Thursday, March 21, 2024

The Golden Age


I was a little surprised to find a sweet little bit of homey advice and insight nestled in a publication called “Action Comics." In Action Comics 1029 Superman passes on the wisdom he gained from his adopted pa to his son 

(Yes, Superman now has a son).

The exchange (below) reminds us of our humanity, and that it’s OK to fail. It also gives us a possible motive for covering up our failures. Pa Kent nobly tells us that it is to “give our kids the confidence to take risks. To feel safe, To grow into their best selves.”

The homily calls this time of our innocence “the Golden Age.”

For true comic-book geeks (like me), this term evokes the original crime-fighting superheroes who always did the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons. Their enemies were obviously bad people who just needed to be punched and if you wanted to do the punching, all you had to do was put on a colorful costume and maybe a cape.

Just like Pa Kent opines, this “Golden Age” of comics did provide hope during the devastating Great Depression and the terrors of the Nazi threat and World War 2.  Superman himself was the embodiment of hope, created by two Jewish men living under the shadow of the impinging Nazi ideology. 

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman spawned an entire industry dedicated to providing us with the ultimate escapist literature, the superhero comic book. A wellspring of hope and inspiration, even the hope that we can overcome our own limitations so that we can make the world (or the universe) a better place.

While we might love the idealism that our ‘glossing over’of our shortcomings, or pretending to have all answers might provide hope to a small child, we should consider the last part of Pa Kent’s message…

“But everybody falls Clark. And that’s OK.”

At some point we have to accept that others can see our faults, missteps, and even our sins. At some point, we have to let them be seen so that we might confess them (1 John 1:9). At some point, we have to accept that we are not dealing with children who need a false sense of security, but that we are all in need of God’s blessings and care.

I can’t help but wonder if the church has passed out of the ‘Golden Age’ in the past generation? Have the church’s obvious hypocrisies and lies caught up with her, and those we have treated like children are now seeing our shortcomings and letting us know through empty pews that they do not need our false hopes and empty promises? Is the Church not overdue for a true time of confession?  

What would happen if the Church just admitted that we were on the wrong side of Chattel slavery and genocide? What if we admitted that we didn’t believe that black lives mattered, and so we allowed our brothers and sisters to die at the hands of evil men and that we helped create and support systems that benefit us by trying to subjugate and marginalize anyone we deem “other?”

"Listen Clark,

There’s a golden age when every kid knows their parents are indestructible. That we never fall, and we always know what the right thing is.

We let you see us that way so that you’ll feel…Safe, I guess. Safe enough to take risks, figure out your limits. That’s how a kid is supposed to feel.

But everybody falls Clark. And that’s OK.

Someday your kids’ll see you fall. And that’ll be OK too."



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