Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Perfect Heroes & Imperfect Singers

I have discovered an interesting thing about myself. It seems I really like my heroes to be perfect. Cindy and I were having a conversation recently, and in the course of discussing what we liked and didn't like, I was forced to admit that I just don't care much for flawed heroes. I like William Wallace in Braveheart. I like William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace. I like Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. One of my complaints with the movie adaption of Lord of the Rings is the portrayal of Faramir (Peter Jackson admitted that he characterized Faramir like he did because it was hard enough for him to conceive of one perfect hero [Aragorn], two was right out). As much as I enjoyed the new Battlestar Galactica (and I did), I did miss the original Apollo and Adama—people who were idealistic and incorruptible. Luke Skywalker is still a better hero than Anakin.

Don't get me wrong. Heroes who overcome their failings are important. I liked Han Solo, I was just a Luke guy. Robert the Bruce was great, but William Wallace's only flaw was his faith in humanity. Captain Jack Harkness is an interesting fellow, but the Doctor is more my style.

So, with the revelation in hand, I began to psycho-analyze myself wondering what dark and sinister thing this said about me. Then, as I was thinking about it, a song came on my iPod that I really enjoyed, Kate Campbell's "Prayer of Thomas Merton." Kate Campbell comes from Alabama—a fact that is no secret when listening to her sing. I thought of her twang and how distinct her voice is, and how "imperfect" her singing is compared to the expectation of the voice instructors I saw Cindy learn from. That moved my mind to other artists I like to listen to. I thought of Bob Dylan, Sam Cook, Jimmy Buffett, Rich Mullins, Alan Levi—all singers with unusual diction, lisps, gravelly voices, and they are some of my favorites. Of course, I love Andrea Bocelli, Harry Conick, Michael BublĂ©. I love singers who have been taught to sing well and sing right, and I have a deep appreciation for them. But, when push comes to shove, I like Peter O'Toole's "Impossible Dream" more than I do Placido Domingo.

So, why perfect heroes and imperfect singers? I am still not so sure that it doesn't say something dark and sinister about me. But, I also have decided it is probably the same reason the Bible tells us about Peter and about Jesus. We have a very human Peter who reminds us that even the best of us will make mistakes. Even the ones with the answers close at hand will have crises of faith and deny the Lord. Jesus, on the other hand, reminds us that we can aspire to much more. The perfect humanity of Jesus joined with the perfect divinity of Jesus paints a picture of what our lives can be if we are willing to join our lives with a perfect God. The mystery of incarnation brings as much challenge as it does hope. It not only shows us the way to the divine, it confronts us with just how far we are from what we were created to be.

So, I will go on connecting with my imperfect singers and aspiring to my perfect heroes—seeing myself in Peter and trying to be more like Jesus.