Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jesus the Perfect Hero

In our religious ed class for teens one of the seminarians (who is exceptionally gifted at reaching the common man in my opinion) used a four part lesson for a retreat based on the idea of the Hero. By this he reflects not only on mythological heroes from history, but also on modern comic book figures.

We should require all youths to read comic books. It's amazing how the comic book, of all forums, has most retained the idea of personified virtue and vices. The flawed hero, the anti-hero, the redeemable villain, the complex villain, alliances of convenience and principle by those who would have killed one another and of course, my favorite... the Tragic Hero. The one with the Hubris - a greek term referring to the heroes of mythology and their one critical flaw... the flaw that will kill them... the flaw they can't escape... the lacking virtue that they must succeed in spite of, probably to their own destruction. The Achilles Heel is trumped in this regard only to Hector, who must fight for Troy against a near-immortal and against the gods who protect him.

Of all these heroes it is Hector who I relate to most. The unwilling hero who knows that he cannot win, but hopes to fight for honor. He wishes to make such a battle with the Greeks that his virtue and the courage of the tragic Trojans trapped in the middle of a Divine power play will be forever remembered. He stands at the breach between his people and the certain annihilation that he, of all men, must know is coming. His spear, which should have claimed the life of Achilles - who is the lesser man and was shown as such in battle - is dashed aside at the moment of triumph by Athena, the interfering nuisance of a goddess who cannot set aside her bias for the megalomanic Achilles long enough to let him pay the consequence of his own actions. But in the moment of his greatest triumph Hector is vindicated and Achilles cast down by the passionate arrow of Paris, who shoots to avenge his wronged brother.

I find that I relate most to the unwitting hero. The flawed one. I see myself in the overly fun loving nature of Conan, and the psychotic dedication to the self-righteous puritanical cause personified in Solomon Kane. The absolute blindness and brutishness of V, willing to see all destroyed before accepting the defeat of his Idea.

In similar vein is the Tarakian from Heavy Metal. Unable to fulfill the covenant to protect her people from incarnate evil, the pledge is then to vengence. The vengence cannot ultimately save her life, but in fulfilling the promise another Tarakian will be born, and the war will continue anew.

Then there is always in my memory the character of Niun s'Intel, the mri swordsman from Cj Cheryh's Faded Sun trilogy. Fighting for the cause of the lost people, Niun decides to succeed or fail in his people's vindication only to the extent that he can do so by the archaic laws which have always defined his people as who they are. It's in pulps and comics that the authors set aside the wayward need for three dimensions and concentrate on the dream... the hero we would all be, flaw intact, if only we had the single-minded courage to dedicate ourselves fully.

Into this comes Christ, the hero who examples for everyone the triumphant and eternal Divine Love which is their birthright, and is put to death by those he would save. The icon of God hangs helplessly, and at a point hopelessly, from the instrument of torture by those who's hearts cannot come to grips with perfection. But the covenant will not be broken. God will yet have the last word. He will vindicate His people and set his edifice in their midst. The Temple will yet be restored, and the gates of Hades will be smashed. The trumpet will blow and the dead will arise to be judged as the King returns for what is his. The angels will cast a golden crown before his throne and bow down before the King and his Mother, standing in glory. his soldiers the martyrs will join the Seraphim surrounding him and singing the hymn of triumph forever. the Cherubim with the fiery sword will then be removed from its constant vigil at the gates of Eden, and Man may enter again, to walk with God, and speak only of Good with no Evil.

Jesus is primarily the anti-hero. While we see in others notions of the truth, there is only one hero without flaw. Our own flaws show us why there is a primal need in our psyche to attribute some quirk and shortcoming to our own heroes. It has prepared us since the beginning to see perfection in only One, who will not be flawed. Only one Eternal David without dynasty can be all in all without vice.


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