Wednesday, March 26, 2014

God, Superheroes and What We Really Believe

"In his 2012 memoir Supergods, Grant Morrison, arguably the greatest comics writer of this generation, explained the mass appeal of superheroes to the world in which we live: 'In a secular, scientific rational culture lacking in any convincing spiritual leadership, superhero stories speak loudly and boldly to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations. They're not afraid to be hopeful, not embarrassed to be optimistic, and utterly fearless in the dark.' Isn't that what Western society used to think about the prophets, apostles, and martyrs?

"Morrison goes on, explaining the paralyzing fear he felt as a child living under the constant threat of nuclear holocaust in Scotland. 'Before it was a Bomb, the Bomb was an idea. Superman, however, was a Faster, Stronger, Better Idea. It's not that I needed Superman to be 'real,' I just needed him to be more real than the Idea of the Bomb that ravaged my dreams.'

"Today, we live in age in which the Bomb is both atomic and metaphysical. Deep moral cynicism, physicalism, brutalism, and yes, even nihilism (an overused word which I deploy carefully here) are all very real, all very deadly Bombs. What is the idea that is better than the Bomb?

"We say, 'the gospel.' But before we congratulate ourselves, how confident are we really, outside of our ecclesial safe places? Does orthodoxy really strike the people we meet on the street as wild, dangerous, and romantic in that enigmatic Chestertonian way that we've all come to know and love? Maybe. But if I don't miss my guess, a great number of professional clerics and parishioners these days are pretty much not the droids the Empire is looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

"As Peter Thiel told The Financial Times, 'from the average liberal in San Francisco to the average church lady in Alabama, I never know how much people believe any of the stuff that they say....'"

-- Gregory Alan Thornbury

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