Monday, May 7, 2018

What does it mean to be a godparent? Singing God’s song when your godchild forgets how it goes

From The Church Times-

THE term “godparent” has two kinds of largely unhelpful connotations. The first is gothic and sometimes rather terrifying. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film The Godfather tells the story of how Michael Corleone emerges from the shadows as his father’s youngest son, and becomes the ruthless leader of a murderous Mafia clan. It teaches the viewer never to trust a man holding a violin case, and to associate the term “godparent” with manipula­tion, violence, and virulent lust for power.

Meanwhile, in Pyotr Ilyich Tchai­kovsky’s 1892 ballet The Nutcracker, based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story, the children of the house gather round the sparkling Christmas tree, whereupon, as the clock strikes eight, in walks the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, councillor, magician, and godfather to the daughter of the house, Clara. He brings with him four dancing dolls, made by his own hand, and a wooden nutcracker in the form of a diminutive man, whose midnight transformation into a life-size character drives the rest of the story. The ballet teaches the viewer to see a godparent as a purveyor of mysteries, fables, and magical dreams.

Then there is the 1697 Charles Perrault fairy tale Cinderella, which tells how a young woman, though oppressed by her stepsisters and forced into virtual slavery, none the less goes to the Prince’s ball and wins his heart through the intervention of her fairy godmother, who conjures dress, slippers, carriage, and footmen with nonchalant aplomb. This tale teaches that a godparent can make dreams come true, especially for those in the gutter.

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