Entries tagged with “god”.


On a recent trip to Germany, I took the opportunity to reread Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (a fascinating book to be sure—remind me sometime to talk about the critique of Calvinism present in the story). On the way home from said trip, I noticed that one of the movies available to watch on the plane was I, Frankenstein. I’d never heard of the film but I thought it an appropriate choice, even if the description was somewhat ludicrous: “Adam [ie, Frankenstein’s monster] finds himself caught in the middle of a battle between gargoyles and demons that are battling to discover the secret to his immortality.

…. Right.

Still, I turned on the film. And the plot is basically that described above. There is a secret “sacred order of gargoyles” instituted by the Archangel Michael to protect humanity from a secret battalion of demons still lose on earth. When an angel kills a demon, the demon is “descended” to hell (yes, they use “descended” as a transitive verb). Contrariwise, a gargoyle killed by a demon is “ascended.” The demons want to reanimate thousands of dead corpses—using the secret of Frankenstein’s science—so that they call up their “descended” brethren to possess the bodies (because, according to this movie, demons cannot possess the living, only reanimated corpses, and these only if they have a silly star cut into their foreheads. Apparently reanimated corpses—like Adam—don’t have souls to crowd the demons or something.]

The film is, of course, silly at best. The plot is bizarre, the CGI is nothing special, and the dialogue goes from dumb to dumber (a far cry from Shelley’s work). Still, the film illustrates an interesting trend in supernaturally-themed movies: namely, the use of angelic and demonic beings, but first stripping them of their religious significance.

To be sure, I, Frankenstein doesn’t strip all religious reference. We hear Adam told (and I paraphrase) that he is the only living thing “not created by God,” that he consequently has “no soul,” and that “God will surely damn him.” But the God invoked is a mysterious being, referenced tangentially, and then forgotten. Even the gargoyles who fight for God seem to have no direct connection with Him: it seems that only their queen has access to higher spiritual powers—the archangels—and she never bothers to give them a call during the film.

gargoyle-crossOther religious elements are similarly stripped of their significance. For example, we are told that only “sacramental” objects can “descend” a demon. But any object can be “sacramental,” we learn, so long as it has the symbol of the gargoyle order carved into it. That symbol? It’s a cross of sorts, but a cross with two additional horizontal lines added to it (below the normal horizontal line). And these secondary lines are so long as to disguise that it’s a cross at all. In fact, it’s first introduced sideways on screen, so it took me a while to realize it even was a cross! Jesus isn’t in this film, even if His symbol is co-opted and adapted.

It’s a common enough feature in contemporary cinema: a generic God stripped of any specific identifying characteristics. And this use of generic religion has consequences, in that it consistently feeds into a Law-based depiction of religion. The Adam of this movie differs from his biblical namesake. Unlike the progenitor of humankind who was created “in the image of God” and thus endowed with a soul, our film protagonist is not. The solution to this problem? Earn a soul by doing good deeds of course. Fulfill your part in generic-God’s mysterious destiny and you too will be rewarded!

Frankenstein is a masterpiece of Gothic fiction, and well worth the read. But I, Frankenstein, like many Hollywood films, is missing the key element in a supernatural drama: namely, a divinity (and religion) that makes sense.



In my column for the November/December issue of The Canadian Lutheran, I reflect at length on the meeting between Gabriel and Mary at the Annunciation, before pondering the Child she would bear. May it prove useful to your own thoughts this Christmas as we rejoice in the Incarnation.

A brief selection:

You can’t help but notice the contrast between the two speakers in this story: an angel of might and a humble young woman. I like the way the old Basque hymn imagines the meeting. It speaks of Gabriel coming down from heaven “his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.” It’s a fearsome image, and contrasts beautifully with “gentle Mary,” who “meekly bowed her head.” It is a meeting of opposites. Might meets humility. Heaven meets earth.

What a striking picture of what would soon take place in Mary’s womb! Here One mightier than Gabriel, mightier than all the angels of heaven together is entering into the story. God is sending His own Son into the world. Christ is coming! But how He comes defies all expectations. He comes not in His power or His glory. No, He meekly bows His head. He humbles Himself, taking on the very form of a servant. Here is One humbler than Mary, taking on a servitude greater than even hers.

The article is called “Might meets humility.” Find the rest over at The Canadian Lutheran.


Much is made these days of multiverse theories as a method of explaining the anthropic tendencies our universe displays. It is granted that the universe is admirably suited – finely tuned, some might say – to allow the existence of life. The underlying fundamental constants or laws which make reality work the way it does (eg, the gravitational constant) are such that elements heavier than hydrogen and helium can form, matter can coalesce, and ultimately, life forms can arise. Such an admission can, to some, seem remarkable evidence for the purposeful design of the universe. To negate such claims, certain physicists have postulated the existence of the multiverse – a larger universe, if you will, containing numerous smaller universes (including our own). Our universe is “finely tuned” for life by chance, it is thus concluded. Some of the numerous universes which exist in the multiverse must allow the possibility of life. Ours just happens to be one of them. Thus, there is no need to postulate a god to explain the existence of life.

Certain of the hypotheses proposed suggest that the multiverse itself must be infinite in scope. It did not begin; it will not end. This universe generating machine must thus produce an infinite amount of universes – all possible universes, in fact. Moreover, it must thus produce all possible universes an infinite amount of times. Thus, in countless other universes, an entity identical to myself has already written this identical article and an identical you, my dear reader, have already read it. And in countless universes to come, the same reader-writer relationship will be repeated. Thus are the implications of infinity.

But there is one greater implication which has not, I think, been considered: If, indeed, infinitely possible universes must arise in the multiverse, then surely there must have already arisen (in the infinite past) universes where “gods” began to exist. And surely, in the infinite possibilities of the past, some of these gods must have discovered a way to not only control their own universes, but further to leave the confines of those universes and enter consciously into the multiverse. Moreover, in the infinite past, one of these gods now observing the multiverse must inevitably take control of the multiverse itself. And at that point, the multiverse would cease to be infinite; it would become a machine, operating under the orders of one particular entity.

The infinite nature of the multiverse tells us this must have occurred sometime in the infinite past. And as such, our present universe must thus have been allowed, dare I say designed, to exist by that deity which took control of the multiverse. Thus, the hypothesis designed to discredit the necessity of a god logically leads to the conclusion that a god must exist. This argument, of course, is not intended to prove the existence of God as Christians understand him. Rather, it is intended to demonstrate the logical inconsistency that arises when one invokes multiverse theories as an argument against the existence of God. If God did not exist, a multiverse must certainly give rise to one.