Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why Christians should watch CLASH OF THE TITANS

From Movie Magic to Movie Myth - and thus, junk? - by Nick van der Leek
But enough of the myth remains to keep your eyes open, as do some of the performances — Mr. Fiennes earns his pay — even when the frenetic editing at times pitches the movie into near visual incoherence. The finale, which lurches among locations, destroys all notion of time, space, sense. - New York Times

Perseus in CLASH is interesting as a half God half man saviour figure.  He has a human mother, a queen, and his father, is Zeus, who impregnated his mother either as a golden shaft of light or in the shape and form of the queen's husband.

So this God who walks with men and is God but not God and man but not man - he is found by fishermen and so learns his trade.   He fishes.  He doesn't know how to fight, yet he leads a party of men on a mission to save a city called Argos.  If he is unsuccessful, someone will be sacrificed.  There's also a prophecy that he will probably die in his efforts, something he says he is willing to do, a sacrifice to avenge his loved ones. And of course, throughout this period, Perseus acts as a sort of intercessor between God/s and men, just like Jesus did.

An early attempt on the life of the 'young saviour' is part of the familiar formula. Perseus' birth like Jesus' is fraught with danger.  He is found in a floating coffin, a babe hugging the body of his dead mother. Fairly early on Perseus and his family part ways, he goes on a quest, does a lot of heroic speechmaking, and fighting, but ultimately doesn't ascend the thrown and becomes a sort of layabout on a winged pony.

In CLASH the Gods are very much like us.  Zeus and brother Hades are locked in a sibling rivalry, and Zeus is jealous of his power, and although mighty, leaves the smiting to his brother [an absentee smiter thus not guilty of the offence, although the authority that gives the permission].  One more thing.  Lucifer in Christianity is God's highest angel, fallen, which is pretty close to saying Jesus's brother, and of course we know that during Jesus' coming of age, he has to face the Devil in the desert for 40 days - to prove that he is a man God.

Perseus was the Greek hero that defeated Medusa, an enormous snake-like creature [in the film] with a woman's body and woman's head, and hair full of snakes.  Medusa lives in the underworld, known to Christians as hell, and Medusa is one of Hades' minions.

Hades, incidentally is the brother of Zeus, less powerful, but nevertheless a threat.  Zeus, symbolised by a lightning bolt, is really the creator and protector of man, but he needs men's prayers to maintain his own power and existence, in spite of a tendency typical of divine beings, neglect.

Christianity is more selective in its interpretation of hell.

Wiki: The Christian concept of hell is more akin to (and communicated by) the Greek concept of Tartarus, a deep, gloomy part of hades used as a dungeon of torment and suffering.

In other words the Christians base their idea of hell on being an entirety of torment.  This is an absolute choice embraced by many faithful Christians.  Of course Hades has been associated simply with the place, often gloomy, where the dead go.

Wiki: In older Greek myths, the realm of Hades is the misty and gloomy[3] abode of the dead (also called Erebus), where all mortals go. Later Greek philosophy introduced the idea that all mortals are judged after death and are either rewarded or cursed. Very few mortals, including Heracles, could leave his realm once they entered. There were several sections of the realm of Hades, including Elysium, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartarus. Greek mythographers were not perfectly consistent about the geography of the afterlife. A contrasting myth of the afterlife concerns the Garden of the Hesperides, often identified with the Isles of the Blessed, where the blessed heroes may dwell.

From the descriptions above Hades could be rather pleasant - plains, gardens, even possibly confused with a place where the blessed might dwell.

Whilst watching CLASH I wondered whether Perseus - the nomenclature - came from a similar source as 'Jesus', especially since the second half of the name, and the name itself are so similar.  And since the character of Jesus and Perseus, as saviour men-gods, are similar.

I did discover that the movie version used a certain - well quite a lot of license - with the Greek myths, but in a way that seemed to stray into our Christian understanding, and modern lore.  There are, of course, no Greek artefacts in the film such as Perseus' oh-so-Greek magic sandals [a relic of the modern Nike Air?] or a magic cap. There does seem some possibility that the very old legend of Perseus is a Semitic one.  Perseus can also be translated as 'to cut'.

Jesus meets with a violent death, does Perseus? Perseus dies in every way imaginable - the story is so old it has been written over and over again.   In some versions, Dionysus slays Perseus.  In others, Perseus slays Dionysus.  In others, they slay each other.  In others, neither is slain. Because it is fiction and entertainment, just like most movies are - they're a product of the now, but shaped by traditions and commonly held standardsand beliefs. Religions, though having a more serious message, would not have been remembered had they not been stories worth retelling, stories able to capture the collective imaginations of large audiences and dare I say it - entertain hearts and minds.

While Perseus evolved as Greek God probably after the time of Christ [though not necessarily] there are others - many - that were precursors to Christianity.  The Eqyption God Horus is one. Others that were not include Theseus, Romulus, Heracles, Jason, Bellepheron, Dionysus [a God of resurrection], Mithras [a contemporary religion during Jesus' life], Apollo, Zeus, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Arthur.  Of course the conventional argument Christians use to claim their's as the one true God is that the Jesus story, while not unique, sort of occurs early-ish on in this mythological process.  Of course the Greeks were under no assumptions that their Gods weren't real.

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