Friday, January 29, 2010

POP03: "The Church of Superheroes"

(An excerpt from the novel Blog Love Omega Glee.)

"So," Francine says, putting down the new issue of Mercury Comics, which chronicles the former Roman god of speed Mercury's new adventures (in this issue he was broke and had to get a job delivering pizzas--he made a lot in tips when the pizzas showed up seconds after they came out of the oven), "Do you think if civilization collapsed, and a thousand years from now future archaeologists found remnants of a comic book collection that they would think we worshipped superheroes as gods?"

"My, you are cheery today Francine," Donald says, looking over the new issue of Submarine Penguin.

"No, I'm serious," Francine says, pointing at Mercury on the cover of the comic, "How do we know the Romans and Greeks and other ancient civilizations worshipped mythological gods? How do we know they didn't just make up stories about these characters as entertainment?"

"I think there is physical evidence such as temples to various gods, plus surviving texts reference the gods in ways that indicate they were more than just their version of superheroes," Donald says, putting his comic down on the coffeetable.

"But did people really believe there was a guy that ran as fast as Mercury?"

"Probably some did, and some did not. The world had more mystery in those times. The myths served to explain things in a way that made sense to people living then. Today, we have science to explain most of that. The night is not so terrifying once it is lit by electrical light. And, in any case, the gods were always more embodiments of ideas or phenomena such as wind, thunder, love, war, and what have you, so even if one did not believe in them literally, one could understand them as symbols. Just like now some people believe in Christ or Allah, and some do not believe but can still respect the ideals the gods represent such as mercy and justice."

"Well, it's certainly harder to believe in gods today. Most of it seems like hooey designed to control people, not much different from a confidence scheme."

"At some level it probably always was, but there are people who sincerely believe even today. I think one of the problems our society has faced is that in an era where many people find it hard to believe in the supernatural world due to the advances of science and technology-- hard to take on faith Christ, and much more so Mercury--we have not found a good substitute for inculcating ethics or morals in people. People probably had a lot more motivation to behave well when they were afraid that if they did not, then they would be struck down by a bolt of lightning or burn in hell."

"Yeah, but who defines what behaving well is? A lot of times those old rules were just designed to control women or the poor or a minority."

"Well, I think there are some basics people can agree on such as not killing one another. In fact, the world could do worse than following the moral code of superheroes, which is why I think it is good that children often like superheroes."

"But what about all the grim and gritty superheroes nowadays who kill the criminals because they don't trust the justice system to make sure the criminals won't cause more trouble?"

"I think we can safely regard those stories as apocryphal deviations from the norm of superhero ethics," Donald says, picking up his comic again, "Though they do make for some good reading."

"Well, Donald, if a church of superheroes ever starts up, then I may have to start going to church again," Francine says, standing up.

"Aaaahhhh," Donald says, blissfully closing his eyes.

"What? Are you all right?"

"I am very right. I am just imaging how cool my favorite comic covers would be as stained glass windows."

(Blog Love Omega Glee is a novel by Wred Fright about two bloggers who fall in love while the world falls apart, which is being serialized on his blog. To start reading from the beginning or read another installment, please visit Blog Love Omega Glee Central on WredFright.Com.)