Be faithful in small things

 

            Religious faith in a comic book world takes on a completely different meaning than it does in the real world.  In the real world faith reflects the belief in an all powerful deity (or deities) who are intrinsically involved in the affairs of man without directly revealing themselves.  Faith in comic book worlds takes on many different aspects.   In comic book worlds gods do directly reveal themselves, including what many consider to be the Christian God, and characters venturing to heaven and hell is not entirely uncommon.  Despite the presence of the all-powerful there are still a hand full of characters who are firmly either atheist, or believe that there is a scientific explanation for all things.  Somewhat stereotypically compared to the real world, these characters are usually the most advanced scientists or engineers (Iron Man and Mr. Terrific.)  These characters nonetheless adhere to their beliefs.   I am not sure if this is a viable option in their worlds, in that they become the opposite what real world scientists adhere to, their faith rests in science and not in religion, and they expect the great unknown to be explained by science rather than divinity.  

            In terms of real world applicability though, faith in religion would be harder to substantiate.   Many people in the modern world try to comprehend the suffering of others through religion and either come up without an answer or chalk it up to God’s great plan.   This leaves the actions of rapists and murderers somewhat ambiguous in terms of their relevance to faith.   What therefore in world where God and the gods have revealed themselves?   Would these deities not therefore become objects of scorn.   Regarding the amazons and Wonder Woman, they place absolute faith in their deities and despite being the only large group of people left in the world, they are treated as nothing against the whims of the gods, being pitted against one another, ignored, abandoned and subjugated.   In light of faith does knowing that God or the gods are actually there actually help?   Or would it shake the whole set of beliefs?   It may or may not, after all a lot of people believe absolutely in the presence of gods anyway, so a physical manifestation of their presence might not affect their perception, but from a practical standpoint it would probably debase somewhat their following.  Some aspects of prayer are somewhat egocentric and probably beyond the capacity of gods to answer (prayer for success in an endeavour for instance) but real prayers which went unanswered (matters of life and death) would likely cause more consternation with the all-powerful.

            There are certainly other aspects of this question present in comics.  For instance in the story arc For Tomorrow where Superman takes Father Daniel Leone as his spiritual adviser (would a spiritual adviser be necessary when someone has been to heaven?).  These two though I think are the two most touched on in comics and one which like religion itself, is usually left ambiguous.  

6 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by Deadcool

Who the hell wrote what Iron Man is saying in that scan? Tony is a Christian, he has shown a lot of times that he belives in god, in the civil war he prayed... Ok nevermind... 

So your point with this post is that there is no reason to be Atheist in comics? (Sorry if this sounds rude)...
Edited by RazzaTazz
@Deadcool
I didnt have a point per se, was just some random observations.  I do find the reversal of faith in religion and science interesting though.   
 
Also tony is not necessrily a Christian anymore after rebooting his brain. 
Posted by Deadcool
@RazzaTazz
Oh I see, ok... 
But he rebooted his brain with his self before the Civil War, he was christian before that, oh well that is pointless, but I liked him as a Christian...
Posted by SC

I draw different conclusions myself, for me, faith is personal. It can be shared of course, but the idea is trust and belief in something more, something that can't necessarily be quantified or experienced by all objectively, its a certain exclusivity, a right, for some a privilege, a surrender. These things have no negative or positive connotations. I think their is both beauty and ugliness to be potentially found with them all. I mean, you could apply faith in this context, to people, love and god. Draw different or similar conclusions.  
 
In comics, we know that Reed Richards has met one designed as what we the reader can know as the TOAA, or The One Above All, who is generally accepted by many as analogous to god.. or God. A bit tongue in check though, I mean, its still comics, its still fantasy if not fantasy that is balanced with varying degrees of realism for specific and general purposes and so in this instance? The TOAA appeared as facsimiles of two comic creators. The set up as well  was to have been for the benefit of the Fantastic Four, so they could comprehend things better. So does Reed know, realize or believe he met God? Or does he question himself? He is aware that, there are not only people on his planet that actually have the power, to change, and alter his thinking, and his perceptions and his ability to comprehend but he sort of actually has someone like that living under the same roof as him. Could his experience with God been being genuine? Arguably he ration to himself that he can't actually trust his own account in this instance, or he could even used his uncertainty as a reason to believe his encounter was genuine and thus god allowed him the choice of denial as opposed to making Reed know, he was real or so on, the many varieties and spins on the questions he could ask him self and the answers he could find.  
 
The thing about god beings, god like beings, being that refer to themselves as gods, reality warpers, characters who can easily influence and manipulate people in such a way it makes you question what makes a person a person... all these characters, a lot of them, enough of them, can actually be to some degree, objectively experienced, quantified, shared, analyzed. To such a degree rational people can actually begin to deconstruct what it means to be a god, or what reality is in ways that happen a lot on the abstract now, in reality, but if applied as in comics fiction, would just make things more complicated and probably be a catalyst for clearer definitions and understandings of ambiguous terms. I mean, in a rough sense the original definition of god as applied originally (as in before that word become god) can be used in a very broad sense today to very mundane things. Celebrities are sort of worshipped and invoked in times of need by many. The word god has evolved. 
 
Of course similar problems present themselves though, at the same time as with Reed questioning himself. So many questions with many complicated answers.  
 
I tend to find some writers like writing certain characters faiths a bit inconsistently. Not like characters where its a clear defining trait, like Nightcrawler, but Wolverine has had some inconsistency here I believe. 

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Posted by SC

Amazing blog as always Razzy!!!! *smile*

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Posted by dondasch

The most evident portrayal of a religious faith that I have seen, would be that of Nightcrawler.  His adherence to his religion was prevalent not only in the comics I read growing up, but also in that fantastic X Men animated series.  
 
As regarding a god or godlike being in the comics universe, the best example I can think of, outside of the Norse gods/goddesses and the Amazonian gods/goddesses, would be the Beyonder.  It was strongly suggested that he was, in fact, a god or godlike being when he first arrived.