Tag Archives: Wrath

I Watched #Hellbound Before I Changed It to Buffy #btvs

Last night I was pretty bored and I needed to watching something while I did some fall cleaning. Lo, and behold, I decided to watch the documentary, Hellbound?, written and directed by Canadian Christian writer Kevin Miller. From all that I had heard and read, it was supposed to be a worthwhile film, and maybe someday I will go back and finish. But just not this year. The movie was fine, I could see the direction it was going: BIG NINE-ELEVEN TWO THOUSAND AND ONE DRAMA! The Phelps and their hate speech where 99.99999999% of the people living in the world are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Mark Driscoll implying anyone who disagreed with him was not manly enough and kind of queer. So NOT authoritarian! Liar and heretic Ray Comfort even had an appearance.

Nope none of these persons were problematic enough to trigger me into watching something else. Then, Miller first started making claims like all religions are about narrative, and story is ooooh so important to what it means to be human. It’s a familiar argument, one that Brian McLaren was writing about in the ’90’s. You see, there are a variety of Christianities. There’s the fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible “literally” but never seriously. And there are also Christians who read Scripture as literature and somewhat more seriously. While the latter sounds better, at least the BIG OLE SCARY fundies are honest and forthright about the implications of their beliefs.

Then, Hellbound started interviewing the likes of Wm Paul Young and Frank Schaeffer. Throughout his few minutes, Schaeffer repeatedly referred to Evangelicals as Pharisees. This claim went unchallenged, and given the lack of racial diversity in the film (it’s a Christian documentary, so not surprising given the “nature” of the business). Frantz Fanon argues in his Black Skin, White Masks that once you find an anti-Semite, there’s not an anti-Black antagonist far behind. Part of my path down the narrow road of anti-racism was taking a Jewish-Studies course that coincided with a Black Church studies class on Exodus. It was there that I first learned of how problematic loosely calling others Pharisees was. Jesus and Paul were Pharisees,

Cover of "Black Skin, White Masks"

Cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Pharisees were some of the very first Christians in Acts, but in liberal and conservative Christianity, people continue a willful ignorance of the history of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism. I’m sorry, but the Pharisees are not the villains you make them out to be. That’s why it’s no surprise when in liberal “Christian novels,” such as Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack, anti-Judaism goes unchecked.

 

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But I think that there is something that goes much deeper. At the heart of the problem is the notion of story. I have discussed on here before the problem of seeing everything as a story here before, as it relates to postcolonial criticism.

So last night, when I changed the show I was watching on Netflix to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided to watch the season 7 episode “Storyteller,” the story of Andrew who was shooting a documentary about Buffy, the slayer of vampires, and I found this relevant quote:

“Buffy: Stop! Stop telling stories. Life isn’t a story.
Andrew: Sorry. Sorry.
Buffy: Shut up. You always do this. You make everything into a story so no one’s responsible for anything because they’re just following a script.”- Storyteller, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 16.

This is exactly the problem with emergent dudebros. They do not have to take responsibility for the histories of biblical interpretations or practices there of. They can just call it “STORY” since it sounds so much nicer. No way should they be held accountable for the real, historical experiences of the oppressed because when it comes to the Grand Narrative, only an arbitrarily limited account provided by men from the majority culture.

Perhaps then this is why the story of the Hellmouth remains truer than that of Hellbound? .

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 11, The Incredible Hulk

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 11, The Incredible Hulk

Posted on November 15, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.

The Incredible Hulk (1982 TV series)

The Incredible Hulk (1982 TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hulk has had 2 movies, has been in more than 10 cartoon shows/movies, had a well known live-action TV show, and is easily one of the most recognizable comic characters in the world. Huge, green, and angry. How does he stack up to the rest of the so-called heroes?

Who is the Hulk?

Hulk used to be just plain old Bruce Banner. Of course, nothing was plain about him. Many call him one of the smartest people on the planet. He used to work for the US government making an ultimate weapon called a gamma bomb. When testing the bomb, a young kid (Rick Jones to be precise) drove onto the testing site. Banner ran to save him, throwing Jones into a shielded area just in time, but was himself caught in the heart of a gamma bomb explosion. Ever after, Bruce Banner has shared his existence with the raging Hulk that lives inside him. There have been different incarnations of the Hulk, ranging from Green to Grey, child-like to manipulative, smart to dumb. Some of these will factor into the scoring, so I’ll divide Hulk into essentially 3 characters: Savage (Green, dumb, childlike), Mr. Fixit (Grey, Manipulative, smart), and Smart Hulk (Green, shares many traits in common with Banner).

