Why Do We Need Heroes?

My Greatest Hits day 3 – my most read post:

And are there any heroes for us today?

Why do we have an innate attraction to the ideas of heroes? We ask people who their heroes are. Kids and adults both delight at the stories of superheroes, people with extraordinary powers who seem to save the world again and again. We always like it when a regular person makes good: the local hero who saves someone. Every story needs a hero, doesn’t it?

Our collective imagination seems drawn to the idea of people who have a greater power or call. A look at the top box office of all time for the US and worldwide shows the list dominated by familiar names: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow. All of these stories feature larger than life figures who overcome overwhelming odds to triumph.

I’ve always day-dreamed of some cataclysm happening in my regular life, only to find that I could fly, had super something-or-other in order to save those in peril. It’s in the fabric of who I am. I grew up on Star Wars and Super Friends, and this summer I couldn’t wait until the latest Spiderman movie came out. Recently I’ve gotten back into enjoying comic books, which shows different aspects of heroes from when I was growing up. Nowadays these heroes struggle against inner darkness or temptation and deal with more real life scenarios over the classic comics when Superman never doubted what was right and was always there to save Lois Lane.

I know that some people prefer down to earth heroes in their entertainment – the cop, the spunky Nancy Drew type, people who don’t have a special ability. Others may even prefer the “anti-hero”, the character that may otherwise be very unlikable in a story, but is portrayed from a sympathetic viewpoint. However, in general we are drawn to those who are greater than us in both their abilities and trials. I could go on, reaching back to mythology and stories of Hercules, Achilles, and so on, but I think this point is coming across.

Having made the argument that this desire is there, now we may ask “Why is it there?”

Could it be, perhaps, that it speaks to who we are? Does it draw from our deepest heart and unconscious needs?

I would argue that heroes are so compelling because we need a hero. We realize, whether directly or subconsciously, that we cannot overcome all that we encounter on our own. Try as we might, we are not able to complete our own salvation. We may fight valiantly, but our struggle is ultimately doomed against the supreme villain.

In the end, this attraction to heroes points us to the one who fought evil without ever turning to temptation. He went toe-to-toe with our greatest foe on our behalf. He sacrificed himself in defending truth, justice, and mercy. And when all seemed lost, he rose in even greater power and strength for the ultimate victory.

Jesus is my hero.

The book that inspired this post – Fearless by Robin Parrish – may not be an overtly Christian novel. This is fine with me, as I don’t require every story to have an overt religious element in order to be a good story. I think Robin taps into this intrinsic need for a hero with his story. I can’t allegorize what he’s written, partly because that’s not his intention, and I don’t know how the story will work out. It still speaks of this great human conflict, the desire to rise up over the insurmountable odds. The heart of the gospel speaks to this, and that’s what makes heroes a powerful story element, especially to a Christian writer.

Why Do We Need Heroes?

And are there any heroes for us today?

Why do we have an innate attraction to the ideas of heroes? We ask people who their heroes are. Kids and adults both delight at the stories of superheroes, people with extraordinary powers who seem to save the world again and again. We always like it when a regular person makes good: the local hero who saves someone. Every story needs a hero, doesn’t it?

Our collective imagination seems drawn to the idea of people who have a greater power or call. A look at the top box office of all time for the US and worldwide shows the list dominated by familiar names: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow. All of these stories feature larger than life figures who overcome overwhelming odds to triumph.

I’ve always day-dreamed of some cataclysm happening in my regular life, only to find that I could fly, had super something-or-other in order to save those in peril. It’s in the fabric of who I am. I grew up on Star Wars and Super Friends, and this summer I couldn’t wait until the latest Iron Man movie came out. Recently I’ve gotten back into enjoying comic books, which shows different aspects of heroes from when I was growing up. Nowadays these heroes struggle against inner darkness or temptation and deal with more real life scenarios over the classic comics when Superman never doubted what was right and was always there to save Lois Lane.

I know that some people prefer down to earth heroes in their entertainment – the cop, the spunky Nancy Drew type, people who don’t have a special ability. Others may even prefer the “anti-hero”, the character that may otherwise be very unlikable in a story, but is portrayed from a sympathetic viewpoint. However, in general we are drawn to those who are greater than us in both their abilities and trials. I could go on, reaching back to mythology and stories of Hercules, Achilles, and so on, but I think this point is coming across.

Having made the argument that this desire is there, now we may ask “Why is it there?”

