Yellow Fear, Green Lanterns, and the Human Identity

My wonderful wife took me out on a movie date tonight and we saw The Green Lantern at the cheap theater. For those who care what I thought of the movie as film: was it cheesy? Yes. Was it a bit corny? Of course. Did good fight evil and eventually win? You know it. Predictable yet enjoyable is how I would classify this movie. I am glad my wife took me.

There was something in the film that caught my attention and that is when the Green Lantern Corp., a group of 3,600 intergalactic police, induct the first human among their ranks. Hal Jordan, the protagonist, says this before he resigns his title in the middle of the film, “I’m only human.” And the leader of the Green Lanterns, when Hal departs, agrees and says something to the effect of, “What could we expect when he is only human.” The movie circles around the demise of the human race, if Hal Jordan fails as the Green Lantern, that is if he gives into fear and is summarily destroyed by a yellow-brown blob with a grotesque face.

Of course, none of the aliens believe Hal can do it and they leave him to fight the evil on his own because they do not see the value in human beings. And of course the only one to encourage Hal is his friend, who happens to be a perpetual girlfriend no matter how many times he screws up.

But alas! She is not the only one to believe in him, because for a person to become a Green Lantern you must be chosen, on no part of your own, the gift of the ring must be given freely.

Now, it is easy to make a movie based on good vs. evil into a Christian allegory and I am not attempting to do so, but the one thing I am pointing out is that the movie exemplified a couple things. One, the seeming worthlessness of humanity. We are only human, and if you think about it, what exactly does this phrase even refer to? What are we compared with? In my estimation, and I have no research to prove this I just hope I am right, this comparison is to the one who is human but also much more, and I am most certainly referring to Jesus Christ. This movie affirms that being human means certain failure for nothing can be of success unless it is of God, and our depravity removes us from doing anything unto God. Read Romans 1.

This film affirms something else as well, that the ability to overcome, no matter what you might think, or what popular culture has instilled in your Western Ego (by this I mean such slogans as “Army of One”, and so on) comes from outside of yourself. Hal Jordan could not overcome the evil, the fear, the death, the extermination of humanity without an outside grace.

This may be cheesy and predictable, but what did you learn from the last movie you saw? Did you learn that humanity is totally deprived and in need of an outside grace to be saved? Of course the film never mentions God, except in exclamation or amazement, nor do the characters refer to Jesus, but I do. The outside grace is the cross of Christ extended to all those depraved minds without God. If you look around, that is all of us.

Like a Green Lantern, we can truly only do good when the power is not our own, but I would much rather be called a Christian and wear normal clothes.

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