Monday, September 1, 2008

Enter the Octagon

Does anyone remember this movie from 1980? I was six when it came out and remember my next door neighbor bragging about how his dad had taken him to the theater to see it. I refer to it now because my friend Kathi Strunk (the person crazy enough to say, "Shane, you should start a blog") threw down the gauntlet, "When will Chuck Norris be making an appearance?" I KNOW - Strunk is outta control. I was stymied; how could I bring Chuck to bear on my contemplation of the Catholic Faith? Sure, there's the spiritual warfare aspect - but that's so played. Some other aspect of Chuck's mystique was needed. So I asked the Holy Spirit, and as I proceeded to think about Chuck, the phrase "Enter The Octagon" and this old movie popped into my head.

I realized that Chuck responded, in a highly metaphorical way...involving Ninjas, to the same call as each of the baptized. I've lost you?

Well, when you were baptized, chances are that the baptismal font was shaped like an octagon. You will see exceptions, but throughout history that has been the traditional shape. It goes back to a passage in the First Epistle of Peter: "God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you" (1 Peter 3:20-21)

Amazing - which of us attending a baptism ever stops to think about the significance of the font's octagonal shape, that it is a physical representation of the biblical word? Our Catholic Faith is filled with these kind of things though.

If you find yourself wanting to know more about how the Church's celebration of the Sacraments brings Scripture to life, allow me to point you toward Jean Danielou's classic, The Bible and the Liturgy. This insight about Baptism is the first of a thousand. Oh, and take a moment to reflect upon your own Baptism, when you "entered the octagon," by viewing this profound 1980, theatrical trailer. Just as the announcer says of Chuck, we too "find freedom only one way."

(Note: this trailer has no value other than the ultra-manly pics of Chuck Norris. It should not actually be used for mature theological reflection and is unsuitable for viewing by children.)


  1. very interesting article. i have actually thought very often about the octagonal shape of many baptismal fonts, as i have visited many churches and notice this shape very often. i will soon be creating a blog directed towards the mystical octagon. thank you.