Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Adversus Haereses’

Note: This is essentially a “reblog” of the October post titled “Why Huge Monsters Destroy Big Cities (I Think…),” but slightly edited to go with the recent “Godzilla” movie.

The King Kongs, the Godzillas, and all the “Its” from beneath the sea or outer space are among our cult favorites and also, ironically, our worst nightmares.  One thing is for sure: While we haven’t seen any of these revered titans roaming our cities yet (knock on wood), in terms of popular culture they’re not going anywhere.

I have yet to see the new “Godzilla” movie; but from what I’ve heard, the film sets the monster scenes in the background while primarily focusing on the troubled relationship between the main character and his son.  I always welcome this sort of approach, as it makes incredible situations seem more real by putting real people with real problems in their midst.

I think being confronted with realism in the context of the unbelievable — or vice versa, depending on how you look at it — has a way of getting us to think about the greater meaning of the unbelievable from a gut level, rather than in a cerebral and detached fashion.

It_Came_From_Beneath_The_Sea_poster

I happen to think guilt and fear have something to do with many narrative preoccupations, including this one.  So what does it mean when we see giant monsters attacking big cities, exactly?

In some sense, it might be intended as a commentary on nature’s resurgence against the pride of a hyper-technological society.  But at bottom, I wonder if there is not something deeper at work here.

Elsewhere, I have written about the fact that

(h)uman beings have sinned.  The animals, the trees, and the rest of nature have not.  But when we turned away from God, we dragged the whole of creation down the road to destruction with us (“Wolves and Whales: Man and Nature in ‘The Grey’ and ‘Big Miracle’ — Part Two”).

But there’s something else we have to keep in mind as well.  In the second century, St. Irenaeus of Lyons made a key observation when reflecting on God’s determination that mankind should not be lost in spite of Original Sin:

It was for this reason, too, that immediately after Adam had transgressed, as the Scripture relates, He pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a certain person among the ancients has observed: God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man. Genesis 3:16, etc. (“Adversus Haereses,” III:xxii — bold added)

FullMetalJacketDeluxe_1I am reminded of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket,” in which an inept private named Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio) brings the wrath of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) upon his fellow basic trainees.  A little ways into the film, Sergeant Hartman announces to everyone that from that point on, whenever Private Lawrence messes up, they – not he — will be punished.

And what do Private Lawrence’s comrades do eventually?  They gather around him as he sleeps and pelt him with rolled-up socks.

Obviously, this is an imperfect analogy in many ways.  But being in a sense the carrier of our curse, nature — whether in the form of natural disasters, animals (fictional or real), or otherwise — is not one to cry “(p)eace, peace … though there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

But St. Irenaeus did not stop there…

But man received, as the punishment of his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth, and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from whence he was taken. (Adversus Haereses, III:xxii — bold added)

Our task of stewardship over the earth was never abrogated (though it was made more difficult).  And especially now that Jesus Christ has Himself borne our curse upon the Cross…well, just as we led creation into darkness, we must now lead it into redemption.

To the extent that we are fulfilling our task, we have nothing to fear.  But the more we are leading lives dedicated to worldliness, self-indulgence, luxury and greed, the more of a “wake-up call” we need.

“It Came from Beneath the Sea” still from Wikipedia; “Full Metal Jacket” still obtained through a Google image search.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

For parts one and two, click here. They’re listed in reverse order, but they’re both there.

Let’s sum up what we have gone over so far:

  1. Like many dictatorships, Panem keeps the populace under its thumb by keeping people imprisoned within a false, small world…as symbolized by the Hunger Games, in which competitors are so pitted against one another that they forget who the real enemy is.
  2. Katniss Everdeen breaks through the false “world” of the games — and, symbolically, of Panem as well — by bringing down the force field that holds the arena together.

What follows is an explanation of how this calls to mind the great Christian meta-narrative:

Cain and Abel

At the very beginning of human history, we sold ourselves to the devil, who immediately began to exercise his tyranny over us.  By making the spirit serve the flesh, the creature worship other creatures rather than the Creator, he closed us off from the spiritual world and enclosed us within a false world in which we are in all matters — temporal and religious — pitted against one another, all the while failing to realize who our real enemy is.

But conflict is not the only distraction we’ve had to endure.  Like the tributes in “Catching Fire,” who try to help themselves by forming alliances within the parameters of the game, we have striven in various ways throughout the centuries (through government, charity, programs for personal transformation, etc.) to overcome our plight within the confines of the “small world” we have inherited.  To be sure, many of these endeavors are good in and of themselves — but they can’t save us.

