On Destiny

Okay, so I think it’s a known fact that I get inspiration for my posts from the most random things. 

This time, it’s from the season premiere of the CW’s Supernatural. (Before you laugh your head off, you need to know that since The X-Files went off the air in 2002, I’d been looking for a replacement to fill my need for a good old-fashioned scary TV show. Supernatural was it.)

The show chronicles the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who are “hunters.” They spend each episode hunting and killing demons, vampires, werewolves… basically every creature that Mulder and Scully tried to bring to justice but couldn’t because of government bureaucracy. In any case, last season featured a story arc that involved demons aligning themselves with one of the brothers, who had been prophesied to lead them in the impending apocalypse. (I know, heavy stuff.) This past week’s season premiere unexpectedly focused on the other side: an angel enlisting the other brother to help the “good guys” by literally pulling him up from hell (long story) and raising him from the dead.

All together now: Oooooooooooooooh.

Why this episode triggered a flood of memories for me: I grew up with the notion of spiritual warfare as a major part of my religious beliefs. It’s a largely evangelical (and pentecostal) doctrine that posits that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, principalities, and evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Archie’s paraphrase of Ephesians 6:12). So yes, I believe in angels and demons. I believe in possession and exorcism. And I believe that there’s probably more going on out there than we can see or explain.

So that fundamental struggle between good and evil has always been fascinating to me. And as a kid, there was no greater thrill than imagining angels like Michael or Gabriel smiting Lucifer and his legion in an epic, bloody battle a la Gladiator or Lord of the Rings(What can I say? I’m a guy.)

But what triggered my thinking about spiritual warfare watching Supernatural this week was not only the literal portrayal of this struggle (which excited the heck out of me), but the notion that we as humans could pick a side. What thrilled me about this episode was the implication that we are not simply bystanders in this epic battle of good and evil, but that we get to participate.

I think regardless of whether you believe in all of this or not, the fundamental belief that we have a say in our own destiny (i.e., that the locus of control is internal rather than something arbitrarily determined by the universe) is extremely powerful. I wonder if we forget to exercise that power from time to time. Sometimes we get so caught up in our circumstances (or whining about them) that we forget that we have some control over our lives’ outcomes.

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