Thursday, December 01, 2011

Scooby-Doo, Monsters and Real Life

A friend of  mine, Ralph Hanson, shared a link on Facebook to an incredibly interesting column over at the Comics Alliance.  In the column, Chris Sims answers questions weekly.  Last Friday he was asked, "Q: On Scooby-Doo, do you prefer the monsters to be real or people in costumes? -- @heythisisbrian"

 Chris' answer is fascinatingly brilliant.  In short, he says that the monsters on Scooby-Doo must be people masquerading as monsters because the world is full of bad people who lie to kids using superstition to scare them.  Scooby Doo teaches them that the best thing to do in the face of fear from superstition is to think. 

Taken to its logical end, then there are some who might put me in the frightening children with mythic stories.  After all, if all the bad monsters out there are nothing more than bad people wearing masks, what do we do about all that talk about God and Satan and scary stuff?  

I admit it is a good thing to encourage others so that they might stand up and face down the powers that lie.  And it is interesting that Sims paraphrases Chesterton when he says, "Scooby Doo has value not because it shows us that there are monsters, but because it shows us that those monsters are just the products of evil people who want to make us too afraid to see through their lies, and goes a step further by giving us a blueprint that shows exactly how to defeat them."  (Chesterton's quote: Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.)
Religion might bring about people who attempt to scare others with tales of fear and punishment and demons and angels, but there are just as many out there in the world seeking to scare and lie using rational arguments, or technically, rational-sounding arguments, yet they still seek the person's own interests.  
It is important, I think, to remember that fear-mongering saves no one in the arena of faith.  If we protest at the notion of forced conversions at the business end of a weapon, then conversions due to threats of eternal damnation are at least as bad.  Simply put, fear of punishment does not build faith.  Only the gospel builds faith. And as faith grows, so grows the proper fear of the Lord.  

And faith is the important piece.  Sims puts Shaggy and Scooby as the cowards who always buy into the lie about monsters.  And for Scooby-Doo, the monsters must be fake.  Sims' argument is good.  However, in the real world, what do we do about real monsters and more importantly, monstrous powers? The monstrous power of sin ensures that there is a never-ending stream of monsters for the world to deal with.  if reason is the answer to ridding the world of sin and brokenness, then why does all of the brokenness still exist?  And even when we continue to unmask the perpetrators and find human beings who molest children, who get rich by cheating the poor and elderly, who are so inwardly curved that they give not one whit about anything other than their own desires.  Then we need faith to strengthen us to speak to the monstrous powers that insidiously integrate themselves with humans so we see no masks. 
Scooby-Doo wants to show there are no monsters, just pretenders.  Real life points again and again to the reality that sin makes monsters of plenty of us.  Reason is needed to think through the situations.  But faith, a faith  in a good and gracious God, is needed just as surely so that we know that even when we fail to rid the world of monsters and their powers, this God will be there to finish it.  

1 comment:

Barrett Bowden said...

Chris Sim’s intriguing article crossed my path - if by accident or design would be begging the question. What I found intriguing is that it is written from a secular humanist’s worldview drawing the conclusion we as Christians should have – seek the truth.

“…(I)f the supernatural does exist, then suddenly (Shaggy and Scooby a)re not cowards anymore. They're perfectly reasonable people (well, person and dog, but you know what I mean) who have come to a rational, logical conclusion that there are things out there beyond their mortal understanding.”

The secular humanist presupposes the supernatural doesn’t exist. From this POV the supernatural is nothing but malevolent monsters.

“The bad guys in Scooby-Doo prey on superstition, because that's the one thing that an otherwise rational person doesn't really think through. It's based on belief, not evidence, which is a crucial element for the show.”

You contrast faith as being the answer as opposed to fear. Yet from Sim’s worldview, “ Scooby-Doo is a cartoon about kids looking for truth.” When the secular humanist hears faith, all he thinks is blind faith without evidence. They just as well have faith in fairies.

Trust is a better word to use. As Christians we are charged to always be prepared to give an answer for the reason of the faith that we have. I Peter 3:15. We need to be prepared to give evidences that Christianity is true. Frank Turek’s “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” or one of Lee Strobel’s books “Case for the Creator” would be a good start.