Tonight I watched the new “Clash of the Titans” movie. Growing up in the eighties, the original had been something of a cult classic and had made an impression on me as a child. Sadly, the remake while boasting better special effects is nowhere nearly as good in story line and acting as the original. That however, is not why I am writing about it here. I came away from watching this movie filled with immense ambivalence and a disquiet in the soul. I am used to seeing the Gods poorly portrayed, or used as egregious plot devices and I understand that fiction is fiction. To some extent such things are the prerogative of the story teller. Usually it doesn’t bother me over much. Watching this movie tonight, however, I found myself growing more and more disturbed. I found the movie incredibly offensive in the incredibly disrespectful way that it presented the Gods. Even that I could have excused save that I think it may also have been blasphemous.
Blasphemy is not a word that I often use and it’s certainly not a word I use lightly. I think perhaps it is one of which our ancestors would have had far greater understanding than we. We have forgotten how to respect the Gods. We certainly have forgotten how to fear offending Them. Had this movie just fictionalized the Gods, that would have been one thing, but it glorified man’s defiance of and disrespect to the Gods, and presented these things as a virtue to be emulated (in addition to presenting the Gods in an incredibly negative light). While I seriously doubt whether a movie presenting the Judeo-Christian Deities would have crossed that line, it was not this injustice which so offended me. It was the glorification of hubris. Holy Powers are Holy Powers and I can’t help but think it is ill met to encourage such disrespect.
Watching this movie left me with a conundrum. I deplore censorship of any sort, but I was utterly horrified by the message it offered. Moreover, I found that upon watching it, I felt unclean. I felt morally and spiritually polluted.
When I was in seminary, one of the required courses dealt with Buddhism. In this course, we learned about several traditional precepts including the Eightfold Path. One of the precepts of this path is that of right mindfulness. In part, this means directing your thoughts and attention to spiritually wholesome endeavors, focusing on those things which will enhance one’s spirituality. I took the class, found it interesting and passed all requirements and until recently gave little more thought to this concept. Now, however, more and more, I begin to see the wisdom in governing one’s thoughts and eyes and actions.
This is a discipline of the heart that leads to a disciplined and mindful spirit. Whether we want to be or not, we’re influenced by the things we see every day. An entire field of business – advertising- is based on this. I can’t help but think that there is wisdom in governing what we randomly expose ourselves too as much as we can. Nine times out of ten, this may not be an issue but for those things that insidiously encourage us to spit in the face of the Gods by word, deed, or inaction I am coming to believe that perhaps some personal self-regulation and care is warranted. We are impacted, shaped, and formed by the decisions we consciously choose to make, even the little ones. Even the choice of a movie.
Learning respect for the Gods, learning what constitutes right action and right relationship with the Holy Powers is difficult enough in our contemporary world. We don’t have many role models and we don’t live in a world that values such things, or even recognizes them as healthy and possible. Why make things harder on ourselves? There are plenty of people out there to encourage our disrespect and lack of mindfulness. We need all the help we can get to counter that because, in the end, we are influenced by our environment, even when we’re least aware of it.
Maybe I’m making too much of a movie. All I know is that it made me think about all the little ways in which I can actively work to bring my daily life into alignment with my spirituality until one reflects the other. I don’t want to support those things that don’t nourish me spiritually. I don’t’ want anything to diminish my relationship with my Gods and to my mind, indulging the pleasure of my relaxation in ways or with things that dishonor the Gods I love beyond breath isn’t a worthy step in that direction.
I don’t know what others think on this. It was only the deep sense of personal disgust and spiritual pollution that made me think of it tonight. I do know that I”ll be thinking about it, considering it, and trying to make better choices from here on out.