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Saturday, May 6, 2017

It Was Beautiful When Star-Lord Rejected the Gospel

Chinese movie poster for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." Image source.
[content note: spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"]

In "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2", Peter Quill, otherwise known as Star-Lord, meets Ego, who claims to be Peter's father. (Peter is played by Chris Pratt.) Ego is a "celestial," which means he is like a god, and created his own planet. He says that Peter also has god-like power and immortality, and together they can create amazing new worlds.

Initially Peter is suspicious of Ego and angry at him for abandoning Peter's mother when she was dying of cancer. But as he tries out his newfound power and listens to Ego describing big dreams that they could accomplish together, he is convinced. Meanwhile, Mantis, an empathic woman who lives with Ego, warns the other Guardians of the Galaxy that Ego is lying and they are all in danger.

And then, just when Peter has decided to join Ego, Ego says, "It broke my heart to put that tumor in your mother's brain."

AND HOLY HELL that's when I realized, this character is God.
Specifically, Ego is the God I was taught to believe in, in the evangelical church. The God who causes people he supposedly "loves" to become sick and die.

Immediately, Peter pulls out two guns and shoots Ego, over and over. There is no apologetics discussion. There is no "here's a book you can read about why a good God allows suffering." There is no calm debate about whether God "allows" or "causes" suffering. There's no "everything happens for a reasons." When God kills your mother, you don't give that God a chance to explain himself. It's over. And Peter shoots him again and again and again. (Ego isn't really hurt by being shot though. He regenerates himself pretty quickly.)

And as Ego continues to talk and try to convince Peter again, we find that Ego doesn't actually care about people. He just wants to grow himself bigger and bigger, to take over every planet. I thought of John Piper's ideology, which says everything is about glorifying God. God loves us because it brings glory to God. God created the universe in order to glorify himself. Jesus died because it brings glory to God- and yeah it saves us and all, but that's not the point, the point is glory to God. Ego is a God who focuses on himself, who is interested in other people's lives only to the extent that they bring him amusement. He wants to take over every planet, with complete disregard for the people and aliens who live there.

Furthermore, Ego offers Peter eternal life. The chance to leave everyone else behind- they're all doomed anyway, you don't want to be like them. Become like God and live forever, and stay out of the way while God sends everyone else to hell- for his glory, of course. As Ego and Peter fight each other, Ego warns him that if Ego dies, Peter will lose his god-powers and immortality.

And Peter does the right thing and rejects the gospel.

That was the gospel I was taught in church. Everyone is doomed to hell, and that's so sad but it's right, it's right for God to do that to us. And luckily, God gives us a chance to escape everyone else's fate. We just have to join his side. We get eternal life, and screw everyone else.

They didn't say it in those words, not exactly. Church people talked about God's amazing love and care for each of us individually. And probably a lot of them would disagree with Piper, and say that the primary reason Jesus died was because of love for people. But yes, they did teach that God makes bad things happen on purpose, as part of some big plan. Yes, God gave your mother cancer. And they did teach that we all deserve to go to hell, that God makes the rules and by definition everything he does it good and right, so it's right for him to send everyone to hell. And aren't we lucky that he gives us a chance to escape that fate, we can be special and do amazing things with God, if we just take his side and agree that yes, we all deserve to go to hell.

Star-Lord isn't taking any of this crap. If God killed your mother, having any kind of "loving" "relationship" with that God is completely out of the question- no matter how sad he acts. If God wants to kill all of humanity and save you, the moral thing to do is fight against that God- reject his offer of eternal life. In the movie, it's so obvious that Ego is a "bad guy," but then Christians go to church and worship a God who's just like him.

But if that's who God is, and if that's what the gospel is, don't worship him. Don't thank him for his "mercy." Don't do evangelism, to convince others to join his side. Fight him.

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Related: I Didn't Like the Ocean in "Moana" Because it was Too Much Like God

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