The Lightning Thief

We received a question during one of our radio shows about a novel/movie called The Lightning Thief, and whether or not this is acceptable reading/viewing for Christians.

For those of you who are not familiar with the series, The Lightning Thief is the first in a series of five books written by Rich Riordan for middle-school aged children. A movie based on this first book was released in February 2010.

Known as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the basic plot line is indeed problematic for Christian children. It involves 12 year-old Percy Jackson, a boy with ADHD and dyslexia, who discovers that he is a demigrod – the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Poseidon. Percy’s mother, Sally, takes him to a camp for demi-gods, known as Camp Half-Blood, which is inhabited by other children of the gods and their human lovers. Percy is accused of stealing Zeus’ “master bolt” and realizes he has only 10 days before the “summer solstice” (from the pagan calendar) to find the bolt and avoid an apocalyptic war between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.

The Christian Movie Guide considers the movie, which is based on the book to be problematic, saying that it has a “very strong pagan, polytheistic worldview with frequent discussions of hedonistic behavior and false theological concepts . . .

While it does present Christian moral values, such as loyalty and sacrifice, in an approving way, the story is riddled with many very questionable moral elements.

For instance, one of the main characters, a satyr named Grover, has a pronounced tendency to engage in sex and orgies, an appetite that is mentioned several times.

The Guide goes on to say: “There are also groups of women such as nymphs, the Lotus Eaters, and the daughters of Aphrodite who are on the prowl, not to mention Persephone who trolls for lovers although she’s married to Hades. Of course, the movie’s premise is that the gods come down and have illicit affairs with human beings. There are also several items stolen without any remorse, such as winged shoes, pearls, and a Maserati. . . “

A review appearing in Christianity Today points out another problem with this story line: “Some young viewers may be confused by the relation of these gods to our God “even though the gods and goddesses are presented more like giant superheroes with great powers who are not worshipped or even particularly liked.

The author, a former Greek mythology teacher in middle school, created the tales as bedtime stories for his son, Haley, who had just been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. It was Haley’s idea that his dad write a book based on the stories of Percy Jackson.

The Percy Jackson series, which has sold millions of books, now includes The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. The movie grossed nearly $60 million in its first two weeks at the box office.

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