For God so loved the world
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
I’ve been rereading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series in preparation for the release of the second book in Olympus (and seventh in the whole shebang) this Tuesday. And to answer any coming questions, yes, I do spend a lot of time reading books meant for children and teenagers, and yes, the books are about those Olympians, the ones from Greek mythology.
The first series centers around a son of Poseidon (Percy Jackson) who must fulfill a dangerous prophecy in order to save the world. The second, well, we don’t really know yet, but the first book was about Jason Grace, a son of Zeus who has amnesia and is trying to figure out a lot of things, including his part in a prophecy that will probably lead to him saving the world. Do you see the pattern?
Add this to all of the attention that Star Wars has been getting because of its BluRay release, and I have to admit, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Christ figures in popular media.
There are entire courses of study dedicated to this, books and articles piled on top of books and articles. And as a Catholic and a pop culture addict, I find it infinitely stimulating. I could talk about any number of guys, Neo, Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Percy himself, but today I’m going to focus on the big three.
We’re talking about The Last Son of Krypton, The Boy Who Lived and…uh Aslan, who doesn’t have a nickname.
Ask any comics geek worth their salt their number one pick for analogy to Jesus Christ and they would come back with one answer. Kal-El. Like our Lord and Savior, Superman was sent to us by his father. Like Jesus he lives among us and is one of us, and yet is above, here to save us.
And OK, Clark Kent isn’t here to save us from our sins but from Lex Luthor, Braniac and any other assorted super villains, but still. It’s the saving that matters…at least in the metaphor.
Harry’s symbolism was always there, for minute one. He conquered the most evil wizard of all time, as a baby, because people loved him. But some of the other things, didn’t stand out at first and became terribly clear as his seventh and final adventure unfolded. Here, Harry was abandoned by his best friend (Ron Weasley, her standing in for Peter) while “the women” (Hermione) stayed at his side. He then willingly lays down his life to save his friends and the world from unspeakable evil, only to rise again stronger and able to conquer that evil.
My favorite part about Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows revealing Harry as a Christ figure? It made all of those loony’s who said that Harry Potter was teaching children satanism go…”Oops, our bad!”
He’s a giant lion who actually is Jesus…just on another plane of existence. Look, if I have to explain everything about Narnia to you, we’ve got trouble. Suffice to say the C.S. Lewis was a noted theologian who created the mystical world in The Chronicles of Narnia to better impart Christian values to children and tell them Bible stories in a more entertaining fashion. But for now we’ll stay away from The Horse and His Boy‘s version of Exodus, or The Voyage of The Dawn Treader‘s depiction of the seven deadly sins, or The Last Battle‘s take on Revelation, that’s a post in and of it’s own. I’m just going to go with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and it’s beautiful retelling of the Gospels.
The book begins with an endless winter and the Pevensie children moving through it. When Christmas comes, they all learn that Aslan is coming. When he does come he goes to the White Witch, is marched around humiliated, “shaved,” and left to die, tied to a great stone table. The mice of Narnia, and the two Pevensie girls, Susan and Lucy stay with the body, untie him and cry. In the morning, the table is split and Aslan is standing on hill. They all fight in an epic battle and Narnia is saved from evil. Then Aslan puts the Pevensies in charge and goes to “Aslan’s Country” and in Prince Caspian, he tells Peter and Susan that even though they can’t come back to Narnia (too old) they can find him by another name in the real world.
That means Jesus…in case you didn’t get it.
I find Christ figures all over the place, but those are three that have been on my mind lately. And Percy.