What Clash of the Titans’ gods teach us about God

Josh Larsen

It wasn’t long into “Clash of the Titans,” the remake of the cheesy 1981 special effects extravaganza, when I realized that this was the most religious movie I’d seen so far this year.

Not Christian, mind you, but certainly religious. “Clash of the Titans” is primarily a creature feature – there are giant scorpions and screeching gargoyles and, famously, the gargantuan sea beast the Kraken - but its creatures are mined from the Greek myth of Perseus. The son of the god Zeus, born to a human mother, Perseus here leads a mission to defeat the god Hades. Hades has convinced his more powerful brother Zeus that humans no longer respect the gods and must be cowered into delivering praise.

“Clash of the Titans” sets forth an interesting theology. The gods’ immortality is made possible by human prayers, be they prayers of praise (to Zeus) or of fear (to Hades). “Let me loose upon them,” Hades (Ralph Fiennes) begs Zeus (Liam Neeson). “They will pray again.”

The gods of “Clash of the Titans” are an abusive, vindictive bunch. Several of the human women speak of being violated by the gods, including Medusa, who in this telling has been cursed for rejecting an immortal’s advances (no wonder she spends the rest of her days turning men into stone).

All of this makes Perseus (Sam Worthington, still awash in CGI after “Terminator Salvation” and “Avatar”) an interesting hero. Though a demigod – half god – Perseus resolutely places himself in the human camp, even refusing at first to make use of his god-like gifts and powers. When Zeus appears to his son and offers him sanctuary on Mount Olympus, Perseus replies, “For someone who created man, you don’t know much about us.”

We’re a long way from the Christian concept of grace and redemption. If anything, watching these needy gods bicker about how to manipulate mankind made me even more grateful for the God Christians know: Divine and demanding, to be sure, but also forgiving, compassionate and eternal.

In its own way, the mythology of “Clash of the Titans” helped to strengthen my own faith. I wonder, how have myths – Greek, Roman or otherwise – informed Christian theology for you?

Topics: Movies, Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Theology