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Saturn Devouring His Son by Peter Paul Rubens 1636

Kronos, Christ and the Curse of Fathers Who Eat Their Sons

By Eric Blauer

“Mythology is full of stories of the bad father, the sons-swallower, the remote adventurer, the possessive and jealous giant. Good fathering of the kind each of us wants is rare in fairy tales or in mythology. There are no good fathers in the major stories of Greek mythology—a shocking fact; and very few in the Old Testament,” -Robert Bly (Iron John pg. 120) 

With Father’s Day approaching, one cannot face Scripture and literature square in the face and not see a mammoth amount of drama, tragedy, struggle and fight surrounding these roles. Many adult males are a wrestling match of ‘father and son” within the same soul. For many adults, that means they are in a lifelong personal exorcism, consciously or unconsciously; struggling to unearth and free themselves from the damaging entanglements of their fathers. This isn’t a father/son issue alone, daughters have been caught in this ugly family cannibalizing too, but it’s most often male-centric.

This earthly antagonism is graphically woven into the greek myths surrounding Kronos and Uranus:
“Kronos has arguably one of the most disturbing stories in Greek Mythology. With the demanding Uranus, or “God of the Universes” as his father, a young and bitter Kronos envied his father’s power. Urged on by his mother, Gaia, he cut off his Uranus’ testicles with a giant sickle. When Kronos later learned that he was destined to the same fate of his father, to be overtaken by his own son, he was naturally concerned. He decided to take matters into his own hands, and his own mouth. The plan was simple: he would eat all of his children. In the end, Kronos’s son Zeus escaped being eaten and gave his father a magic poison which made Kronos vomit/poop out all his children,” Robert Bly/Iron John
Many people have experienced versions of this archetypical battle between father and son. The fathers who “swallow” their sons and the young men who lash out, slicing at manhood, tearing at their progenitors with sometimes ferocious energy. It’s a battle that has burned many homes down to smoldering ashes. It’s an explosive divergence that never seems to just end when you leave, but often becomes an interior civil war between generals who cannot die nor win. It is rare to find many examples of true healthy father-son relationships that are based in time and not in memory, which is often idealized and far from the actual truth.

The Bible calls upon followers of Jesus to live out the restoring power of the gospel by being a force for relational and familial good in this cultural and familial wasteland.

“A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of the fatherless and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” James 1:27

Recently, even President Obama has been open and honest about his own experience growing up without a father, “I make no apologies. I am a black man who grew up without a father and I know the costs I paid for that. And I knew I had the capacity to break that cycle. As a consequence, my daughters are better off.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of every three — live in biological father-absent homes. Nine in 10 American parents agree this is a “crisis.”

This is a clarion call to the people of faith and values to extend love, grace and community to those without it. To ignore this deep call of God in Scripture, is to bring down thunder and lightning upon ourselves.

‘When a young person feels unparented, they will try to burn your city down for you.’

The evidence of vicious, broken or absent father relationships are all around us as our sons and daughters continue to mow one another down in a plague of gang and drug centered violence in America. At night on our TV sets we watch riots erupt over pent up rage about racial injustice and police brutality. In the news we read of the ranks of radicalized jihadist surging with disenfranchised and impressionable youth. It’s hard to not place a lot of the blame at the feet of fathers who have devoured their children before they ever had a chance to be reborn into adulthood.

Thankfully in the New Testament we have a counterculture redemptive narrative that invaded the same cultural landscape that was producing these horrific myths of child eating fathers and castrating sons…it was the advent of the “SON”.

In Christ’s life, we have a redemption of the archetype Father/Son reality. We see in the Godhead a perfect relationship that brings an unfolding salvation to all relationships that come under this divine restoration. We see a son content to listen to his father, serve him, glorify him and never act apart from his will — even when it crosses his own desires. We see a father who is present, moving and working with his son, who is speaking words and acts of affirmation, empowerment and purpose. You see a new story, a better one…breaking like a long forgotten dawn on a darkened land.

It’s an advent that redeems not only souls but relationships. More is saved than the immaterial realities for an afterlife. In Christ you see the curse broken and heaven and earth — creation and creator — restored and healed.

“He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse,” Malachi 4:6

This is the a powerful hope of the Gospel that the ancient myths ache for in their tragedies. Thank God, in Christ, we have the hope for all things being made new, even family relationships and that is something to celebrate this Father’s Day.

Join SpokaneFAVS for a Coffee Talk forum on “Faith and Parenting” at 10 a.m. June 6 at Indaba Coffee/The Book Parlor, 1425 W. Broadway. Blauer is a panelist.

About Eric Blauer

I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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One comment

  1. Eric, thank your addressing this. I’ve spoken about growing up in a fatherless home and know the pain it causes – for the abandoned children, the abandoned moms, and ultimately even for the dads who walked away. Much needs to be discussed here, as things don’t seem to be changing.

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