superheros

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rom. 5:7, Righteous man -- they will barely do it where justice requires it. Good man -- some will do it where a good cause is at stake, but that is still in their own interests. Verse 8, but Christ dies where neither justice nor self-interest require it, but while we were yet sinners. That is incomparable!

It is the "resonating" ability of fiction which requires us to beware. That is how it gains our sympathy. Sympathy shapes worldview. It is the fact that the worldview is implicit in the fiction which makes it dangerous to unsuspecting and susceptible minds. Blessings!
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
At what age would you guys suggest is ok to allow your kids to watch the Star Wars trilogy? I am sure it depends a lot on the dynamic of each family, but what age did your kids first watch Star Wars?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The arguments presented contra comics so far seem to suggest that 1) it is unlawful to read comics because of numerous examples of bad language and conduct; and 2) any non-Christian superhero or Messianic figure in fiction or virtues that appear in a "non-Christian" context should be shunned.

If I understand these arguments aright, I believe they both prove too much and should be rejected.

1) The abuse of a genre of art by some should not lead to an automatic condemnation of an entire genre. Lots of wholesome examples of comics have been presented. Distinctions have been made between certain comic superheroes such as Captain America and others such as the Punisher who represent vastly different values. That is why I advocate discernment, not complete rejection of an art genre.

I fully recognize that most of the media today, including comics, includes bad language, immorality and worse. My own interest in comics tends towards the Silver Age of Comics which, comparatively, is much more wholesome that today's comics, although there is plenty to critique about the Silver Age as well.

But the argument against comics seems to not allow for distinctions like that or any of the qualifications that I provided earlier: children's age, parental discernment, type of comic, context, etc.

I think those qualifications and distinctions are crucial to this discussion. Without them, there are only two sides: no critical judgment or complete critical condemnation.

2) To quote the Webmaster: "Typology is not idolatry unless you worship it." There are lots of fictional Messianic figures in the world of comics and beyond, including Aslan, Gandalf and others. If heroes and Messianic figures are inherently unlawful to read about unless found in a specifically Christian context, and that would have to be defined very carefully, then perhaps it is necessary to eliminate virtually all fiction from our libraries.

On the other hand, I believe there is redemptive value in reading about flawed superheroes. The same can be said of Shakespearian heroes, and even Greek mythology. Legendary or larger-than-life characters do resonate with us for a reason. That reason should be carefully explored, not dismissed, and I think Reuben is on to something. An appreciation of the stories of Hercules, Superman and Spiderman, does not mean that one is engaged in idolatry. Those stories should be read with "eyes open" -- which is why my whole argument for the lawfulness of reading comics and the like is based on the principle of discernment.

The line of argument that rules out any redeeming virtue in something simply because that virtue is not explicitly put forth in a Christian context, or that rules out the possibility of any redeeming value in a genre of art because of examples of wrongdoing that occur within that genre, is to surrender virtues and genres to the world when the world stakes a claim upon them. I believe we are called to glorify God wherever such virtues are found, the giver of all good gifts even unto the unregenerate or the artistic creations of the unregenerate.

My argument is that parents should use discernment concerning their children and the particular comic involved. Examples of wrongdoing within the genre of comics do not negate that principle of discernment unless it is shown that there is no redeeming value whatsoever in any and all comics, which I think is not possible to show. I am well aware of the dangers of comics, and just as I am well acquainted with the dangers of movies, TV shows, books, internet, newspapers and history. I am a gatekeeper for my family. To me, that is a God-given responsibility, not to be handed over to public schools or my even own children. That is why I emphasized that I would never let my children read comics unsupervised or unguided.

It is a dangerous world in which we live. I would not let my children read the news or the Puritan Board unsupervised or unguided, frankly. Truth be told, the PB is not a zone free from second, sixth or seventh commandment violations. It has potential for both good and bad influences. I have seen offensive pictures and words posted on this forum that I would not want my children to see. C.S. Lewis too, for example, writes things that are both good and bad for children to read. This issue extends well beyond comics.

But to focus on one Marvel comics issue that was raised, I remember the Iron Man series in which Tony Stark became a drunkard. I also recall Marvel's purpose in doing that which was not to glorify drunkeness but to show it in a bad light (like the Eric Clapton song shows "Cocaine" in a bad light). They also intended to make him a role model to promote AA principles. As I have said in another thread, AA is a fundamentally unBiblical. A reader can critique all of this, while recognizing that Marvel is not promoting drunkness in that series, just as a reader can critique characters in Shakespeare, Narnia and the like.

