Anglican Samizdat

May 30, 2009

What is the difference between Jesus Christ and Superman?

When I was but a callow youth I went to see the original “Jesus Christ Superstar” in London. I enjoyed it immensely; but, then, I also went to see “Hair” and enjoyed it just as much – I was not a Christian at the time.

The association of Jesus with a super-something is a beguiling notion but, actually, he is 100% human, 100% God and 0% Superman. As God he could have chosen to bring down fire from heaven, decimate his enemies and vindicate his followers. I confess there is a part of me that would like to see that but, instead, he knew his calling was to be that of the suffering servant, the Redeemer of mankind. By accepting the path that was laid before him he has shaped history and civilisation in a way that he could not have as Superman –  and  he has redeemed those of us that choose to accept him.

And so it is has been for the last 2000 years: those who have truly influenced the course of history have not been celebrities, winners of Britain’s Got Talent or even people who have been apparently successful; the real shapers of history have been people who have been prepared to sacrifice themselves for what they believe.

Interestingly, an evolutionary anthropologist has noticed this:

WHAT is the difference between Jesus Christ and Superman? The content of religions and popular tales is often similar, but only religions have martyrs, according to an analysis of behavioural evolution published this week.

When religious leaders make costly sacrifices for their beliefs, the argument goes, these acts add credibility to their professions of faith and help their beliefs to spread. If, on the other hand, no one is willing to make a significant sacrifice for a belief then observers – even young children – quickly pick up on this and withhold their own commitment. “Nobody takes a day off to worship Superman or gives money to the Superman Foundation,” points out Joseph Henrich, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Although I would not place the aggravation that ANiC parishes have been subject to at the hands of the ACoC in the same category as martyrs who have died or otherwise suffered for their faith, nevertheless, it is instructive to note the difference in ANiC and ACoC supporters. Those who support ANiC are often not paid and do so because they are passionately convinced of the rightness of its cause; those who are paid have placed their conviction above financial security. In contrast, ACoC bishops support their employer rather than the truth because their career, salary and pension are at stake; the moribund Federation are at home in the comfort of a familiar institution and the rest just follow like sheep.

And therein lies the difference that I believe will determine the final outcome of the current struggle.

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1 Comment

  1. Superman is fake, GOD is real.

    Comment by paul — June 23, 2009 @ 12:52 pm


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