A Guide for Parents to
    Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
    The power of media and the story have a compelling impact on the culture, but especially on children. The newest book
    series and movie to captivate audiences is the
    Percy Jackson
    series by Rick Riordan. The series is a contemporary story of
    a twelve-year-old boy who discovers that his father is really the Greek god Poseidon. The book portrays the story of a young
    quest to discover his past and save the future of a world ruled by less than perfect Greek gods who have now claimed
    the skies above New York City as their Mount Olympus. The first book, which is the subject of the movie to be released this
    week, retells the story of the clash between the Titans and the gods of Olympus and the Titans
    renewed attempt to regain
    control of the world from the gods of Olympus. Percy is unknowingly framed into this controversy because it is believed that
    he has stolen Ze
    to g
    l o
    the oth
    ds. The story does a good
    job of incorporating the history of the Greek gods who evolved as a way to explain the natural and unnatural events of the
    world of ancient Greece.
    The release of these books and movie offer Christian parents an opportunity to talk about the differences between the one
    true God, the God of the Bible, and the Greek gods of Percy Jackson’s quest. In talking with children who read the books or
    see the movie, it is important to help them understand the difference between faith and fiction. These books and others like
    it are unique opportunities to talk with children, whether or not they have read the books or seen the movie. This article does
    not suggest that children should read the books or see the movie. Actually, for preschoolers and younger children the
    content will be confusing, especially the issue of multiple or fallen deities. However, if parents allow their children to read the
    books, see the movie or find themselves in situations where children encounter these issues, here are suggestions for
    dealing with the gods of Olympus and the God of the Bible:
    The gods of Olympus are limited in power and knowledge.
    They are limited in what they know and in their power to control.
    They represent aspects of nature and human nature. Poseidon is the god of the oceans but does not have power over land
    elements. Zeus is the god of the sky but does not have power over elements of the sea. The gods of Olympus are subject to
    tricks and schemes of humans and other deities and often find themselves trapped by their own selfish desires. The God of
    the Bible is Lord of all elements and Creator of the universe. (Genesis 1)
    The gods of Olympus do not have a good plan for humans. They use humans for their selfish desires.
    The gods of Olympus
    do not even love their own children in the same way the God of the Bible loves His creation. The God of the Bible was
    willing to create and redeem His children. Even when humanity was in sin, God sent His one and only Son to die for
    everyone. The sons and daughters of the gods are often unclaimed or only claimed when they have a purpose to their semi-
    god parents. At the end of the book,
    Percy Jackson is still unsu
    n 3:1
    f his father’s love and appreciation.
    The gods of Olympus represent the worst of human nature.
    While the gods of the Percy Jackson story demonstrate issues
    of selective power, beauty, and wisdom, they also represent the sinful nature of humanity. The gods of Olympus and their
    parents, the Titans, demonstrate greed, hatred, jealousy, and lying. The God of the Bible represents perfection in His love
    for all creation. The God of the Bible does not lie, nor does He need gold or human power. He represents truth. He does
    punish those who do not follow His commands, but His loving-kindness is seen throughout the Bible. (Romans 8:35)
    What is Olympians
    view of Christians and the afterlife?
    Percy takes a trip to the underworld in an attempt to retrieve the
    master bolt of lightning. Christians are mentioned in reference to a television evangelist who is facing punishment for
    stealing money from orphans. This reference is confusing because while the evangelist is being punished, there is a caveat
    here that Christians may experience hell/heaven differently because of their belief system or because humans see events
    the way they want to. Either way, Hades, the god of the underworld,
    is punishing the
    inclusion o
    n” evangelist.
    this part begs the question,
    What is the author attempting to say about Christians in the example of the evangelist or in the

    ” The book clearly indicates that the ultimate decision on the afterlife will be based on works or deed. (Ephesians
    The books may not be designed to deal with the bigger issue of the one true God.
    Percy Jackson asked about the God
    above the gods in book one and the response from his guide/teacher, the Centaur, Chiron, is that he is not going to deal
    with issues of the metaphysical. In other words, the bigger issues of an ultimate God may be beyond the nature of this book.
    This gives parents a reference point within the book to explain that this story is only a fictional retelling of the ancient Greek
    stories. In a recent retreat with 270 older children, 1/4 of the children had read the first book and many more were planning
    to see the movie. In dialogues with the children who read the first book, it was obvious that they were struggling to work
    through the realities of the book. One bright youn
    g girl said, “I know that the Greek gods are pretend, but the story seems s
    Is Pe
    rcy Jackson like
    d it
    or n
    Jackson does appear to be a form of
    a half-human/deity messianic figure from the point his father claims him in the river and where instead of a dove descending
    from heaven, a glowing trident appears over him to the on looking crowd, at which point they bow. However, in this story
    Percy is saving not only the world but the status of the Olympus gods from war as well as the honor of his father. For
    parents, this is a good point to show that Jesus came and lived an unselfish life for others and that His willing death on the
    cross was not to save God or God’s honor, but fallen humanity from eternal hopelessness and separation. (John 14:6)
    Percy Jackson
    is a fun and easy read for children that captivates their imagination. The book also includes all of the
    politically correct themes of protecting the environment and following your own path in life. The context of the pagan gods,
    druids, and nymphs is not a new one to literature and ca
    n be found in writers such as C.S. Lewis. Children in today’s world
    might need to be reminded that the idea of many gods is not a new one and that this was one of the major struggles for
    people in the Bible. The children of Israel struggled to deal with other cultures and their nature gods in the Old Testament.
    Paul also addressed this issue in his pres
    entation abou” t
    in A
    he “unknown god
    Parents may want to protect their children from all elements that may challenge their faith, which is difficult when children
    are part of a larger community through school, the internet, television, books, and movies. There are times when parents
    definitely need to protect their children because of age or content. However, the inability to protect children does not mean
    that parents should give up and let their boys and girls participate in every book or movie that is released. Parents need to
    be informed by reading and viewing along with their children. This joint participation gives parents and children the
    opportunity to analyze themes and contents together. Giving children the skills to think through issues is their foundation for
    later developing the ability to defend their faith against intellectual assaults.
    This article may be reproduced by churches, Christian agencies, or schools.
    Written by Thomas Sanders, Ph.D., Director, Master of Arts in Christian Education: Childhood Ministry, Dallas Baptist
    University with the assistance of his son, Kyle Thomas Sanders (15). The Sanders, father and son, enjoy reading popular
    fiction for children and adolescents. They started reading together in such a way when Kyle was 5.

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