SPIRITUAL CONNECTIONS
 

This page was created on June 30, 2004
This page was last updated on July 20, 2004

SPIDER-MAN 2 SPIDER-MAN 1

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A SPIRITUAL WORD from david bruce

STORIES ARE ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
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SPIRITUAL THEMES

THE GOD WHO REVEALS HIMSELF

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
--Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

REVEALING SELF
The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.
--Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)

A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents.
--Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)

Be sure that it is not you that is mortal, but only your body. For that man whom your outward form reveals is not yourself; the spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which and be pointed out by your finger.
--Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

What you risk reveals what you value.
--Jeanette Winterson

It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.
--Vida D. Scudder

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.
--Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.
--George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

Spiderman 2 and the IH Syndrome
(IH =Isolated Hero)
By Melinda Ledman

Despite the truly terrible stunt doubles (who actually got full-face shots even though they looked nothing like the main actors) and the sometimes overdone computer animation, this movie won my heart because it didn’t pin its hero into eternal isolation.

After three seasons of Smallville, I can hardly bear to watch poor Clark Kent suffering from the IH (Isolated Hero) Syndrome anymore. Why do all the comic book heroes have to suffer from love lost, secret lives, and tragic existences as lonely purveyors of good deeds? Well…other than the fact that it is the fundamental comic book hero prescription. Superman, Daredevil, X-Men, Batman, The Punisher (didn’t see The Hulk or Hellboy, but I assume it’s the same) and the first Spiderman all suffered the hero’s self-sacrificial fate, losing important people for the sake of anonymous heroism.

Spiderman 2 asks, “What’s the point? If you can’t commune with your fellow man, whose life you are incidentally saving, why bother being a hero at all?” Peter Parker’s struggle with his superpowers begins with this question of value: What gives my life meaning and value? After hitting bottom, he realizes that integrity, reliability, excellence in education, and above all, relationships make the difference in his life. His struggle then becomes finding the balance between the responsibility of helping people and the joy of connecting with them. The life of either extreme is a life half-lived.

**SPOILER WARNING**

Two things made this movie more realistic for me, and certainly made for a better spiritual application:

1. Spiderman exposes his identity on several occasions – In fact, he is exposed to almost every important person in the movie – MJ, Harry, Doc Oct, Aunt May (by implication) and a train full of helpless locals. The masked hero has a real face! Refreshing, very refreshing! We deeply desire that people who do good deeds receive recognition for the good that they do. We also desire that heroes not have to hide their love for friends, their intentions from enemies, and their identities forever – just because they choose a life of heroism. Lastly, we desire that our own curiosity to be sated. We want to know WHO the great hero is.

Think of the spiritual application here. Christ is the unmasked face of God! We have a savior, a hero if you will, who acknowledges his own miraculous works as acts of love, who allowed himself to become vulnerable for our cause, who does not hide his love from his friends nor his intentions from his enemies, and who shows us WHO he is. Colossians 1:19, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

2. Spiderman gets it all - Walking out of the theater, my husband asked if I liked the movie. I said yes, but followed it up with, “Can they do that? I didn’t think the hero could ever get the girl in comics…or maybe he just can’t have her for long. I guess we’ll see in the next movie.” Keep in mind that I don’t follow the actual comic books, so I’m completely in the dark about what happens next. Nevertheless, I was very pleased to see the hero rewarded with the relationship that he most desired.

Did you ever consider that in the spiritual scheme of things, we are the girl? Yes, we are the prize. The hero (Christ) suffers and sacrifices to save us, to protect us, and to love us (even if that love must be hidden for a time). And again, back to Peter Parker’s dilemma, what value is all of that work if there is no relationship? In the same way that Spiderman feels elation from Mary Jane’s profession of love, I believe God delights in our love of him.

**END SPOILER WARNING**

I suppose my frustration with the IH Syndrome is that heroes have feelings too. That sounds so cheesy, I can hardly stand to include it here, but it is true. No one sacrifices so much for others, only to have those relationships lost. Generically saving someone from peril amounts to very little if the Savior is not allowed to enjoy honest interaction with the person he has saved.

How would the story have been different if Spiderman had been ultimately cut off from all those he loved and admired? MJ, Aunt May, Harry and Doc Ock? Reconciliation and relationship are the very spice of life. I am honored to call Christ my hero and to engage in a daily relationship that brings him joy, regardless of whether I’m singing his praises or he’s rescuing my sorry butt from peril. Reconciliation and relationship are the very spice of life!

