Every once in a while, I find myself walking into the local mall bookstore for a cup of coffee. Often times after getting my coffee, I enjoy spending time walking around the store perusing the various books for sale. However, every trip to the bookstore always ends with me taking a walk through the religious section.
I find every time I walk down the aisles of the religion section there seems to be at least a half dozen or so new books written about the latest media or cultural craze. Often times these texts are given catchy titles like The Gospel According to (insert whatever is popular now.) I admit that I have very mixed feelings about these types of texts.
Part of me is excited to see Christians trying to relate the stories of faith to the current cultural text. On the flip side part of feels a sense of great anxiety. I worry that these “Gospel According to” books might easily take the stories of faith into places that are not on the most solid of theological ground. I worry that many try and put the stories of faith into a box they do not, and probably should not go.
This week my struggle whether to like or loathe these modern cultural examples of biblical narratives hit an all-time personal high, with the release of the new Superman movie "Man of Steel". I admit that I already wanted to see the movie, but after reading an article in the Guardian things changed. The article addressed how the makers of the movie were using a Christian consultant to create bible studies and sermon notes comparing Superman to Jesus Christ.
“The studio has teamed up with a specialist marketing firm with the aim of encouraging pastors to utilize Zack Snyder's comic book reboot in sermons. It has set up a special website touting a nine-page pamphlet entitled Jesus – the Original Superhero. Clergymen are encouraged to "educate and uplift your congregation" using the resource, which also highlights a useful clip from the movie.”
A day or so later, the debate over Superman and Christ spilled onto the radio airways. NPR's Terry Gross did an interview on Fresh Air with the author of the sermon notes and folks from the studio public relations department. The interview clearly showed that the studio was intentionally marketing Superman as the perfect modern cultural bridge to Jesus Christ.
All of this pushed me into seeing the film this weekend. After seeing the movie, I am still deeply torn about the connection between Jesus and Superman. There are several scenes in the movie that really do make for excellent conversation both for and against that comparison. I guess in the end, I feel like I don’t know where to start. I would love to hear how you are wrestling with these issues, especially if you have seen the movie.