Shazam and the Energy of a Word

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silhouette back view man facing sunrise on mountain, superhero cape blowing in wind

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My 5 sons and I are headed to our regional cinema, excited to see the premiere of Shazam. I’m almost certainly far more excited than they, since I’ve been a fan of the Shazam mythology due to the fact I was a modest kid, the age of Billy Batson or younger.

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Several a time, soon after reading a set of Captain Marvel (the nomenclature just before copyright disputes with Marvel Comic’s many Captain Marvels produced the name confusing) comics, I would obtain myself walking via the Mississippi woods behind my home, yelling “Shazam,” just to see if, perhaps, just perhaps, I could harness the energy that would allow me to get in touch with down some magic lightning. In no way did.

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Nowadays, although, I’m considering about why this figure in pop culture, initially discounted by numerous as a Superman copy, keeps rebounding in well-liked culture.

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Several causes are behind this, but a single of them, it appears to me, is the resonant concept of accessing energy via a word.

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In his monumental book on comics mythology, Supergods, Grant Morrison argued that, in spite of all the copyright wrangling among the Superman and Shazam franchises (just before DC adopted the Shazam household via a buyout), Shazam actually wasn’t a reworking of the Superman mythos at all.

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Humans extended to connect to the supernatural.

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“Superman celebrated the energy of the person in a setting drawn to appear as accurate to life as attainable,” Morrison argued. “Captain Marvel’s stories presented a globe that slid and slipped and became unreal, a globe exactly where the word took center stage. He embraced the interior globe of dream logic, fairy-tale time, and toys that come to life. If Superman was Science Fiction, and Batman was Crime, Captain Marvel planted his flag in the wider territory of pure fantasy.”

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Morrison continued: “His origin story detailed an out-and-out shamanic expertise of a type familiar to any witch medical doctor, ritual magician, anthropologist, or alien abductee.”

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For these of you who do not know, the superhero in this account is a kid, who is in a position via an ancient wizard’s guidance to connect with magical lightning connecting him to an adult kind and the powers of 5 gods and a single sage.

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All this occurs anytime Billy speaks the wizard’s name.

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Now, these of you familiar with Morrison will know that he holds some, let’s place it this way, out-of-the-mainstream (any mainstream) metaphysical views. Regardless of all my disagreements with him on such, Morrison is onto some thing when it comes to the human longing to connect with the supernatural via word.

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In the Shazam narrative—and in numerous others—there’s a “deep, dark tunnel that leads to an elevated, magical plane exactly where words are superspells that transform the nature of reality.”

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We search for a transcendent word.

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Like me, Morrison as a kid would attempt out the Shazam word, just in case, but he argues that is about far more than childish imagination. “Eventually, everyone searches for his personal magic word: the diet program, the connection, the wisdom that may liberate us from the traditional into the extraordinary,” Morrison contended. “That eternal human hope for transcendence gave the Captain Marvel strip rocket fuel.”

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“The magic word was a notion that connected the hero with human speech language, storytelling,” Morrison noted. “Captain Marvel’s energy came not from years in the health club or from his alien biology or his royal blood.”

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The energy was beyond him, and it came to him via words.

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Once again, Morrison is off-base, in my view, on his shamanic vision of reality, but he is closer than modern secularism to a biblical view that there is a transcendent order underneath the visible, and that words are far more than just evolutionary adaptations to make communication a lot easier.

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He’s suitable that this notion shows up in all sorts of folklore and cultic practices. But why? Could it be that the underlying pattern—of the aspirations for which means, the need to have for safety, and the connection among Word and reality are aspect of what human beings extended to be accurate, since, in a extremely true sense, it is?

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As a Christian, I think that neither the devil nor far more benign human constructs can be eventually inventive at all. At very best, we plagiarize from God’s uber-creativity, and, at worst, we distort that creativity into idolatry (Rom. 1 Acts 17).

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Jesus encountered numerous shamanic attempts to channel energy via word.

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The demonic beings try—and fail—to use Jesus’ name in order to get energy more than him (Mk. 1:24). Rather, Jesus drives them away with his personal word, (Mk. 1:25), at times by asking the piercing query, “What is your name?” (Mk. five:9).

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Furthermore, Jesus, in teaching us to pray, disentangled us from the concept that magic words or vain repetitions had been required to get God’s consideration (Matt. six:7).

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The living Word of God is our supply and sustenance.

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We come to God in Jesus’ name—not as a disconnected, impersonal talisman—but since, by faith, we actually are united to him. And we are not transferred the energy we want from loaning forces, but rather the Word that inhabits us redefines what energy is in the 1st spot (1 Cor. 1:22-29). The Word is not Herculean but cruciform.

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Our words actually do matter, since all of the produced order about us is originated and sustained by a Word (Jn. 1:1), not an impersonal word that can be channeled and manipulated but a Word that became flesh and dwelled amongst us.

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We are then addressed by a living Word of God, which becomes a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And we cry out, in words, “Jesus is lord!” and “Abba, Father!” Certainly, when we do not know what words to say, the Spirit himself intercedes for us (Rom. eight:26).

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Shazam is exciting, since it is superior storytelling. But it is superior storytelling since it connects with some far more universal human longings. To be a kid is to be vulnerable, and every single human becoming feels each his or her personal vulnerability and that there’s fantastic energy out there someplace. And somehow we know there’s some thing potent in words.

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These intuitions—often twisted into dark and manipulative forms—are there since there is far more than a wizard out there, but a God who creates and recreates and regenerates on the basis of a Word that is improved than magic.

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The name of Jesus renews.

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We are suitable to tremble a bit at the mysteries all about us, and inside of us. A lot of it is dark and hazardous. But, as Martin Luther reminded us, “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him his rage we can endure, for, lo, his doom is positive. One particular tiny Word shall fell him.”

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I adore the Shazam story, but I discovered a extended time ago that “Shazam” will not turn a vulnerable kid into an invulnerable legend. But the name of Jesus can turn an adult in search of legendary energy into a kid, born anew, who can rest in the adore and providence of a individual Father, who speaks and acts, in our fantastic weakness.

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“Abba” is a easier word than “Shazam.”

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And regeneration occurs invisibly and virtually imperceptibly. But the energy on the other finish is true, and he has a Name. There’s a Light that overcomes the darkness, improved for us than magic lightning could ever be.

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Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/RyanKing999

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