Sunday, 4 December 2016

Heroic Doubts Part II: Lessons From Lex


“The oldest lie in America is that power can be innocent.”

Lex Luthor grew up under an abusive father, so it would make sense that he would hold to such a mantra.  It is clear by continuing to listen to Lex Luthor that the ultimate power, God, was the least innocent.  We can infer that Lex was brought up in a household open to the suggestion that the supernatural exists by his father’s painting which depicted a clash between angels and demons.  However, the most informative look at Lex’s belief about the divine comes from his monologue to Superman.

“Boy do we have problems here.  The problem of evil in the world.  The problem of absolute virtue.  The problem of you on top of everything else.  You above all.  Because that’s what God is […]  What we call ‘god’ depends on your tribe.  Because god is tribal, god takes sides.  No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy’s fist and abominations.  I figured out way back that if god is all powerful, he cannot be all good.  And if he is all good, then he cannot be all powerful, and neither can you be […]  The Almighty comes clean about how dirty he is when it counts.”

Lex Luthor may not have clung to a solid view of God or a god, but that didn’t stop him from resenting a higher power.  His obsessive comparison between Superman and God makes that much obvious.  He wanted to make a point.  Who was his audience?  There were no camera bearing helicopters following Superman to his fight with Batman, or even his monologue with Superman.  There were only two besides himself that could have witnessed that:  Superman and God.  Since Lex had no way of knowing for sure who would come out on top in the ultimate showdown, he didn’t know that Superman was going to win, and so some part of him was trying to prove a point to the higher power that he hated.  We see more of that exact hate when Superman approaches him next.

“I do not hate the sinner.  I hate the sin.  And yours, my friend, is existing.”

This statement by Lex to Superman is somewhat self-contradicting.  But when we realize that Lex’s hate is more than just for Superman, but towards God, it makes sense.  Superman hadn’t done anything personal against Lex to start the rich young man’s crusade against him.  But God had.  When he fought against Superman, he was really fighting against the higher power that he represented.

“Now God is good as dead.”

By those words Lex isn’t just saying that Superman has a slim chance of surviving.  He is also answering his previous statement of God’s existence being a sin.  To Lex, the most “good” God could do was to not exist, to be dead.

So who should mankind put their trust in if the best of them can be manipulated to do evil?

“No one stays good in this world.” ~ Clark Kent.

“Men made a world where standing together isn’t possible.” ~ Wonder Woman

Who should mankind put their faith in if the true higher power is as untrustworthy as Lex Luthor makes him out to be?

Can one have ultimate power and control and still remain innocent?  The question is one of the hardest and most troubling common questions we ask ourselves.  After all, if God truly has the power to save everyone why doesn’t he just do it?

A common answer to that question is that God gave us freewill to make our own decisions, and that much of the bad things that happen in this world are a result of our actions, and not God’s refrain from action.  After all, the amount of control and intervention God would need to exert on us to keep anything evil or negative from happening would make us little better than robots with basically no free will.  That answer very useful, but it doesn’t answer every question.

Why should people choose to follow God?  After all, we are not born knowing about his existence.  In fact, there are many convincing arguments that speak against his existence.  Can mankind really be blamed for doing their own thing with their freewill?

Lois Lane was told in the movie that “ignorance is not the same as innocence.”

We have a responsibility as living beings to try to discover why we live.  In order to determine if our lives have meaning or if we are doing it right, we must seek out our purpose in life.  We only remain guilt free if we seek out the answers and find that the things/One that condemns us do not exist; if with our honest searching we discover that there is no higher power, than such guilt would not be able to bind us.  But will the search for our ultimate origin and meaning lead us to God?  The answer lies with Superman’s coffin.

“If you seek his monument, look around you.”

The people who wrote this are saying that proof of Superman’s existence and contribution is readily apparent.  The fact that people are still alive and living with hope is testament to Superman’s saving acts.

God makes an even more grandiose claim.

Romans 1:20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The more we can understand, the more responsibility we have to use this understanding to get to the correct answers.  Being able to understand, having knowledge, gives us a degree of power.  We have the power to make decisions based on that knowledge. 

As Lex Luthor said during a speech, “Books are knowledge and knowledge is power and I am… no.  Um, no.  What am I?  What was I saying? The bittersweet pain among men is having knowledge with no power because. . . because that is paradoxical and, um. . . thank you for coming.”

The confusion in Lex Luthor during his speech shows that although he is readily able to apply harsh criticisms and logical claims about a higher power, be it God or Superman, he has a harder time applying the same lines of reasoning to himself.

What about you?

Will you stand and stutter like Lex Luthor, clinging to claims against God?

Would you be able to live in a reality in which absolutes like God don’t exist, having a forced hope in humanity like Batman?

Will you fight for good like Superman, even though your idea of good does not extend any further than the faith given to you by loved ones?

Will you search out the answers that is your responsibility to find, and accept the answers about reality once you find them?

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