02 April 2004

The Jesus Archetype

2 April 2004

I fell asleep one night meditating on two of my favorite characters in fiction:  Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP from the television show Due South and Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, Night Watch from Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series.

Both characters have a lot in common.  They are boys from the country who move to the big city.  They know their way around their respective cities as if they have never lived anywhere else,  yet retain their otherness and naïveté.

More importantly, they give their full attention to each person that they meet, regardless of that person’s status.  They remember each person as an individual and their authors write them in such a way that you believe that both characters will know that person if they meet again, regardless of how fleeting the first meeting was.

Finally, they frequently get the reaction 'is he for real?' from other characters in their respective universes.

I think one of the reasons I like these characters so much is because they are simultaneously a person you would want to have be on your side, while at the same time, they really would not be comfortable to be around on a day-to-day basis.  By their very actions, they make a person feel like they should be nicer, better, and more generous.  Which is much harder than it looks from the outside.

I have long known that I have a weakness for men who are strong and compassionate, naive yet aware of the people around them, and able to fight with the best of the action heros yet preferring to find peaceful solutions or talk their way out of a difficulty.  What I didn’t realize until just recently is that many of those characteristics are also attributable to Jesus.  I’ve been reading the bible as part of an ongoing project and was surprised to find such strong parallels with some of my favorite fictional characters.

So now I have a category for these two characters, men who, even though they are imaginary, inspire me to try to be a better person.  They embody the Jesus Archetype for me.  And by doing so, they allow me to examine my relationship to my faith, friends, and family in a friendly and welcoming way.  For one thing about the scriptures, they rarely make me laugh, while both Terry Pratchett and the creators of Due South make me laugh and think and learn.

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