatens to change it.

My dear landlady Nancy said aloud as the shows ended: "The hero doesn't get the life he wants."

I sat there, and thanked God for her.

Count the Cost
If you want to be a hero, you are going to have a life that is amazing and fraught with danger and mind-blowing and soul-wrenching drama, but there is no way you are ever going to live "happily ever after."
Luke 9:23,24
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.…" 
That sounds selfless. That sounds heroic. That sounds sacrificial. That sounds radical. The man who said it changed the world. He saved the world, too, if you believe it - but he never minced words. He told us it was hard to be as heroic as him. He used a death by excruciating pain metaphor.

It costs us control and safety to be as heroic as Jesus. It hurts.

And that is what is damn annoying about the nightly news. It is typically about people who have become victims and are trusting comfortable people to make their lives better.

Really? You think that guy with a security detail, who sends his kids to a private school is going to make your life better?

Victims need heroes to help them, true. They need someone who hates evil and hates what it does and is perfectly willing to give up being happy and safe and normal to save lives.

But this duty does not - and never will be - owned by politicians or typical political leaders. They cannot do it. They have simply spent too much time, money and effort getting a consensus and being popular enough to get elected.

They have the problem of being good people with good money. They cannot be radicals nor heroic when called to service. As one man said "Good is the enemy of the Best." Mark that, kids.

Here is a good, moral, right-living, successful leader who just asked Jesus how to receive "eternal life." That is, how to please God enough that God will save his soul and grant him immortality in a new universe. [My Geek Standard Translation]
Mark 10:21-25
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them,“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
See, the problem is we like heroes, but we don't want to be heroes. We run for comfort and safety, me most of all.  But if I let God really rule my heart and die to my self-interest, I end up doing amazing things.

I have tasted the heroic life, and it is breathtaking.

This is one place where I depart from my more conservative views. Because the weak, the foolish, the ones who lack wisdom or power, will always need a generous hand to reach in and steady them.

So if you too feel you have been chosen by God to do great things...

...go do them. No matter the cost.You may not be the happiest person on the block, but you will know you've made a difference. God will be with you, giving you a special joy that the world cannot have. The world is not a good measure of what is right, either:
John 15:18,19
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." 

Jesus did what God called him to do, as a man. But he had his eyes set on the prize in heaven: "For the joy set before him, He endured the cross and its shame."

If we are going to be heroes, and take the hits, keep in mind the joy of heaven coming. When your eyes - your spiritual focus - are fixed on Jesus, you can endure the trials the world will put you through.

Amen.

3 comments:

Sean Shimmel said...

What a mixture sturdy exhortation and timeless delight. Keep up the vision.

Justice said...

Thanks for the kind words, Sean. Had to re-read this tonight to give myself some inspiration. ;)

Justice said...

I have just written a glowing review of Sen. Fred Thompson for his role both as a politician and as an actor. I find it amazing that he served up integrity first and got honored with a higher profile before men.

That said, Sen. Thompson served admirably, but not as a prophet or radical. He served much as a this rich young ruler did.

I have no idea if I have the integrity to serve so well with so many lights upon me. I find myself tired of politicians who promise change and a better tomorrow and glad we have a few who promise to serve the law and leave a legacy of honor.

For the later reason, I praise Senator Fred Thompson but affirm radical change will need radical men who might very well die in service.

This world works hard on us, and few can answer such a call as Lincoln, or King did.

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