Taking a breather

I have decided to ban myself from Facebook for a few days.  Despite what I am sure it may feel like to some of my friends, it was not a hasty decision or even prompted by any specific incident.  It was rather a culmination of things that just became too much in the wake of the Paris attack and our conversations about it.  Although admittedly I’m not sure conversations is even the right word for what was happening.  Demonizing might be a better word.

The Left was dehumanizing the opposite side by calling them racist, xenophobic, challenging their beliefs, ignoring their valid concerns and engaging in name-calling.  The Right was dehumanizing the opposite side by making crude comparisons, ignoring their valid concerns, refusing to see any side but their own and engaging in slander against a whole group of people, innocent and not.  I am not proud of the fact that I was one of these voices at times.

It just got to be too much.  Too much negativity, too much anger, too much hurt.  Everywhere I turned people that I know and love and respect (whether I agree with them or not) were posting things that vilified one group or the other, were arguing with people that I know they also love and respect in ways that frankly bothered me.  It was like someone has tossed a grenade of fear into social media and we were using the shockwave to reinforce our worst perceptions about each other.  Whether “pointy-headed, naïve commie liberal” or “racist, ignorant conservative”, the discussions were less about sharing ideas and finding ways to build common ground and more about pitting “my” version of reality against “yours” and proving my way is the only right way to see things.  And I engaged.  I did it to… and for that I am truly sorry.

As a minister in a faith community that claims the name of Christ, I feel like this last week was not one of my better weeks.

I was not a presence of his love, peace and justice among the world in which I live.  I did not lift people up, care for their wounds, or listen to their concerns in the ways that I probably should have.  I struggled to show love to my neighbors.  I questioned whether I even wanted to remain known as a “Christian.”  But I believe God is real.  I trust in the experiences that I have had and others have shared with me throughout my life.  I trust that Christ is love and calls us to live a better life than we see is possible now.  I hope for and have faith that the world can be a better place.  But I can’t build that world, which we call Zion, if I do not walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  And this week I hurt people.  Whether I meant to or not is irrelevant.  I showed people a caricature of a Christian who says one thing but does another.  I screwed up.

So I am taking a break.

I hope to spend the next few days with God.  As Christ showed us, sometimes we need that break.  To pray with Him, to be with Him… to recharge so that when we reenter the world we are not over-come by it.  I pray for all those affected by the Paris attacks, and yes, that includes the killers and more importantly, their families.  I pray for the thousands of refugees around the world who will suffer needlessly because of the actions of a few.  I pray for me, that I will be a better mirror of Christ’s love to the world I live in.  And I pray for us all, that as God promises, Love will overcome Fear and Division.

See you in a few…

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Superman vs Man of Steel

I realize I’m a little late to the bandwagon on this one, but as anyone with a toddler knows seeing a movie in the actual theatre is an almost-unheard-of luxury.  So I had to wait until the newest Superman: Man of Steel film came to our friendly neighborhood library before I could hopefully, finally get the awful vision of Superman Returns out of my head.  Turns out, Superman Returns wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, Man of Steel (henceforth reduced to MoS because I’m lazy) does a lot of things right.  It shows us a more compelling General Zod and gives us a lot more time to investigate the backstory of the most famous alien ever.  It shows more of the childhood of what it might be like to be the most powerful being on earth and yet still having to deal with normal teenage issues.  The fight scenes are awesome and everything that you want in a super-powered film.

Man of Steel

Except…

[And this is your SPOILER alert…if you have not yet seen the movie and don’t want to know how it ends, STOP reading here]

[I mean it… STOP reading if you don’t know how it ends…]

The new movie lost something profound in its attempt to make a more realistic and conflicted superhero.  I don’t know if it was the studio or the screen-writer or what, but they forgot why it is that Superman is great.  And it’s that he will always find a way to do the right thing.

And killing General Zod was not the right thing to do…even to save the lives of those innocents.

I am struck by how, over a week after seeing the movie, it still troubles me about watching this part of the film.  Here is the “greatest” superhero of them all, the granddaddy if you will of all modern superhero comics.  And he kills someone right in front of us.  It hit like being betrayed by your best friend.

As a fan of comics, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the like, I am not adverse to so-called “heroes” killing people.  There are many interesting stories that deal with this sort of conflict – Watchmen, Punisher, etc.  The issue I have is that this is not Superman’s conflict.  The one thing that both Superman and Batman agreed upon was a “no-kill” policy.  Sure, they’d rough them up, sometimes even paralyze or severely injure the villain.  But never kill.  It was a line that separated the good guys from the bad guys.  A line that even in the much darker and grittier Dark Knight series of films (and much better movie in my opinion), they did not cross – although they discussed it.

As a father I am saddened about what it says about our culture that even our heroes have to resort to lethal violence to solve problems.  I LOVE Superman.  Always have and probably always will.  I shared the movies I grew up with starring Christopher Reeve, with D and probably will with Boo too.  They show a Superman who is goofy and struggles at times to understand humanity.  But they also show a Superman who is honest and believes in the best of people, even when they don’t deserve it.  And who never kills.  That’s a hero I could tell my children to look up to.  Not because violence isn’t necessary.  I understand and even agree in limited ways that sometimes it’s the only way to solve problems.  But because I feel like we should be called to be better than that and to try to create a world where violence doesn’t have to exist.  That to me is a future worth working towards.

Superman

The article that prompted this particular rant is here “Superman in the movies” if you want to read it.  It’s well worth it and the author makes several good points.  That Superman’s story is and always has been, more about us than the alien.  Which perhaps is why MoS feels so wrong.  I want my story…and D’s and Boo’s stories… to end in a better place.