Video Post – Superheroes and Religious Identity

Show Notes
1. Not a sermon. I wanted it to be a sermon but I’ve actually been watching a lot of sermons lately and I can tell this isn’t one. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is, but I’ve started re-reading one of my favorite books from seminary (Preaching by Fred Craddock) and I hope that will help. So what is it that I’m actually doing here right now? Speech practice, I guess. And it would make a reasonable lecture with a bit of work, it just doesn’t have space for question-and-answer. I guess it’s not surprising I still go to the teachy/discussion and have trouble sermonizing.

2. My voice is going to get all scratchy at the end, and there’s lots of coughing. Sorry about that. Most of my house is freezing so I have the heat on, but the room where I record these is hot and dry. My throat feels like sandpaper right now.

3. The idea of a calling is not inherently theistic or religious. I’ve known a lot of atheists that try to find what they’re “supposed” to be doing with their lives. Making meaning out of life and looking for purpose seems to be a human trait rather than something introduced by religion. It may be superstitious, but I think the quest to learn how the world works through science is also a form of this. Just looking for something bigger that makes us feel more than we are without it.

4. Yeah, I’m a skeptic. But I’m a weird skeptic who’s also very religious and big on myth and metaphorical speaking. There are times when I speak about God and I’m being completely literal and 100% believe in it. Then five minutes later I might start to question myself and decide it’s probably just something my superstitious brain wants to believe is real, or that it’s metaphorical speech that helps me make sense of the world and its problems. I think that tension helps me be more authentic in my faith and doubts. It also stops me from thinking I know the Truth and therefore dismissing others as definitely wrong. Half the time I think I’m wrong, so how am I going to judge anyone else for that?

5. I’ve been told I can’t be a humanist because any belief in God is completely against the whole idea of humanism. Historically speaking that makes no sense at all, but whatever. If the local humanist community is also the local atheist community and that lack of belief is going to come up at every meeting, they probably have a point. I lack something central to this community and it doesn’t make sense for me to be a part of it and identify myself that way.

6. I’ve also been told many times that UUs don’t really believe anything. Sometimes by UUs who no longer attend church or left the religion altogether for that reason. And then on the other hand I’ve had people tell me they don’t go anymore because the church was “too liberal” and not accepting enough of conservative viewpoints. To me that seems like a serious misunderstanding of who we are, and I find it frustrating. We’re not a group that believes in everything, we’re a group that’s not primarily defined by our beliefs. Rather I’d say that we’re defined by a commitment to working together towards peace and justice. Beliefs that contribute to that process are encouraged, beliefs that detract from it are going to be challenged.

7. Wow, using the split tool to cut is way easier than the trim tool. I started doing that at the very end of the editing process for this video, next time I’ll try it all the way through. I spend so much time trying to get the start/end in the right place, playing it to check, starting over. By contrast, I’ve managed to click the split button in the right place every time so far so I only have to do it once and it’s done in seconds. I like this.

8. Why bother trying to decide what religion someone is, or whether they’re a part of a particular religion? No reason, really, unless they’re personally concerned about it. In my case, I used to struggle a lot with what it means to be a UU because I bought into the criticism that we don’t believe in anything. What made me a UU? Was it even worth it? Is it just a lazy way out of choosing a religion? I eventually came to realize that I do belong here, and while I didn’t think about it in these terms at the time, all of these factors came into play. The more I read about UU history and read things UUs have written, the more I feel that I’ve found my place. It inspires me and reinforces important parts of my identity.

But that’s not enough on its own, I was still seeking when I didn’t have a UU community. I wanted that recognition and acceptance from the group. I wanted someone to affirm that feeling of belonging, and I found that with UU. Finding outlets for my gifts within UU ministry is really just icing, but it does contribute to that feeling of calling and purpose, and that’s nice. So my point, in case it wasn’t clear enough, was that identification with any group isn’t so much a matter of specific objective definitions but rather comes down to relationships and shared identity.

———

Next up: diversity in comics! If you have any recommendations or requests for characters or series I should cover, let me know.

That’s kind of it for the video, mild spoilers about the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur below if you want to skip that.

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So this doesn’t actually relate much to the video, but Lunella from Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is such an interesting character. If anyone else is reading it I’d love to hear your thoughts. I tend to take things at face value and believe what narrators/protagonists tell me when I’m reading. It’s a weakness. So I was shocked when the comic was mentioned in a podcast and the hosts talked about how it seems like maybe she’s not actually a genius, citing her rejection letters from all those schools. What do you mean she’s not a genius? Isn’t that the whole point of the comic? But it’s not, of course. It’s about a pre-teen girl being afraid of a change in her body that might change everything about her world.

So I read it again and remembered that I’d been wondering how she knew she had Inhuman DNA and why her parents don’t seem worried. And noticed her Kree-thing-finder is a calculator on a stick. (And something else on the stick that makes clicky noises, but I’m not sure what that is.) So it might be that she just feels like she doesn’t belong and her wild childlike imagination has made her imagine she’s Inhuman like I used to imagine I must be an alien. Sad. But if that’s the case I can still look forward to her finding the ways she is special without having to be different or smarter/better than everyone else. Finding her place in the world. Hey, I guess this did have to do with the theme of the video after all!

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2 thoughts on “Video Post – Superheroes and Religious Identity

  1. I enjoy reading and listening to your thoughts here! Thanks for taking the time to make a video for us to watch. Interesting thoughts about community and super powers! 🙂

    Like

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