My goal is to equip them to interact Biblically with the world, not to cloister themselves. I whole-heartedly believe that children must be protected, not cast upon the vanity of worldly entertainments. But I also believe that we are to live in the world, not apart from it. That means taking into account their ages, abilities, and the overall context of the reading that is taking place. It means evaluating the comics in question. There are many specifc types of comics or particular issues that I would never let my children see for various reasons.

Little children are not equipped to handle much of what is out there in the media. I recognize that and my first response took that into account. The question initially raised was whether it is ok to let children read superhero comics or watch cartoons. The question was not age-specific. It was broadly worded. I think my response addressed the nuances that should be made. Some other responses have tended towards absolute blanket condemnations of comics without allowing for any good to be found in them whatsoever or allowing parents to make any positive judgments about cartoons.

The condemnation an entire genre of art without exception or qualification, I believe, throws out the principle of discernment and, I believe, as an imposition on parents' consciences, violates the principle of Christian liberty. It also eliminates the possibility of reading anything that is not specifically Christian and free from any negative influences.

Like any sphere of life, the visual or literary arts has potential for abuse. That potential is particularly relevant to the second, sixth and seventh commandments, but encompasses the entire decalogue. Parents have a duty to protect their children from bad influences. Parents should not allow their children unfettered access to comics or any media, "non-Christian" or "Christian," without supervision. But as stated before, my goal is to equip my children to understand how to engage the world, which at some point includes a Biblical critique (appreciation/rejection) of both fictional characters and real persons.

It's an important principle for me, which is why I have spent so long on this post. I think there is probably more that could be said, but I will leave off.

Excelsior!

[Edited on 8-16-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Are classic versions of comics available? For example, Batman from the 1960s. They had different standards then.

[Edited on 8-16-2006 by Scott]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Andrew: Thanks for all the great comments and insight. One other concern I had is that the comic universes have fundamental non-Christian elements. For example evolution is an important plank in the foundation of comic universes. Marvel mutants are the next stage of evolution. That idea came out in the Fantastic 4 movie as well. Also, there tend to be false gods (eg. Thor in Marvel) and godlike beings that control the universe (like Green Lantern's bosses). What are thoughts about though? They seem embedded in the fabric of comic worlds.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Scott
Are classic versions of comics available? For example, Batman from the 1960s. They had different standards then.

[Edited on 8-16-2006 by Scott]
My comic collection begins in the early 1960's and ends chronologically in the mid-1980's.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Rom. 5:7, Righteous man -- they will barely do it where justice requires it. Good man -- some will do it where a good cause is at stake, but that is still in their own interests. Verse 8, but Christ dies where neither justice nor self-interest require it, but while we were yet sinners. That is incomparable!

It is the "resonating" ability of fiction which requires us to beware. That is how it gains our sympathy. Sympathy shapes worldview. It is the fact that the worldview is implicit in the fiction which makes it dangerous to unsuspecting and susceptible minds. Blessings!
Yes, Christ is incomparable: there is no dispute, and any dispute of that point would be irrational. At the same time, dying for righteousness or for a good cause is not therefore bad. The fact that divine love excels all love does not mean that the affection a puppy has for a child, or vice versa, is evil.

Of course fiction requires us to be on our guard. But that does not mean that there is no profit to be reaped from it. In other words, just because I like a story, doesn't make that story bad. And just because I like a story doesn't mean I will embrace it. I love Katherine Mansfield's stories; but I believe the only thing she has done to my worldview is to show the beauty that is in God's creation and in the quirks of human beings.
"Come back, Mr. Dove!"

