The Ring Isn’t Wrong

It was not the best day. It was Trinity Sunday and I felt highly incompetent trying to ‘explain’ the unexplainable in a sermon. If you ever want to have your intellect humbled, try to explain the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, The Holy Trinity without committing heresy and do so in under fifteen minutes. Yeah.
So I decided to see a movie. I choose The Green Lantern. It was pretty good. I have only a cursory knowledge of the character and Green Lantern universe, so if there were inconsistencies, which there always are, I wasn’t aware of them. Ryan Reynolds did just fine. He’s pretty easy to look at but sometimes his snarky humor, which seems to be a part of every character I’ve seen him play, can grate on the nerves. However, this worked to his advantage in the role of Hal Jordan (though perhaps not as well as it may suit Deadpool in 2014.) I’m not a fan of Blake Lively but she did ok as the female lead. Kept trying to figure out who Sinestro was and finally realized it was Mark Strong, the villan from Sherlock Holmes, amongst others.
The story is this: a screw up guy who’s been gifted with all kinds of talent but no real stick-to-it-ness is chosen by ‘the ring’ to be the next Green Lantern and to be in a fighting force of Green Lanterns that act sort of like policemen patrolling their little corner of the universe. Trouble ensues. He tries to reject this calling—the ring made the wrong choice!—but it becomes obvious that, even though he doubts himself and he is far from perfect, his being chosen was no mistake. [spoiler ahead—in case you don’t already know the outcome] He overcomes some of his shortcomings, integrates some of his tragic flaw into the new person and overcomes the villain. Says goodbye-for-now to the girl and goes off to fight evil wherever it may be.
I think the reason stories like this work is because the story is about us. I love the superhero genre, as I’ve said before. There are several approaches to this kind of character that fulfill a need in the viewer/reader. This particular approach is one with which I connect pretty well. It’s the Who Me?/ It’s Me!/ Not Me!/ Oh, Maybe It Is Me! kind of story. Anyone who has struggled with who they are supposed to be in life can connect with this. Anyone who has felt like they were too much of a screw up to get it right when it counts can relate.
Anyone who has said ‘God could NOT be calling me to do THAT’ can relate. Anyone who has said ‘there has to be some mistake—there is no way I should be doing this’ can relate.
There are times I screw up. Sometimes, I write so-so sermons and even when I work hard and do all I can to make them good, they don’t always fly. Sometimes, I don’t say the right things at the right time to the right parishioners. Sometimes, I forget announcements I was supposed to make or emails and phone calls I needed to return. Sometimes, I just make mistakes. And sometimes I think surely God did not mean to choose me.

The ring must have made a wrong choice.

But I left the theater today reminded that God doesn’t make wrong choices. This isn’t because I think I’m a super hero. It’s because I’m a human. This isn’t deep theological reflection here but I really think I needed the reminder. God did not call me because I never screw up. He called me to do and be who I am for the same reason he calls all of us—because he sees something in me—each of us—even when I cannot see it myself.

5 thoughts on “The Ring Isn’t Wrong

  1. I told my folks that if they left believing that they now understood the Trinity, I had utterly failed in my preaching task for that day. Preached a lot of transcendence and mystery. And decided that next year, I will preach one of the texts rather than the doctrine. 😉

  2. Yesterday’s semicontinuous reading (August 28, 2011) was Moses and the burning bush — a classic “you must have the wrong guy” moment. Now I will never hear that story again without thinking about the Green Lantern. Thanks! 🙂

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