Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christ Figures in Sci-Fi

SF Girl put up a post on her blog a couple of weeks ago about Christ-like figures in Science fiction and fantasy. What a great topic! So like I so often do, I'm going to steal the idea. :) I am, however, not going to go back and re-read Nina's post because I'll just end up copying it and I try not to be that much of a plagiarist. I'm kind of amazed I haven't really thought about this before. I'm sure it's something that has been commented on but I haven't seen it spoken of much. When I think of Sci-fi I often think of it as being non-religious because science is so often thought of as the voice of proof against faith. But when you look at popular sci-fi and fantasy, it's littered with Christ like figures. The one that comes to my mind most readily is that of Neo from The Matrix. I mean, can a character be more Christ-like when being referred to as "The one?" I suppose on a subconscious level I realized that Neo was being patterned after Jesus, though who God is supposed to be in that particular fairy tale, I don't know. But Neo has everything it takes to be like Christ. He can perform miracles and gather the faithful. Though I have to admit, I barely finished the third Matrix movie, so I'm not entirely sure if faith was required for man to be saved. Keanu Reeves just wasn't charismatic enough to overcome the script and the CGI of that last one. But you get my point I'm sure. Neo, despite the science of the film, is still kind of a mythic-- almost religious figure. I wonder why. It seems as if we still need something intangible to hold onto, faith in the face of science. But it's not just science that gets the Christ-like treatment in sci-fi and fantasy. Superman, especially in the latest version of the Superman myth--"Superman Returns"--is IMO deliberately crafted into a Christ figure. There is science behind Superman. He draws power from the Sun and comes from a planet of different gravity. But he is a man separated from his God-like ancestors and though he could be self-serving if he wanted to, he fights for mankind, putting his life between that of mortal man and that which would destroy us. I found the scene in "Superman Returns" in which Superman sits over his son and says "The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son," especially telling. I'm not entirely sure what the point of the scene was meant to be, but I can't help but think the God-like Superman was looking upon his son as a Jesus-figure (half-human Son of God/Son of Superman) that would take his place as the savior of mortal man. And what about resurrection? I can't begin to think of how many times I have seen my favorite sci-fi characters resurrected after we assume they're dead. In fact, this has happened so many times that I am surprised when the hero isn't brought back from the dead. C.S. Lewis openly used Christian themes when he created "The Chronicles of Narnia," but a lot of sci-fi also taps into the Christian theme of resurrection. Spock came back from the dead for crying out loud. So I guess I'm just wondering why. Why is it that science fiction, that is often supposed to be more about the rational mind, falls back on our religious superstitions? Is it simply that the creators of our favorite fiction find themselves going back to their childhood traditions? Even unconsciously? Or is science simply not enough to fill our need to know why we are here? Something to think about, no?

8 comments:

Graeme Flory said...

Sci-fi and fantasy is chock full of Messiahs and Christ figures. I'll see your Neo and raise you one Paul Atreides and one Dr Who (last episode of season 3)... ;o)

Charles Gramlich said...

This is a great topic that is worth essays. Neo is a great example, and Superman in "the death of superman." I'd love to see more follow-up on this. I still remember a scene in one of the Conan stories where Conan is crucified to a tree. Very Christ like, although his response after wasn't very christian.

SQT said...

Graeme, I'll see your Paul Atreides with a Luke Skywalker and raise you a Hercules. (I'm not even sure Hercules counts though....)

Charles

This topic deserves much more than I am able to do right now. I'm so pressed for time I'm lucky to get anything posted. Hopefully I'll be able to expand on it in the near future.

Fab said...

Ha reading this post did make me think of Paul from Dune! And what is the first thing I read in the comments: Atreides! Goes to show how unoriginal my thoughts are.

It is an interesting thing to think about, though. That eventhough sci fi wants to be as much sci as possible, the fi cannot be blocked out: and mythical and godlike characters emerge and are revered. Hm.

texasboyblue said...

God in the Matrix trilogy is the Matrix itself. Classic Deus ex Machina stuff, but with a kick-ass story line...

Christ figures abound in all fiction. A saviour offers all the really good ingredients for a hero character; pathos, purity, purpose, sacrifice, and hope. Inevitably, in a Christ story, there is the anti-Christ and thus the conflict insues.

Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Herbert's The Jesus Incident, Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, in our genre....and Leon Uris' Exodus, Trinity , "Pay it Forward",, etc., etc.

Makes for a good story.

ShadowFalcon said...

Dont forget Gandalf - Rising from the dead etc etc

Old Knudsen said...

for some reason I phottoshopped Superman on the cross, can't remember why must of been a crap story.

SolShine7 said...

Excellent post! I've felt this way for some time about Christ's place in science-fiction. It's there for those who have "eyes to see" it.

Mark Skelton wrote a book called The Gospel According To The World's Greatest Superhero that talks all about Superman's likeness to Jesus. John Schneider (Mr. Kent) from Smallville gave it an endorsement.

Here's the link:

http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/books_nonfictionbook.cfm?productID=6918121