November 30, 2008

Faith in Comics

The Worlds of Fiction

I'm a dork. Right now, just letting you all know that. I have written an outline to my own Batman movie, have developed psychological profiles of various Batman villains, have pondered how Superman's solar power works, have decided that Picard is better than Kirk, have studied the history of Middle Earth, have intentionally forgotten Greedo shooting first and Star Trek V, and still think that MacGyver is the man. I love Sci Fi, comics and fantasy. To me, they are fascinating explorations into the human condition. But some people try to define their reality by fantasy.

Sci Fi, comic and fantasy geeks all have one thing in common: in lieu of the chaos and confusion they have experienced in the real world, they have found solace in mastering a fake one. The joy is the existence of this other world, and contemplating how things in that world would actually work. My father always used to say that the mark of good Sci Fi is to make one difficult to believe theory, and see how it would change everything else. Fantasy is more creating a different world with completely different laws, and watch theoretical societies live in them. In the end, Sci Fi, comics and fantasy are not childish genres, but anthropological exploration.

The Faith Part

Considering that, have you ever stopped to consider whether or not you could maintain your faith in Jesus Christ in these worlds?

Recently I was at the library to kill time, and picked up a Superman comic. It was about Superman wrestling with people having faith in meta-humans. He goes through a couple of examples of personal events, including someone seeing him as an angel, and cults being formed worshipping meta-humans.

At one point he goes to this Christian woman who he trusts to discuss the topic. He says that it is hard for him to have any kind of faith with what he has seen. He has fought beside Greek gods, watched universes form, battled deities, and has seen his fair share of magic. How do you maintain faith in the God of Scriptures through all of that? The woman's answer was to say that what one's faith is in doesn't matter, but that your faith is there to make you a better person and to help others. I would have to say that that answer is bogus.

In reality, one cannot have faith in the God of Scriptures through all of that. I don't believe in God and Christ because it can make me a better person, or because it "gives me something to believe in." I believe in God and Christ because I am convinced of the reality of it. It is the reality of God that makes me believe. In order to believe in Jesus Christ in the world of comics, I would have to mold Him into someone completely different. I'm not willing to do that. He is either true, or He isn't.

Quite frankly, I refuse to confine faith to the realm of rainbows, smiles and sunbeams just so I can keep it in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. That's not faith: that's sticking your head in the sand. Faith, true faith, is based on trusting in the person of Christ. Trusting in His death and resurrection, love and commitment to me and the rest of humanity. I don't have faith for the sake of motivating me; I have a God who has earned my trust and I live for Him.

So what if I could not hold on to my faith if I lived in the fantasy world of superheroes? I live in the real world, and in the real world, God is. That is what my faith is all about. My God can't exist world of comics, but unlike the world of comics, He actually exists.


bethyada said...

You may be interested in this fiction book? Summa Elvetica. Apparently it delves into what faith means in a fantasy world.

Jc_Freak: said...

But here's the thing about fantasy. Faith only makes sense given the world that is constructed. This is why I didn't really tackle fantasy, but comics. Each fantasy story is a different world, and faith would work differently in each. I could be a Christian in Middle Earth or Narnia. I could even be one in the world of the Riddle-Master, or Eragon. But that's not true of every world because these worlds are made up, and the reality of God in this world hinges on the author, not on actual truth. That's my whole point.

And I will probably read that book ;-)

Pizza Man said...

Hi Martin, Do you follow the Sarah Connor Chronicles (Terminator series)? I've been fascinated with the number of Biblical references, andhow often it has dealt with faith issues. I suppose this is natural with a series about the end of the world. Add to that that it's about a creation that has become evil and is trying to usurp the intentions of its creator - you get some interesting parallels.

Ditto on Greedo and Star Trek 5.

Regarding how people answer the faith question. Keith Drury did an interesting post on this a while back: You Ask Me How I Know He Lives?

Jc_Freak: said...

I do actually watch terminator. There are quite a bit of biblical references, especially with the agent who is a Christian. That is something my faith could withstand though, because we are dealing with a human creation, rather than a metaphysical encounter.

Pizza Man said...

It's refreshing to have a character like agent Ellison - who is treated respectfully and is also deals with Christian faith issues. We'll have to see if his faith can withstand it. :)