Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: soul

Falling for Utility

When you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name, ‘Arthas.’

In 1994 Blizzard Entertainment released the original Warcraft game. It’s sequel was the first game I ever purchased. The storyline was amazing, and it keeps growing to this day with World of Warcraft.

One of the most interesting characters in the franchise is Prince Arthas. He was a paladin in his youth, and son to the king of Lordaeron. He devoted his life to fighting against the forces of darkness, be they orc, undead or demon. From the beginning his zeal and passion for his people was apparent. Nothing could stop him from serving his realm. He would have made a decent king.

And then the Scourge came. The Scourge is the army of undead, ruled by the Lich King and bent of the destruction of the world. Arthas threw himself against them, willing to die to bring them down. But when the Scourge defiled the entire store of grain at the capital city of Stratholme, Arthas was forced to pause and think.

The defilement was going to turn every single citizen of Stratholme into undead minions of the Scourge. There was no cure. And such a large city would have bolstered the Scourges ranks so much that victory may have been impossible. So what was Arthas to do?

He decided that the only fitting course of action was to kill the citizens of Stratholme before they became undead. His Paladin teacher opposed him, but he was stubborn. So he took his knights and began the culling of Stratholme.

Arthas’ intentions were good. And you could even argue for the utility of his choices. But the choice led to his fall. In culling Stratholme, he damaged his soul. And this became the first of many choices that led Arthas to not only join the Scourge, but to become the Lich King himself – enemy of all living.

Utility did him in. He thought only about the outward result, never wondering about what his choices would turn him into. I wonder if many of my choices have the same stench of dependence on utility. I may not be killing doomed civilians, of course. But do I refuse to help people, thinking utility instead of thinking of what Jesus would have me do? Do I refuse to help, thinking that my help will make them weaker and pander to their weaknesses? If I do, I imagine I’m ignoring my own soul. There must be a better way than strict utility. Maybe Arthas could have found a third way. A way to save the world, without damning his soul.

The Mangled Creature

I finally finished the Harry Potter series. I know that a lot of Christians are really upset about Harry Potter. I’m not. I’d tell you why, but this post isn’t really about that.

Something in last book of the series tickled my imagination. I’ll try to get it to tickle yours without too many spoilers.

At the very end of the series, Harry gets a glimpse of the world of souls. For a moment he thinks it’s the after life, but it becomes clear, I think, that it’s just a place where people exist in forms that are true to what the condition of their souls are. And in this place, Harry comes across the soul of the antagonist, Voldemort.

On earth, Voldemort is a powerful and fearsome person. The kind of person that no one could ever stand up to. His followers worship him as a god. But what is he in the world of souls?

He’s a mangled, raw, dying child.  Thrown under a bench and abandoned.  Anyone who goes near him is repulsed by him.  His soul is so horribly disfigured, in fact, that even Dumbledore is forced to say that he sees no hope for it.  And, even as Harry encourages Voldemort to repent, the reader is sure that it’s impossible.

This picture of the soul immediately registered with me.

Jeremiah considered the human soul to be deceitful and desperately sick.  But not just the ones like Voldemort’s, who had maimed his soul through unspeakable evil deeds.  But every soul.

Each of us had a broken soul.  The image of God that separates us from the animals is maimed.  Our souls are not just damaged by what we have done, but they are wrecked from the beginning.  If it were not so we would have discovered and implemented a way to build a perfect society by now and I’d never choose anything that was bad for me.

So what Dumbledore uttered for Voldemort’s soul applies to everyone, then.  “It is beyond saving.”  Harry could never have convinced Voldemort to repair his soul.  Heck, even if he tried, he wouldn’t know how to begin.  And so when Voldemort was killed, his body was destroyed and he was left with nothing but his useless, pain-wracked soul.

Is it impossible to heal a soul?  Of course.  But it’s also impossible for a man four days dead to come out from his tomb.  It is a good thing that Jesus enjoys doing impossible things, eh?

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