Scott, that is to me the most troubling part of comic storytelling. I have long thought it was a mis-step on the part the comic authors to introduce magic/religious mythology into what finds its best expression in science fiction: Wolverine, Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Hulk are in my view the most comic-book like of the superheroes. I don't have a problem with mythology; but people have introduced God and Jesus as characters, and have multiplied vastly powerful interdimensional entitites, blah, blah, blah. I think that is bad theology, and I must admit, bad storytelling.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Scott
Andrew: Thanks for all the great comments and insight. One other concern I had is that the comic universes have fundamental non-Christian elements. For example evolution is an important plank in the foundation of comic universes. Marvel mutants are the next stage of evolution. That idea came out in the Fantastic 4 movie as well. Also, there tend to be false gods (eg. Thor in Marvel) and godlike beings that control the universe (like Green Lantern's bosses). What are thoughts about though? They seem embedded in the fabric of comic worlds.
Yes, this is true. It is important for a parent/reader to take these issues into account (the unexamined comic is not worth reading).

The same can be said of Star Trek ("Q," evolution), Middle Earth (see the pantheon of deities/creation mythology in Silmarillion) or the worlds of C.S. Lewis (creation account in The Magician's Nephew, pantheon of deities in the Space Trilogy) as well. Fantasy examples that involve pagan concepts could be multipied: The Matrix, Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, The Iliad and the Odyssey, Arabian Nights, Disney's Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz. A great deal of the Western canon of literature is directly or indirectly based/influenced on/by pagan thought. This is a reality that will either lead parents to reject any form of literature or art that is not specifically, exclusively, "Christian," or it will be taken into account by the parents who want to teach their children to analyze such literature through a Biblical world-view: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thes. 5.21).

P.S. Reading Thor helped me to learn "thee and thou" language which has served me well in reading the KJV. :)

[Edited on 8-16-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
I think my related/unrelated post got buried. :)

Originally posted by ChristopherPaul
At what age would you guys suggest is ok to allow your kids to watch the Star Wars trilogy? I am sure it depends a lot on the dynamic of each family, but what age did your kids first watch Star Wars?
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
Originally posted by armourbearer
...
Yes, types must be divinely authorised. This is the point. Our modern Christian litterateurs are seeking to find Messiah and salvation everywhere from Shakesperean characters to superman. It is false gospel!
...
:up: Well put, Rev. Winzer. I have heard another wise pastor refer to people who "suck the grace out of Led Zeppelin".
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
From Thomas Manton (Works, 4:101):

"We are so far to abhor sin as to beware of the remote tendencies; yea, to avoid "œthe occasions of it," 1 Thess. 5:22. If it be but male coloratum, as Bernard glosseth, of an ill look and complexion, it is good to stand at a distance."
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Amen! Wouldn't you be shocked and horrified if you witnessed someone die a sudden death. Why don't the sins we see daily and that are replete in comics have the same reaction in us? Don't we know that the least sin is infinitely more hateful then the worst afflicition? When we read about sin our hearts should be heavy with grief. Sin should never be the object of amusement.
 

Dag Fish

Puritan Board Freshman
Well reasoned Andrew...
My daughter and I read comics together. We like The Flash.

Flash Fact: In a not too old issue he relates that he believes in capital punishment.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Are there any issues, adiofora, that we can't find folks in this crowd that will come up with some personal scruple, masqueraded as a "clear" Biblical principle, that we should bind upon all believers?

I guess if we lock down all issues this way it certainly makes it easy on parents who never have to exercise any prudence. Rather, they have all of us to help them completely reject any disputable issue that might even obliquely be associated with something we might not want to do. I wonder why the list of things that Christians were to avoid at the Council of Jerusalem wasn't much longer given some of the scruples I see here. This just being emblamatic of a larger list that I ought to start categorizing just to keep track.

It's not that I want to belittle personal scruples, per se, but I do grow weary of the force with which the arguments are drawn that indicates that everyone who does not avoid the activity is just engaging in rank idolatry or, at best, on a perilous slippery slope.

A little liberty here please. That's a Biblical command too.

[Edited on 8-17-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by jaybird0827
Originally posted by armourbearer
...
Yes, types must be divinely authorised. This is the point. Our modern Christian litterateurs are seeking to find Messiah and salvation everywhere from Shakesperean characters to superman. It is false gospel!
...
:up: Well put, Rev. Winzer. I have heard another wise pastor refer to people who "suck the grace out of Led Zeppelin".

I have to agree. Movies, comics, books, Led Zeppelin etc., these are entertainment period. The only thing they have to offer is the law. The law brings wrath, the letter kills. They can only offer poor versions of moral lessons. Most of us would have no problem ridiculing Veggie Tales for their absence of a gospel message and only trying to portray the Patriarchs of being Heros, good men.

