by Donald Ingram, of Ingram Engineering, LLC
“Elijah was a human being, even as we are.” James 5:17
Elijah was not a sci-fi guy. Elijah was afraid, he was real, his God is real, and he built up the good.
Elijah got hungry, was afraid for his life, and needed reassurance from time to time that God really had a mission for him.
The sci-fi guy, however, rarely gets hungry, always has some powerful weapon or smarts that protects him from the ever-present enemy, and often has revenge as his motive. But, like all Hollywood characters, he rarely has to worry about meeting a work schedule, finding food, pooping, or being too tired or ill to put on a supreme performance of dedicated good or evil.
And he is so brave: Even the evil sci-fi guy does not shy from giving his life to make sure the good guy dies.
And he practices scholarly etiquette: He wouldn’t dream of interrupting another sci-fi-guy’s cerebral speech about why he is about to carry out some evil plan.
No matter how hard they try not to, sci-fi progenitors must always make their characters in some facsimile of reality as we know it. They switch around horns, eyes, appendages, etc., but the end result is some mishmash of something we’ve seen in nature. And fortunately for us, they speak American English.
The sci-fi villain also looks pretty much human in his motives: he wants power, money, the death of his opponents, and sex. He is willing to kill, lie, steal and rape. Like ordinary people. He trusts in his sci-fi gear: ray guns, cloaking, deception, guns, mind-control, time control, etc, etc.
Elijah, on the other hand, looks human because he is human. No mishmash of someone’s imagination. Just a regular guy who scholars argue about whether he spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, or what.
Our sci-fi hero always has some sci-fi advanced technique on his side. Not unlike Elijah’s God, but not real the way God is.
Elijah had God as his not-so-secret weapon, but God, through Elijah, was not trying to destroy people, He was trying to save them.
Now when God’s patience had worn out, after years when His miraculous signs and providence were ignored and despised, after His warnings were ignored, He brought people to the final judgment. We can guess that the prophets of Baal and the soldiers sent to get Elijah were given proper due for their faith, or lack thereof.
Star Wars’ “May the Force be with you” comes close to a sci-fi introduction of God into the story. And sci-fi hero guys occasionally mention a spiritual attribute that drives them, but their creators are very careful to not use the word “God,” or if so, only in the sense of an arcane human habit of old.
Elijah’s foes seemed well aware of the reality of God, but had the irrational hope that their idol gods who let them do evil things (even commanded them to do evil things, like sacrificing their children and having sex with prostitutes) were more powerful.
Just one last observation: there seems to be an endless supply of bullets, bombs, and other means of destruction, and there seems to be an endless supply of targets. McGyver excepted, it seems to be a Hollywood No-No to show anyone building things: ain’t no excitement in that – got to tear things down, now that’s what the box office is all about.
In much the same way as God sent Jeremiah (1:10) “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant,” so Elijah’s messages had a double purpose of turning away from evil and turning toward good. He called on people to turn away from witchcraft, burning babies, whoring. He called them to turn back to the one true God, to parenting, and to faithful marriage.
Like James says, Elijah was just a regular guy. I would add that this regular guy had his fears, was real, trusted in a real God, and wanted to build people up.