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Dangerous women—on TV and in the Bible

There are those who believe that a child in the womb shares its mother’s dreams. Her love for him. Her hopes for his future. Is it told to him in pictures while he sleeps inside her? Is that why he reaches for her in those first moment and cries for her touch? But what if you’ve known since he was inside you what his life held for him? That he would be hunted? That his fate was tied to the fate of millions? That every moment of your life would be spent keeping him alive? Would he understand why you were so hard? Why you held on so tight? Would he still reach for you if the only dream you ever shared was a nightmare?

--voiceover by Sarah Connor at the beginning the pilot episode of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
We caught the first hour of the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot last night (the second hour runs tonight) and while it’s no Battlestar Galactica, it is holding our interest. So far, it’s got a good pace and Lena Headey (who portrays Sarah Connor) is fun to watch (as is Summer Glau, who plays John Connor’s newest terminator protector).Thomas Dekker (the teenage John Connor) seems not to have nailed his character yet (or perhaps it’s the writers who haven’t done so). The teenager refuses to accept his destiny and comes across as a bit of a whiner, though I guess we should give him a break: having the destiny of being the savior of the world seems a bit hard to live with at 15 years old. (Though the younger John Connor of Terminator 2: Judgement Day seems like he could have handled it.)

I must confess, however, I found myself particularly drawn to Sarah. While I’ve long been aware of the Savior/Messiah theme in the Terminator franchise, it didn’t really dawn on me until this series how much Sarah Connor—especially in light of her opening voice-over—strongly echoes Mary, the mother of Jesus (something I am sure the writers are aiming at in this series). Both were bearers of and entrusted with the upbringing and protection of sons who were destined to save mankind. Both were women whose sons were in peril (Jesus from Herod and John from, well, practically everyone). Both were considered a bit out of their minds because they knew the truth which bucked the current status quo and others refused to accept or believe. In The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, Scot McKnight points out that:

The real Mary was a dangerous woman. She was dangerous to the powers that be because she predicted the powers that will be. She was dangerous to the likes of Herod and Augustus, emperor of Rome, because she claimed that her son was born to be king. Her claim meant that neither Herod nor Augustus would be King.

And, instead of sitting back hoping good things would happen for Israel, Mary turned the wheel of history to make things happen for Israel. This made Mary a dangerous woman with a mission to accomplish. As a dangerous woman, Mary threatened the fabric of the Jewish society and (however hard it might be to fathom) the Roman Empire.

Her vision made her dangerous to others, but it also put her life in danger. In fact, her vision put in jeopardy not only her life, but also that of everyone around her. Danger radiated from Mary . . . .

. . . Mary was not a “nice” girl. If “nice” means meek and mild and mind-your-own-business, then Mary was not nice. In fact, Mary scared “nice” passive girls because she was dangerously active. Instead of minding her own business, Mary was minding Herod’s and, as we will see, Caesar Augustus’s. And well into Jesus’ own ministry, we will see that Mary minded Jesus’ business, too.

Mary was not a “nice” girl. But most of us think she was.
Of course, Mary didn’t hide guns in the walls of her home, assume false identities, shoot sentient machines and blow up buildings. But I see some important aspects of Mary’s life echoed in Sarah’s intensity and focus in grooming John for his destiny. I can see in Sarah the echoes of Mary’s purpose and life, consumed with the knowledge of who her son was and preparing him for that. Echoed in Sarah is Mary’s burden to bear the inevitable skepticism and dismissal (and physical threat) of many in her culture and society with the fantastic and bizarre events that surround her son’s existence. People have a bent to see what they want to see, what will benefit them—and fight hard against embracing what will force them to change their lives and priorities.

All this thinking about Mary also makes me think about my own life. Am I minding the business of Jesus? Do I radiate the danger and action of God’s Kingdom coming? Am I embracing the vision of Jesus the way Mary did? Am I consumed with Jesus, his Kingdom and purpose? That God embraces women like Mary is thrilling and exciting to me. Women with faith and guts like Mary are inspirations and encouragement to all of us, an empowering image of what a life of walking in the Kingdom and with Jesus is like—and how that changes the world around us.

Seeing aspects of Mary echoed in Sarah Connor brings these questions and thoughts back to mind. Yes, Sarah’s echo is far from perfect and has some drastic differences; but these kinds of echoes are why I stick around for series like these: they bring God-talk into open spaces.

(Images: copyrighted by Fox) ttsccctgy