Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Comic Books, Television and Movies... OH MY!

This Sunday (July 29th) I will begin a preaching series that looks at comic book super heroes and how their stories help us to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and living as better Christians in this world. I'm calling the series "Holy Heroes, Batman!" In the wake of the incident last week in Aurora, Colorado this title feel a little crass, but it's what I've been working with and promoting since before that incident, so I'm going to stick with it. Anyway, this week's blog is sort of a precursor to the series as there are some things I want to get out there before we delve into the comic book stories. We live in an increasingly violent culture. Last week proved that to us all once again in a terrible way. And unfortunately, many of our movies, television shows and other forms of entertainment glorify that violence. We gotten to a plae even in comic books that the bad guys don't just have to be caught and imprisoned, they have to be hunted down and killed. Theologian and Bible Scholar Walter Wink calls this The Myth of Redemptive Violence. He says, "[This] is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today." Sadly, I think that many of us know this all too well just this week. I don't care to think of the numbers of people I've heard say that they'd like to see James Holmes dead. Why? What would that solve?

Our problem in this society is that we've come to a place where we too often see good and evil as competing forces struggling for control of the universe. Theologians have given this worldview a name - Manichaeism. It's based on the teachings of the Persian prophet Manes in the third century C.E. and for all Christian intents and purposes, it is heresy. As Christians we believe that God is in control and that no evil force is God's equal. Ethically, this line of thinking causes Christians issues because we can see ourselves as fighting on the side of good (and therefore God) and all those who disagree with us are allies of evil.

So what does this all have to do with my next sermon series? Well, I think we need to be clear that these stories, the fictional stories of comic book heroes, are commercial products designed and written primarily for entertainment purposes and company profitablility. So from a perspective of faith they are a mixed bag. Some parts of these stories offer positive values and insights, and some parts appeal to our baser nature. So my intention in this series, rather thn embracing the comic book heroes and their stories as sacred texts, or rather than rejecting them outright as having no redeeming value at all, let us reflect on them a bit. Let's engage these bulked up soap operas in a thoughtful dialogue about the helpful and the harmful message that they're sending us.

Week one - Spider Man!

Grace and Peace!

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