Batman V. Superman = Calvin v. Wesley

Superman: Red Son
Superman: Red Son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over on a my facebook wall, someone posted a link to the trailer for Batman V. Superman movie due out next year. Most of you know I am a comic book nerd and I love my superhero movies. I am also a huge fan of the Batman.

In Batman V. Superman, there are supposed to be some callbacks to a Frank Miller storyline wherein Batman returns after years away to find a very different world, one where Superman has become the fascist leader we have always expected him to be. In the end, Batman defeats Superman.

In the middle of all of this, is critical theory and, I think, something to do with Mimesis… a rather natural mimesis where we see motifs replicated in various ways. Because of this, I think I can see in Batman V. Superman various theological points. This is pretty clear in Man of Steel. (Rodney has a four part review up).  So, here are some thoughts on Superman and Batman and how they as characters relate to our Christian theology.

Superman is the symbol that pushes is to a better humanity — but there is an equal danger of having humanity rely upon Superman. If we rely only on Superman, we will grow apathetic. We must take the little bit of order and safety he gives and work to expand it and make it our own. Batman is the reality which we face but there is a danger in accepting this reality as the only worldview. We become cynics and suppose we can impose our vision of justice in the absence of justice. Then we become the villain when we take away the objective system and replace it with a subjective one. Superman’s power is tempered by his refusal to do everything for humanity. In that regard, Superman is rather weak because he is limited. He is, one may suggest, Arminian, whereas Batman is almost Calvinistic because he decides fates. He is almost all powerful, because he will find a way to solve any problem, even if the end is rather extreme. Batman’s limits are challenges to overcome.

The question is rightly raised about whether or not the world still needs Superman (a recurring theme in both the comics and in Superman Returns). I would think so. Even with his powers that are godlike, and almost silly in light of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy not to mention Netflix’s Daredevil, we still need Superman. Why?

Why couldn’t Superman just end it all, take over the planet and restore order? If you have ever read Red Son, then you know why. Because, the human spirit is ended. Superman has become very much the answer, even via pop culture, to the question of why doesn’t God just end evil. Because, we couldn’t then be human. Our human experience would be meaningless. Salvation is meaningless if we aren’t human.

 

Another #QOTD – orthodox is… Freedom

After all, orthodoxy, just as much as the biblical stories it derives from, tells the wild story of the God-man in all its messiness. In fact, orthodoxy is a protection against the all too neat rationalizations of heresy, which take what they deem to be the palatable parts of either the Bible or doctrine and blow them out of proportion to the exclusion of everything else. We all too frequently ignore how much orthodoxy’s function is to remove these fences so that theologians with different temperaments—Aquinas and Bonventure, Rahner and von Balthasar, Anscombe and Day—can run the fields freely;

you can find it Here

Trailer for New #UMC movie… Star Wars, maybe you’ve heard of it

johnwesley
For a time, Vader was a Calvinist but soon same back to the Force

See, I can post this because Star Wars is essentially a Methodist invention.

Only [humans] can exchange information. And the test of how accurate the information is will be whether we all die or not. If we all die, then it wasn’t the right information. I would rather see us be a positive force in the universe than a cancer. We have the knowledge to be either one. That, in essence, is what “Star Wars” is about. We are both good and evil, and we have a choice.

Well, now he’s sort of a Methodist like they have in the West. (Sorry, Gary)

I was raised Methodist. Now let’s say I’m spiritual. It’s Marin County [California, a very liberal area]. We’re all Buddhists up here

Also,

…the San Joaquin Valley put its stamp firmly on both Lucas and his films. Without the white upper-middle-class Methodist values he absorbed during his upbringing in this most complacent and righteous of regions, the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones series, even the more eccentric THX1138, let alone American Graffiti, would have been very different. Indeed, they might not have existed at all, since Lucas, unlike the directors who joined him in building the New Hollywood in the sixties and seventies, is anything but a natural film-maker. Nothing in his character fits him to make films. The process irritates and bores him… It is easy to forget that Lucas, for all his fame and influence, has only directed four feature films in almost thirty year. Repeatedly he’s handed the job to others, supervising from the solitude of his home, controlling the shooting by proxy, as Hollywood studio producers of the forties did.1

Oh, and there is something of Wesley in the Star Wars…

For all his later embrace of Eastern mysticism, there remained in Lucas more than a little of the Methodist.2

I am a bigger fan of Star Trek — and you can’t really compare the two given their focuses. My son does love Star Wars so I guess, as a good United Methodist and father I have to go and see this movie.

  1.  John Baxter, Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas, Avon Books: New York, NY (1999), page 16
  2. ibid, 126

#QOTD – The Bible as State Book

Incunabulum Blackletter Bible 1497
Incunabulum Blackletter Bible 1497 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It threatens to reduce our sacred scripture to nothing more than a secular symbol, and that’s a slippery slope,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris told foxnews.

Exactly. I don’t want the Cross as a penant for politicans. I don’t want the Creed as an oath of office. I don’t want Scripture to be used as a “state book,” ranking right up there with flowers, dogs, and bugs as symbols of State pride.

When I say “myth”

Myth…

This came up recently… When I say myth, I do not mean fiction. Rather, I mean taking our words and talking about things we do not understand. We do this via stories or analogies or whatsoever poetic form this may take. The book to the left has helped convince me of the use of myth in explaining a lot of things.

Most peoples of the ancient world, including Canaanites (and the Romans of New Testament time), viewed the world from the perspective of myth. Contrary to what I have often heard from the pulpit, the term “myth” as used here does not mean “false” or “fiction.” Even in my old and yellowed Webster’s, “fiction” is the third meaning of the word. In its primary and more technical meaning “myth” refers to a story or group of stories that serve to explain how a particular society views their world. The stories of myth often deal with phenomena of the physical world for which the culture does not have an adequate explanation. Or they may deal with human actions and emotions that are potentially valuable or destructive for the community. Myth is a means by which a society can express its collective experience of the world, with the fear, frustration, anxiety, and promise that it holds.- Dennis Bratcher

Speaking the Language of Canaan: The OT and the Israelite Perception of the Physical World.

Prometheus, by Gustave Moreau, tortured on Mou...
Prometheus, by Gustave Moreau, tortured on Mount Caucasus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This guy? Mythic, but maybe not mythic like other things but then again, maybe so. Thoughts?

One blog to rule them all, One blog to find them, One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

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