upper room daily devotions

Friday, May 04, 2007

forgiveness looms large in spiderman 3

I saw Spiderman 3 today and was struck by importance of the theme of forgiveness. Throughout the movie, revenge and brokenness are challenged by the possibility of forgiveness.

Peter Parker's story picks up with life going very well for him and Mary Jane. New York loves Spidey. Peter Parker is doing well in school. And Mary Jane has a new play on Broadway. Of course this utopia can't hold together. Beginning with Peter's growing hubris, a string of events leads Peter into an inner struggle with revenge and ego. Mary Jane slides into a place of deep pain, recalling the feelings of loneliness she experienced in her childhood home and finding them lived out in her relationship with Peter. And Harry has to reach into the depth of grief while undergoing a difficult process to learn who he really is and what he's made of. Other characters also struggle with their limitations, from JJ Jameson's heart problems to the villains' (Marko Flint/Sandman and Eddie Brock/Venom) ambition and feelings of powerlessness. All of the characters in Spiderman 3 are seeking paths to forgiveness - for themselves and for others. And, we are shown just how difficult it can be to ask for it and to offer it. In a moment of great anger, Peter Parker tells Eddie Brock (soon to become Venom), "If you're looking for forgiveness, get religion" (or something close to that). Both Eddie and Peter run to a church in the moments of the deepest anguish. Not knowing what else to do, they go to the symbolic place of forgiveness.

What a gift it would be if our churches really were places of forgiveness, where people wounded by their pursuit of it (whether to give or receive it) could come and find something freeing for their souls. We live in a world that could benefit in exploring and rediscovering the power of forgiveness.

From a cinematic perspective, Spidey 3 is big. It is an epic. The effects are amazing. From a narrative perspective, it is a bit too long and convoluted. The story has too many characters and feels a bit choppy at times. But from a theological perspective, it hits the mark.

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