A Brick in the Valley


A Theology of Spiderman III
May 23, 2007, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Chris Brauns Radio Spots, Forgiveness

If you haven’t seen Spiderman yet, you may want to turn down the sound before I give part of it away.

Having said that, I have been reflecting on the theology of Super Heroes. 

In Spiderman III Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spiderman, struggles with relationships.  In just one movie, our favorite arachnid action hero clashes with his best friend, his girlfriend, a competitor at work, his boss at work, the guy who shot his uncle, his landlord, his landlord’s daughter, and an alien symbiote that represents bitterness.  Suffice to say, it is a bad day on the spider web.  Even Batman (who was by no means a stable personality) had a better interpersonal batting (get it?) average.

Spiderman and his friends begin to patch things up when his girlfriend is dangling from a web in a taxi cab.  Nothing to raise your level of urgency like seeing the vile villain Venom go after your girl, though it’s not a problem most of us routinely face.  Because the situation is so desperate, Spiderman and his friend, Harry, realize that they need to move beyond their differences and focus on thumping some villains.  Not since Underdog saved Polly Purebred has there been such a rescue.

While I certainly don’t agree with the whole worldview of the movie, there are many lessons beyond the fact that the Sandman is vulnerable to water.  Here’s one important point – In Spiderman III, forgiveness takes place when people realize the urgency of the hour.  When Peter, MJ, and Harry figure out that there are bigger fish to fry than their own differences, they forgive one another faster than a speeding bullet.

Whether or not you are challenged by super heroes, remember that Jesus also told us to be urgent in working through our differences.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.  25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Matthew 5:23-25

Jesus warned the Disciples in Matthew 18:5-9 to avoid creating scandals that would cause others to stumble.  In fact, Jesus said it would be better to take a screwdriver and gouge out your eye, or use a machete to lop off your wrist, then to cause others to walk away from the faith.  Jesus uses “R” rated pictures of violence. 

Have you stopped to think that the anger that you are holding onto with someone at church, or with your spouse, may be the scandal that causes another to stumble?  Better to be thrown into Lake Michigan with a millstone tied around your neck (Matthew 18:6).

Here’s the thing.  Don’t wait until your friends or family are dangling from a web in a taxi cab.  Pick up the bat phone and make a phone call to show grace.  Leap over a tall building in order to forgive.  Be faster than a speeding bullet.  Work out your differences today. 

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2 Comments so far
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Chris,
Outside of the research material for your book, I hope you enjoyed the comic nature of the movie. We had a good time at it.

The part that really came to my mind as I thought about forgiveness was Peter Parker’s releasing of his anger and bitterness toward the man who shot Uncle Ben. I thought it was interesting how the goo overtook Peter Parker due to his rage and hatred. It was also interesting how Peter Parker had the choice at first whether he was going to wear the black suit or not. Eventually it became so strong that that was what consumed him. Much like some of us when we cannot forgive a wrong that has been done to us. It is easier and sometimes more fun to hold on to that bitterness. For some reason it makes us feel goo. Peter Parker/Spiderman had to come to his own conclusions to release that anger and bitterness.
After he had defeated Sandman, they had a very good exchange of words and understanding. Sandman tells Peter “I don’t ask you to forgive me, just that you understand.” Peter had a choice here and his words were “I forgive you.” It was at this point that Peter asked Harry to forgive him.
All in all, I thought the message that was delivered through that part was pretty powerful for a Hollywood production.
I look forward to hearing more.

Comment by Wyn

Sorry about the double post, but I found this quote from Peter’s Aunt Mary.

[quote]“I don’t think there’s any reason to feel jubilation about somebody’s death. Your uncle wouldn’t want you living one second of
your life with revenge in your heart. It’s like a poison. It can take us over. Before you know it, turns us into something ugly.”[/quote]

I realize this is not the Bible, and don’t think I am treating it as such, it just draws some strong parrallels to biblical principles.

Comment by Wyn




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