The Unmasking of Jesus Christ
From Holman's Bible Dictionary

The Humanity of Jesus
The angel of the Lord, in a prophecy of Jesus’ birth, plainly stated the purpose of the incarnation: “[Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21; compare Luke 19:10; John 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:15). The liberation of humanity from everything that would prevent relationship with God as Father requires incarnation. The biblical materials related to incarnation, though not systematically arranged, portray Jesus as the One who accomplished the mission of salvation because He was the One in whom both full divinity and full humanity were present.

Jesus referred to Himself as a man (John 8:40), and the witnesses in the New Testament recognized Him as fully human. (For example, Peter, in his sermon at Pentecost, declared that Jesus is “a man approved of God among you...” Acts 2:22). That the Word was made flesh is the crux of the central passage on incarnation in the New Testament (John 1:14). The respective genealogies of Jesus serve as testimonies to His natural human descent (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-37). In addition, Jesus attributed to Himself such normal human elements as body and soul (Matt. 26:26, 28, 38). He grew and developed along the lines of normal human development (Luke 2:40). During His earthly ministry, Jesus displayed common physiological needs: He experienced fatigue (John 4:6); His body required sleep (Matt. 8:24), food (Matt. 4:2; 21:18), and water (John 19:28). Human emotional characteristics accompanied the physical ones: Jesus expressed joy (John 15:11) and sorrow (Matt. 26:37); He showed compassion (Matt. 9:36) and love (John 11:5); and He was moved to righteous indignation (Mark 3:5).

A proper understanding of the events preceding and including His death requires an affirmation of His full humanity. In the garden, He prayed for emotional and physical strength to face the critical hours which lay ahead. He perspired as one under great physical strain (Luke 22:43-44). He died a real death (Mark 15:37; John 19:30). When a spear was thrust into His side, both blood and water poured from His body (John 19:34). Jesus thought of Himself as human, and those who witnessed His birth, maturation, ministry, and death experienced Him as fully human.

Although Jesus was fully human in every sense of the word, His was a perfect humanity—distinct and unique. His miraculous conception highlights distinctiveness and originality of His humanity. Jesus was supernaturally conceived, being born of a virgin (Luke 1:26-35). To be sure, the Bible records other miraculous births such as those of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-2) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:57), but none attained to the miraculous heights of a human being supernaturally conceived and born of a virgin.

The New Testament also attests to the sinless character of Jesus. He, Himself, asked the question, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (John 8:46). Paul declared, God “made him to be sin for us who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). The writer of Hebrews held that Christ was “without sin” (4:15). The New Testament presents Jesus as a man, fully human, and as a unique man, the ideal human.

The Deity of Jesus
Paul, in a statement on the supremacy of Christ, asserted, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19; compare John 20:28; Titus 2:13). Jesus, was aware of His divine status (John 10:30; 12:44-45; 14:9). With the “I am” sayings, He equated Himself with the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:14). The assertion of the New Testament is that Jesus was God (John 6:51; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; esp. 8:58).

The Bible affirms the preexistence of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2; see also John 1:15; 8:58; 17:5; Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus realized accomplishments and claimed authority ascribed only to divinity. He forgave sins (Matt. 9:6) and sent others to do His bidding, claiming all authority “in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18-20). The central proclamation of the gospel is that He is the only way to eternal life, a status held by deity alone (John 3:36; 14:6; compare Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9). The New Testament pictures Him as worthy of honor and worship due only to deity (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6; Phil. 2:10-11; Rev. 5:12). He is the Agent of creation (John 1:3) and the Mediator of providence (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3). He raised the dead (John 11:43-44), healed the sick (John 9:6), and vanquished demons (Mark 5:13). He will effect the final resurrection of humanity either to judgment or to life (Matt. 25:31-32; John 5:27-29).

The titles ascribed to Jesus provide conclusive evidence for the New Testament’s estimate of His person as God. Jesus is “Lord” (Phil 2:11), “Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15), “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8), “the mediator” (Heb. 12:24), and “who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5). In addition, the New Testament repeatedly couples the name “God” with Jesus (John 1:18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 2 Thess. 1:12; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20).


 
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