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The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker

The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker is co-pastor at United Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Il. He also works with the Presbytery of Great Rivers as an Electronic Communications and Media Technology Consultant.

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To Fight Monsters

April 16, 2013

When Steven Moffat took over as Head Writer and Executive Producer of the long-running British Sci-Fi franchise Doctor Who, he was asked if he believed Fairy Tales still have power.

Do fairy tales still have power? Well, look at the movies that have been made. Yes they do.

But when I say "fairy tale," a better way of saying it would be "modern fairy tale." It's not that [Doctor Who is] like the old fairy tales, or that it resembles them, it's the modern equivalent. It's the way we teach our children that there are things in the world that might want to eat them. [Doctor Who] just feels like a fairy tale: A man who fights monsters but never becomes one.    (From Charlie Jane Anders iO9 interview of Steven Moffat on 5/18/10)

We have our fair share of monsters in our lives. We may not run from Weeping Angels, Daleks, or Cyber Men, but we have to live in fear of the neighbor with a gun who has a grudge or sickness, the fanatic that has access to a hardware store,and the misguided and selfish boys who would take advantage of a girl's temporary weakness. There are monsters. They don't live in the dark forest or in a world far away; they live down the street.

We need the stories of a man who fights monsters but never becomes one because we are faced with that temptation every day. It is so easy to fight fire with fire. It is so tempting to demand an eye for an eye, a life for a life. But how can we rid the world of monsters if we are constantly transforming ourselves in their image?

I remember after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 how much I wanted to just march into Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere really, and just blow things up. I wanted to cause someone the pain we as a nation were caused. I think many people felt that way. Toby Keith certainly expressed it in his song Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue. Do you ever feel that way? After the shootings at Newtown did you just want to cause that same kind of pain to the shooter? What about yesterday, did the monster come out in you in the presence of that monstrous act?

Jesus defeated the monsters in our life without becoming one. He stayed true to his identity in God. He loved. He had compassion, and suffered with us. He spoke the truth. He challenged the monsters but never became one. He didn't take on the form of power, or revenge, or pain. He didn't take the form of military might or monstrous fear. Instead, Jesus took the form of a servant. Jesus took and held the form of love and mercy and hope. Jesus was and is a light in the darkness, a light the darkness cannot overcome.

We are called to be lights too, and not give way to the darkness. We are called to fight the monsters without becoming one. We do that by following Jesus and his example. We do that by having a cruciform faith and living a cruciform life, and fairy tales like Doctor Who help remind me what that might look like today, Daleks excluded.

May God grant us wisdom and grant us courage for the facing of these monsters, and give us the love and grace to become more like Jesus and less like them.

To read more about God and Geekery, visit my blog Theologeeky.


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