Happy Sunday fellow Christians and Science Fiction fans alike. I have to say this post comes later than usual but I’ve had quite a busy day. This post is also a little different from what you all might be used to at this point because today I’m going to address fatherhood and what God teaches us about the importance of “staying in the picture.” A little history before I begin. My father wasn’t really in the picture after I turned 10. In fact, he rejected me outright because after my parents divorced I chose to live with my mother. The divorce drove a deeper wedge between my father and I, and eventually he disowned me. I don’t think my story is totally unique. There are so many Christians out there who have felt the sting of a fatherless existence, some worse than others.
This reminds me of a story I read repeatedly while doing my undergraduate degree in English, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think ever since Brian Aldiss The Billion Year Spree was published, science fiction scholars all around the world started to consider Frankenstein as the very first legitimate work of science fiction. I’m not going to spend time trying to prove or disprove that fact, but I take it on faith—having read it myself—that Shelley’s masterpiece falls under the category of “proto-science fiction.”
Most people know the story. A brash scientist named Victor Frankenstein wants to understand the mysteries of life and death, turning to science to discover a means to cheat the reaper. His experiments result in a grotesque creature cobbled together from bits and pieces of various cadavers. Frankenstein cannot stomach the sight of his creation and abandons him.
To quickly summarize, the creature leaves Frankenstein’s home, learns about society and mankind, suffers heartbreak and reject, and eventually turns murderous. One by one, Frankenstein’s friends and family are killed by the creature. Frankenstein goes looking for his monster to destroy him but in instead overpowered and forced to hear the creature’s tale. Turns out the creature is just in search of love and acceptance. He blames Frankenstein for his murderous rage.
“I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”
Imagine an infant cast out onto the streets and left to fend for itself. Does the analogy surprise you? Shelley made the same connection. Her monster is the abandoned infant, the fatherless child. All the creature ever knows is abandonment. He never knows love, forgiveness, acceptance, let alone knowledge of the Lord, Jesus and the Gospels. Many of us have even just one parent or relative available to teach us about God. What does the creature have?
There are many who claim that the real monster of Frankenstein is Frankenstein himself. A callous man incapable of taking responsibility for his creation, and abandoning his “child” for the sake of his looks. Frankenstein tries to play God and he succeeds in so far as he brings a corpse to life with electricity. However, he fails at emulating God’s most the most quintessential characteristic which is unconditional and unending love. God never abandons his children, Jesus promises us this in the new covenant he formed with us and sealed with his death. With Jesus’ sacrifice we can have a close and intimate relationship with God. God becomes a parent that will never leave us. Only we can turn our backs on God.
Frankenstein is a narcissistic, self-absorbed father and his sin ultimately catches up with him. Frankenstein’s monster demands that his father make him a bride so that he could be happy. He agrees at first but does not uphold his promise. This results in the creature murdering Frankenstein’s wife, Elizabeth, Frankenstein gives chase and eventually dies in the artic aboard Captain Walton’s ship. The creature mourns Frankenstein and later erects a funeral pyre; he then casts himself into the flames with his father’s corpse. The story has many different meanings. You can choose to see it as the dangers of science unburdened by the morality of faith and religion, but I’ve always chosen to Frankenstein as a tale of failed parenthood. Ephesians 6:4 tells us:
“fathers do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
Be better than Frankenstein. Think not only of yourself, for when you bring a child into the world God has made then you are responsible for showing them the ways of the Lord. Love your children unconditionally for in love they were made.
Wow, this post was heavy and long! Sorry things got so intense. I’ve been musing about this for some time now and service today helped me understand that God is a father to us all, especially the fatherless. God bless you all, have a wonderful week.
PS. If you want to check out an amazing Frankenstein film, I’d recommend the 2004 miniseries with William Hurt, Donald Sutherland, and Luke Goss. It’s amazing.