Saturday, January 31, 2009

William Blake, The Punisher, and God.

I've had this idea for about a week or two, but didn't really have the time to flesh it out and I didn't want it to be super lame and disjointed.

Okay introduction time:

William Blake- One of the early Romantic poets. Wrote in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Most famous for his poetic anthologies "Songs of Innocence and of Experience."

The Punisher- Frank Castle. Marvel comic "hero." A skull-clad vigilante who has taken it upon himself to rid the world of people who he deems as evil.

God- The sovereign Creator of the universe who has personally revealed Himself in the Bible.

Now that intros are out of the way, I'll try to make this flow as coherently as possible, and not write anything unnecessary (I hate it when people just babble on their blogs).

At the beginning of the current school semester one of the first writers my Brit Lit class looked at was William Blake. He wrote several fantastic poems and in his "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" and many of them were antithetical to each other. The two that most stood out to me were the famous poems "The Lamb" and "The Tyger." Here is how they read:

The Lamb
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.

He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

The Tyger
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

"Okay", you may say, "what does The Punisher have to do with these poems?" Well, I'm a big comic fan and I recently heard about this really cool Punisher story called "The End." It's set in a post-apocalyptic America, and just cause 90% of humanity is gone, it doesn't mean there aren't bad people for the Punisher to kill. Sounds cool right? And the next time I went into my comic shop I was pleasantly suprised to find a Punisher collection on the half-off shelf that happened to have "The End" in it. It also had two other stories: "The Tyger" and "The Cell." I can in no way recommend "The Cell" due to it's extreme and vulgar content, but "The Tyger" was quite an interesting read.

"The Tyger" is set right before Frank Castle makes his first kill as The Punisher, and as he waits he reflects back on one of the formative moments of his life. He thinks back to a summer many years ago that drastically altered his worldview.

Back then he was as innocent as a young boy growing up in New York could be. He had a sense of strength, but wasn't a bully, and he also had a very gentle side without being weak. Reading was his favorite passtime. He loved the pictures that expertly crafted words could paint, and that summer he found himself in a poetry class studying Blake. The teacher reads the poem and asks some of the students what they tought about it. When Frank is called upon to give his analysis of Blake's final words in The Tyger he replies that perhaps Blake was suggesting that it was not God who made the tiger. Perhaps it was made by some who "don't make things like lambs."

Both William Blake and young Frank Castle observed the variety and contrasts in God's creation and became confused. They couldn't fathom that a God so gentle and loving could create something so ferocious. While Blake was an unbeliever and Castle is a fictional character they both demonstrate an error in thinking that we, whether we know Jesus or not, can fall into.

As Christians, we serve a God that is wholly loving. We serve a God who is wholly just. We serve a God who is wholly wrathful against sin. AND IT'S THE SAME GOD! When we are inclined to doubt or effectually deny the sovereignty of God the deficiency is with us, not with Him. We need to search the Scriptures and get a bigger view of God than the jolly grandfather idea of God that many people have. Yes! He is loving, but His love comes from His perfect holiness, and His perfect holiness is not alright with the sin in our lives!

This is not to say, though, that we are able to make logical sense of everything God chooses to do. In Isaiah 55:9 God declares: "For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." So, as believers, while we should always be filtering our thoughts through Scripture and trying to discern God's will, we ought to have the child-like faith that says " I don't understand God, but I trust you."

That's essentially it. I know it was a bit of a stretch, but when I was thinking back on reading the story I knew there was something good worth sharing. Hope it made sense and wasn't unneccessarily long.