The Avengers hulk-smashed the box office last week with its mixture of intense action and slap-stick humor. Movie-goers everywhere left their theaters ecstatic and well pleased with the film, I walked away both happy and stunned by the deft (and in some cases not so slick) plugs appealing to different sections of our society.
Some of these plugs came fairly close to pandering:
(1) Ironman claims to be on the forefront of “clean energy” after he symbolically cuts through an underwater pipeline in order to weld a green converter over it.
(2)Captain America, dejectedly sarcastic, responds to the guy whom made his new suit, “Aren’t the Stars and Stripes old fashioned?” -to which the man says “Folks need old fashioned right about now.”
(3)The Captain says something later on about Thor to the affect of “I know God, sir, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
(4)The discovery of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s less-than-noble aims obviously harkens to the current level of government distrust worldwide.
But that’s the brilliance of Marvel. Spike Lee’s characters have mass appeal because of their diversity; there’s a hero for each of us to identify with. His characters go to where we are socially, politically, and religiously.
And that’s the “big-picture” of the Christian Church. It’s a group of rag-tag communities connecting in different places and different ways, with different kinds of people.
Maybe we get caught up in making churches and people look like our own concepts of churches and people, instead of listening to the Spirit and allowing where people are “at” to determine what church looks like. Maybe we should be redefining our approach- not only out of a desire to be relevant, but out of love for others and a healthy respect for the work of God beyond the Church walls.
But that’s just crazy. That’s obscuring the clear witness of the church, giving up the way we’ve done things, and condescending to the culture we should be separate from…
And it’s almost as crazy as God becoming human.