It's about more than asserting your will on the people around you, in your community, or the world at large. When you are given much you are expected to return more. You can spend years, even a lifetime, in vain pursuits which accumulate that which "moth and rust destroy." But if you slow down enough, talk less, and listen more you hear that voice which recites the total description of your authentic self. And for the majority of us that "self" is one capable of good.
I've read comic books my whole life.
Where others see ludicrous exploits of garishly clad cartoons, I've only ever seen the characters; true and good. As a boy the hero was (and still is) Superman. That is the character which created, defined, and perfected the archetype of super hero. It is that character that eclipsed the "actual" American heroes like Davy Crockett, Danial Boone, etc. He is as much a force as a character with discernible traits.
An unstoppable force for good. Unrelenting. Unyielding. Unstoppable. And as I've grown older I've retained my appreciation for America's "Ultimate Immigrant" and will always hold that character as the ideal all the others strive for. Wizard Magazine once wrote that while Spider-man maybe the superhero the average guy would probably be, Superman is the hero we'd want to be (read strive to be).
I've been a Christian my whole life.
Baptized in the Catholic Church my parents and grandparents, along with the church community there that day and the communion of saints there with us all the time, prayed that I may be given the gift of faith and a portion in God's grace. It took my marriage to bring me back to the Catholic Church, and "I make my home in the house of Yahweh, for all time to come." While many years now in the church I'm still an infant trying to piece together not just my own salvation, but that of my wife, children and community.
I've also been an American my whole life.
And it is through American eyes I've studied my faith. For many years my "American Catholic" faith made me feel a little taller than the next guy, a little better. I listened to those in public life talk about faith, family values, and what was important to an American Christian and for the most part I bought what sold. Up until a few years ago, while I wouldn't have expressed I this way, I whittled my faith to personal salvation, gay marriage, and where the Ten Commandments should be displayed.
It was all a lie.
Not the faith part mind you, but what I had allowed myself to believe constituted important faith based issues. Then I read a book called "God's Politics." It reminded me that the bible speaks volumes about the poor and not one word about the American Christian discussion that has waged for years. Now mind you, if you've read the book you've noticed how the author wants us as Americans to abdicate our responsibilities to the U.N. and overly praises the 60's and the leftist agenda. I'm no socialist. But the widow and orphan are my charge as prescribed by Christ Jesus and I must attend to them.
This is where I'd like comic books to come back into play. Space aliens, super powered villains, and world domination are the capes' bread and butter but there are more important fights out there to be fought and who will fight them?
Then I remembered Green Arrow.
While heavy handed in retrospect, Oliver Queen underwent the most successful revamp in comic book history in my opinion. The character went from uninspired Batman rip off to a street level hero who fought for real people with real problems. Sadly, the character has over the past several years been made a pale reflection of himself. But it is in that potential of "progressive heroism" that I will discuss his character, comic books, faith, social action, and whatever else captures my imagination.
I still love comic books. Right now they're not that good. Their market is shrinking. One day Superman may only be as viable a character as Mickey Mouse, used only to sell merchandise.
Until that happens I'd like to share some thoughts about these uniquely American books.