Do Your Own Theology, part 1: “…Somewhere between Jesus and Batman…”

August 15, 2009

I hadn’t really anticipated ever making this blog about me – my opinions, perhaps, but not me.  There are enough people out there who want the world to care about their lives as though you should. I don’t really be one more narcissistic navel-gazing “me-generation” person seeking celebrity.  That’s the reason I never wrote a blog before. Having said that, I do want to point to the world beyond myself and make people think. If people can see what I think – both silly and smart, maybe they can think about what they think. That would accomplish something worth doing.

About three weeks or a month ago, at my church, (South Church in New Britain, CT!) I led a discussion Do Your Own Theology and the discussion stimulated thought in that room. This is an extension of that for the on-line crowd.  (If you were in that evening’s class, this blog will include all new stories and ideas).

When I think about “how to be” as a Christian, the first thing to be is (of course) like Christ Jesus.  Minister friends of mine will differentiate between those two names, but most of your average people will understand what I mean without spending any time on it and they can get to the real meat of the theology here. Maybe that “Jesus” and “Christ” thing will be another time.  Anyway, back to “how to live”….

I have two models of how to be – Jesus, as I said, and, well… Batman.  Jesus is friend, nice guy who told great stories, teacher, wise and spiritual.  He is kind and sad and understands everything not just in his heart, but in his whole being. He loves the unlovable of society – the victims of the world, the unappreciated, the forgotten, he saves people by redeeming them – by loving them.  He isn’t curious, or intellectual – he already knows everything. He isn’t steely and angry or physically strong, necessarily. Jesus never grits his teeth and seethes.  Jesus’ anger always involves heart and caring.  When I’m at work, seeing clients, I try to bring this model of “Jesus” with me. I try to see the beauty and worth in who they are.  I try to nurture the spirit of the person I am seeing, and point out the Spirit within them which can heal them.

But sometimes, that’s more than people need.  In the framework of counseling, there is a certain part of life where I don’t want to care why somebody did something. I don’t want to know or care about what a molester thought when he or she hurt their child and sent their lives hurtling into space for the next 30 or 40 years or lifetime. I don’t care why an addict left their child at the casino or on the streets of some dark alley while they went to score if their child is my client or even if the addict is.  I want to be pissed for the abused. I want to shake somebody and say, “Tell me what you did, you bastard!” I want to focus and concentrate and probe and get at the truth and I want justice, damn it all! I don’t want to talk about mercy and grace and caring. I want the abused and neglected to know that I think it is wrong what that S.O.B did so-and-such to them.  I want the woman whose parent or spouse took off with all the money to hunt that person down and get their stuff back. I want the abused and manipulated adult to be angry at what happened to them when they were a kid.  I want the kid whose parent socked them in the face when drunk to know that I believe it happened and that will never happen again if I have anything to say about it. And then I try to have something to say about it.  I go to court and silently watch, I file DSS reports to the authorities, I show people where to look online to find the person that did that to them.

Now, there are various incarnations of Batman – the “campy” 60’s version, the dark and violent version of the 1980’s and the angry, complex one of today’s movies.  All of them believe in the system of justice we have.  The Adam West version of the 1960’s is always earnest and there’s a distinct part of me that’s like him.  He’s good and he cares whether “there’s a good place to get rid of a bomb”.  He’s not so much into “might” as he is into “right”.  There’s a child part and a caring within him. I think that the God of the Old Testament – the God I met as a child – is a lot like him. Good is good and Bad is bad and there’s an obvious difference between them to this person. He(God) is probably most like Jesus on earth in that sense – sincere and interested in “Truth and Justice and the (fill in the blank) Way”.

The Batman of the 80’s and the new one are more like the God of the book of the Revelation to John – he wants blood. He wants revenge. He wants punishment. I have to say that I don’t really like the God of the Apocalypse but I get him. He acknowledges not only that there’s Good and Bad in the world. That one acknowledges that there’s evil and that it shouldn’t stand in the world, let alone get off without punishment.  That’s the One that scares the daylights out of people who are real criminals – gangsters, drug lords and the like.  In my life as a therapist, I get to be that Batman and represent that God.

But, in the end, I don’t think that Angry is a way of being or that it will triumph in the end. I don’t think it should be used to scare little children or just your average person who’s not, at their core, a criminal.  I don’t believe in Scary God – scary is Always Angry, for no particular reason. He’s abusive, destroying of the souls of the helpless and hopeless. That is so much not who I believe God is and what I don’t want to be.  But, at the times when true evil exists in the stories in my office, when truly criminal or immoral behavior happens, I want Angry God – really pissed God – Batman – to be in the room as well – to drive that evil back into the hole it came out of.

Peace,

John

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