Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meditations on Ender's Game

Peter might be scum, but Peter had been right, always right; the power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you. (Ender's Game, chapter 12)
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:4-5,ESV)
Then, to Dink's surprise, Ender began to cry. . . . "I didn't want to hurt him!" Ender cried. "Why didn't he just leave me alone!"
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Orson Scott Card crafted an absolute masterpiece in this bildungsroman chronicling the development of a military genius. I read the entire work in one day, submerging myself in the incredible portrayal of a phenomenal mind.

When I came to Ender's realization above about power, I thought immediately of Jesus' words about whom to fear in life. Even from childhood, Peter seeks power over others and sets his sights on global authority, due to his keen observation about this "dog-eat-dog" world: If you can't subdue, there are those who can, and out of their fallen selfishness, will. But, despite all his intelligence, Peter has failed to realize that the power to kill is not ultimate power; for, to kill is only to force the end of life prematurely. The one who kills does not have authority over all eternity, which rests in the hands of God alone.

Now, replacing one fear with another seems to paint a rather bleak picture, but we haven't considered all the facts yet. While Ender holds the same capacity for power as his older brother, he shares equally well in his sister's compassion. And thus, his violent act against Bonzo in self-protection causes Ender no little psychological and emotional pain. I wonder if God, too, cries "I didn't want to hurt them!" For, God loves his creation, but our rebellion has cut us off from him and carries certain forensic consequences--consequences that God doesn't want to carry out, but that he must for his justice's sake.

And yet, there's hope.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)
Jesus did not intend his message about fear to spread trepidation, but comfort, as backwards as that may seem. You see, he goes on to say,
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (John 12:6-7)
To put it all together, our rebellion poses a threat to God's righteousness, and incurs punishment in order for God to maintain his justice. But, since God loves us so very much, he has provided a means by which the consequences of our rebellion can be laid on another--on himself in the person of Jesus Christ, to be specific--so that we may enter--through repentance--into a positive, loving relationship with him once again. And if God, who holds the power over eternity, loves us that much, why should we fear anyone who holds power merely over our body?

1 comment:

Russell Porte [in snark mode] said...

Peter likes to assume that being at the mercy of those who can kill is necessarily bad. ". . . if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you." Sane reaction: so what? I'm at the mercy of the State of Illinois, but I'm not spazzing about it. Being at the mercy of a benefactor is a necessary consequence of well-governed society, or heck--any society.

Ol' Pete seems to be a semi-Hobbesian anarchist motivated by some wierd Quixotic nihilism. He's the kind of guy self-defense laws were meant to deter.