Amazingly we can learn something about our faith from the latest Batman comic. For those that do not know, Batman has historically been a Christian. He, like his parents, was Episcopalian. For those who don’t know Batman has had a rough year so far. The Dark Knight was almost married but left waiting alone at the altar.
The comic tells us at the beginning that Bruce Wayne had become an Atheist. He was his father’s faith that said it could “save him,” seemingly fail him. Bruce explains he spent many years searching for something transcendent, only to find nothing. However, in the darkness of his despair, he finds Batman and makes him a god. His argument stands that he puts his complete faith in Batman to not feel pain, and he goes around as judge beating up “bad people,” while rescuing and saving the innocent. Bruce Wayne describes the evil criminals of Gotham as demons and the Batman as the one fighting and winning against the demons.
I have to pause and reflect on what is happening with Bruce Wayne. The man has been through some unspeakable tragedies. Like many of us who may have grown up in the faith, when we encounter such tragedy we, in essence, wrestle with our faith. We feel the most distant from God, despite the reality that God is ever present with us. I can definitely relate to the experience of young Bruce.
Equally compelling is how Mr. Wayne decides to cope with the perceived distance or absence of God. He tries to fill the hole. Whether knowing or feeling, he seeks to fill the God-shaped hole in his being. He runs around the world seeking God, paying for rituals and faith, only to not find God. So he aims to make a god to shield himself from the hurt and the pain. Bruce creates Batman. Bruce’s actions are not just a mere fantasy because they are in a comic book. No, these are all too real emotions and responses that happen every day. Tragedy can have us feeling a sense of loss, and we seek to be found. As humans, we will try to fill this with anything. Sometimes finding a new faith, abandoning our relationship with God, or trying to fill it with ideology, substance, or relationships. Maybe we have acted in this way ourselves? I know I have. It is an easy way to fight against the immediate and harsh realities of the world that have come crashing down on you. However, they have permanent and damaging effects as well.
I think the most powerful moments come at the end of the story. When Bruce Wayne finally admits to himself that the god he put all his trust into is not a god. Batman is not a god. The person, thing, ideology that he put all his trust in have failed him. Bruce begins to parallel his own story with that of Job’s story. A man at the beginning of his story made acquainted with tragedy. A man questioning who God is and why this is happening to him. I would think these are legitimate questions from both Job and Bruce. Yet, the answer they get back is not an easy answer, but of questioning. “Where were you when I made the mountains and the miracles?” I feel that it is at this moment that Bruce Wayne realizes he has lost his whole self. At the end of the comic Bruce Wayne goes back to basic to remind himself who he is and what he is doing. He recognizes that there is a salvation for his father that he couldn’t see right away. The issue ends with Bruce Wayne having a renewed self-attitude.
After all of his tragedies, he is ready to take off his old life and pick up a new one. It is as if Batman is reminded who he is in relation to God and has found peace. I can’t help but feel there are similar stories within our communities. Stories of finding or reconnecting our relationship with God. A God who has never left, but has been by our side the whole time.
The 53rd comic of Batman released this month show us the gospel. It reminds us to be ourselves, be wary of what we give our time and allegiance too, and to trust in God alone. I believe we all need to be reminded that even on our darkest days, days when we feel God the least, God has not abandoned us. We need to remember that filling our lives with things like substances, ideologies, and other stuff is not a healthy alternative to God. By trying to fill that broken relationship with anything other than God, brings about more destruction and continues to put us in a vulnerable and unhealthy position.
Bruce Wayne may have super friends be he kept them at a distance allowing for this continued downward spiral. With any tragedy, I would hope you can lean on people to help you through the situation. That is what a good church can do. A church can be a people who know you and can remind you of all the good things you need reminding of and call you out on your crap.
Ultimately I think the ending of the comic book leaves us with a sense that Bruce Wayne is starting new or better yet, being renewed emotionally and spiritually. I pray that as you may be going through tough times, that you would come out the other side renewed and closer to God.