BATMAN THEOLOGY

Written by: Mike Donehey
Written on: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

 

Is it just me, or are comic books taking over our lives?
Anybody feel me on this one?
Donít get me wrong, I love a good ol’ hero vs nemesis,
good vs evil, fate of the world hanging in the balance,
kind of story just as much as the next guy,
but don’t you think it’s getting to be a little much?
To be honest, I was thrilled with the first X-Men movie
and the first Spiderman for that matter, but come on.
I’m thinking about the last five years or so, and it seems like
Marvel movie remakes are being thrust upon us like bad reality tv shows.
Think about it. Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Spiderman 1,2, and 3,
three X-Mens, Ghost Rider, the Punisher, Fantastic Four twice, Iron Man,
and is it just me or didn’t they just make Incredible Hulk a few years ago?
Is this new one a sequel or are they just trying to pretend
like the first one didn’t happen?
It’s out of control, and I’m fearful of what kind of effect
they’ll begin to have if we’re not careful.
I’m not saying they should be banned or anything crazy,
but I think it’s fair to say that with the steady influx
of these films infiltrating theatres, commercials,
and the myspace login page, we’d be foolish to say that
they aren’t having some effect on our thinking and on our society as a whole.

The new Batman is coming out soon, and admittedly,
I am a bit of a Batman fan myself,
so I’ve been thinking about the last five or six movies lately,
with good reason, and during one such episode a scene from
Batman Begins came on in the movie-quote center of my brain.
It’s a really quick scene, and would probably go unnoticed
and unnoted by most movie goers, but I am a bit of a theatre geek,
especially when it comes to reciting cinema quotes, so of course,
I picked up on it and just couldn’t let it go.
And what was really strange was the more I thought about it,
the more I realized that a single line from Bruce Wayne
could actually sum up the philosophy that most of our culture embraces.
For the sake of time I’d like to call it “Batman Syndrome.”

I don’t know if you saw the Batman movie I’m referring to here,
but if you haven’t, let me paint the scene for you.
Batman has just finished a serious round of cronie pummeling (of course)
when the lady interest of the movie (in this case Katie Holmes)
comes to face to face with the winged crusader.
He’s standing on a precipice of some sort
(what I remember to be an open window of a very high skyscraper)
and is about to make a grand exit when Mrs. Cruise asks, “Who are you?
and being a superhero He can’t resist the opportunity for an over-dramatic adieu,
and doesn’t miss a beat here. Batman smugly responds, “It’s not who I am,
it’s what I do that defines me.” Cue drastic whooshing sound,
enter symphony over a flying farewell, and that’s the end of the scene.

Now, this is where the nagging voice in my head comes in.
“Mike, that’s not true.”
“What?” I ask myself back.
“It isn’t true and you know it.”
I don’t know if this happens to you, but it happens to me all the time.
Now before you start worrying about my mental state let me just tell you that
I couldn’t get through Iron Man without some social commentary
interrupting my movie going experience,
so why should I think that Batman would be any different.
Maybe I’m a schizophrenic?
Well, we hope not. (there I go again.)
In any case, the voice continued.
“Mike, that’s not true anymore.”
“What do you mean, self?”
“You’re not defined by what you do.”
“I’m not?”
“Of course not. That’s the good news that you say you believe.
You’re no longer a sum of what you do.
You are a sum of what has been done for you.
Isn’t that the gospel Mike?
Isn’t that what you’ve been traveling around telling people?
You’re no longer defined by your accomplishments or your mistakes,
you are defined by what Christ has done on the cross.
You don’t have to be a superhero anymore,
you just need to let yourself be rescued.”

Hmmm.
Let’s think about that for a bit, shall we?

This simple thought that came randomly into my head
watching Batman has become THE question of my life lately.
Do I really believe that I’m defined by what has been done for me,
or am I still struggling to prove myself to people?
Am I still under the pressure of being my own Savior?
What defines me?
Am I a singer?
Am I a guitar player?
Am I a comic book character?
Am I a song-writer?
Am I a screw up?
Am I a hero?

No.

The gospel says I’m a new creation.
I’m not the sum of my choices, and I’m not the result of my performance.
I’m a royal priesthood. A holy nation. A child of God, holy and dearly loved.
John the disciple called himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
So what does that make me?
(Oh yeah, check it out for yourself.
The only place he’s called that is in the book he wrote!
The one disciple who out performs them all
chooses to be known by what had been done for Him, not by what He did.)
And so, I’ve got to remind myself that I am loved.
That I am new.
That in spite of all my failures and all my accomplishments,
I am accepted and known based upon what has already been done for me,
not on how much of a hero I can be.

What about you?
Are you trying to be a hero?
A rock star?
A lover of God?
Why don’t you let all that go, and let yourself be loved.
It’s a much easier identity to keep up with,
and you don’t even have to wear a cape.
Wear his love, and let that be your alter ego.