Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Bible and the Fantastic

At the onset of the new millennium I was excited to hear that my all-time best-loved fantasy-adventure saga was coming to the big screen. I remember one day as a fourth-grader in 1978, browsing at the library (as instructed by the teacher), and finding a worn, tattered-covered The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings slid deep back at the beginning of a row of books in a shelf, obscured in the shadow of one much larger and lovelier. It was a scene straight out of a fantasy movie: the antiquated appearance of the shy book’s spine suddenly spews with intrigue, causing me to squeeze my left hand into the recess and nudge out the book with my fingers. It was this Tolkien tale that launched me into a vast world in my mind of sword and sorcery, metal and magic, dragons and dungeons. There was one conflict, though: I was also caught up in a whirl of the Evangelical revival sweeping the Philippine religious landscape during that time. My sister, a zealous convert, was quick to warn me of the implications brought by dragons and magic. The very presence of these symbols, as made understood to me, will set me in danger to the fires of hell. The immediate result was a bombardment of emotional pressure similar to giving up smoking for the first time in the face of aborning symptoms of lung cancer. And because one older in the Faith told me so, it was out of the question to get on my knees and ask God for myself whether the very symbols of Sauron, Saruman, or Gandalf would drag me to the Lake of Fire. But thank God, He’s God; for as surely as an older co-sibling had zealously warded me away from my beloved Tolkien pages, He sent a much older brother, the very one who got my sister into the born-again swirl, to restore my joy by handing me another Tolkien book: The Hobbit.

He patiently explained to this little boy that even the Bible features dragons: one that symbolized Satan in chapters 12 and 13 of Revelation; and one that does not, with a creature called the Leviathan cited in Job 41 for its strength, sovereignty and invincibility. It was settled then; the demarcation line drawn: be wary of dragons; and that witchery and sorcery is bad. Reconciling the dwarves and elves came much later in my college life in the Bible school, when the Holy Scriptures suddenly drew a fantastic of its own. Out of Genesis 6:4, the Giants emerged. And they were as widespread among ancient cultures as were the dwarves and the elves.

The ancient Greeks called them Titans; the Celts called them formors. The Vikings believed in a race of magic-wielding giants that populated the planet. The identical and extinct civilizations of the Near East shared the idea about an enormous breed of “Elder” gods that walked the earth. And a surviving detail of these ancient giants is mentioned in our said Biblical passage where, in Hebrew tongue, they are known as the Nephilim.

As students of the Bible, the Nephilim would bring a momentary excitement in our discussion because it spurred our imagination into the images of literary fantasy, like Conan the Barbarian. But the big picture never held any importance for these creatures because, as Evangelical Christians, we were concerned with the eternal salvation of the soul, not in building worlds of fantasy with Giants who were shortly obliterated in the Flood. But as it turned out they were never entirely annihilated by the Flood and continued to exist to threaten the Israelite kingdom in the eleventh and tenth centuries B.C. Goliath was an evidence of this. Nevertheless, it was still ancient history, and more recent history shows that Christians never wanted any part of the world outside the subject of Salvation. For if our Lord Christ Jesus promised to return a second time to gather His faithful, then by God, we’re going to wait. And wait. Any moment now. St. Paul in the first century A.D. thought that Christ would come in his lifetime. In adhering to Christ’s teaching the Christians “are not of the world” (John 17:14), so Evangelical Christians today quote the passage with conviction to avoid entangling themselves with useless matters such as lost legends and tall tales. But the truth surrounding the Nephilim, though may not affect immediate spiritual salvation by faith, is not as trivial as commonly believed.

As it turns out, the Giants were the symbol of the highest ideals of the Cainite culture, the worldwide movement of Cain’s family that swept the world to replace Adam’s righteous culture. It was therefore expected for the peoples to call them gods and heroes. But inasmuch as the followers of Cain loved them, the adherents of the Adamic culture hated the Giants. While the world saw the Giants as the embodiment of perfection, the righteous ones looked at them as corrupt. As the Bible suggests, the corruption was so great during that time, that God commanded a cleansing of the planet through a worldwide flood. And by not studying the existence of these great creatures, unanswered therefore is the question of how a tiny Cainite counter-culture overwhelm the dominant, pre-existing Adamic civilization established by God.

Contrary to the suggestion brought by the imposing idea of Giants, the Cainites did not seize the world by force, but through the subtle wiles of comeliness: an approach that has proven very effective in leading steadfast wills astray. It was true among God’s faithful then, it is a reality now. The Cainites knew that they would never win a battle by storming the gates of the Adamics with the physical power and intimidation of their Giants armed with crude technology, gently knocked in the hearts of the faithful but restless with the weapon of seduction, when “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Genesis 6:2, King James Version). It was a serious matter of muddying the distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous. Thousands of years after, St. Paul would continually warn Christians from being “yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14, New International Version). By the word “unbelievers,” we mean those who work against God’s plan of prosperity and goodwill to any man.

The image, therefore, of the fearsome Giant, or ugly dragon, is balanced by the sweet sight of the temptress, the shiny surface of a succulent apple, the reasons presented in logical pretense aimed to turn the truth into a lie to those gullible enough to give evil’s voice a chance. This is why the Book of Proverbs, presenting evil in its subtle form as “folly,” presents destruction as a loud and boisterous harlot who entices the young and na├»ve with her brand of superficial but empty charm. There must be a reason Proverbs was placed in the middle of all the books of the Bible. More than many Bible stories show that the people of God fell into the power of sin (or, garbage) after they tolerated its existence and did not eliminate it as God commanded. Somewhere in Judges, a Delilah masterfully crafts the downfall of a mighty leader; in I Kings, his pagan concubines successfully lure a King Solomon, famed far and wide for his wisdom, away from his Godly worship forever; then a ruthless Syrian queen named Jezebel rules by the side of her Israelite king. It took the faint but deceiving wiles of an enemy to turn the fate of the world in the Garden of Eden when the serpent, known to be the wisest and therefore the animal kingdom’s most credible, to convince Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. But what took the serpent words to accomplished was merely facilitated in silence by the Cainite daughters to the Sons of Adam in Genesis 6:2.

Notice how a fledgling culture of spiritual isolation from God established by a life-worn Cain, the Bible’s first murderer, rise to outstrip the trend established by his father Adam.

2 comments:

  1. Crafty interwoven association of facts and Biblical truths. Can be recommended for collegiate outside reading report, or part of thesis reference.

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  2. Got to follow what took place then with the Cainite descendants, they are still around us? Could they be those races who have taller stature like the ... in the northeast of the globe...?

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