Sep 28 2010

Get Low is a Fable About Forgiveness and Atonement


Felix Bush is the subject of myth and legend in 1930’s rural Tennessee. Few know his real story. Felix has spent forty years of his life as an isolated hermit in a self-imposed penance for some mysterious long-ago sin. Felix becomes troubled by  dreams and visions from his past. The inevitability of death  is punctuated when he learns that one of his contemporaries has died.

Felix recognizes it may soon be his time to “Get Low” and decides to have a funeral party for himself while he is still alive. He goes to the local minister who turns him down because he refuses to repent to God. Felix initially rejects the idea put forth by Rev. Horton that “Forgiveness is free but you do have to ask for it.” Continue reading

Feb 6 2010

Heroes Redemption and Forgiveness for Sylar


Repentance and forgiveness bring down the wall in the most recent episode of Heroes, Season 4 Episode 18. Guilt is a wall that separates us from others and locks us into ourselves. Bitterness does the same thing.  Gabriel Gray, aka Sylar, reaches a personal arch in Heroes. He doesn’t want to be Sylar anymore. He wants to change. Vengeance, fear, and doubt drive Matt Parkman to entrap Sylar in the isolation of his own mind. With motives that have nothing to do with rescue, Peter Petrelli goes into Sylar’s isolation to bring him back.

This reminds me so much of Paul’s conversion.  Sylar wants redemption but, like Paul, has to wait for someone to come and lead him out.  It must have been frightening for Ananias to be asked to go to Paul. Paul had the power to kill him or have him arrested. Paul may have hurt some of Ananias’ friends and it’s possible Ananias wasn’t all that excited about letting Paul off the hook after all he’d done to make life miserable for Christians. Paul had to wait around in Damascus, blind, until someone from the community he had tortured came to help him. Moving on for both Paul and Sylar required being forgiven.

Trapped together in an empty world, Peter and Gabriel/Sylar struggle to find a way out. They cooperate because they have a common goal, but Peter feels compelled to continue to hate Gabriel/Sylar who killed his brother Nathan. Gabriel feels he’s changed but cannot begin to function as a changed person until Peter forgives him. We make redemption more difficult for others by harboring resentments or saddling them with baggage from the past. Peter’s forgiveness not only releases Gabriel but restores Peter so that his memories of his brother can be based on love rather than anger. Whatever happens on Heroes next,  watching Peter and Gabriel knock down that wall created a visual image for me of how redemption and forgiveness work together to free us.