Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From the Horror File: Bibleman goes to Narnia

Keeping with the theme of 80's cartoons and the absurdity that followed them. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of the first cartoons to really raise the ire of religion in America. The biggest complaint was the heavy use of magical/fantasy elements. This complaint has some validity, since several characters used magic heavily (Orko, Skeletor, the Sorceress etc.) and there were many other magical elements such as the magic of Castle Grayskull and He-Man's magical sword which channeled it.

Another more telling complaint came in a book by religious leaders written for the purpose of allowing the faithful to know which cartoons were appropriate. [this was years ago and I scanned the book in the store please don't ask for the specifics] But the entry on He-Man registered a complaint along the lines of "The biggest flaw with this show is implying that anyone other than Jesus could be a master of the universe."

You'd be shocked to see how often this admonishment is taken to heart in Christian friendly cartoons. The key idea is that Jesus is the source of all values and exemplar thereof. A number of cartoons simply feature time appropriate youngsters or modern ones whisked back in time who passively observe Biblical events while taking no active part in them.

The key idea one takes from these is that heroism is an illusion and no matter what you do, nothing will be of significance, the best you can hope for is a close relationship with Jesus and glory by association.

The ironic part about this is that Jesus himself isn't very heroic. There's the whole saving the souls of the sinful, but if you really think about that it's just one more thing to make Christians feel even more insignificant. You can't even earn your own way into Heaven, you have to partake of Jesus' sacrifice to do that.

This point is driven home to this day even with shows like Bibleman. An unabashed knock off of both Batman and Star Wars that proves that even a Christian SUPERHERO is insignificant. Bibleman wears a suit of armor and uses a laser sword but what would he tell you his main power is... the use of scripture. On top of that Bibleman never misses an opportunity to tell you how insignificant he is compared to Jesus.

Sadly even the best heroic fantasy ever written isn't much better. C.S. Lewis was one of the fathers of the fantasy genre alongside J.R.R. Tolkien. His Narnia books were deep and complex stories that go to a lot of trouble to...point out how insignificant human endeavors are when compared to Jesus sacrifice. Granted the young children in this story are more heroic and less bystander than in other works, they're all still pretty helpless without Aslan (Jesus) and his sacrifice.

You spend any time watching Christian fiction and you quickly begin to realize something. They're not angry about the magic in Masters of the Universe, they're frustrated with the idea of humans existing as the masters of their own destiny whose actions have genuine meaning.