As a kid I was a comic book junkie. I started out with Superman and Batman, and couldn’t get enough. When my mother held me to three comics per week, that’s what I brought home each Sunday – plus a couple more hidden under my shirt. As I progressed through my teens, I did taper off, but there were two heroes who were very hard to say goodbye to: Thor and Green Lantern.
I was a little excited earlier this year when I heard that movies of both my old heroes, Thor and Green Lantern, were coming out this year. I generally don’t go to the theater, and I finally got around to renting the Thor DVD this weekend. So this review might be old hat to you. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, be aware this will contain some serious spoilers.
One thing is preeminently clear from watching this movie: its creative principals are well-conversant with the Bible story. The parallels between Thor and Christ are pervasive, and other characters also line up closely with biblical persons.
It’s ironic that even as special effects have gotten more and more spectacular, they are losing their novelty and ability to hold the viewer’s interest. Gone are the days when effects could carry a film. A story will sink or swim based only on the old sure foundation of plot and character development. And so, though the effects in Thor are pretty good, they fade into the background. The real story is the spiritual development of the hero.
Thor is a brash young man destined for the throne. His father, king Odin, is old and wise and good. In his swagger, Thor retaliates for a wrong done to his kingdom, and unleashes a deadly war upon his people. For violating his fealty to the king, Thor is stripped not only of his power, which is embodied in his hammer, but of his position as heir to the throne as well. And he is cast out of his own realm and banished to earth, to live his life as a mortal.
The hammer follows him to Earth, however, and embeds itself in a rock. Thor immediately plots how to get to it and reclaim it. The moment finally comes when it is in his grasp. He smiles as he reaches out for it, tasting the power that will soon be his again. But Thor’s father had pronounced an oath over the hammer, whereby it could only be wielded by one who is worthy of its power. In what Thor thought would be his moment of triumph, he cannot free the hammer, try as he may. He cries what sounds like the death roar of a mighty lion, and falls to his knees, defeated.
If that weren’t bad enough, now taken captive, Thor is visited by his younger brother, Loki. Loki informs him that his father is dead. Thor’s foolishness and banishment has caused it, and their mother has decreed that Thor may never return. All of these are lies. Loki represents the satan figure in the story, who enviously rebels in order to rule, but his motives seem more confused than those of his biblical counterpart, in that he somehow thinks he is trying to please his father.
Once a mighty wild stallion, Thor now is broken. In tears, he expresses touching remorse for his actions and the woe they have brought on his loved ones. It was here that we began to see one aspect of the Christ story in action. I thought of the pain of the Cross, where everything went wrong for the Lord Jesus; where He suffered for sins He did not commit, and it seemed that even His Father had rejected Him. Thor’s loss at this point is complete.
Thor is now a changed man. He begins to adapt to his new mortal life by serving others in small ways, such as waiting tables, and he does so with servanthood joy. Finally, when Loki sends a robot to Earth to kill Thor and everyone else, Thor walks up to the machine and offers himself without resistance, as long as everyone else will be left to live. The robot takes him up on the offer – and kills him.
This is deep Gospel territory. What came to mind at this point were Michael Card’s “El Shaddai” lyrics, Your most awesome work was done, through the frailty of Your Son. Jesus laid aside the power and immortality of divinity in order to become a man and suffer like us, for us. He wrested the kingdom back from satan not by means of indomitable power, but by reestablishing the legal right through the humble obedience of self-sacrificial love. Thor’s death was a moving moment. (The film, directed by the Shakespearian, Richard Brannagh, had a noble feel almost throughout.)
But as Thor’s mother says at one point, there is a reason for everything the king does. Odin sent Thor into banishment to break his pride, and as soon as Thor dies, the father’s oath over the hammer is invoked. The hammer breaks loose from the rock it is embedded in, and flies into Thor’s hand. Thor is raised from death, and is restored to his former position and power. This, of course, is a picture of the resurrection. Thor goes on to stop the war he had triggered between kingdoms, and he does so sacrificially again, at the cost of destroying the way back to Earth, cutting him off from the woman he has come to love.
