Sunday, December 26, 2010

Die to live, die to death.

I think heroes prove that God exists.

There have been many times in my life where I was either not sure why I believed in God or just simply did not believe at all. But when the time came in my life where I was certain I wanted to find out why and mature enough to actually do it, I discovered a few things about my faith journey that made me realize I had been searching a lot longer than I thought.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...well actually, in our own galaxy, I was an eight-year-old being introduced to the wonderful land of Star Wars. Action, adventure, heroism...Jedi Knights and Rebels...I loved it. There was something about it that made me so excited. Made me want to BE Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo. I thought it was the action alone...just the cool fights and all that. But what do all my favorite characters in the series have in common? Obi-Wan lets himself be killed so that the young heroes can escape. Luke Skywalker refuses to turn to the dark side, and instead invites certain death at the hands of the evil Emperor, inadvertently causing his father's redemption as he saves his son's life. Han Solo forsakes a life of greed and risks his neck to give Luke the chance he needs to blow up the Death Star. All of this from a secular writer, and all of this appealing to a very wide audience. Why would we admire those who do these things if we are supposed to be eating, pooping, mating animals with no God?

Then there was Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was Catholic, however, he explicitly stated that Lord of the Rings was not an allegorical tale, but an applicable one. But yet, his belief in God leaked into his story anyway. The heroic Aragorn risks his life time after time for his friends, for his love Arwen, and for his fellow men - and towards the end of the book, he even assaults the gates of the middle-earth equivalent of Hell when he is quite certain he has no chance of surviving (though he does win, anyway). The wizard Gandalf actually DOES die to save the others, however, comes back to life to complete his task. The hobbit Frodo selflessly takes on the terrifying task of destroying the One Ring, an artifact of pure evil whose very existence threatens all good...and very nearly dies many times in this task. Does this all ring a bell?

And then there's Dragon Ball Z. Oh yes, I know many people consider it a childish kid's show with a bunch of men yelling and fighting each other. But beneath the surface of ignorance there is so much more there. The main character Goku dies and has his life restored not once, but TWICE, only to risk his life again and again afterwards, and once put his very existence on the line to save the world. He's directly responsible for the heroism or complete conversion to good of at least six other characters, who look to him as an example when they make the difficult decision to put their lives in jeopardy, sometimes for just a small chance that their friends might survive. There are so many examples of emulation of Christ slipping into this work I struggle to pick just one...Possibly the best one is when Vegeta, a character who is, for most of the series, an incredibly evil anti-hero, decides to fight for someone other than himself for the first time, at the expense of his own life - after being told by a reliable source that he would likely not receive any reward for it because of his previous selfishness. Sound familiar?

And if even in secular works we can admire those who are willing to die to save the lives of others, what sense would this make if we're supposedly just animals...what animal would die to save the life of anyone other than children or close kin? These animals - Obi-Wan, Gandalf, Vegeta - they die for their friends...and sometimes, for people they don't even know. If we have this desire for more meaning to our lives, than there must be something...someone to fulfill this desire.

All this time, I'd been searching for proof that God exists, and here it was right in front of me, all along. The characters from these shows that I admired so much, were mirroring traits of Christ's love...Christ's death on the cross...and not only that, proving that there is more to life than living.

There is a point in Dragon Ball Z where four evil android creations of a mad doctor threaten to destroy the world. One of these, Cell, is thought to be stronger than all of them, and wishes to absorb Androids 17 and 18 to make his power complete. If he succeeds, he will be unstoppable by the forces of good. However, Android 16, who is an earlier model of android, unable to be absorbed by Cell and thought to be weaker than the rest, steps in to stop Cell. The quiet Android 16, who had previously refused to do anything but follow Androids 17 and 18 around, reveals that he is just as strong as Cell and can save Android 17 from being absorbed, which is just what was about to happen. Android 16 says: "I will kill Cell. This world is a good place. Cell wishes to destroy it. I will not let that happen." Android 18 warns him: "Come back! You'll be killed!"

But the brave android replies: "That does not matter. Life is good, but living in fear is not my idea of living." And then he goes to fight...but I won't spoil what happens. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that heroes lived forever.

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