Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday Theology. Wait. What?

Okay, okay.  I've been getting asked by a lot of people lately exactly what Wednesday Theology is.  Actually, that's not true at all.  No one's been asking me that.  But sometimes I like to pretend that I have an avid fan base.  And in my imagination, said fan base would be so intrigued by the notion of this Wednesday Theology that they would incessantly ask me about it to the point where I thought it would just be best to talk about it here for the benefit for everyone.  Everyone being, in this case, an imaginary fan base.  Hey, they may be imaginary, but at least they're avid.

Excuse me while I google "avid" to make sure I'm using that right.

Yup, we're golden.

All right, so I went to seminary to get my Master of Arts in Bible and Theology.  My thesis is about comic books and is entitled Wednesday Theology: Theology and Language in Graphic Literature.  Yeah, I went to a seminary where they let me write a thesis about comic books.  That's how I roll.

So where did I get Wednesday Theology from?  Well, for most Christians, they acquire the majority of their theological views from weekly church services.  As is tradition, such services are usually held on Sunday mornings.  This can be considered Sunday Theology.  Now, it's probably not too deep or sophisticated theology.  I don't imagine many preachers are breaking out Karl Barth from behind the pulpit.  But what the attendees hear still shape their theological views.  Simple theology is still theology.  Even outright bad theology is still theology.

But what if one were to look to comic books, or graphic novels, or graphic literature, for some theological insight?  Well, that can be done pretty much any day.  However, the current market tradition is that new comic books are usually released on Wednesday each week.  If we go to church for theology, it's Sunday Theology.  If we go to the local comic book store for theology, it's Wednesday Theology.  Make sense?

Fine then.  Be that way.

But I thought it was clever.

And that is pretty much it.  New comics come out on Wednesday, so I get new theology from comics on Wednesday.  And then I wait for the inevitable question: "What on earth do comic books have to do with theology?"

Quite a bit, it turns out.  But that's pretty much true for any pop culture medium.  Film, television, and literature are all game to have their theology examined.  Graphic literature, though, tends to be neglected in this area.  Graphic literature tends to be neglected in a whole lot of areas.  But that's slowly changing.  Because there are crazy people out there talking at length about absurd topics like theology and comic books.

For this, I could simply explore theological issues raised by certain comics.  And that is a fruitful venture.  But Wednesday Theology isn't limited to that.  The very structure and mechanics of the format can lead to some very fun ideas.  I talked before about Animal Man and meta fiction, and I think there's something very unique about the comic book format that allows for such unusual tales.  Animal Man is but one example.

And then there's the gutter -- that space between two panels -- that leads to so much academic fun.  The panels, the pictures that make up the comic, are mere moments in time.  The gutter separates them with an eternal void that we, the readers, must fill.  On a single page we can be presented with past, present, future, and all the time in-between all at once.  It's almost...sacramental.  

But that's getting a little ahead of myself there.  I still don't have everything worked out, but who does?  These are the ideas going through my head constantly.  So if I seem a little weird, that's one of the reasons why.  But hopefully now you all have a little better understanding of just what I mean when I throw around the phrase Wednesday Theology.

And by "you all" I mean my imaginary avid fan base.  And, of course, the few real people of you out there that I bug enough until you reluctantly agree to read this.

Or I could just write a story about the imaginary avid fan base until it becomes more "real" than the real people actually reading this.  Hmm, I may be on to something here.

Or maybe I just need to stop reading meta fiction.

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