I have so many book reviews to do for this blog, each patiently sitting on my desk (or my futon, which has become an extension of my desk in the lack of real desk space and/or visitors), some for months. And I will get to them—I need to get to them, if only because they come with pictures and I do hear my own lectures that websites cannot be all text.
But sometimes the subject matter for this comes totally out of left field, completely overturning my other plans. With the Deity I serve, I really should stop being surprised by this, and yet…
I finally went to see The Dark Knight Rises last night. I got my first paycheck from my new job (huzzah!) and congratulated myself by taking me out to a film. I’ve not been to see a new film since the end of June, and there were many I’d so wanted to see this summer; this was one I refused to let go. I’m a superhero junkie, you see: I love Batman, Superman, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, even the Fantastic Four. I never followed the comics as a kid—my folks wanted me to be reading “actual” stories, and I’m not that much a fan of pictures, anyway—but I befriended the comic book geeks, learned the universes and their rivalries, and now eagerly await each new movie installment.
(By the by, I will own up, proudly, to the fact that I did follow one comic series—Sonic the Hedgehog. I remember many trips to the bookstore to
buy the latest with the my allowance, having cleaned the whole house so I could know in what way Dr. Robotnik was defeated this time.)
In any case, I love superheroes. Superheroes show us what we are—and what we can be.
Not literally, of course. Most of us aren’t billionaires, aliens, or genetic experiments gone wrong (although if you are indeed in this category, please leave a comment, I’d love to meet you). But we are more than supermarket devotees, floor cleaners, television watchers. We are this crazy strange human thing, whatever that means.
I’ve been leading two sections of a book study at church, which has been an incredibly odd ride. One section finished this past week (a bittersweet success for me). In it, we’ve been talking a lot about sin and Original Sin and the power of doctrinal control—the fun stuff. In this era of post-humanism, it’s wicked hard to cling to Original Sin, because we don’t ever want to believe that we are born broken. And then I see films like The Dark Knight Rises and I think, there has to be some God in us somewhere.
I freely admit that much of this observation is manipulated by Hans Zimmer, who as far as I’m concerned can do no wrong. I’m a sucker for a good film score and totally recognize the emotional hold music has on me. But there’s more to it than that.
There is great evil in the world, no doubt. We are a fallen people; this I hold to with all of my experience. I do believe that, on our own, we will choose against God every day of the week and twice on Friday (because holiness kicks in on Sundays, you know). This film’s inaugural weekend proved this existence of evil. The characters themselves prove it, as betrayal after betrayal rolls across the screen, as it seems the hero will never succeed. We have missed, we are continually missing, the mark. We cannot deny this.
But we are not only this; there can be goodness there. Other characters rise: Commissioner Gordon gets up and keeps fighting, Alfred loves against all of the pain it causes him, Lucius Fox continues to hold the company together. Duplicitous villains change, because you must never, ever underestimate the power of having someone believe in you.
And this Godness is not just in films. It’s in a world pulling for a double amputee in the Olympics, it’s in the people who continue to fight against diseases like Alzheimer’s because it’s worth doing. It’s in Watchful answering a late night phone call from me and being willing to talk because she senses I need to, even if I never tell her it’s because I finally just deleted my grandfather’s name from my contacts list and my heart is breaking all over again. It’s in Magister’s quiet reassurance that I actually do know what I’m doing sometimes. It’s in the swell of support for those people who died in that Aurora cinema, in every police officer who puts on a vest every morning to serve, in the neighbor whose name you don’t know who thoughtfully left you a note about a low tire you may not have noticed.
We are broken, yes, and I’m in no way endorsing the idea that having a part of God within us makes us in any way God ourselves. But we are still God’s creations, and in that is some piece of what we were intended to be, which was so much more than we are. It’s unlikely that I will ever save a city while dressed as a bat—but it’s quite likely that watching someone else do it will remind me that humanity means more than just a collection of people, will inspire me to be willing to help that next stranger. We were never meant to be broken; what can we become when we recognize who we could be, and Who shows us that possibility?
Go indulge the God in you, Reader. (And you even got pictures.)
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, console the discouraged, help the sick, be patient toward all [people]. See to it that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue good toward one another and toward all [people]. (1 Thessalonians 514-15)