". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well Done!

On my Lutheran homeschooling email list, parents (usually moms) sometimes post what is known as a "mommy brag" in which they highlight something special one of their children has achieved. Today in our homeschool literature class my 13-year-old daughter submitted this essay comparing and contrasting the false gods of the ancient Greeks with the one true God of Christianity. I thought it was particularly well written and would like to share it here.

Much of the story in the Iliad is dependent on the gods and goddesses. They take on human identities and meddle in the lives of mortals, taking sides and favoring certain warriors. They are often shallow and quite dishonorable. They always seem to be at each other's throats and are very prone to impulses and whims. The one true God of Judeo-Christianity dramatically contrasts with this. He is sinless, wise beyond imagining, just, and steadfast.

It seems natural, however, that the Greek gods and goddesses would have such human flaws and weaknesses, since they were created by people. The Greeks would want gods that would fit their imperfection. Of course, having the gods be imperfect is a terrible scheme, because without a perfect god what hope is there for perfect eternal life in heaven?

A good example of this imperfection is Zeus. As king of the gods, one would expect him to be wise and fair. However, he is ruthless and seems to think of humanity as playthings. For example, during the Iliad, he treats the war like some entertaining spectacle and gradually becomes bored with it even while blood is being shed right before his eyes. One can only imagine what the world would be like if such a god really were ruler of the entire earth!

Another example is Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It seems to me that the Greeks held love in very high esteem, but the love of Aphrodite is still not the same as the love of the Judeo-Christian God. In fact, Aphrodite even seems apt to cause discord. In the Iliad, she offers Paris the most beautiful woman in the world - Helen, who, of course, is already married! One could even say that Aphrodite was the main initiator of the Trojan War. The love of the one true God, however, is perfect and infallible, and brings not strife but salvation. Aphrodite's kind of "love" seems to be closer to sexual infatuation than true, perfect love.

The gods and goddesses of ancient Greece reflect our weaknesses and can help us to understand ourselves better. Many of them have some very good qualities. But they are not real and can do nothing to save us. Only the one true God can bring us salvation and perfection.

Not bad, huh?

3 comments:

Susan K said...

Very well-written!

Evan said...

Impressive. Follow-up question: When God seems to us be the most "Greek" in nature, (such as in the book of Job), what do we see that still sets Him apart?

Marie N. said...

Thank you for sharing this. Last year as a 5th grader my daughter read an abridged version. She adds her "Excellent" to your commendations.