Written by Chris Bloom, posted by Lora Bloom
TOWARD A THEOLOGY OF COMIC BOOKS
There are three things that have been dear to my heart my whole adult life. Two of them are history and comics.
I've always liked history. Part of it is that it was always lumped in with geography, and I can stare at maps for hours and never get bored. The main reason, though, is that the past is the part of eternity we can see. It's like we're walking backwards; we can guess what's coming, but we can only see what's already gone by. Not perfectly, of course, and it's always been subject to revision, especially in my lifetime.
I've liked comic books for a long time too. I remember liking Spider-Man when I was very young, and reading X-MEN when I was 10 or 11, but it wasn't until I was in my senior year of high school (1992) that I really got into them. The late 90s were a dire time for comics, but the early 90s weren't.
But why did I like them so much and for so long? It was a substitute for God, as near as I can tell . There's been a lot written about how superheroes are the mythology of America, and I think in a sense it's true. Looking back, all I can say for sure is that I wanted to belong to something and found an extremely nerdy way to do it.
As for what that has to do with history, I can only two words: Captain America. The fact is, though,, I never liked him when I was young. I was in my late 30s before I even paid attention to the character. But if you think about it, he's perfect for me: a man from the past living in a modern world.
Besides, he kept his word, took responsibility for his actions, and used his strength to defend the weak. He was known not for a weapon but for a shield. There are a lot worse people to emulate than Captain America.
There are a lot better, too.
Even though Captain America had been almost a substitute father for me, God had already promised to be my father. In Psalm 65 God said he would be a father to the fatherless. No one has to feel like he's alone , or an orphan.
God is the perfect father, and when he sent his son it wasn't to some vague time or imaginary world. Instead, he came to this world, at a particular time and in a particular place. And he's still alive, eternally. Christ is more than a historical fact, but he's certainly not less.
He's real, he's alive, and through his Holy Spirit he continues to act in the lives of his people. And he's the only hope mankind has. No one else died for the for the forgiveness of our sins. Not even Captain America.
So what do I think about comic books now? There's nothing inherently wrong with them, but they aren't something I feel like I need anymore. Why would I want a substitute when I have the real thing?
They're just things. I no longer invest myself into them, or live vicariously through them. They're just distractions, and I've got too much to do already.
[LC Bloom wishes he hadn't wasted so much money on comics. Or music. He's from Birmingham, Alabama, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also writes for Built for Glory and COBRASAURUS!!!!!]