Watch them, read them, but only as entertainment, a tantalizing diversion. Don't try to exalt them into something they are not. They are nothing more than Veggie Tales.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Are there any issues, adiofora, that we can't find folks in this crowd that will come up with some personal scruple, masqueraded as a "clear" Biblical principle, that we should bind upon all believers?

I guess if we lock down all issues this way it certainly makes it easy on parents who never have to exercise any prudence. Rather, they have all of us to help them completely reject any disputable issue that might even obliquely be associated with something we might not want to do. I wonder why the list of things that Christians were to avoid at the Council of Jerusalem wasn't much longer given some of the scruples I see here. This just being emblamatic of a larger list that I ought to start categorizing just to keep track.

It's not that I want to belittle personal scruples, per se, but I do grow weary of the force with which the arguments are drawn that indicates that everyone who does not avoid the activity is just engaging in rank idolatry or, at best, on a perilous slippery slope.

A little liberty here please. That's a Biblical command too.

[Edited on 8-17-2006 by SemperFideles]
Liberty to do what though Rich?? To obey. We are no longer slaves to sin but are free to do the will of our Father.

I think the basic, brass tacks, point is this:

1 John 2:16
For all that is in the world"”the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"”is not of the Father but is of the world.

It's of the world, it is not of the Father. It's fun, it's intoxicating but in the end it is just worldy. No one here has said how much or how little of anything. I read fiction but I have no illusions about it. It's not instructional to my life. I wouldn't think it was instructional to my children and I would definitely guard their young impressionable minds from the more insidious messages that are there for the sole purpose of twisting morality and trying to make good evil and evil good. They just love to do that in the entertainment industry.

There was a time when the truth was told about heros. Their deeds were for esteem and glory. To sit in honor with their dead fathers. Now we have the mythological nice people who do it because they are selfless. Or the ever favorite virtuous criminal. Yeah he's a criminal (or a pirate maybe) but he has some good in him so he saves the day.
Just because there is small r redemption in a movie does not a capital R Redemtion message make. Nothing can compare and should try to compare to the Redemption we have in Christ.

I am not so sure it is our business to try to make types of Christ in literature or movies. I know that Lewis is revered by many but I wish he had just made a neat story and left it at that. I am still working through this in my mind. I will believe Tolkien when he says his movie isn't an allegory because it makes me feel better. A wizard as the Messiah makes me cringe. Would not both of these incidents fall somewhere under the purview of the second commandment??
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by C. Matthew McMahon
Guys, don't misunderstand.

I was directing the comment to allowing CHILDREN to read them.
The irony is that now that I am not a child, I have no desire to read comics.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by armourbearer
Yes, types must be divinely authorised. This is the point. Our modern Christian litterateurs are seeking to find Messiah and salvation everywhere from Shakesperean characters to superman. It is false gospel!
Don't forget the Matrix. I heard a Methodist pastor give a sermon referencing it once.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Augusta
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Are there any issues, adiofora, that we can't find folks in this crowd that will come up with some personal scruple, masqueraded as a "clear" Biblical principle, that we should bind upon all believers?

I guess if we lock down all issues this way it certainly makes it easy on parents who never have to exercise any prudence. Rather, they have all of us to help them completely reject any disputable issue that might even obliquely be associated with something we might not want to do. I wonder why the list of things that Christians were to avoid at the Council of Jerusalem wasn't much longer given some of the scruples I see here. This just being emblamatic of a larger list that I ought to start categorizing just to keep track.

It's not that I want to belittle personal scruples, per se, but I do grow weary of the force with which the arguments are drawn that indicates that everyone who does not avoid the activity is just engaging in rank idolatry or, at best, on a perilous slippery slope.

A little liberty here please. That's a Biblical command too.

[Edited on 8-17-2006 by SemperFideles]
Liberty to do what though Rich?? To obey. We are no longer slaves to sin but are free to do the will of our Father.
If it violates your conscience then it is sin for you. I speak merely of the liberty to be free from another Christian's scruples binding my conscience in a debatable manner. Reading of comic books is a debatable manner in my estimation.

I've seen the same arguments used to prohibit card playing, consumption of alchohol, smoking cigars, etc. You can take virtually any thing man could use for recreation and demonstrate a way it can be abused in an sinful manner.
 
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