Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Not How I Thought It Would Be, But It's All Right

I love the Chronicles of Narnia, both the books and the movies. I love the adventures of the Pevensie children, I love the mythical creatures, and I love the way that Aslan interacts with the world he has created. I especially love the story of the Pevensies as Walden Media is telling it this time around in the films, especially Prince Caspian. (If you haven't seen the movie, don't read this if you don't want me to spoil a plot point or two.)

I know a lot of people don't like Prince Caspian as much as the last film (certainly evident by the ticket sales), but I love it. I love the way that the Pevensies struggle with their frustration at being kids again when they used to be not only grownups, but kings and queens. I love how they struggle with faith in Aslan. I love how the White Witch comes and tempts them, and is defeated by the only Pevensie who really knows exactly what it means to serve her.

To me, the central theme of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is the idea of what it means to be home. Perhaps one of the reasons I love the film so much is that I often struggle with this concept. They say home is where the heart is, and the Pevensies certainly left their hearts in Narnia when they returned to our world. I'm fairly confident in saying most of us would rather live the life of a king or queen in a magical wonderland full of life and joy than a life of rationing and fear of being blown up in WWII era England. But, it's more than that. The Pevensies spent more time in Narnia than they did in our world. They grew to adulthood. They learned what it meant to be kings and queens, commanding respect and honor, and then returned to a world where nobody listened or cared about what they had to say.

Then, after all their hoping and longing for a return to the world they had left behind, they finally return to Narnia. And, when they arrive, they find Narnia subjugated by a foreign enemy, their castle a mere ruin, and so much time has passed that everyone they cared for and knew in Narnia was long dead. They were no longer even the heroes of their own story. And that's the point. Too often we spend all of our time hoping and wishing for a world that no longer exists. We dream of home as this place where everything is always okay, and the world can't get to us anymore, but that's not what home is.

As a college student, I've learned that you really can't ever go home again. Not to say that I don't love my parents or enjoy spending time with them. But, when I do, I'm not home anymore. What was home is now just a collection of memories. I've reached the age where home is going to be whatever I make of it. Ultimately, home is merely a state of mind: the place where you are most comfortable. The place where you truly feel as if you belong.

And that is what the Pevensies found when they returned to Narnia. They didn't find the place they remembered, and they didn't find what they had hoped for, but they did find peace and contentment. I guess another way of saying you're home is saying that you are comfortable in your own skin. We spend so much time and energy chasing after a dream, a fantasy, a mere memory, when all along home is right here waiting for us when we accept that home can only be what we make of it.

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Loves Like a Hurricane, I Am A Tree

Oh, worship songs. I know that the intent is pure, but they often border on the ludicrous. However, every so often, a song goes above and beyond. Leaving behind the realm of the ludicrous, they pass directly into the absurd.

Back in September, I posted the lyrics of the most ridiculous worship song I had ever heard. I had believed this song could never be topped due to its utterly befuddling lyrics. However, today in chapel, I heard a competitor for this title. Without further ado, behold: How He Loves Us.

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden, I am unaware
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

and I realize just how beautiful You are
and how great your affections are for me.

Oh, how He loves us so

Oh, how He loves us

How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking

So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don't have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way

That he loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves

He loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves

Woah how he loves us indeed. So, readers, give me your vote: which song is more absurd, and why?

:Edit: For a complete critique of this song, visit this link.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hulk Mad! Hulk Smash! Hulk Bruce Banner?

Hello readers. It has been a while, but the new year is upon us, and the dawning of the new year (coupled with my return to campus) have inspired me to blog. And, seeing how it is a new year, I thought that I would begin with a topic of importance, namely the issue of identity in the persona of Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk.

For those of you who don't know, the Incredible Hulk is a superhero created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee who first appeared in Incredible Hulk #1, May of 1962. The Hulk was "born" for the lack of a better term when scientist Bruce Banner was caught in the onslaught of a nuclear blast, altering his D.N.A. and causing him to transform into a monstrous alter ego dubbed "The Hulk". Initially these transformations were merely nocturnal, leading Bruce to transform when the sun went down[1], but quickly began to instead be associated with Banner's emotional state, transformation being triggered by emotional duress, be it anger, excitement, jealousy, etc.

All of that brings us to the real question behind this blog post: are Dr. Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk the same person? If someone were to ask me this, my initial response would be "of course", but, upon further thought, it appears that the answer is a resounding "no". Consider the following: When Dr. Banner becomes the Hulk, he has little to no control in regards to stopping or regulating his transformations, as well as regulating his actions once he has "hulked out", to use the vernacular. The Hulk does seem to share at least some common memories with Banner, and vice versa, but they do seem to be two distinct identities.

Whether or not you regard Hulk and Bruce Banner as the same person can of course vary depending upon your definition of identity regarding mental instability, specifically psychosis and schizophrenia. But, if some commits some sort of crime while temporarily insane, we do not convict them of this crime. We will restrain and detain them, but not as punishment. Rather, we do so to protect ourselves from a repeat occurrence until such time as they can be cured.

It appears as though they are relieved from responsibility due to their inability to control themselves, implying that we regard the person who committed the crime and the person being tried as two separate individuals, even though they live in the same body. The same applies for Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk. In my humble opinion they are merely two separate individuals who inhabit the same body.

[1] Incredible Hulk #1, May 1962