Holding out for a Hero (@darrenrhill)

From OK magazine, to celebrity reality TV shows, it would seem our world has an obsession. We are obsessed with celebrities. Today we have people who are called celebrities because they are celebrities and nothing more. We have an industry that creates, perpetrates and inflates.

Personally, I really struggle with treating people any different, whether they are well-known or not. And when it comes to the current celeb obsessions, I just don’t get it. However, as a nation many do take part and enjoy it. It seems celebrity watching is the new train-spotting.

Move over twitchers, here come the celebrity watchers.

Myth and Legend

Celebrities is are treated like any other superstar, myth or legend. And I am not talking about celebrities not having any ability worthy of fame. Like many heroes, they are never as nice in real life as we think they should be? The media machine is only too concerned helpful to point this out. Celebrities all too soon lose themselves in their own legend.

But we shouldn’t be too surprised, we are all flawed humans. Including the person I wanted to take a look at in Judges. Let’s meet Samson.

Samson

492px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_126As we have noted, much of Judges forms a recurring structure. We have a seemingly unending cycle, where the nation turns away, before repenting, and coming back to God. Actually that is an over-simplistic structure. We forget that the ‘nation’ was just a collection of tribes, fighting for supremacy, autonomy and existence, in the land where they were. That isn’t to say the cycle wasn’t happening, but it probably had a few more layers than Judges implies.

When I was asked to write one of Scripture Union’s Dark Chapters, it didn’t take me long to choose Samson. And if you are interested, here’s an affiliate link to the eBook. The series was to show some of the darker stories in the Bible, to stand alongside the young adult horror fiction titles.

All humanity is here

For me Samson ticked the boxes and it was easy to create a fiction around the biblical account, there was already plenty of violence, pagan worship and a hero.

Samson, like many modern heroes and celebrities, had his flaws. When it came to sexuality, his attraction muscle went into overdrive. It didn’t matter who the women was, or where she was from, and as we know, that was his downfall when he met Delilah.

So like the today’s celebrities, Samson, was the same in so many ways. In fact, he was just like most of us, an ordinary flawed human. I keep trying to imagine Samson alive today.

  • What sort of person would he be?
  • Where would he fit into our current crop of celebrities?
  • Would Samson use social media?
  • How would Samson be portrayed in OK?
  • Or would he be more at home in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here?

I have no doubt that he would be a PR nightmare. He would probably be the bad boy we love to hate. Of course this is pointless speculation, but that is what the internet is for isn’t it?

What really happens in Vegas?

The account in Judges makes Samson out to be a lot more. Samson is bestowed with extraordinary strength. In fact the account reads more like a greek myth; a legend.

This gives us an interesting hermeneutical challenge.

It is up to us, the reader, to discern the truth amongst the hyperbole. What is the important thing that we should take away from a story like this? Why should we believe, and expect the children in Sunday School to believe, Samson’s extraordinary exploits, but disregard Hercules as the product of someone’s creative imagination?

I believe the biggest challenge we have today, with regard to the Bible in modern culture, is how we engage people to see the text as more than a collection of legendary tales. And before you answer, it is no good using verses within the Bible to argue this.

A book that is God-breathed is as much a legend as Samson to most people.

Over to you…

About Darren Hill