New Story, Old Plot
I love sinking my teeth into a good story. A good book is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Books introduce us to concepts we would have never pondered. Plot twists shock and move us as we quickly devour the pages. We identify with the stories characters and experience the dizzying highs and devastating lows with them. We root for the hero and hope for retribution for the antagonist’s misdeeds. Each book leaves an indelible mark on us.
The last book I read was rather intriguing. An artificial intelligence which was all-seeing, all-knowing and all-present chose to cut himself off from humanity due to their misdeeds. This lack of communication had catastrophic and ultimately deadly consequences for humanity. The similarities between this story and the one disclosed in Genesis are striking. In Genesis 3, God’s ability to communicate with his people is disrupted by the introduction of sin. God, who is all good, is unable to communicate with the fallen humanity. Where he once walked and talked with them, as the AI does in the novel, God is now forced to limit the ways he talks to his people.
I was stunned by the parallels- I could almost pin it down to coincidence until the introduction of a suspiciously familiar character. This character was the only one in the entire world who could communicate easily with the artificial intelligence. This character had a direct line to ‘god’. He became central to a religious sect and eventually many believed him martyred for the cause. However, this man was not even religious and did not think himself to have any power. He was a complete fraud!
The Christ Type Archetype
Carl Jung, a 20th-century psychologist, theorised that there are several ideas which continually emerge in the collective unconscious human psyche. He assigned the term ‘archetypes’ to these recurring ideas. Archetypes can be frequently referenced events such as the flood, and they may also be types of people such as the ‘hero’ or the ‘lover’. It can be argued that ‘the Messiah’ model is a sub-category of the hero archetype and has been ever-present throughout the historical conscious. Many works include characters which come to be viewed as saviours for their people. Stories such as Divergent and The Lord of the Rings have heroes who step into this Messiah role and are adored by some within the story with an almost religious zeal. Some characters who fit the Messiah type are more blatant than others- Superman, a figure from another world who is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good fits the Christ type well. In the Matrix, the protagonist’s name can be anagrammed to the ‘one’. Even the title character of Doctor Who fits the Christ type as throughout the shows fifty-seven year history, the Doctor repeatedly sacrifices themselves to save humanity.
Throughout mythology, figures such as Dionysus and Osiris (who both were said to live opulent lifestyles) appear as heroes. However, few stories have their protagonists die for the needs of the people. It is more often that the hero is performing consequenceless epic deeds. The heroes acts of good are seen by many, and the hero receives praise for all they have done. These heroes rarely make the ultimate sacrifice. However, despite appearances, some of these characters are plain selfish. In Doctor Who, the Doctor repeatedly makes poor decisions and willfully goes against the wishes of others. They are wrathful and willing to destroy entire species. Although some die and are resurrected, the impacts of their deaths do not stay with them. They can return to life as usual; the effects of their sacrifices are not permanent.
The characters in these stories could almost be considered types of Christ. Their deeds point to the life of Christ, whether the author intended it or not. In the Old Testament, there are several ‘Christ-types’ which look to the coming of Jesus. Examples of Christ types include Jonah who spends three days and nights in the belly of a fish before betting thrown up, pointing to the death and resurrection of Christ. Joseph, Moses and Isaac can also be seen as types of Christ- they all have elements which lead to the coming of Jesus, but none of them is Jesus. All of these stories with incomplete saviour arcs culminate in the coming of Jesus. Unlike the heroes of many novels, Jesus came not to be served but to “serve others” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus does not revel in the attention of others- he sees every interaction as an opportunity to change someone’s life. More than that, Jesus lives his life with a mission to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus gives his life, and the impacts stay with him. He cannot remain on earth and so returns to heaven changing the status quo for our resurrected hero types, but more than that, unlike a resurrected Superman, he still bears the impact of his life and death. Jesus is still limited in his human form, and he still has the scars on his hands and his sides (John 20:20). Jesus’ scars will never fade; one day, we will be able to, Jesus as Thomas did, touch his scars for ourselves (John 20:27).
There is only one true Christ. The hero who lived a perfect life despite temptation. The hero who died for all of our sins. The hero who welcomes us home every time. The hero who rose from the dead but kept his scars. Let the heroes in our stories point to the hero of this universe and the perfect sacrifice he made for each of us. There is only one true saviour.
By Kira-leigh Josey