Could it be, perhaps, that it speaks to who we are? Does it draw from our deepest heart and unconscious needs?

I would argue that heroes are so compelling because we need a hero. We realize, whether directly or subconsciously, that we cannot overcome all that we encounter on our own. Try as we might, we are not able to complete our own salvation. We may fight valiantly, but our struggle is ultimately doomed against the supreme villain.

In the end, this attraction to heroes points us to the one who fought evil without ever turning to temptation. He went toe-to-toe with our greatest foe on our behalf. He sacrificed himself in defending truth, justice, and mercy. And when all seemed lost, he rose in even greater power and strength for the ultimate victory.

Jesus is my hero.

Why Do We Need Heroes?

And are there any heroes for us today?

Why do we have an innate attraction to the ideas of heroes? We ask people who their heroes are. Kids and adults both delight at the stories of superheroes, people with extraordinary powers who seem to save the world again and again. We always like it when a regular person makes good: the local hero who saves someone. Every story needs a hero, doesn’t it?

Our collective imagination seems drawn to the idea of people who have a greater power or call. A look at the top box office of all time for the US and worldwide shows the list dominated by familiar names: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow. All of these stories feature larger than life figures who overcome overwhelming odds to triumph.

I’ve always day-dreamed of some cataclysm happening in my regular life, only to find that I could fly, had super something-or-other in order to save those in peril. It’s in the fabric of who I am. I grew up on Star Wars and Super Friends, and this summer I couldn’t wait until the latest Iron Man movie came out. Recently I’ve gotten back into enjoying comic books, which shows different aspects of heroes from when I was growing up. Nowadays these heroes struggle against inner darkness or temptation and deal with more real life scenarios over the classic comics when Superman never doubted what was right and was always there to save Lois Lane.

I know that some people prefer down to earth heroes in their entertainment – the cop, the spunky Nancy Drew type, people who don’t have a special ability. Others may even prefer the “anti-hero”, the character that may otherwise be very unlikable in a story, but is portrayed from a sympathetic viewpoint. However, in general we are drawn to those who are greater than us in both their abilities and trials. I could go on, reaching back to mythology and stories of Hercules, Achilles, and so on, but I think this point is coming across.

Having made the argument that this desire is there, now we may ask “Why is it there?”

Could it be, perhaps, that it speaks to who we are? Does it draw from our deepest heart and unconscious needs?

I would argue that heroes are so compelling because we need a hero. We realize, whether directly or subconsciously, that we cannot overcome all that we encounter on our own. Try as we might, we are not able to complete our own salvation. We may fight valiantly, but our struggle is ultimately doomed against the supreme villain.

In the end, this attraction to heroes points us to the one who fought evil without ever turning to temptation. He went toe-to-toe with our greatest foe on our behalf. He sacrificed himself in defending truth, justice, and mercy. And when all seemed lost, he rose in even greater power and strength for the ultimate victory.

Jesus is my hero.

Heroes in Storytelling

I’ve posted about the need for heroes and their popularity in storytelling before. I’m glad I’m in good company. Barbara Nicolosi is a script writer and consultant in Hollywood who is on the forefront of faith and creativity in cinema. She is a strong Christian voice that has some clout in her field.

She gave a lecture to the San Diego Christian Writers Guild at the first of October. She posted the notes from her speech on her blog. She states that it isn’t the same as being there for the talk, but the outline is pretty spectacular in its own right. I recommend checking this link out for anyone interested in writing.

One passage that really caught my eye was this:

i) There is a positive side to Holywood’s desire to create heroes with a dark side. It is coming from a rejection of melodrama and sentimentalism. SENTIMENTALISM IS THE PROBLEM FOR US CHRISTIANS. We want to show that God is basically in charge of the world so everything is really okay. We want to give God the benefit of the doubt.

j) Facing the Giants is anti-heroic because it costs the hero nothing. The Christianity depicted in the movie is a rejection of the cross and presents a fantasy religion in which believing in Jesus means no suffering. “Give me some of that Jesus stuff!” The truth is Christianity promises that we will suffer without despair…and probably we will suffer more than others!

k) Flannery: “Sentimentalism is the one inexcusable defect for the Christian storyteller because it is an overemphasis on innocence.” We know that there must always be original sin in the story. No human person is perfect and immune from temptation.

Note those points are outline notes. I sure wish I could have heard the further discussion of those points!