At the movie’s end, Thor and his father are reconciled. Thor is humble and aware of his need for wisdom, and he recognizes its rich endowment in his father.
I found the plot details and the dialog a bit hard to follow the first time through, but one advantage of the DVD is the ability to watch the film again on the cheap. The second time was much richer for being able to connect more of the dots. This movie is a winner at several levels, particularly the spiritual. That compliment comes from one who generally no longer bothers with most movies because of their low redeeming value.
If you enjoy seeing the Gospel story played out in different ways, and are looking for ways to relate it to those in our culture who are not conversant with the Bible, the movie Thor might well be something you would be interested in.
Eight years ago I undertook a quest to restore my health. I saw pictures of myself at my sister’s funeral, and they did not reflect anyone I wanted myself to be. Over the years I had steadily put on weight and lost energy. It was time to do something about it.
I tried every diet under the sun, and massive exercise. And I studied up on nutrition. I made plenty of mistakes, but I made progress. Eventually I settled in at moderate exercise and a quality weight loss of 43 pounds. I looked great and felt great.
But sadly, some years after my high point I slipped back, and now I am about 20 lbs more than I want to be. I have returned to the constant evening energy cravings that had been my downfall, and my energy levels, stamina and disease resistance are much lower than I need them to be.
This week I came across an outstanding presentation that provided me with the much-need reminder of what the basic problem is in my diet, and the diets of most people in the West. It is so powerful and so clear that I am on my third viewing of it already, and it immediately led me to make the necessary adjustments for regaining my health.
Contrary to what most people believe, those adjustments are not difficult. Essentially, they consist in returning to the diet that sustained life for all the centuries of human existence prior to the last, when huge commercial interests and attendant politics took over the food industry.
Specifically, the changes involve eliminating processed sugar, increasing fiber intake, and bringing undamaged fat intake back up to where it should be.
The compelling video I’m going to post below will give the details, but essentially, decades ago, when America went on its errant low-fat craze in order to facilitate cardiac health, it made up for the lack of satiety by increasing the processed sugars, fructose and sucrose. At the same time, fiber levels went way down, as processed food became an important part of our diet. Fiber is taken out of processed food because it interferes with processing and storage. And food processors fell in love with the cheaper and highly stable trans-fats that completed this evil trinity’s assault on our health.
This was an absolute disaster, as these processed sugars are metabolized completely differently than normal glucose, and cut off the satiety mechanism that tells the brain you’ve had enough to eat. At the same time they ironically jack up blood lipids. So in effect, we put ourselves on a high-consumption, high-fat diet. Not only have we done nothing for cardiac health, we have set off a nuclear explosion of obesity, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases, all of them with overtones of cancer.
Please, give this video a careful viewing. The authorities whose job it is to protect us have done a horrendous job. They are shot through with political and commercial interests, and public health is about the last thing on their minds. People at this point are so confused they don’t know what to eat. They live in constant apprehension of doing something nutritionally wrong, yet still they gain weight. Does this seem reasonable? Or the way, even in a fallen world, that God designed a normal life to be led? No, instead, the simple truth is that the deck has been stacked against us, and there is no way to win the game according to house rules.
It is down to this: if you want to be healthy, you must take it on yourself. You must educate yourself, and you must be willing to abandon the cultural norms that have been thrust upon us. Our culture has become toxic not only morally and spiritually, but physically as well. The corruption in our society is affecting every level of our existence. It is time to fight back, intelligently.
Since the mid-1980s I’ve counted myself as a conservative. I spent time on the abortion barricades and in the public square, advocating for morality and for America’s return to her Constitutional roots, as the only basis on which we can survive in any recognizable or good form.
America’s founders based our government upon the unique paradoxical biblical revelation of the nature of man. Man is made in the image of God. As such, he deserves dignity, freedom, and human and civil rights.
But the Bible also holds that man is fallen, a sinner that cannot be trusted. Therefore we must have government. And because fallen man is also the one who runs the government, that government must be strictly limited.
There’s a tension between those truths, and the best solution we can come with is a dynamic equilibrium that balances them successfully. It never will be perfect, but if we keep working to maintain the center, we can survive and preserve the freedoms we have gained.
