Anti-American Superman?

I receive the email updates from Books & Culture, a publication of cultural reviews by the evangelical magazine, Christianity Today. (B&C caters to the more high-brow audience within evangelicalism.) Keeping up on evangelical America is an important task which keeps me from thinking all Christians are just like me (a scary thought!). I may disagree with most of what CT's readership thinks theologically, but I was born in that environment and so I owe that tradition my time and energy, even if I spend that time and energy trying to "convert" them.

On the Sunday after viewing Superman Returns, I was approached my someone at my church who asked me, "Was Superman as un-American as they say?" I did not know how to respond. I thought Superman was as American as ever. He still wore red and blue, and he still saved the United States from the evil plots of Lex Luthor. So what was this un-American nonsense? Well, apparently, this guy was in the know among conservatives. Check out the Books & Culture article, which offers a pretty good synopsis of the sentiments among American conservatives (and a decent response). These sentiments include a plea to boycott the film, the declaration that "Superman Returns" is anti-American (by none other than FOX News), and the claim that Superman would be more revelant if he were fighting al Qaeda "Islamofascists" (that's a quote).

Jeremy Lott of B&C did an OK job of refuting these wild and ridiculous claims—and in the case of Debbie Schlussel, offensive, too. But Lott only showed that "Superman Returns" actually is American at heart despite the criticisms. My question is this: Who the hell cares if Superman fights for America? Why is that the basis for whether or not the movie fulfills expectations?

I am just so disturbed after reading these conservative columns. The basic assumption running through the whining of Coulter, Savage, Limbaugh, Schlussel, et al., is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth and worth "defending" even if that means wiping off all the other countries from the planet. (The notion of "defense" is a rather ambiguous one, made plain in the War on Iraq and even now in the Israel-Lebanon affair.) Who coined the phrase "truth, justice, and the American way"? That person deserves to be reprimanded for associating truth and justice with a nation (and administration) that subverts such ideals on a daily basis. We live in a scary time, when conservatives have basically made the USA their god, and liberals react against the conservatives by pushing their agendas to the exclusion of careful thought. And all along evangelicals toe the conservative line, lulled into the lie that Bush represents them because he "prays."

Indeed, we should fight for truth and justice, but that would entail fighting for environmental reforms, social programs to care for addicts and the homeless, international aid to places in the Third World, and a whole slew of other issues that need to be addressed. Of course, these are the very issues that this administration and conservatives in general avoid. It is a shame that these pundits wish to conform a superhero figure to their ideological platform. And it's an even greater shame that most Christians in America agree with them.

In other news: Just what we've always needed, a book showing us how the NY Times "subtly promotes a worldview that runs counter to the beliefs of many Americans," by which he means Red-State conservatives who think patriotism, morality, and Christianity are synonyms. Where do these people come from and who supports them?

I will keep saying it until I have no more reason to: Evangelicals are propagating more heresies today than in any other era of the church. These include a Pelagian doctrine of salvation, a unitarian doctrine of God, a docetic christology and Bible, a gnostic doctrine of eschatology, and a Constantinian doctrine of church-state relations—which, by the way, was what led the German church to support Hitler. Do I really need to unpack these in more detail? I am afraid that I will have to, since I doubt most realize how much the American evangelical sector has capitulated to these grave heresies and called it "a personal relationship with Jesus."


Check out the work by George Lakoff, a linguist at UC Berkeley. He has his own website, and has founded the Rockridge Institute. I think what I find most interesting about his work is his ability to look at the phenomenon of "framing the argument," which he believes the 43 conservative thinktanks spawned in the last quarter century are doing quite well. He offers new ways for progressives to escape the traps of conservatives (e.g. he faults progressives, like Air America, for playing tennis on the conservative court. I heard a great interview with him on NPR. It remains to be seen whether he can actually provide a positive agenda or not. It goes without saying that this agenda should not be a new Lord. However, if it proclaims the gospel in its action then I see no choice but to support it over the conservative agenda. I await more information on what this positivism will look like, if it can ever escape the knee-jerk reaction to conservatives, and where there might be unity in its goals. While conservatives certainly have their unique opinions, they tend to have great unity on some core issues (see Bush is Not Incompetent for a great the rundown).
Being a Christian citizen is a difficult thing, and always has been (though certainly not as difficult as it was when Christians were the enemies of the state before Constantine). May God grant us patience and wisdom to know His will for us as his Church, and to know our identities in Him rather than in a progressive movement or ideology.
mhkingsley said…
Hey bro, I for one would love to hear you unpack how these heresies have infested the Evangelical Church in the US.