Hat tip to Tom Neven via The Point

Heroes in Storytelling

I’ve posted about the need for heroes and their popularity in storytelling before. I’m glad I’m in good company. Barbara Nicolosi is a script writer and consultant in Hollywood who is on the forefront of faith and creativity in cinema. She is a strong Christian voice that has some clout in her field.

She gave a lecture to the San Diego Christian Writers Guild at the first of October. She posted the notes from her speech on her blog. She states that it isn’t the same as being there for the talk, but the outline is pretty spectacular in its own right. I recommend checking this link out for anyone interested in writing.

One passage that really caught my eye was this:

i) There is a positive side to Holywood’s desire to create heroes with a dark side. It is coming from a rejection of melodrama and sentimentalism. SENTIMENTALISM IS THE PROBLEM FOR US CHRISTIANS. We want to show that God is basically in charge of the world so everything is really okay. We want to give God the benefit of the doubt.

j) Facing the Giants is anti-heroic because it costs the hero nothing. The Christianity depicted in the movie is a rejection of the cross and presents a fantasy religion in which believing in Jesus means no suffering. “Give me some of that Jesus stuff!” The truth is Christianity promises that we will suffer without despair…and probably we will suffer more than others!

k) Flannery: “Sentimentalism is the one inexcusable defect for the Christian storyteller because it is an overemphasis on innocence.” We know that there must always be original sin in the story. No human person is perfect and immune from temptation.

Note those points are outline notes. I sure wish I could have heard the further discussion of those points!

Hat tip to Tom Neven via The Point

Christian Heroes and Miscellany

Gah. Sometimes I am not inspired with a brilliant thought for this here place. Like…oh say the last two days. Like Dory from Finding Nemo‘s trailer – “Nope, nothin’ in my noggin'”. Bleh. Yet here I am, attempting to say something intelligent (this would be a perfect place to link to something regarding Miss Teen South Carolina’s now famous “map answer” and drive traffic to my site…yeah, I’m shameless – here’s a link to the YouTube posting).

Now for something completely different:
Becky Miller is again having an interesting discussion regarding what should make up a Christian hero. It is related to last week’s blog tour over The Legend of the Firefish. Bryan Polivka blogged about the repeated comments that viewed Packer as a potentially weak hero. Several times in the book he steps back and lets things happen according to God’s will, whether it ends up in his death, disaster for all around him, or deliverance. Bryan has a great point to make, and Becky gives her take on it. Make sure to check the comments of Becky’s post for more of the discussion.

My thoughts: I didn’t have a problem with what Packer did, because it is truly a great Christian response – one that I would have a problem duplicating in real life. I would suggest that perhaps the way it was written is more of the contention (which I admitted in my post last week was a minor contention).

The discussion made me think of the book Germ, which is quite a different book than Firefish. In it, the Christian character has regret for past violence, and sacrifices himself in the end to allow others to survive – a very Christian act and imagery for the book. The points being made in Becky’s discussion are very valid, but I think that examples like this are in other places in CBA fiction right now as well.

There’s a lot that could be said, and I don’t have the inspiration to work it out at the moment. I’ve got a heaping plate ahead of me for the next 6 weeks. Mainly my wife and I are in charge of bringing in and promoting Noel Richards for a worship seminar and concert at our church on September 22. Then I have to take a major recertification test for my physican assistant license on October 5, so I have to be studying through this time. Of course, it doesn’t help that I sign up for things like fantasy football.

Don’t worry, I’ll be around. Hopefully I’ll have more to offer in a day or two.

Christian Heroes and Miscellany

Gah. Sometimes I am not inspired with a brilliant thought for this here place. Like…oh say the last two days. Like Dory from Finding Nemo‘s trailer – “Nope, nothin’ in my noggin'”. Bleh. Yet here I am, attempting to say something intelligent (this would be a perfect place to link to something regarding Miss Teen South Carolina’s now famous “map answer” and drive traffic to my site…yeah, I’m shameless – here’s a link to the YouTube posting).

Now for something completely different:
Becky Miller is again having an interesting discussion regarding what should make up a Christian hero. It is related to last week’s blog tour over The Legend of the Firefish. Bryan Polivka blogged about the repeated comments that viewed Packer as a potentially weak hero. Several times in the book he steps back and lets things happen according to God’s will, whether it ends up in his death, disaster for all around him, or deliverance. Bryan has a great point to make, and Becky gives her take on it. Make sure to check the comments of Becky’s post for more of the discussion.