The problem is that for several decades now, the nation has been increasingly run by humanistic elites whose purpose, stated or not, is to erode the biblical foundations of our republic. They have systematically stripped the culture of as many references to God as they could. Prayer and morality left the school, and condoms filled the vacuum. How could it have been otherwise?
It’s heartening then to note that the nation of late continues in a tilt toward conservatism. Fully 40% of the population so self-identify, more than even the 33% who claim the middle, leaving liberals with less than a quarter of the count. This is a stunning reversal at the grassroots, even if we don’t see much reflection of it yet in the halls of power.
We need to keep working, with both prayer and action, to win America back. The situation is dire, but with God’s help we will succeed.
But while I continue to hold conservative political values, at the same time two important truths have been impressed on me lately, as I watch the pace of cultural decline accelerate.
First, conservativism and godliness often overlap, especially at this critical time, but essentially they are distinct entities. This was strongly impressed on me recently when a story about the detrimental effect of pornography on men’s ability to bond qualitatively to women was posted to a conservative blog I frequent. Very predictably, I’m sorry to say, the reaction from the crowd there was a bunch of snide jeering and a celebration of the joys of porn. These were conservatives.
Because of the attack on moral values, coupled with the unrestrained Internet, America and the world is awash with an unprecedented amount of pornography. And we are suffering for it. While in some ways they have obtained freedom, women are now openly objectified as never before, and often by their own choices have become their own worst enemies. The values that used to protect them – morality, fidelity and monogamy – are in short supply indeed. And women, in competition for attention, have largely allowed themselves to be degraded to the level of the culture’s expectations. They are the worse for it.
It is short-sighted that many conservatives have an implicit belief that the morality they labor for in foreign and domestic policy can long endure if personal morality is jettisoned. They ought to give Washington’s farewell address a good read, in which he warned the nation that it could not long stand if it abandoned the “twin pillars” of democracy – morality and religion.
Jesus said that judgment will take place in this manner: two will be working in a field, and one will be taken; two will be grinding at the wheel, and one will be taken. Let me apply that to our current day. Two will hold conservative political values, and only one will be pleasing to God.
It’s a good thing to labor to restore the nation to its roots. But it’s not a good enough thing. It’s a terrible thing to work conservatively in the external political sphere but not attend to restoring one’s own spiritual roots.
The other issue that I think needs reassessment is conservatism’s claim to exclusive correctness. In that same farewell address, Washington also warned against involvement with other nations. That is no longer possible, and indeed it never was. It was only shortly after Washington left the scene that the Barbary Pirates – read: Muslims – began to severely harass American ships. If we were going to have any commerce with the world at all, it quickly became necessary to deal with international problems.
With increased information flow, the world is getting smaller. If nothing else, the latest Muslim incursion, on 9/11, proved that we simply cannot shut out the world.
And I’ll go one further. We are not meant to shut out the world entirely. America was blessed with resources and governance not merely for her own freedom and prosperity, but that she could bring them to others. More precisely, America, founded on Christian principles, is meant to be a Gospel light to the nations. We cannot do that by hiding our light under a bushel.
Strict isolationism will not work. God’s love and grace has been shed abroad in our hearts liberally, not conservatively, and that’s how we need to spread it to others. In this regard, the motivations of liberals are many times correct. Their mistake is their inordinate faith in the state, which becomes a substitute for the church and the individual as the means of dispensing that grace. Jesus warned, call no man ‘father’, but we have forgotten.
The point of this article is this: we should acknowledge civic virtues, and we should work to bring America back to her roots, but we need to do it all, first and foremost, for the glory of God. When we do that, we not only have the chance of earthly achievements, we have the certainty of heavenly rewards.
An added note on porn:
Those who embrace pornography are squandering their affections. They are building walls around themselves that make real intimacy with their wives impossible. They are sowing seeds of cynicism, resentment and alienation, and one cannot do that without consequences.
In this regard, a good woman is like anything else: what you put into her, you will get out of her, and more. What better is there to invest in but your family? Or for that matter, God?
