Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lessons from Kali?

Kali is the Hindu goddess of death and destruction. She is fierce, terrifying, and destroys all in her path. The other gods try in vain to end her rampage of destruction, but nothing seems to work. Is there anything that can cause one so bent on death and destruction to change their ways? According to the Hindu myth, yes there is. Kali has a husband named Shiva who decides that he is going to do something to get through to her. Here is the story as found in Wikipedia.


Once Kali had destroyed all the demons in battle, she began a terrific dance out of the sheer joy of victory. All the worlds or lokas began to tremble and sway under the impact of her dance. So, at the request of all the Gods, Shiva himself asked her to desist from this behavior. However, she was too intoxicated to listen. Hence, Shiva lay like a corpse among the slain demons in order to absorb the shock of the dance into himself. When Kali eventually stepped upon her husband she realized her mistake and bit her tongue in shame.


Let me tell you another myth. Darth Vader was an evil apprentice to an evil emperor. Though he used to be one of the good guys, his twisted heart caused him to roam the galaxies crushing all opposition to his evil ways. Is there any way to get through to a man so evil and corrupt? Yes, there is, according to George Lucas, the writer of Star Wars. Darth Vader had a son named Luke Skywalker who refused to believe that goodness was extinct in his father. Skywalker knew that the only way to provoke moral reflection in his father would be to voluntarily place himself under the power of his evil. When the emperor tortures Luke with his lightning bolts, Vader intervenes and his soul is set free.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. For we Christians also have a similar story. God creates man. Man does great evil. Man inflicts pain on God. Man reconsiders his ways. The difference is that the myth that we believe in really happened. Yes, the details are very different, but the truth is the same. Self-sacrifice leads to moral reflection.

But wait a second here! The myth of Kali is found in the religion of Hinduism, a religion that worships multiple gods-something forbidden in Scripture. And Star Wars? Every educated Christian knows that Star Wars is based off of Zen Buddhism. How is it possible that those who are blinded by the kingdom of darkness could have any degree of spiritual truth in their belief systems?

That, my friends, is a question that demands serious theological reflection. Mark my words. The question of how Christian revelation relates to those of other faiths is the chief question that theologians will have to tackle in the 21st century.

3 comments:

Pete said...

Aaron,
I think a large reson why these other ideas are so successful is because they are based on the best and most moving story ever. I don't think that the repackaging is a mistake. The Star Wars movies are easily pointed out as having christian parallels and were very successful. Do you really think that the Wachowski Bros. were blind to that when they created The Matrix? Face it, some of these people are better at selling Jesus than we are albeit a distorted version. I just wish we could get them saved. Can you imagine the effect?

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Pete,

I agree with you, but what about the Kali story? Here you have a moral tale, that teaches a spiritual truth, (howbeit a very distorted version) that is in agreement with Christianity-namely that self-sacrifice leads to moral reflection. What should our response be as Christians to insights from other faiths? That is the question I am asking.

Pete said...

Aaron,

Sorry, I just was posting thoughts, not answers. That's a tricky question. I don't have a real good answer here. I guess that common ground gives us a place to start interaction with these other faiths, but where we go from there is something I just don't have an absolute answer for.

Pete