Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am Loki, Part V: Loki and the Other Son

(Spoilers for Thor and the story of the Prodigal Son below. For the other parts of this series, click the appropriate post: Part I, Part II, Part III, the Story of the Prodigal Son, and Part IV.)

You may be wondering at this point how the movie Thor relates to the story of the prodigal son. I'll admit, it's not a perfect metaphor, but so few things are. The important thing is that it is the metaphor that made me understand the Biblical story.

Loki and Thor seem to have had a good childhood, as far as we can tell (well, other than an unneeded competition for the throne of Asgard). I think we can guesstimate that the prodigal son and brother had a good childhood. I mean their father is a metaphor for God, so I think that's a pretty safe assumption.

I think it's safe to say that all families have their sibling rivalries. Loki and Thor's is pretty obvious. They're vying for the throne. And I think it's safe to say the prodigal and his brother had their own rivalries--if the brother's response to his arrival is any clue.

My family is of course no different. Great childhood. Lots of sibling rivalry.

Then the prodigal leaves. In the story of the prodigal son, he demands his inheritance and storms out. In the story of Thor, Thor (our prodigal) demands his inheritance and is exiled.

Now we all know what happens to the prodigal when he leaves, whether he be Thor or the actual prodigal. The prodigal's story is well known. But no one knows what happens to the other brother during the time the prodigal is gone. All we know is that whatever happens causes him to resent the younger brother.

We do know what happened to Loki while Thor is gone. He discovers he's a frost giant and that's why he's always been different. He is given the responsibility of being king--though he never really expected that. And even though he is going through all of this--discovering he's a monster, being king--his mother worries about Thor. 

In one scene, Loki and his mother are having a conversation at the sickbed of Odin. They're talking about why they never told Loki he's a frost giant. His mother is trying to explain. Loki doesn't get it, and he's worried about his father, who seems so frail, so sick, so old. Loki loves his father and doesn't want him to die. And his mother tells him to never lose hope, not for his father or for Thor. And Loki responds:

"What hope is there for Thor?"

Oh, that question. That is not a question where Loki is condemning Thor. That is not a question of wishing the brother was gone. The emotion of the question is, "Why are we talking about this right now? We're supposed to be talking about me and the fact that I'm a frost giant and you never freakin' told me? Can we please get back to me?"

But of course he doesn't voice that. Because that would be selfish. And we're not supposed to be selfish, no matter how much we work just for our parents attention.

Oh that feeling. I know that feeling so well. In the past decade I would say that 75% of my conversations with my parents revolved around my older siblings. And to this day I have put it up with it with little complaint just so I could talk to my parents. Because that's the topic they cared about. And I just wanted to talk to them.

So Loki is at home without Thor, and he's enjoying as much as he can. This single child attention is all he ever really wanted, even if it is tainted with the occasional discussion about Thor.

And then the prodigal returns.

He claims to have changed. He claims he's different. And it doesn't matter that you've been working the fields at home or just saved your father's life (let's ignore the fact that you sent the frost giants in the first place). Your mother goes from mid-hug with you to flinging herself into Thor's arms. Leaving you just standing there.

Leaving you bitter.

And the story of the prodigal stops there, but the story of Loki goes on. Because Loki goes where I've always thought to go.

When you have a sibling go prodigal and you see all the attention that gets them--attention you want--you have this serious temptation to go prodigal yourself.

I can't explain to you the number of times I've seriously considered going prodigal, for a short while, so that I can get all that attention, worry, and concern to yourself. And then you can come back to open arms and a party.

I've considered it so many times. I've been deeply tempted. I've had entire discussions with my little sister about whether this would work or not. How it would work, but it would hurt our parents, and we're not callous enough to hurt them.

But Loki, Loki who has done everything for his parents, for his family, who has tried so hard to no avail, he does it.

He gives up. He let's go. He goes prodigal.

And it does get him attention. It works. His father goes to great lengths to send Thor to Earth in The Avengers in order to bring Loki home. His family loves him. And he's getting attention. What he always wanted.

But the cost is too great.

The cost is villainy.

And I don't want to be a villain.

Click here for the final installment, Part VI: Not Being a Super Villain.

1 comment:

  1. what an amazing post! I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking blog, I will use this to help formulate a sermon I am writing tomorrow on the prodigal son for 5th and 6th graders. I've always thought of Thor and Loki as fitting well in this parable.