Is this character heroic?  Except for Mr. Fixit, yes. While the Savage Hulk may not seem like he is very heroic, he always does the right thing when pressed. He has shown willingness to sacrifice himself over and over for the sake of others. Smart Hulk does as well, but he is often less overt about his heroism. (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Defiantly fights against them. Hulk is the quintessential outcast character. The US military has often been his most aggressive enemy. No matter if he be Savage, Fixit, or Smart Hulk, even other heroes do not trust him, cannot control him, and look at him as a threat, often for no good reason other than his other-ness. And Hulk hates their hypocrisy and never shies away from pointing it out. Which of course makes them more aggressive.  (1 point)

Does this character kill? Errrr… depends on who you ask. Since the Hulk goes through so many different states of mind, it is hard to nail down which has done what. Even the Savage, Mr. Fixit, and Smart Hulk categories are somewhat arbitrary and porous. Still, having said that, Hulk is often protrayed as a savage, mindless brute who can level towns and mountains alike without even thinking about it. Surely he has killed thousands of people? Well, not really. In a more recent comic, a super-brilliant prodigy called Amadeus Cho revealed that when he was the Hulk, all of Banner’s intelligence didn’t dissapear, but instead was being used in Hulk’s subconscious to do “super-math,” essentially calculating the physics of Hulk’s rampages and making sure that no innocents have ever been killed. And sure enough, I looked back through tons of issues, and couldn’t find once instance of an innocent person dying. Still, what about killing bad guys? Savage Hulk, ironically, is innocent. He hasn’t killed any bad guys. Ever. Even Mr. Fixit, while he has maimed and broken his bad guys, has never killed them. Probably an oversight, though, as he has said he would. However, when smart Hulk has come around, he has killed a few. Especially when you consider that he helped a planet stage a rebellion against its oppressors. Lots of bad dudes died then.  (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Eh… no not really. Banner straight up says he doesn’t believe in that stuff. Savage Hulk can see ghosts, though, and often interacts with spiritual beings more easily than normal people. Fixit and Smart Hulk don’t really talk about religion… unless it is with Thor.  (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 0 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Definitely. Hulk is never status quo. His book, probably more than any other I can think of, has seen his character develop, devolve, change, and grow like no other. His antagonism to power, only to see them come begging to him when they need help is always satisfying. His disregard for the judgement of others, and his faux desire to be left alone, masking his deep longing for acceptance and intimacy is heart breaking and often reads like Greek tragedy.  (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes. Hulk has done a great job of surrounding himself with other people to share his burden, even as he pretends to push them away. From Banner himself, who alternates between antagonist, protagonist, friend, brother, and mad scientist to Rick Jones, his constant companion and friend (and now fellow gamma-powered hero), to Betty Ross (his girlfriend/wife who has also become gamma-powered recently), to General Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross (his constant enemy-turned gamma powered rivial), and a whole host of others (Jarella, Caiera, Meek,  Brood, Hiroim and Korg, Amadeus Cho, etc…). Hulk shares the spotlight, because he needs people as much as the world often needs him. (1 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? not a whole lot that don’t look tacky. (0 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Ahhh… probably not. At best, Hulk is wish fulfillment. He might represent us at our worst, or what we might want to do when if we had unlimited power. But the point is, Hulk is really defined often BY his power. Savage Hulk might do the right thing, but only in the way a 5-year old might. Mr. Fixit isn’t concerned in the least about the right thing, and Smart Hulk is unpredictable, often representing the best of us, and then sometimes the worst.   (0 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yep. Hulk is the strongest there is. Most of Hulk’s adversity comes because of his great power, not as a challenge to it. His immense (nearly immesuarable) power scares people, even his friends. The tragedy that follows him like a shadow makes his power all the more pathetic in terms of getting him the peaceful life he desires. (1 point)

Verdict: 
Savage Hulk: 7 out of 8 points
Mr. Fixit: 4 out of 8 points
Smart Hulk: 5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Batman…

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Justice. Wins.

The controversy of Rob Bell’s Love Wins has basically died down. It was a flash in the pan, nothing new to see here. Recent conversations on Twitter have me thinking about the “orthodox”/”heretic” divide. I’ll expand on writing my thoughts on that later. But part of the other problem I have with relational theologies of love is the lack of desire to discuss justice issues. It’s part of this heresy of “love is enough,” and rather than confront the status quo, these theologies would rather just mask matrices of oppression.

I’d recommend this piece by Richard Oster: the heresy of love is enough.