It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... it's... Jared Zimmerer! Today our blog contributor of extraordinary powers (and time management skills) offers his take on the latest spin on the classic superhero story, "Superman: Man of Steel." What he finds is a lesson in sanctity and saintliness.
There is little else in American culture as recognizable as the “S” that is emblazoned upon both the chest of Superman’s suit and the hearts of almost every boy born in the last 80 years. Comic books, cartoons, movies, video games, high-dollar action figures, vehicles and tattoos from around the world brazenly broadcast the message of the intriguing personality of a man named Clark Kent who has a intensely woven past, which takes him 33 years to truly understand. When one thinks of a superhero, Superman is at the top of the list. From sleeping in my cape to watching the same cartoons and movies over and over again, Superman virtually defined my childhood.
How is it that a fictional character, a figment of one man’s imagination, can interlock its way into the minds and hearts of generations in such a unique way? Is it his seeming immortality, his super strength, or his ability to simply wear a pair of glasses and become a face in the crowd? The latest epic film “Man of Steel” is Clark Kent’s preparation for his destiny and it acts as a mirror of boyhood hopes and dreams to save the world...
Today is the Feast Day of St. George, patron of seemingly innumerable places, people and professions. But his most storied legacy seems to be that of "dragon slayer." Word on Fire contributor Jared Zimmerer takes a look at the legend of St. George, and finds why the lore of this mighty deed has been such a lasting one.
In Selena, Libya, there was a lake that was inhabited by a fierce and ravenous dragon. To appease this terrifying dragon, the townspeople would feed it sheep, yet after some time the sheep would not do as the dragon became hungry for human flesh. Through a lottery process, children would be chosen as a sacrifice to this dragon until one day the king’s own daughter was selected. George, by providence, rode past the gruesome scene of the trembling princess waiting to be devoured. As the princess unsuccessfully beseeched George to leave her be, the dragon appeared in all of its demonic grandeur. George then made the Sign of the Cross and leaped upon the winged-worm crying to the princess to give him her sash. George tied the sash around the dragon and it obeyed him with a pet-like submission. Leading the dragon back to the town, George behooved its citizens to convert to Catholicism and he would slay the dragon. Fifteen thousand men converted that day and George fulfilled his promise by way of his famous sword, Ascalon, slitting the fowl throat of the terror.
Or so the legend goes….
St. George has been a man of many names: Hero, martyr, saint, patron, legend, soldier, knight. While the legend may bend the truth in many aspects, the Catholic Church holds that there seems no ground for doubting the historical existence of St. George. However, what we know as fact or fiction leaves room for debate. What we do know is that this man was someone who left a deeply stowed impression of knighthood and bravery. Oftentimes he is known as the icon of the knight. Bravery, truthfulness and gallantry seem to radiate from his legend. There are many historical figures that history has tried and failed to attach the person of St. George to. Many refer to Eusebius and his historical fight with Diocletian. However there is little factual evidence to back that link...
We're no strangers to the lore of the martyrs: their sacrifice, their bravery, their unshakable beliefs. But why do it? What is the incentive, the allure? Word on Fire contributor Jared Zimmerer examines the appeal of martyrdom and why it's not only something we crave but something we can do.
Throughout history, men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice for what they believe. Whether that cause is for the good nature of faith, freedom and family or the ever promising yet always short-lived notions of money, grandeur and worldly honor, people tend to find the sacrifice worth the fatal end. The history of the Catholic Faith is riddled with servants of Christ who have endured and glorified some of the worst physical pains known to man. Without knowledge of the good they died for, their sacrifice seems not only vain, but idiotic. However, the transcendent characteristic of their deaths, which can only make sense to those willing to search for it, brands the gruesome scenes worthy of celebration.
One of my favorite paintings, the Last Judgment fresco by Michelangelo seen in the Sistine Chapel, depicts a few of the more popular saints in the way in which they were martyred. There is St. Lawrence with his grate and St. Bartholomew with his knife and flayed skin, St. Andrew with his cross, St. Sebastian holding up the arrows with which he was shot, St. Blaise with his wool combs and St. Catherine with her wheel. These martyrs are put upon pedestals through Church history because mankind recognizes their sacrifice. But could that recognition go further than just human admiration? Could it be perhaps that we were made to “die with our boots on” so to speak?...