Christianity and the Immortals


 

When King Hyperion broke into the temple to find the virgin oracle, he ridiculed the priest who prayed to the gods and betrayed his hatred for them. Where were they when his wife and children were killed? He had a list of accusations against them and had expected them to intervene if they were worth anything. This was his motivation for unleashing the titans on mankind for their own destruction. He was driven by despair; despair towards Zeus who said he would not intervene, and only did so in the end to kill the titans, not to save Hyperion or humanity.

But, as I watched him I laughed. This was actually an accusation against the Christian God, but could not legitimately be applied to the gods of mythology. The movie was a chance for anger, normally vented against a loving God who intervenes in the affairs of men and allows suffering in the world, to be projected upon the Greek or Roman gods who functioned as convenient whipping boys. The Greeks didn’t take their gods as seriously as Christians take theirs. They took them with a kind of lightness and frivolity.They did not mix reason with the gods of imagination. But, it was hilarious to see the seriousness of Christianity applied to other gods.

As far as history is concerned, the ones who were serious about their gods back then were those who worshiped the demons, like Moloch.  A man who walked into the woods might hope to see a tree nymph, but the man who went in the woods to make a deal with the Devil expected even feared to see him. The Devil keeps his appointments. If you wanted things done in society and did not care how it was done, the demons were the ones to deal with. The city of Carthage sold their souls and their society to Moloch. But, Moloch was not a myth because his meal was not a myth. These people gathered together to invoke blessings upon their society by throwing their infants and children into a large furnace. This was religion, not myth. They became a culture of death, but they were perhaps more civilized than the people of Rome. It’s the supreme delusion of this age to think that barbarism characterized the first societies of man. But, it is the more complex and civilized societies that make an institution out of evil. How do we, as Americans, get things done in our society? We destroy our children. That’s how we further ourselves and society. Apparently, Moloch has not finished his meal.

At the end of the movie, the titans were unleashed and Zeus showed up like he said. As the battle raged he lost all his fellow gods who fought with him. And in a scene reminiscent of the story of Samson in the Bible, Zeus grabbed two chains connected to the sides of Mount Tataras and pulled so that the mountain imploded destroying the titans along with it. But, as the mountain came down on all sides around him, he traveled back up to Olympus. He did not sacrifice himself as Samson did. The more noble act belonged to Samson.

But, humanity needs a God who does both; a God who sacrifices himself but also still resides in Heaven. Mankind needed to be saved, but a God who only sacrificed himself no longer had the power to be with them; and a God who only kept his throne in Heaven had no way to bring humanity to himself. The great power found in Christianity lies in the paradox of victory through defeat.

The path of the hero in the film is perhaps a damning commentary on the state of our world. There was no vision of purity at the start, no holy light to reveal his defects, no clear start in his path – just a quest for revenge. And though he killed the man who killed his mother, darkness was not vanquished. Evil survived to plague mankind once again. Man was caught in an eternal repetition doomed to roll the rock of evil up the hill only to have it fall back down again. Our hero was in darkness in the beginning and in darkness in the end; he was lost in the beginning and lost in the end. Is there any better commentary on man? We are all stuck somewhere in the middle with no light on either side, stabbing vainly in the dark for a hope and salvation we will never find.

Christianity is blamed for keeping mankind in the dark ages, but Christianity was actually the one bright road out of the dark ages. It shed light on man’s beginning and his end. Christianity’s God took man by the hand and led him down the road. Those stabbing blindly in the dark had only to head towards the light, and thank God they did or our modern world would have been quite different.

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