If you make a commitment to avoid porn, you can get to a place where you recognize when women are using their appearance as a substitute for good character. Trust me on this, you will be avoiding a world of pain if you do so. The benefits of devoting yourself to your wife, and the detriments of squandering your affections, are both so great that the difficulty of disciplining yourself morally are well worth it.
Be still my heart. A public school district has decided to post the Ten Commandments back up on the walls of all its schools:
A southwest Virginia school district has reposted copies of the Bible’s Ten Commandments in all county schools, despite concerns that doing so is unconstitutional.
The Roanoke Times reported that the school district rehung the commandments Friday.
The commandments were up on the walls in Giles County for at least a decade next to framed copies of the U.S. Constitution. But one resident complained, claiming the commandments display violated the Constitution so school officials took them down.
Then several parents and pastors, supported by numerous citizens, told the school board it had a moral obligation to reinforce God’s teachings.
The five-member Giles County School Board voted unanimously to put the framed, 4-foot-tall, biblical texts back up.
“The board, after hearing comments from some members in our community, they felt it was the right thing to do,” said Superintendent Terry Arbogast, who noted that school officials didn’t anticipate the public outcry.
Arbogast said the district will wait to see if a lawsuit is filed.
That this simple act of defiance is so unbelievable shows how far we have fallen. Let’s go back to 1963, when the US Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools across the entire nation. Here’s the twenty-two-word prayer that was found to be so offensive:
“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.”
Wow. Can’t you just feel the seething religious intolerance and coercion there? At the time, 93% of the nation approved of this innocuous prayer. Indeed, the school board president at the time observed:
“I can only conclude that this suit is a premeditated act to undermine the American heritage. This is not a religious issue. It’s simply a matter of giving our children additional moral and spiritual help and recognition of God.”
The following year the Bible was banned from the schools. Then the Ten Commandments went. The majority opinion against the Ten Commandments actually warns that if the commandments are posted on school walls, the students would read them and might actually follow them, and that would be unacceptable. This stupefying mindset is what the Bible refers to when it says:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. -Rom 1:21-25
There’s a pattern of regression there. When you don’t honor God, you honor something else. When you turn away from God, you turn to something else. Nature abhors a vacuum, and we have to fill our hearts with something. What on earth did these geniuses think would happen if they took away God and handed out condoms? If you read the history of the likes of Sanger and Kinsey, you will see that some of them knew exactly what they were doing. It all happened incrementally, and much of the church was asleep, so the humanists have gotten away with the greatest cultural heritage heist in history.
As if on cue, in 1963-4 every single social indicator took a precipitous turn for the worse. School dropout rates, teen pregnancies, violence in the schools, test scores, etc. And then the dysfunction spread to the general population. At this advanced date, every single one of our societal institutions is coming apart at the seams. The “seven mountains” of society – commerce, education, government, the family, the arts, religion and media – are all wandering blindly, removed from moral foundations that are no longer there.
Scripture warns us:
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” -Ps 11:3.
But then it answers it’s own question. They can repent, which essentially means a change in thinking:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. -Isa 1:18
They can pray according to the promises:
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2Chr 7:14
and they can get enough resolve to act, as this school board in Virginia is doing.
Think of Daniel, who despite the king’s decree that no one could call on God, purposely went to his window, opened it, and prayed aloud to the Lord, as he was accustomed. Imagine if more school boards would say that enough is enough. We’re sick and tired of trying to raise our kids amid cultural filth with our hands tied behind our backs. We’ve had it with a minority humanist agenda driving the nation and dictating the lives of the vast number of believers.
Daniel wound up in the lion’s den for his defiance, and I suspect that this school board is going to find out what happens when one resists the undemocratic elites that have been running this nation, and running it into the ground. But the Lord was faithful to Daniel and preserved him, and in the end He vindicated him. So it often goes for those whom the Lord values highly.
We are in a battle for this nation’s soul. We have lost much ground, and we are starting late in our attempt to recover what has been stolen. But signs abound that a major groundswell of purpose and determination is arising. And it’s true to the form of real revivals that this one is coming not from within our institutions themselves, but predominantly from below. The political establishment, in fact, can barely keep up with the pace of change, and is in continual danger of being steamrolled if it doesn’t press forward.
