Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Spell of Shattered Sight

[source]
I am a Once Upon a Time fan - it is one of the handful of television shows I keep up with on Hulu. It often makes me think theologically. In the most recent episode [season 4, episode 9], for instance, Ingrid casts the spell of shattered sight on Anna; the purpose of the spell has always been to distort people's perceptions of what they see. Theologically, it makes me second-guess myself. The literal rendering of the Bible passages that speak of God allowing people to "believe a lie and be damned" or "turning them over to a reprobate mind" has always caused me fear - would God actually allow me to be deceived because I dared think outside the box of legalistic religion?

I don't think so. But I still have a few remnants of that insecurity.

And then on the road searching for Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina have a conversation about whoever wrote the book in which their lives have been chronicled. Regina is convinced that the author decided Mary Margaret was a hero and she, Regina, was a villain, and irredeemably so. "Free will be damned," she says.

I have ruminated on free will before...you know, as far as salvation and predestination and Calvinistic blah blah blah and all that. But I've never considered it in terms of the total outcome of "the story". Does free will have ultimate implications? Has God already decided, or foreseen, or whatever theological term you want to throw out there, how it all ends, and written the end of the book as destruction and punishment and cleansing...or is the book written in a choose-your-own-ending style? Maybe there is hope of redemption and reward and...and healing rather than purging. I don't know. Maybe it's time I delved back into the literature on free will and see if anyone has addressed this and how.

The episode also brings out the meaning of the song, Let It Go. Ingrid freezes Anna and Kristoff in the castle after declaring, "Sooner or later, everyone sees me as a monster. Maybe it's time to embrace it and be one." DUN-Dun-dun. The thing is...Ingrid had some choice all along. She let a few wrong people's wrong perceptions of her form her own expectations of all the people around her. She thought because a few misguided individuals saw her as a monster, so would everyone eventually. Perhaps it was even exacerbated because that is how she viewed herself. Classic case of psychological projection.

Allowing others' views of us to form our own self-perception is harmful. It's not a bad idea to take in feedback from others...but others can be very wrong. Every person is biased by their own worldview. I am in charge of who I want to be. I have to follow what I believe in - what I know in my heart I can live with.

The thrust of this episode is radical self-acceptance...and hope...and waiting patiently for a happy ending. I loved it.