Moses lifts up serpentWhen Moses lifted up the bronze image of a snake on a pole in the desert (Numbers 21: 4-9), he foreshadowed the exposure of mankind’s real enemy.  This foreshadowing was fulfilled by Christ on the Cross.

Like Katniss, Christ puts Himself up against the tree in order to attract lightning to Himself — the lightning of Divine Justice.

By the way, this should not be construed as a vengeful act on the part of a vindictive God.  But here’s the thing: Sin causes a rupture in the Divine-human relationship.  And therefore, as with a rupture in any relationship, it incurs a debt.  The restoration of the relationship requires that the barrier that has been put in the way be removed.

Because sin is a “no” to the infinitely good God, it has infinite implications.  Therefore, while we must do our part to be saved, God must — and did — act first.

Christ died in our place so that the devil’s claim against us could be removed.  Here is how St. Irenaeus of Lyons put it in the second century:

And since the apostasy tyrannized over us unjustly, … the Word of God … did righteously turn against that apostasy, and redeem from it His own property, not by violent means, as the [apostasy] had obtained dominion over us at the beginning … but by means of persuasion, as became a God of counsel, who does not use violent means to obtain what He desires; so that neither should justice be infringed upon, nor the ancient handiwork of God go to destruction. (“Adversus Haereses,” V:i — bold added)

Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700By dying and then rising from the dead, Christ opened up to us a whole new and immensely vast world, to which the world we know is as the mother’s womb is to the world into which we are born.

In this way the tyranny of the devil — along with all other tyrannies — is effectively overcome.

Keep this in mind when we return to the “Catching Fire” plot in part four.

Images from Wikipedia

Read Full Post »

Let’s start with a quickie trailer of “Cloverfield,” the 2008 indie film shot as a handheld documentary of a monster attacking New York City:

The King Kongs, the Godzillas, and all the “Its” from beneath the sea or outer space join Dracula, Frankenstein, zombies and ghouls as fan favorites for the Halloween season.

What I love about “Cloverfield” in particular, though, is that it is shot so realistically.  Unlike most mainstream Hollywood films, it achieves the feat of actually putting people into the incredible situation it portrays.  The characters behave as people would behave if they actually were in the middle of New York City as it was being attacked by a huge monster.

I think being confronted with realism in the context of the unbelievable — or vice versa, depending on how you look at it — has a way of getting us to think about the greater meaning of the unbelievable from a gut level, rather than in a cerebral and detached fashion.

It_Came_From_Beneath_The_Sea_poster

I happen to think guilt and fear have something to do with this and other narrative preoccupations.  So what does it mean when we see giant monsters attacking big cities, exactly?

In some sense, it might be intended as a commentary on nature’s resurgence against the hubris of a hyper-technological society.  But at bottom, I wonder if there is not something deeper at work here.

Elsewhere, I have written about the fact that

(h)uman beings have sinned.  The animals, the trees, and the rest of nature have not.  But when we turned away from God, we dragged the whole of creation down the road to destruction with us (“Wolves and Whales: Man and Nature in ‘The Grey’ and ‘Big Miracle’ — Part Two”).

But there’s something else we have to keep in mind as well.  In the second century, St. Irenaeus of Lyons made a key observation when reflecting on God’s determination that mankind should not be lost in spite of Original Sin:

It was for this reason, too, that immediately after Adam had transgressed, as the Scripture relates, He pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a certain person among the ancients has observed: God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man. Genesis 3:16, etc. (“Adversus Haereses,” III:xxii — bold added)

FullMetalJacketDeluxe_1I am reminded of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket,” in which an inept private named Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio) brings the wrath of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) upon his fellow basic trainees.  A little ways into the film, Sergeant Hartman announces to everyone that from that point on, whenever Private Lawrence messes up, they — not he — will be punished.

And what do Private Lawrence’s comrades do eventually?  They gather around him as he sleeps and pelt him with rolled-up socks.

Obviously, this is an imperfect analogy in many ways.  But being in a sense the carrier of our curse, nature — whether in the form of natural disasters, animals (fictional or real), or otherwise — is not one to cry “(p)eace, peace … though there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

But St. Irenaeus did not stop there…

But man received, as the punishment of his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth, and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from whence he was taken. (Adversus Haereses, III:xxii — bold added)

Our task of stewardship over the earth was never abrogated (though it was made more difficult).  And especially now that Jesus Christ has Himself borne our curse upon the Cross…well, just as we led creation into darkness, we must now lead it into redemption.

To the extent that we are fulfilling our task, we have nothing to fear.  But the more we are leading lives dedicated to worldliness, self-indulgence, luxury and greed, the more of a “wake-up call” we need.

“It Came from Beneath the Sea” still from Wikipedia; “Full Metal Jacket” still obtained through a Google image search.

Read Full Post »