What’s Wrong With Christian Pop Culture (Part Twelve)
Far be for me to tell other people what they can or cannot do, but…
I can comment on what I have problems with.
I’ve never been able to figure out Christian superheroes, much less come up with a story in which they function as Christians.
This is symptomatic of virtually all areas of Christian pop culture, but it’s iconic enough to really stand out and pull the whole topic into sharp focus.
Superheroes are brightly colored naked people who fly and fight.
Do you see the problem there re Christian pop culture?
And, no, it isn’t the brightly colored or naked parts.
Christianity is about as non-violent and as pacifistic a philosophy as one could hope to find.
Maybe the Jains have an edge on us in that area but, hey, it’s not like being ego-less lover of all life is a flippin’ competition, is it?
I know a lot of people in the Christian comics field, and almost all of them want to do Christian superheroes -- guys (and occasionally gals) who fly around and pound the crap out of evil doers while quoting Bible verses.
And those that aren’t are almost all doing illustrated Bible stories that emphasize the violent and horrific portions of scripture. (There are people doing Biblically based erotica, but they tend to be outside the Christian pop culture camp.)
Look, it’s not a new phenomenon:
“Onward, Christian Soldiers” is a 19th century composition still found in all the hymnals, Martin Luther cranked out “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, and St. Paul hizzownsef got the ball rolling with his “put on the whole armor of God” epistle.
I get it: Nobody wants to sit there and take it, meekly turning the other cheek and carrying somebody else’s crap an extra mile and washing the filthy feet of travelers and not only bandaging up a badly beaten robbery victim but paying for all future medical treatment.
Oh, hell, no! We wanna dish out some payback, am I right?
But the problem is that sort of direct violent physical confrontation is explicitly condemned by Christ.
No dodging that bullet, guys; Superman may be faster than a speeding one, but we’re sure not.
Now, like I said, I will not condemn others for their choices in this matter, but for me, I have never been able to find a way of reconciling violence with the message of Christ.
I have no problem is using violence for dramatic or even comedic purposes, but for me it’s always a case of “the biter gets bit” and not “might makes right”.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson penned “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure” for Sir Galahad, but that’s bullshit and we all know it. Napoleon’s dictum “God rests with the heavy artillery” is a more honest simply because it is more cynical and makes no pretense at morality or holiness.
Now, I grant all this must sound odd coming from a guy who made his bones writing Thundarr The Barbarian and G.I. Joe but there is a crucial difference: While my personal values certainly informed the types of stories I told, those stories were not meant to portray Christian theology in any shape, fashion, or form.
While I didn’t advocate anti-Christian ideas, neither was it my task to fill them full of Christian propaganda.
It’s much more fun to write and draw and film the full-throated, hot-blooded pulp excitement of modern pop culture than deal with the namby-pamby wishy-washy stand-there-and-take-it meekness of Christianity.
If anybody wants to do that, more power to ‘em! Knock yo’ ugly asses out.
Just don’t try to hang a fig leaf on it by quoting Bible verses.
The challenge for those wanting to indulge in Christian pop culture is staying on message.
And far too often it’s because they don’t know what that message is.
© Buzz Dixon