Friday, March 31, 2006

17. The Fantastic Five

I just recently finished watching "The Fantastic Four" -at the theaters. It brung back a lot of memories. I used to collect this comic when I was "younger." My mother would send me to the 7-11 for a slurpee and as a motivation to go, she would give me .50 to buy a comic while I was there. I always thought they were the coolest (along with wolverine and the X-Men). Upon reflecting about the roles of the characters, I realized that the fantastic four is a contemporary version of the building blocks of the universe. (Stoichea if you are a new testament junky). The old school building block were earth, air, fire and water. In the Fantastic Four, water is considered a little bit our of date (we are no longer an agricultural society) and is replaced with Mr. Fantastic, who, for all practical purposes, liquidizes his body to either stretch or conform his body to the needs at hand. Sort of like water, but not really.
Besides this variation, the Fantastic Four are a recapitulation of the original, fundamental elements of the universe.
As such, they are the perfect postmodern story line for heroes. If you have not noticed, the one man, got it all together super hero is sort of not so popular in these post-modern days. Specifically, Superman. Superman is a super-hero construct from modernity. He relies on no one, has only one flaw, and can do anything and everything well. You might be thinking in the back of your mind, hold on, what about Batman and Spider man. They are "one man super heroes", but they were block buster hits. Well, good point. But there is a subtle, yet distinct difference between these two and Superman. Batman is a pull yourself up from your own bootstraps type of hero. He is not endowed from on high with supernatural gifts, perfect from day one. He also has Robin at his side. Spiderman, while being a lone ranger per so, has to struggle with his identity. His accidental infection causes him to search for his place in this world, dealing with the uncertainty of his new existence. OK, I digressed.
What does this have to do with anything? The Fantastic Four is a model for our approach to ministry. Too often, we take the Superman approach to the Kingdom Agenda. We either assume the Superman role ourselves or expect other people to be Superman to us. (This is especially true in the institutional church where the clergy are placed in that Superman role, sometimes all too eagerly on their part. Carl Jung called this the Christ Archetype.) Really, God has not designed any of us to be the total package. We are each individually gifted by God to play a unique role in the Kingdom.
I want to suggest that the Fantastic Four are paradigmatic of the five gifts in Ephesians 4.

Apostle - The Human Torch
Prophet - The Thing
Evangelist - Mr. Fantastic
Pastor - Invisible Woman
Teacher - Dr. Reed Richards - (later transformed into Mr. Fantastic)

Each one of these characters illuminates and illustrates the functions of the five gifts in Ephesians 4. The following 5 blogs will be an exploration into their similarities.

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