The Theology of Ents (Lord of the Rings)

Where did all these armies of trees--Tolkien's Ents and Huorns, Shakespeare's Birnam Wood, even Kurosawa's Throne of Blood--come from? The Bible. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers , the Ents march on Saruman's fortress of Orthanc in Isengard and are an unstoppable force and just plain cool. Also, the Huorns, who are either Ents who have turned treeish or trees that have grown wild and grumpy, march from Fangorn forest. They consume the retreating Uruk-hai from the Battle of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep. What was Tolkien's inspiration for the Ents? In a letter to the Anglo-American poet, W. H. Auden, Tolkien explains his inspiration for the Ents: "Their part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill': I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war. And into this h Read More December 30, 2009

The Theology of Avatar

Much has been written about James Cameron's new epic Avatar ...  about it stunning 3D visual effects, big budget,  etc., but I haven't seen much written about the theology or mythology behind it. There seems to be a subtle, maybe even sophisticated, theology behind the story. I noticed a few things, and I wanted to jot down a few ideas: How does Pandora represent an prelapsarian (before the Fall) world in which Nature and Grace have not yet been divorced from each other? How does the god Eywa represent the unbroken bond between Nature and Grace? (and the Holy Spirit?) Are the Two Sacred Trees, the Tree of Voices (or Souls) and the Hometree, an allusion to the two trees of the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life? Is Sigourney Weaver's character name, Dr. Grace Augustine, an allusion to Saint Augustine's Doctrine of Grace? What does the Second Birth of the Na'vi race say about Baptism? The 7th day of Creation, the Sa Read More December 27, 2009

Catholics and Idolatry

This post is in response to a question my aunt asked me. She asked, why is all the iconoclasty (or iconophilia) in Catholicism not considered idolatry? Okay, first off. What's the commandment say? Exodus 20:2-6 from the New American Bible (NAB): "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments." Different religions number their Commandments differently, which leads to a different placement of "You Read More December 22, 2009

The Virgin Birth of Star Wars

Okay! This is my favorite connection in Sci-Fi. Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) was a virgin birth!! I'm pretty sure I saw Star Wards in the womb. I'm pretty sure that the first time I heard the trumpet blast of the score of A New Hope, I was encased in amniotic fluid. I have loved Star Wars for almost as long as I've known God. It is such sweet satisfaction to know that Star Wars, too, knew God from the beginning. The Jedis speak of the ancient prophesy that is fulfilled by the birth and life of Anakin Skywalker. Clearly, this guy represents a Messiah figure. This is made blatantly obvious when we discover that he is the seed of woman (Gen 3:15) alone, that he was conceived by the Force, that Shmi gave birth as a virgin. Hello, McFly! This is one of the most obvious connections in all the galaxies of Sci-Fi. Why isn't every Star Wars fan a martyr-bleeding Christian??? Why do we love the movie so much? Because we love God. There's more, though. I'm not Read More December 22, 2009

Thesis: The Native Theology of Storytellers

I love Sci-Fi movies! AND, I love the Christ story! I've been making notes in my head for eons about all the theology I've found in Sci-Fi movies. I've got to get this stuff out of my head, so I'm gonna try. I'm not sure whether George Lucas intended for Shmi Skywalker to resemble the Virgin Mary and the virgin birth. I'm just not interested at this point in doing that kind of research on Asimov, James Cameron, Stan Lee, Orson Scott Card, etc., though in some cases--like Tolkien and C. S. Lewis--the intent is explicit. The point is, though, whether or not the writer intended to model his story on The Story, the resemblance occurred. It may be that the Christ story has so permeated the consciousness of the world as to be nearly impossible NOT to model or allude to, but there may be something more to it, as well. It could be something written into each one of us--a primordial theology that all of us, especially the best storytellers, are at some level aware Read More December 22, 2009