Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thoughts on the Willow Gospel

Last week, the readings in church included the story of the Wise Men and their trip to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new-born baby Jesus. As I was preparing my sermon, it struck me: The story of the Wise Men is the story of Willow! Think of the similarities...Herod hears of a prophecy, in this case, from the prophet Micah, that a new king is going to be born, and that this new king will be King of the Jews. Herod doesn't like this, because he fancies himself to be King of the Jews! He sends the wise men to check out the baby, and to report back to him. When the wise men decide to go home by a different road, stiffing Herod of the information he wants, he decides to kill all the male babies under two years old in the area! Jesus and his family, to survive, flee to Egypt.

In Ron Howard's Willow (1988), Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) hears of a prophecy that a baby will be born to take her throne. Fearing this prophecy, she sends General Kael (Pat Roach) to find the baby. Failing, she orders the extermination of all the babies in the kingdom.
To save Elora Danon (the actual child of prophecy), her nursemaid puts her in the river (shades of Moses, of course) and sends her to the land of the Nelwyns to survive.

Startling similarities, yes? But beyond the sort-of set-up similarities, Willow offers us another window into our pop-culture vision of the Gospel. Willow stars Val Kilmer as Madmartigan and Warwick Davis as Willow as the two unlikely heroes who fulfill the prophecy, defeat the Queen, and save the day. This is the Peter Principle at work. In the same way that Peter was the one least likely for Jesus to choose as the Rock upon which he would build his church, Madmartigan and Willow are the two least likely to defeat the all-powerful Queen Bavmorda. Of course, this is a movie staple, and certainly a fantasy movie staple. Luke Skywalker is the hick from the boonies who saves the galaxy. Heroes are always found toiling on farms with no friends. Can you think of more examples? Where is the Peter Principle (God choosing to work through the weak and unqualified...i.e. Grace) at work in the movies?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hey Nick,
    I had a wonderful time at church and it was great to finally meet you. Your congregation is full of wonderful people and I got positive vibes from everybody; I honestly can't say that about every church that I've been to.

    That was a very good blog entry- I definitely have to watch Willow again for this plus I haven't seen in a looooooong time.

    Now, I am not that familiar with the story of Peter but by what you have written- I definitely think "Rocky" fits the bill. Yes, it has some David and Goliath elements also but the character Rocky was definitely a little rough around the edges and in one of Burgess Meridith's best lines "A bum." LOL! Rocky wasn't to supposed fight someone like Apollo Creed because he wasn't a professional boxer and therefore not deemed good enough to go toe to toe with Apollo; people thought Rocky and the match was a joke but he proved them wrong.

    I guess another one off the top of my head is the Matrix (umm, the first one because I don't quite understand the last two AT ALL).

    I mean the whole mythology of Neo first starting out as a regular Joe working in an office to becoming a person who has faith and then becomes a hero ( or a savior)... well I think you get my meaning.

    There are too many films to mention but I don't want to write a book in your comment section.

    Take care and I'll see you all this Sunday.


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