A week of snow with no school . A Netflix account. You know where this is headed. Having already watched through a vast majority of the “great” shows available on Netflix, I’m now resorting to those on a lower tier. One of these is the BBC’s Merlin.
Essentially the Smallville-ification of the Arthur legend, Merlin presents the familiar cast of characters (Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, Merlin, Lancelot) as their teenage selves, with all the angst and hijinks that entails. Mordred’s just a little boy, and Arthur’s dad Uther Pendragon is played by Anthony Head–Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Fun.
The show is serviceable, although its truly great moments are sadly few and far between. All the same, it has been a while since I spent any time in the world of Camelot…and I’m enjoying it.
I’ve been thinking, though, that no matter how good the show might become, there is a dark shadow of tragedy hanging over it. We know how the story of Arthur ends. We know the sad triangle of Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot. We know Arthur will be killed by Mordred. We know the glory of Camelot with be over in but the blink of an eye. No matter how much excitement these teenage versions of the legend might have, we know what is waiting for them.
If I was getting too philosophical, I might say that this is a metaphor for life. A call to enjoy the moments we are given as we have them. A real Ecclesiastes-esque approach.
Beyond that, I’ve found that there is a clear youth ministry application here. For people that regularly work with students, it is increasingly clear what the results of certain decisions and life paths will be. With every passing year, I understand more and more how some of the choices we make at younger ages can have deep ripples and powerful repercussions throughout life. Some of these can be good…but some can be terrible. In other words, despite the gleaming Camelots students often think they are building, we who are older can see how these paths are headed for some pretty dark destinations.
Unlike our friends on Merlin, the futures of the students under our care aren’t yet determined. But getting them to see the destructive path they are on, helping them choose differently, and doing so without getting frustrated because they can’t see what is so clear to us…that’s the challenge. This knowledge we have is the blessing and curse of working with teenagers.