Objects of Unknown Origin

In Marvel’s prime time television show Agents of SHIELD, an 084 is an “object of unknown origin,” which in the show’s milieu usually means something alien.

(Do you get why I’m posting about this today, huh? Do you? Go check the calendar … now do you? Yes, I know, I’m a nerd.)

In the first Thor movie, Thor’s hammer was classified as an 084, and Phil Coulson and team showed up to whisk it away into custody. They did this because in the world of SHIELD, anytime an object of unknown origin shows up, it has the potential to change all of life as we know it.

Why is that?

Because like all of us earthbound creatures, the people of Marvel Earth have a tendency to think that what they see is what there is — to define reality by their own experience, their own five senses.

Much like us.

Into this narrow, limited perception God has sent inexplicable things from outside, things that challenge our understanding and force us to realize there’s more to reality than we can see.

The Bible is an 084. Though it came through human beings, it’s an object with its origins “elsewhere,” in a dimension our senses can’t comprehend. Jesus himself is an 084: he looked human (he is human), but in the strange circumstances of his birth and the unfolding of his life it became clear there was more to him. He is human, the Son of Man; he is also something else.

That something else changes all of life as know it.

The force of an 084 is that it means reality isn’t what we thought. It means that the borders of What Is transcend the limits of What We See. And we have to respond to it: whether that means burying our heads in the sand and pretending it isn’t there or actually looking at it, considering it, and shaping our actions and thoughts to the realities it suggests.

As a Christian this is a helpful perspective for me. It’s too easy to get overly familiar, overly comfortable with the Bible and the person of Jesus, as though we made them up and they are just helpful ideas to bring ourselves comfort and to lean on. Faith, though, is something very different from that: it’s choosing to be uncomfortable, to stand up straight into the wind when we would rather crumble and lean, because we believe in something more than we can see that calls us to an actual difference in the way we live our lives.

And with that thought, I’m signing off for today — going to spend some time reading an alien book and praying to an ordinary man who is also something extraordinary.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *