All in Conversations

At long last, here's Part 2 of my conversation with T.J. Cofield about the Justice League of the Bible, the differences between DC and Marvel comics, and how we treat the characters of scripture. You can read Part 1 here.

Chris: I never really got the DC-Marvel flame war. I prefer DC because I grew up on Superman and came to love that universe but I don’t have any beef with Marvel. When there are two choices for something, I think we often convince ourselves that you HAVE to pick just one and hate the other. You’re either Marvel or DC. You either like Coke or Pepsi. You’re either a Republican or a Democrat. You’re either a Letterman person or a Leno person. Then to prop up our decision, we belittle the other side in a way that’s totally unfair. Well, except for Leno fans. They’re the worst.

(I’m kidding)

But back to what you were saying concerning DC, Marvel, biblical figures, and the saints. I like the way you put it that DC characters are superheroes who happen to be human and Marvel characters are humans who happen to be superheroes. You’re right that it is an overly simplistic way of viewing the two universes (I’ve long argued that Superman’s humanity is what makes him so great), but that perception exists for a reason.

Going off those stereotypes, it should have been easy for us to come up with biblical counterparts to Marvel characters, but I think we have this habit of elevating biblical characters to a superhuman level. We smooth out their rough parts. We strip them of their humanity. And I wonder why we do that because you only have to read a chapter or two virtually anywhere to realize that most people in the Bible are as flawed and screwed up as the rest of us. 

Is this the byproduct of some people believing in an inerrant Bible? When you try to transform a book about faith into this perfect document of science, history, etc. then is it just a short step to making the characters perfect too? Is there a concern that any fly in the ointment messes things up?

Or by elevating biblical characters do we think that it takes us off the hook to follow God in the ways that they followed God? After all, if Elijah or Mary is superhuman then off course we can’t expect to be as faithful to God as him. But if they were as human and messed up as us yet still did great things for God then we have to seriously reflect on the robustness of our faith. What are your thoughts? 

I feel like you might get sick of just hearing my voice on this blog (I know I do), so I decided to try something a little different this week. I emailed a friend and asked if he would be interested in trading thoughts and questions on a subject that interests both of us: namely the overlap between matters of faith and superheroes (and we have a lot of thoughts on both, so that could become a series to itself).

T.J. Cofield is a graduate of Furman University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He presently serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Greenville, SC (though, fun story, he's not actually Catholic). T.J. and I have been friends for over ten years now and have had countless conversations about the Bible and superheroes, including one in which we decided upon a roster for the Justice League of the Bible. That was the jumping off point for this conversation. I'll post Part 1 today and Part 2 will go up sometime tomorrow or Friday.