My thoughts: I didn’t have a problem with what Packer did, because it is truly a great Christian response – one that I would have a problem duplicating in real life. I would suggest that perhaps the way it was written is more of the contention (which I admitted in my post last week was a minor contention).

The discussion made me think of the book Germ, which is quite a different book than Firefish. In it, the Christian character has regret for past violence, and sacrifices himself in the end to allow others to survive – a very Christian act and imagery for the book. The points being made in Becky’s discussion are very valid, but I think that examples like this are in other places in CBA fiction right now as well.

There’s a lot that could be said, and I don’t have the inspiration to work it out at the moment. I’ve got a heaping plate ahead of me for the next 6 weeks. Mainly my wife and I are in charge of bringing in and promoting Noel Richards for a worship seminar and concert at our church on September 22. Then I have to take a major recertification test for my physican assistant license on October 5, so I have to be studying through this time. Of course, it doesn’t help that I sign up for things like fantasy football.

Don’t worry, I’ll be around. Hopefully I’ll have more to offer in a day or two.

CSFF Tour: Wrap-Up of Fearless

I’ve been enjoying the blog tour for Fearless from Robin Parrish. If you looked at my review of Fearless, you can tell I liked the book. However, the discussion and interaction of the various blogs in the tour is one of the best parts of being part of the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy group. It’s like a cross-pollenation of ideas.

I had hoped to post an interview with Robin, but I got my questions to him during his coverage of the E3 Video Game conference, so he was unable to respond. S’alright. I have instead taken some time to visit most of the blogs in this tour. Here are a few highlights (but if you’re not included, don’t feel bad, I just have to choose a few).

Beth Goddard has a great and insightful interview with Robin. She asked some of the questions I did, so it probably would’ve been double duty.

Daniel I. Weaver discusses what he liked about Fearless, and why it made him cry.

Rebecca LuElla Miller always has a thoughtful discussion during the tour. She has a thorough review that brings out different aspects from my own, and there is healthy dialogue in the comments, so be sure to check them out.

Speculative Faith has a post by Becky (Ms. Miller from above) that has an interesting discussion on the marketing of Fearless, and the comments have feedback from somebody from Bethany House Publishing, Robin’s publisher. Good information on some of the “behind the scenes” of making a book work.

Karen McSpadden also takes the theme of superheroes (as I did on Monday), but stretches it to a meaningful 3 day conversation. Check this one out!

Terri Main has an interesting take on the book and a discussion of ambiguity. (Is that an ambiguous enough blurb?)

Lyn Perry also has a few questions for Mr. Parrish as well.

Addition: Hanna Sandvig discusses the lack of obvious religious content in the book, and her opinion on what makes art “Christian.” Ah, the age old debate…

If I come across any more interesting posts, I’ll update. Please take time to check out the others in the tour (links in the last post). And if this books strikes your fancy at all, hasten to your favorite bookseller to pick up Fearless (don’t forget the first book, Relentless).

CSFF Tour: Wrap-Up of Fearless

I’ve been enjoying the blog tour for Fearless from Robin Parrish. If you looked at my review of Fearless, you can tell I liked the book. However, the discussion and interaction of the various blogs in the tour is one of the best parts of being part of the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy group. It’s like a cross-pollenation of ideas.

I had hoped to post an interview with Robin, but I got my questions to him during his coverage of the E3 Video Game conference, so he was unable to respond. S’alright. I have instead taken some time to visit most of the blogs in this tour. Here are a few highlights (but if you’re not included, don’t feel bad, I just have to choose a few).

Beth Goddard has a great and insightful interview with Robin. She asked some of the questions I did, so it probably would’ve been double duty.

Daniel I. Weaver discusses what he liked about Fearless, and why it made him cry.

Rebecca LuElla Miller always has a thoughtful discussion during the tour. She has a thorough review that brings out different aspects from my own, and there is healthy dialogue in the comments, so be sure to check them out.

Speculative Faith has a post by Becky (Ms. Miller from above) that has an interesting discussion on the marketing of Fearless, and the comments have feedback from somebody from Bethany House Publishing, Robin’s publisher. Good information on some of the “behind the scenes” of making a book work.

Karen McSpadden also takes the theme of superheroes (as I did on Monday), but stretches it to a meaningful 3 day conversation. Check this one out!

