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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Theology of Superman

I was watching the trailer to the upcoming Superman Returns movie and was immediately struck by the interesting theological perspectives that are being put forward by the words of Jor-El who narrates the trailer piece.

Even though you have been raised as a human being, you're not one of them.

They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be.

They only lack the light to show the way.

For this reason, above all their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son.

So, we have elements of Arianism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism, and New Age theology. Pretty much all the bases covered here. Though it doesn't quite have the poetry of John 1, nor does it offer the real glory of the Gospel. Superman seeks utopia through education and fails for the same reason that all Enlightenment philosophies fail - they can't deal with Original Sin. Jesus brings the kingdom of God through through a real transformation that no kryptonite can effect.

1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2: He was in the beginning with God;
3: all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7: He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8: He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
9: The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
10: He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
11: He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
12: But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
13: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.


Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Father, I wonder if you aren't taking it a bit too seriously. I've always seen Superman as a something of a Christ-figure: innocent, and giving of himself to solve the problems of the world.

I see him as a metaphor, not a substitute for Christ. He doesn't offer spiritual salvation, but he to quite a few, he offers material salvation (Lois Lane, for one, and repeatedly).

So if I take that quote from the teaser you rendered (spoken by Marlon Brando, and beautifully), it's a short step, linked by the question, "How could this be said better?" to the quotation from John's gospel you cited.

In a world in which people look for the dark side of everything, Superman remains popular because he is an icon for what we all know is really good.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Fr. Seraphim Beshoner, TOR said...

Thank you for your comments. Perhaps I should have been a bit clearer. I certainly don't think that the idea of Superman [at least in its original concept] is something that Catholics need to be concerned with. My concern is more with this particular trailer and the language used as reflective perhaps less of "Superman" himself and more of the spirituality of those who are involved in the remake.

11:29 PM  

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