Wednesday, June 6, 2012
In Search Of Truth, A Response To "Green Lantern Is Gay" OR Should We "Love" Our Hobbies?
I have to apologize, yet again, for delaying our continued look at the book of Acts. But I wanted to touch on this subject while the recent Green Lantern news was still on the minds of Christian comic book geeks. (Although I think it's relevant to geeks of ALL kinds.)
As geeks, we love our stories. Some stories and fictional characters we become so passionate about, so emotionally invested in, that it feels like a wound when we see them handled in a way we don't think they should be. The cancellation of Farscape, Darth Vader screaming "Nooo!" at the end of Episode 3, Vampires that "sparkle", and now Green Lantern being re-created as an openly gay character. You've probably got some memories of your own. Times when you felt personally insulted by the way a beloved fictional property was being handled.
Last week, I had three people, in less than 24 hours, ask me what I thought about the news that Green Lantern was now a homosexual character. They asked because they know that Green Lantern is my favorite superhero, and also because I believe the Bible when it teaches that homosexual behavior is not God's design for us. (If you're interested in my specific views regarding homosexuality, please read the post I wrote on the subject.)
So what was my reaction to the news? Confusion at first. Hal Jordan, the most well known Green Lantern and the one featured in the recent movie, has had a long history of womanizing, even in the recently re-booted DC universe. So I assumed the change in status referred to one of the other Green Lanterns: Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardener or John Stewart.
After some quick research I learned that the Green Lantern in question is actually Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern created for DC comics, but one who for many years has not been a part of the main DC universe, residing instead in a "parallel earth". As a fan, this made the news a little less jolting, though still no fun.
While listening to the podcast coverage of the DC Comics panels at ComiCon last summer, I heard one person after another step up to the microphone and respectfully demand that DC create more high profile minority characters, both in terms of ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. Again and again I heard the writers and editors at these panels assure fans that they would be doing so. And they have made good on that promise. (You can read my original reaction to that coverage in this post.)
Minorities of all kinds are popping up in various DC books, in some cases almost written as if to say "See readers? I'm a minority!" I think it's fine that the DC universe is becoming more culturally diverse. But I can't help but wonder if too much time in creative meetings was sacrificed to the cause of cultural diversity, causing the shortages I've been perceiving in truly well-written, character-driven stories. (I've dropped four books this week alone for the lack of these kinds of stories.)
I'm also bummed to see healthy family and marriage models vanishing from the DC universe. Clark and Lois are no longer married and Clark's parents are now both dead. The various members of the Justice Society (such as Green Lantern Alan Scott) have been made young in the reboot, deleting the wives and adult children in their lives and depriving the DC universe of wisened elders to look up to.
My weekly comic purchases are swiftly shrinking as I limit myself to those corners of the DC Universe still making story and character priority over demographic checklists. Let me be clear. It's not the presence of ideas contrary to my beliefs that is causing me to drop certain comic books. (I've read and enjoyed multiple ongoing titles with openly gay characters.) It's the lack of those things that I read comics for, that may or may not be falling to the wayside because of prioritization of other things.
So as I sit here, bummed at the general state of things in my beloved DC universe, what does the Bible have to say that might apply here and give me some perspective?
Apparently there are some conservative groups that have expressed great anger at the recent Green Lantern development. Usually this anger is vented "on behalf of the children". My first response is to notify them that mainstream superhero comics have not been written primarily for children for several decades now. My second response is to adjust my expectations based on what the Bible says to expect in life:
1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
We shouldn't be surprised when our favorite properties are seemingly mistreated. We shouldn't expect that those in charge of them will treat them as they biblically should unless they have openly identified themselves as followers of Christ. I'd wager that most fictional properties are being handled by people who are not Christians. So it makes perfect sense, and naturally follows, that these properties will be handled in ways that do not reflect, and may even go against, the teaching of the Bible. We are not socially entitled to have our favorite fictional properties handled by non-believers according to biblical values.
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The Greek word for "love" here means "to love dearly or to be contented with". It's great to enjoy our hobbies and nerdly delights. After all everything good in life ultimately has its source in God.
James 1:15(ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
But if we "dearly love" our hobbies, if we cling to them and view them as our source of contentment, we're failing to pursue a love of God. The more we love God, the more we'll constantly be reminded that this world falls infinitely short, and that we really shouldn't expect that much from it.
Don't get me wrong, I may still write a letter to the DC editors and tell them what potential I think they're leaving behind by completely reconceptualizing the Golden Age heroes of the DC universe (Not to mention the rocking potential if they would have gone with a World War 2 setting for the new version of Earth 2...sigh). But in the meantime, I'm content to let go of some of my comic book collecting and see what wonderful ideas God has allowed to be born in the minds of other creative types.