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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I just can't do this anymore. . . . . ????

Yes FARMStrongers-- it looks like my assessment is on target so far. As JP says in the comments below for the last post-- something is going on in Jack Bauer. This is a different Jack Bauer. At one of the twenty-seven climax moments of last nights double feature, Jack Bauer, in a moment of painful agony, literally gave up and in tears cried out, "I just can't do this anymore." This is not the vernacular of a hero. This smells like the makings of a saint. Why? He demonstrated vulnerability in his weakness. And this wasn't the first sign of it. In the four hour season premiere, we saw several indications of this "new" spirit in Jack. Perhaps coming into touch with one's weakness is the beginning of the path of the making of a saint. The other interesting feature is how prominently they are drawing attention to Jack's scars. He appears to be a broken man. Something happened in that Chinese prison which I suspect we will see flashed-back at key moments in the season.

He is moving from superhero to saint. Samuel Wells, in one of his books, begins to contrast the paradigm of the hero with that of the saint. I am continuing to work out that contrast in my thinking. Check it out:

Larger than Life
Central actor
Celebrated for Valor
Qualified by strengths
Archetype: Soldier
Covets Public Commendation
Fears Failure
Enshrined in a Hall of Fame

Hidden actor
Celebrated for Faith
Chosen for weaknesses
Archetype: Martyr
Eschews Public Recognition for Hidden Reward
Embraces Failure
Eternally lives in a Communion

The Hero is a Greek idea. The Saint is a Hebrew idea.

I happened on our six year old, David, playing with action figures the other day to discover this one:

And doesn't this tell the story. We love heroes-- superheroes. In my judgment evangelicalism has wholeheartedly and uncritically adopted the hero figure at the costly expense of forming saints. Heroes trade on the currency of fame. In like fashion, we tend to want to build our movements around famous faces. We trade on the celebrity of our leaders-- only we baptize it for God's purposes.

And this brings us to the Epiphany tie in. I'm in the throes of another epiphany-- discovering the obvious again. The BIG idea is this: In Jesus Christ of Nazareth, our God became small. . . . . an infant no less. Maybe that's what I love about that picture above. Jesus is small. He just doesn't fit into the superhero build. He's real though. And he's risen from the dead. Think about it. In Jesus of Nazareth, God not only became small. He hid himself. Here was God, hiding himself in the frame of a Jewish peasant. . . . in the form of a servant. Jesus loved to be hidden, eschewing fame and even imploring others to keep his work a secret. And he humbled himself and became obedient to death. . . . even death on a cross. . . . embracing the apparent failure in the form of the cross. . . . and yet the true martyr. On the hillside called Golgotha outside the once great city of Jerusalem, hidden between two thieves, our God reveals the nature of his glory. Then hidden like a tiny mustard seed in the ground, He rises again to show us the nature of his sovereignty. Small and hidden. . . . glorious and sovereign. . . . how great is our God?

Of course, Jack Bauer will likely never embrace his weakness. It will probably only amount to a "moment" of weakness to be overcome by the sheer will of his superhuman powers. Why? Because there is no God in this story. Well, there is a god. His name is Jack Bauer. And in the end, he won't be a saint. He'll just be a more plausible version of superman. Without the Living God, this is the only storyline the writers can pull off.

The last time I checked the score on the New Testament-- Saints got 64 mentions. Heroes got none.
posted by John David Walt | at 1/16/2007 09:45:00 PM



Anonymous coach said...

where is mr. incredible? i think that david should have one.

10:38 AM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

don't fool yourself-- we've got them all. this was the posse he was working with on that day.

3:33 PM EST  
Anonymous coach said...

i figured as much...but these are all the old school action figures, the ones i played with.

12:44 PM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

i'm disappointed at the lack of engagement on this post. :-(

10:08 PM EST  
Blogger T-Craig said...

So, this may be a little late but . . . .You never know when something is going to set in. You know what I mean? I read this post over a month ago and found it interesting (I don't watch 24). Now a month later as we approach Ash Wednesday it was brought back to the front of my mind (or should I say heart). Seems this post is very applicable to the heart of Ash Wednesday in so many ways! I would be interested to know what has happened in the season (or day) following these four episodes! I would also be interested to see this post brought back up for discussion in the context of Ash Wednesday. Also, where can I find the Francis quote?

10:40 AM EST  

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