An Atheist's Lesson

I saw "The Avengers" with my four older sons last night.  Steven Greydanus was right in saying the movie "gets practically everything right and very little wrong."  It was 142 minutes of incredible fun and seeing it with my sons made the evening the best movie experience I've had in a long, long time.  If you haven't seen it yet, do.  If you're going again, call me.  I may join you.

Part of the fun of the movie was the many ways it underscored how futile it is for any person to set up himself as a god.  Joss Whedon, it seems, is an atheist, and it may be that the point he was trying to make was that God is only ourselves dressed up to accommodate our own needs and desires.  I wouldn't disagree with him that this is our tendency and has been from the time of the Fall.  In one scene, for example, Loki is protesting the Hulk's treatment of him by declaring himself a god.  Before Loki can finish, though,  the Hulk grabs Loki and beats him against the concrete floor five or six times.  As the Hulk walks away from the motionless Loki lying in the floor, the Hulk mutters, "Puny god."  The scene was one of the funniest in the movie, precisely because it made the point so effectively.

We are puny gods, because we cannot be gods anymore than we can be watermelons, although we use the conceit that we are gods much in the same way we use watermelons, to feed a need.  When we find a problem with the god we are, we spit it out much like we spit out the seeds in the watermelon.  Watermelons, however, do meet a real need in us, while making gods of ourselves only drives us deeper into depression, hatred, anger, cynicism and bitterness.

Unlike Mr. Whedon, I do believe in God and I don't believe He is a "sky bully."  Loki represents the "sky bully", but, then, Loki, like all gods, is a human creation.  A "sky bully" is a god created by humans for humans, because we hate ourselves.  The uncreated God, the God revealed in Sacred Scripture and in the Church, is a God who creates in order to love us.  Yes, this love is a "tough love" and is not always sunshine and rainbows, but God's love for us is directed towards our eternal salvation and not our immediate gratification.  As St. John states, "God is love."  It's a great tragedy to miss out on that.  Life is robbed of so much, when God is rejected for a "sky bully" and that is rejected for the human.

People who reject God are not atheists.  They are as much deists as are Christians, only they worship themselves or some representation of themselves.  It is a choice that begins in immaturity, ignorance, fear, selfishness and hubris and only leads more deeply into the same.  Atheists, however, can lead Christians to be more honest with ourselves about who it is we are truly worshipping.  How much of what we believe is based on what we want and how much is based on the Truth as found in the Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of the Catholic Church?

(Spoiler Alert)

At the end of the movie, Loki is vanquished and peace and order are restored to New York City, but Loki's quest to be the god of Earth costs countless lives and leaves the city largely destroyed.  For a Christian, the end of "The Avengers" can be viewed as a metaphor for the damage we do to ourselves and those around us, when we make ourselves our own gods and seek after only what we want.  This movie is awesome fun and it carries some very good messages.  Enjoy!




Comments

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter...always good stuff Marcus. Keep educating us, inspiring us and driving us in our life and our faith! Great work.

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