We need to pray for those in authority, as Paul tells Timothy. Much is at stake and the resistance is strong. I don’t know how this Ten Commandments thing in Virginia works out, but it’s a hopeful sign indeed. Let’s give them the support they deserve.
I don’t really follow these things, but I was reading about how a comedian, Ricky Gervais, mocked God during the Golden Globes awards. Gervais was subsequently interviewed by Piers Morgan, and this is what he said in part:
[Christians] don’t have a monopoly on good is my point, I’m not a Christian but I live my life in a good way.
Some people say “who says what good is?” But you know what I say? ‘I do’. I’m good to people because it’s the way I want to be treated. And I don’t believe I’ll be rewarded in heaven, I will be rewarded now.
The subject Morgan was trying to get to was Gervais offending Christians, so let me say at the outset that I’m not offended by Gervais. A bit saddened and amused, yes, but no real offense taken. God is big enough to handle this without too much of a problem.
The ironic thing here is that, up to a certain point, Gervais’ “theology”, if you will, is pretty darn good. If you examine what he says, he is expressing a concrete faith that certain spiritual dynamics rule Creation. He believes that good exists. He believes that he has an inner witness as to what that good is, and what it isn’t. He believes that if he does good he will be rewarded. That’s all very solid indeed.
What Gervais fails to consider, however, is that an orderly universe – and never mind the mere physical order that’s readily apparent, as awesome as that is, we are taking here about the moral order that Gervais referred to – points to a moral Creator. Does he really think that all these principles that he acknowledges happened by accident, or that they somehow developed through some insufferably long evolutionary process? The plain fact is that it takes more faith to believe either of those possibilities than to give credit to a God with moral character.
Gervais is correct in believing that if he does good he will tend to be rewarded in kind. But then, evil is in the world, and if all we consider is payback in the here and now, our reward can be overridden by evil at any given time. It comes with the fallen territory. What does Gervais do then? The plain fact is that most lives are going to encounter evil.
The perennial root question at play here is whether man can be good without God. The answer is no, but we will never really see proof of that in this life. Here’s why. The Bible is clear that God has left a witness to Himself both in the order and grandeur of nature and in the inner nature of man’s soul. Whether he acknowledges it or not, the sense of right and wrong, love and hate that Gervais feels inside is part of that witness. For that reason, Christians shouldn’t argue against what people like Gervais say. They instead should affirm the truth of what has been said and then question where they think their inner witness came from. They should argue that they haven’t taken their logical thinking far enough.
If I’ve got my eschatology right, some day the Holy Spirit will be pulled completely from those who refused God’s offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. Then we will see, all too terribly, the answer to the question of whether man can be good without God. But for now, whether it’s an atheist or a believer that does good, it is God who is the author of all the good that is in the world. And it is very shortsighted, and quite wrong, for man to take final credit for it.
On the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, president Obama issued an affirmational statement:
Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.
I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.
And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
Obama’s words may sound reasonable to the humanist. But the dynamic here is just like taking God out of the schools and handing out condoms – it won’t work. You either take a stand for morality or you are swamped by immorality. And our nation is reaping the fruit of being swamped by immorality.
In order to enshrine “reproductive rights” as a Constitutional right, our governmental structure has had to make it a sacred totem that is immune to any degree of normal legal oversight. To wit, see the horrors, recently revealed, of the Philadelphia doctor who apparently routinely stabbed babies to death after their live birth. This was allowed to continue for years, despite complaints, to the tune of possibly hundreds of babies. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, when queried how this could occur, actually answered that it did not know that abortion providers fell under its jurisdiction. The Department of Health!
There are no easy answers for this nation. At this point I’m not certain that it is possible to rebuild its foundations. Humanly, perhaps it is not. But then, all things are possible with God.
But I am certain that each individual must make his own choice on how he is going to live. And I am equally certain that we must use the time we are given as salt and light to a dying culture.
A prayer here for all the babies and lives of women and men, and families destroyed and being destroyed by abortion.
Update: Here’s the unbelievable tale of how the squalid Philly clinic was allowed to continue unscrutinized by the authorities for years. This nation has become morally dysfunctional. Thanks, humanists.