“Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I could swear there is someone, somewhere
Through the wind, and the chill, and the rain
And the storm, and the flood
I can feel his approach like a fire in my blood”
Holding out for a hero Dean Pitchford / Jim Steinman
There is a moment in every story where a connection is made between the ordinary life of a hero and their destiny. The past, the present and future collide in this space in an unmistakable flash of insight. Even though hints have been made in the origin story about the special nature of the hero the endorsement at this stage is unmistakable.
For reasons of humility and reverence we rarely talk about the story of Jesus as a hero’s journey even though it has so many of the markings of so many pieces of literature described this way. I wonder sometimes if our reluctance to encounter Christ in the heroic/epic journey framework is part of the reason for the perceived cultural irrelevance our Australian society has for the Christian Messianic narrative. Our reverent protection of the sacred story has somehow removed it from significance because of the abundance of more available heroes.
The story of the transfiguration of Jesus as told in all three of the synoptic gospels, as well as being referenced in the first chapter of John’s gospel, holds all there markers of the 5th stage of the hero’s journey , “crossing the threshold” as described by Joseph Campbell in this book the Hero with a thousand faces.
In this stage the hero meets powerful mentors of the past and discovers the boundary between the ordinary world and that of the extraordinary. There is a proclamation of the hero’s destiny and powers previously uncertain are confirmed. Today’s Jesus seems to have, in the eyes of the church, lost the best aspects of the divine mystery narrative out of a fear of being accused of high fantasy sorcery.
I can picture the scene played out in one of my Tuesday night role-playing sessions where the Aasimar cleric seeks to commune with their God and roles a nat 20 causing two legendary figures of faith to appear and the Voice of God to be heard from the heavens through a passing light filled cloud. What and awesome adventure hook!
Apologies for those readers who don’t speak RPG, if you need a translation just ask the comment section below.