Terri Main has an interesting take on the book and a discussion of ambiguity. (Is that an ambiguous enough blurb?)

Lyn Perry also has a few questions for Mr. Parrish as well.

Addition: Hanna Sandvig discusses the lack of obvious religious content in the book, and her opinion on what makes art “Christian.” Ah, the age old debate…

If I come across any more interesting posts, I’ll update. Please take time to check out the others in the tour (links in the last post). And if this books strikes your fancy at all, hasten to your favorite bookseller to pick up Fearless (don’t forget the first book, Relentless).

Fearless – Why Do We Need Heroes?


And are there any heroes for us today?

Today we start another CSFF blog tour featuring the novel Fearless by Robin Parrish.

This book was just featured through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, which is where my review of Fearless can be found. Something to add would be that this book is hard to categorize as just science fiction or fantasy. It has both elements involved through the story. It should appeal to any fan of speculative fiction in general (Dekker, Peretti, John C. Wright).

Robin’s web site and blog are recommended stops for this tour. He just posted an original graphic novel presentation of a story from the Dominion Trilogy set between books 1 (Relentless) and 2.

Since I’ve posted a review already, I thought about what I could add to this tour. My mind came back continually to the thoughts of heroes. Fearless tracks Grant Borrows and his fellow Ringwearers as they deal with the amazing powers they had developed out of the events of Relentless. Grant especially desires to use his phenomenal powers for good, as his abilities were conceived as a force of evil (or so it seems). A major conflict in the book is Grant dealing with his destiny: can he make good with the gifts he’s been given, or is his destiny foretold and pre-ordained, out of his control?

Why do we have an innate attraction to the ideas of heroes? We ask people who their heroes are. Kids and adults both delight at the stories of superheroes, people with extraordinary powers who seem to save the world again and again. We always like it when a regular person makes good: the local hero who saves someone. Every story needs a hero, doesn’t it?

Our collective imagination seems drawn to the idea of people who have a greater power or call. A look at the top box office of all time for the US and worldwide shows the list dominated by familiar names: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow. All of these stories feature larger than life figures who overcome overwhelming odds to triumph.

I’ve always day-dreamed of some cataclysm happening in my regular life, only to find that I could fly, had super something-or-other in order to save those in peril. It’s in the fabric of who I am. I grew up on Star Wars and Super Friends, and this summer I couldn’t wait until the latest Spiderman movie came out. Recently I’ve gotten back into enjoying comic books, which shows different aspects of heroes from when I was growing up. Nowadays these heroes struggle against inner darkness or temptation and deal with more real life scenarios over the classic comics when Superman never doubted what was right and was always there to save Lois Lane.

I know that some people prefer down to earth heroes in their entertainment – the cop, the spunky Nancy Drew type, people who don’t have a special ability. Others may even prefer the “anti-hero”, the character that may otherwise be very unlikable in a story, but is portrayed from a sympathetic viewpoint. However, in general we are drawn to those who are greater than us in both their abilities and trials. I could go on, reaching back to mythology and stories of Hercules, Achilles, and so on, but I think this point is coming across.

Having made the argument that this desire is there, now we may ask “Why is it there?”

Could it be, perhaps, that it speaks to who we are? Does it draw from our deepest heart and unconscious needs?

I would argue that heroes are so compelling because we need a hero. We realize, whether directly or subconsciously, that we cannot overcome all that we encounter on our own. Try as we might, we are not able to complete our own salvation. We may fight valiantly, but our struggle is ultimately doomed against the supreme villain.

In the end, this attraction to heroes points us to the one who fought evil without ever turning to temptation. He went toe-to-toe with our greatest foe on our behalf. He sacrificed himself in defending truth, justice, and mercy. And when all seemed lost, he rose in even greater power and strength for the ultimate victory.

Jesus is my hero.

Fearless may not be an overtly Christian novel. This is fine with me, as I don’t require every story to have an overt religious element in order to be a good story. I think Robin taps into this intrinsic need for a hero with his story. I am eagerly anticipating the third book Merciless (seriously Robin – you need a proofreader, I’m all over it…) and I wonder what the ending will hold. I can’t allegorize what he’s written, partly because that’s not his intention, and I don’t know how the story will work out. It still speaks of this great human conflict, the desire to rise up over the insurmountable odds. The heart of the gospel speaks to this, and that’s what makes heroes a powerful story element, especially to a Christian writer.

Check out my fellow tourmates for other features of Fearless:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver