We have one movie theatre in Kodiak, with one screen. It used to run the Grade B movies, the kind where declining actors humiliate themselves for a (clearly low-budget) paycheck. But we get first run movies now. We stand in line gladly for them, visiting with our neighbors in line, whether we know them or not.
I got to see The Avengers on Saturday. Like other superhero movies, it asks some good questions, about what it is good, about who is "normal," about what it means to have powers. The dialogue is snappy, the action relentless, hoot-worthy and exhilarating.
But there is one line, one word, actually, meant to be an emotional and epistemological show-stopper that’s just wrong. When one of our favorite characters, the charmingly human (normal) Agent Phil sits dying, he utters prophetically to Loki, the uber-evil demi-god, “You won’t win.” Loki, who does indeed appear to be winning sneers, “What possible disadvantage could I have right now?” Our dying hero retorts, “It’s not in your nature to win." And here's the line: " You lack conviction.”
I protest. Loki does not lack conviction. He is fully and whole-heartedly convicted that he is a god who WILL be worshiped and served. This is the one word that must be changed. Here is what Agent Phil should have said: “It’s not in your nature to win. You lack . . . [dying gasp] goodness.”
The “conviction” line is a common notion: if we simply believe something strongly enough, we’ll make it happen. We’re taught that what matters is the force of our belief rather than the object or the quality of our belief.
That one word didn’t ruin the movie for me, though. I left the theatre, walking out into the cold Kodiak air, feeling both edified and depressingly mortal and mediocre. Can I latch onto nuclear missiles and save the planet---or slay massive slithery airborne serpents? Can I even quip as snarky as Ironman? No! A thousand times no! Because-----I am not a superhero.
That’s what I thought on Saturday. On Sunday, I reconsidered. My friend Jared spoke some good words from the good book about our true identities. You might know them already. Consider them again this way,
“ For we are
to do good works
(to be good poems!
(To walk good poems
Out into the world!)
which is not hard because
God has already prepared them
far in advance for us to do.”
We’re not superheroes---we’re more. We are intricately crafted, each one of us, as beautiful as a poem. And we’re not only beautifully made, but we are made to be good, and to do good. The one who made us this way has marked out a path of goodness for us to follow, that we may salve a wounded world. Even better news---we don’t have to suit up in Spandex to do it.
That’s our power. The power of goodness. It’s not just a
conviction, it’s real. If we walk in the goodness
given to us and through us, we may not save the world,
but we can probably save the day for someone--this very
What good poem will you send into the world today?