Friday, January 3, 2014

Christ The Phoenix

I read websites that deride superheroes as idolatrous, which as you can imagine is not an opinion I share. Moreover, I think it is freaking stupid. The truth is that anything can become an idol if you let it. Food can become an idol, that does not make it idolatrous. Humans are idolatrous, not the objects idolized. We are more prone to idolize certain things like sex, but I don't think superheroes are on that list.

In the early church, the Phoenix was a symbol of Christ, right up there with the Ichthus. The reasons why are not hard to grasp for anyone familiar with the myth of the Phoenix, a magical creature of light and fire that dies and is reborn.  Christians saw in that myth a symbol or foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.

Myth is not evil, even when it is not overtly Christian. It is the human attempt to reach out to the divine. It is inconceivable that these attempts have nothing to teach us, or get everything wrong. A thoughtful Christian should be able to expose themselves to myth and say "yes" to what is true and critique what is not. I see no difference between the early Christians seeing the Phoenix as a symbol for Christ and my use of Superman as a symbol for the same. Superheroes are the myths of our time. Christians need to rediscover the cultural openness (tempered by a fierce faithfulness to Christ) of former times.

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