Chaplaincy | Can the latest Marvel blockbuster teach us about God?developer
Earlier this week, I spent a few enjoyable days at the Port Hacking Youthworks Conference Centre with the incoming School Officers.
It was an enjoyable and worthwhile time, but for me the highlight was eating Korean BBQ and watching Thor: Love and Thunder. I love Marvel films – they give us just under two hours to suspend disbelief in a parallel universe of colour and mayhem, where the good guys mostly win.
As a film, it had a few issues: lack of back story, continuity gaps, too much Zeus, not enough Jane … you get the idea. Marvel is also having a few problems with their CGI.
I don’t think it’s a ‘spoiler’ to say that there is a bad guy, ‘Gorr’, who has to deal with some serious life trauma. Afterwards, I read a review and picked up a quote from critic Russ Milheim that got me thinking. He said, “The idea behind ‘Gorr’ is to explore the concept of putting faith in a higher power. What happens when that higher power doesn’t exist, or worse, simply ignores you?”
Comic book heroes and mythological gods aside, it’s a good question for real life. If the real God is not doing anything, maybe he’s not real? If he is real but ignoring me, then that’s worse. If you find the question troubling, please don’t! You can be confident that God does exist and is not ignoring you, because of Jesus.
We have four good biographies of Jesus – the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and they invite even cursory readers. If you are ambivalent about the ‘God’ aspects, then just begin with the ‘humanity’ of Jesus.
Look at the things that make him angry. At the temple when he saw that the temple precincts had been blocked up by money changers who put obstacles between the average person and God – he made a whip and drove them out. When the religious authorities tried to catch him on a legal technicality by healing a man with a withered hand – he was outraged at their lack of compassion. It’s interesting though, Jesus doesn’t seem to get angry about what people do to him. Even when he gets nailed up, he says, ‘Father, forgive them’.
Look at the things that bring him to tears. When Lazarus, a dear friend, dies, ‘he wept’. It turns out that Lazarus doesn’t stay dead – that’s another story – but don’t miss the tears. When Jesus sees people lost and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, he weeps. The things that break his heart are always things like suffering and injustice, sickness and death, selfishness, and the hardest of hearts.
Often it is in our passions, when all the niceties are stripped away, that people see us for who we are.
So, what do you make of the tears and anger of Jesus?
I think we see a man of incomprehensible selflessness. It is quite a beautiful picture. But much more wonderfully, could we be peering into the heart of God himself?
Nathan Lee | Assistant Chaplain