Monday, June 17, 2013

Superman

a pathway in the desert outside my retreat house

It seems as if Hollywood has developed an innovative marketing strategy for the just-released Superman movie. Pastors of Christian churches (mostly evangelical churches) are being invited to  come to a free screening of Superman because Superman is a perfect model of Jesus. In fact, the Hollywood strategists have even prepared sermon notes and lecture materials for pastors to use in their sermons, comparing Superman to Jesus. Obviously the strategists hope that the pastors will then suggest that their flocks go out and buy tickets for the "Superman as Jesus" movie.  

After all, Superman is always there to save the day. People are in trouble and he swoops down and makes it all better.  In the new movie, Superman sacrifices his life to save the world and is 33 years old when he does this. In their sermon notes for pastors, the Hollywood strategists point out that Jesus was also 33 when he sacrifices his life to save the world.  So come to the new Superman movie.  It's a perfect way to learn about, and then talk about about Jesus, right?

No, not right!

In fact, as I see it, beside being a shameless money-making ploy, this new Hollywood strategy paints a picture of Jesus that is insulting and injurious to authentic Christian teaching.

I am a Christian. This means I am a "follower of Jesus." When I read the Gospels, I never (not ever) see Jesus asking that his disciples worship him.  What he does say is,  "follow me." Jesus sets the example. He charts a path of open-hearted compassion, embracing everyone who comes his way- especially those on the margins of life, and then he invites any who would call themselves disciples to walk along the same path. Follow me!

He sacrifices his life for the common good,  and teaches that all who would be his disciples to also take up their cross and lay down their lives for the welfare of others. Follow me.

If Jesus is Superman, endowed with super human powers, swooping down out of the sky to solve my problems, how can I possibly follow in his way? 

If Jesus is Superman, then I can't really follow him, all I can do is worship him.  I can go to church and praise Jesus and worship Jesus, and ask Jesus for all sorts of favors to make my life better, and then I can walk out of church and into everyday life, gossiping about my neighbors, ignoring the plight of the poor, attacking those who are different from me, and walking all over others to get to the top - hardly doing what Jesus demands of his disciples, when he says: Follow me!

In an age where religion has become more and more suspect, rejected as childish nonsense,  I think Hollywood has done a great disservice to the Christian "Way" by peddling their Jesus as Superman nonsense. 

The new "Belief Blog" on CNN.com recently featured an article about "Superman" as a new movie about Jesus.  In response,  there were hundreds of blog comments ridiculing the silly fairy-tale story of  Christianity- a religion that believes in a super hero flying in the sky, swooping down to save the day. 

I think Hollywood owes the  "Followers of Jesus" an apology. They should find a new way to sell tickets.  

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