Nietzsche’s monster allegory

It’s just a core question about the state of our souls that most theologians have to ask by trade. Who doesn’t at some time in their life feel vanquished, as in empty.

Most have the experience of rejection. When our offerings have been rejected enough times and we’ve been “put in place” (which in this case means reminded that they have no say in the matter at hand) enough times, we can actually convince ourselves that we’re worthless… at least for a time… for most of us. Some never come back.

I wonder about that emptiness. That dead state. It’s a type of insanity that breeds an awareness. We are not as important as we may hope to be. Our accomplishments don’t mean anything to the big picture. Our impact is infinitesimally small. No matter how intelligent you are on a matter, someone else has a more desirable opinion to listen to… because they’re not you. Life is personal, so we take these rejections personally whether we should or should not.

With a fair amount of consideration (or distraction) of the matter, most people return back a little more somber … a little less bright eyed … a lot less enthused. That was the part about “Flowers for Algernon” that freaked me out the most. People can be so subjugated and diminished to the point that their purpose and meaning in life is stripped away with it. It’s akin to breaking a wild stallion then tethering it to a basement grain mill for the rest of its life.

When I feel cramped up too much, or see others in that state I find it helpful to put energy into something creative – in a displayable way. It reminds me that no matter how far down people may push me or how much they crowd me out that I am unique and add to life in a way that they do not.

I admit that there are times at work and even at play that I have to “play dead”, myself. Sometimes a business’ survival is more important at a given time and my participation to help that business, though it may be doldrum or even maddening at times, helps out others – it expands my world and restates my belief that life is more than just myself.

Possums and birds play dead to survive. Like I mentioned before, sometimes we have to do that, too. But if people “play dead” for too long I’ve seen and experienced that the spirit is quenched and a real, insidious death starts to settle in. We began to feel robotic and sense that we are only a cog in a cold machine. Adults aren’t the only ones prone to this.

It starts when we are little. We go to a failing school system; we watch commercials that train us to believe we are unfit (without their product); any friends or family that buy into the culture second guess everything we do to the point that we second guess ourselves; we go to a university where professors almost strategically tell us that whatever we know/think/love is crap (unless you agree with their world view – or at least bribe them a little); in the corporate world you’re told that your job is not to think (at least for most).

Each time these attacks wave and crest in consuming foamy hands to wrench our necks when we try to be creative. It’s policy; it’s bureaucracy; it’s parenting and policing and mentoring gone wrong.

I look back at a week ago when one of my children were so excited about something they were doing. I shooed them off “Daddy has to work. Don’t bother me right now.” and they slump away a little. I became the very monster that bored its way into my life until I dolefully gave in. That sucks!

Nietzsche was incorrect about fighting monsters. It’s when you’re spirit is defeated by the monster that you become like it.

The Human Soul and the Denial of Monsters

The pain of denying ourselves the Supernatural comes in the price of becoming vulnerable without knowing it. Like poorly drawn statistics, we find explanations and evidence where in actuality there are none. As I browse through a series of UK shows one series entertains the belief of ghosts while professing to have the goal of disproving them. Another goes through a series of horrific creatures from folklore such as zombies, vampires, witches, werewolves and even demons with such an angle that anyone who does believe in their existence is reportedly uncivilized and stupid.

Derren Brown, the psychological illusionist mentioned during one of his shows that the power of suggestion is its greatest on those who don’t have strong foundational faith – particularly one rooted in God. Those who are atheist, agnostic, Wiccan, Buddhist or otherwise are more susceptible to being influenced through suggestive forces.

Life is more than living like an animal. Animals live in the immediate with little regard of long term consequence. Banks would like little more than to reduce the admirable qualities of being human to that of a base creature so that people live solely for immediate gratification; having a population seasoned to practice debt for pleasure enslaves them and sets them on a leash by which they can be guarded and controlled.

Without control, we are civilly untamed, wild like werewolves and vampires in a fury who grapple bankers and lawyers and politicians with an eye for fodder. In this, there is no other course of action than to allow the chaos to settle in and the public have our way. But indebted, we are subdued into a trance where we become the meat dinners for monsters.

All legends have their beginnings. Some are reasonably seasoned over time until their roots are unrecognizable in a shroud of myth. Others are still new enough that they are debated among scholars and conspiracy theorists. But given enough time, things that should not have become forgotten are erased from the records leaving only the lore behind. Did St. George really slay a dragon? Was there really a King Arthor? Do the spirits of the Nephilim walk the Earth today?

Lore and legends are important to decipher because they reveal our innermost needs. They attempt to answer questions that mold and shape our world view. What is a soul? At what point does the animal part of man end and the spiritual part of man begin? What happens to man when he dies? Is there life after death? If so what is it like? What is the purpose of man? Are we accountable to a higher power for our actions? Does God continue to be involved in the world today and how? There are many more questions at the root of our existence, but one common trend is a clear battle between good and evil. We don’t see that in the dumb beasts, though their fate is wrapped up in crossfire.

Our need to battle and conquer evil may invoke the creation of monsters, or perhaps the monsters that make up the contents of Pandora’s Box creates the need to battle and conquer such evil. We do know, however, that an evil exists out there and only those who treasure the liberty and goodness of God’s grace find purpose in fighting it while the rest of us… the rest of us placidly watch the outcome of zombies, vampires, witches, werewolves and other powers of darkness on the silver screen as the real monster counterparts close in.

“Nothing Better to Do”

Several days ago my youngest daughter, three, started learning about Jesus’ crucifixion. We’ve spoken to her about it before, but this was the first time she actually understood it to some extent.

M to Mommy in an excited voice: “Is it true? Is Jesus Really Coming Back?”
Mommy: “Yes. He’s coming back someday.”
M: “Yay!” (Spins around in circles as fast as she can.)

A few days later my wife took the children to a thrift store where the little girl saw a cross…

M to Mommy: “Look, Mom. A cross.”
Mommy: “Do you know what happened there?”
M: “Jesus died.”
Mommy: “Yes. Do you know why He died?”
M: “Because He had nothing better to do!”

Children can be so funny at times. Neither my wife nor I could figure out where that response came from. On “Jeapordy” she would have lost hundreds of dollars on that response. Looking deeper at the meaning, though … she’s right!

Matthew 26:50-54 brings this to light in Jesus’ own words when Peter sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant at the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus warns Peter about what violence brings then says something we hadn’t heard before: “…do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

Jesus knew He had a way out of being crucified. It wasn’t steel and strong wooden beams that held Him to the cross. At any moment He could have cried out to God and Jesus could have ruled in might and power – but then He wouldn’t have fulfilled His word.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Jesus had nothing better to do than to save the world from sin and death … than to bail us out of the eternal prison we walked into when Adam sinned at the beginning.

He had nothing better to do than to die on the cross.