I am a fan of many things. As a matter of fact, I’m of such a temperament that if I like something at all, I usually love it and become at least temporarily obsessed with it. Yet, if I were asked “what are you a fan of?” and given only one choice from all of fiction, I would say “I am a Godzilla fan.”
I always have trouble pinning down the appeal that the character has for me. I’m certainly not one of those ‘camp’ fans who enjoy the series for its low-production values and dubbing (and I have little sympathy with them). Nor am I the kind of fan who simply enjoys the spectacle (though I do enjoy it on that level). Simply put, I love it because I honestly think it’s a good story centered around a truly fascinating figure.
Godzilla has, with few exceptions, remained a remarkably consistent character throughout his nearly-sixty year history and diverse roles; the ‘heroic’ Godzilla is recognizably the same character as the ‘villain’ Godzilla, only with his vast energies channeled in a different direction. The transition, from violent destroyer to semi-friendly protector, was done smoothly and intelligently over the course of several films, allowing us to see the stages in which Godzilla and humanity warily circle each other while making complementary gestures of reconciliation.
But what is this striking character at the center of it all, which has remained so consistent in the transition of villain to hero? The picture that emerges out of the many films, books, and so on is of an intelligent, possible even sapient creature, one who combines startling violence and anger with a fierce kind of nobility and courage. In one of Mark Cerasini’s novels, he describes the typical reaction people have to him: “Like all who saw Godzilla in the flesh, he felt awe and respect as well as fear.”
Godzilla, then, is something much more complex than simply a rampaging animal. He’s an iron-willed, short-tempered, courageous individual burning with rage over the wrongs he has suffered. At first he simply lashes out at anyone and anything he comes into contact with, but as time goes on he begins to harness his anger and direct it against his real enemies. In this way he becomes a force for good, but even then he doesn’t become exactly ‘safe’ (at least, when they try to make him safe the movies take a sharp nose-dive). He’s still dangerous, still something you need to be at least a little afraid of.
Why do I bring all this up? Because I see in Godzilla something that the modern Christian should aspire to. Godzilla will never ‘fit in’ with the world; the world views him with mingled fear and hatred, an unpleasant fact that it would remove if it could. Similarly, the world hates and fears Christianity and would destroy it if it could. Yet Godzilla stands firm and defiant against the world’s hatred; no matter what mankind throws at him, he’ll fight it off and strike back twice as hard. He’s a warrior; indomitable and unflinching in battle, standing before the entire world as a pillar of defiance saying “However much you hate me, you cannot destroy me. However much you fight me, I will not back down.”
That, I think, is the kind of attitude we Christians need to cultivate; this implacable, defiant, even ferocious courage. You see, we’ve been trying very hard to go along to get along with the world; we’ve tried to be gentle and accepting. We’ve decried “judgmental” attitudes and watered down the Christian faith almost as far as it will go. It doesn’t work. All we have to show for it is a decreasing Mass attendance and an emboldened secular culture poised to drive us back into the catacombs in the name of tolerance and diversity. As soon as the world senses weakness, it pounces upon it like King Ghidorah pouncing on the larval Mothra. We need to be bolder. We need to stop letting “don’t judge me!” or other such nonsense silence us. We need to stop letting ourselves be bullied because we don’t want to be offensive. In God’s name, we ought to be offensive! We ought to experience hatred and ridicule and contempt for Christ’s sake. Didn’t He tell us we would? Didn’t He say that we should rejoice at the world’s hatred?
It’s noted in one movie that when Godzilla is attacked, he always advances rather than retreats, and he keeps advancing until he’s destroyed his opponent. That’s the kind of attitude we should have; when we’re attacked, we should take it as an opportunity to proclaim the faith. Pope Leo XIII declared “Christians are born for combat,” and we need to start acting like it.
“If the world is against Christ,” said St. Athanasius. “Then I am against the world!” Whenever I see Godzilla, that’s the kind of sentiment that comes to mind; the cry of “do your worst, but I will fight you to the end!” Godzilla has this in common with the Saints; he never backs down or flees. No matter what the odds, he stands and fights until he either triumphs or can fight no more. Whether it’s the fiery defiance of St. Athanasius or St. Dominic, or the cold-blooded martyrdom of St. Thomas More, the Saints are implacable before the world. And why shouldn’t they be? They are Christ’s, and Christ has conquered the world.
This doesn’t mean that Christians should be abrasive or fierce in everyday life, but that the potential for a kind of ferocity should exist. The Christian should be strong, at least as strong (in his own way) as Godzilla; the kind of strength that can overcome armies and rip through mountains. We shouldn’t be rude or confrontational all the time, but we should be willing to be if necessary. Confrontations must arise, and it does no good to back down because “that would be rude” or “who am I to judge?” Like Godzilla, the world will hate us whether we back down or not; we may as well stand and fight it out.
So for goodness sakes, let’s stop this limp, conciliatory attitude we’ve had for the past few decades. We must be clear: there is no compromise to be had, any more than there can be a compromise between Mothra and King Ghidorah. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and there is no other. As far as the world refuses to accept that, it will always hate us and seek our destruction, and we must always fight it and seek its conversion. Moreover, we can’t keep trying to play both sides; to be equally acceptable to both the World and to Christ. In the end, we must conform to either one or the other, just like Godzilla cannot keep going his own way and must in the end either become more like Ghidorah, a cruel, wanton destroyer, or more like Mothra, a protector of the innocent. Either we are with Christ with all that means regarding the favorite sins of the age, or we are with the world. There are no two ways about it.
Vive Christus Rex!