Friday, October 14, 2011

God Loves, Man Kills

Daniel: I was talkin' about the Stryker Crusade, an' all the good it does.
My folks an' I are members, what's wrong with that?
Kitty: Tell her the rest, creep--about how Reverend Stryker's gonna save humanity...
...from the godless hordes of mutantkind!
Daniel: Well, he is! Muties are evil! They deserve whatever they get!
You wanna make somethin' of it, mutie-lover?!
- God Loves, Man Kills
by Chris Claremont and Brent Eric Anderson 

Hey. Remember the movie X-Men 2? Remember the plot to that? In the movie William Stryker is a malevolent military scientist bent on wiping out all the mutants in the world. He justifies this personal vendetta with talk about national security or something, I believe.

Anyway, the character and plot are loosely based on an old X-Men story called God Loves, Man Kills. But in the original graphic work, William Stryker isn't a military man. He's a televangelist. And the focus of his "ministry" is anti-mutant rhetoric that eventually goes to the extreme and incites violence against mutants.

Stryker contends that mutants are unnatural and godless. They are not "normal" and therefore in violation of God's will. That's a different spin on the issue than the movie took. Now, it's easy to compare this anti-mutant preaching with anti-homosexual preaching that is common among the big names in televangelism. But that would be limiting it. Yes, mutants in the X-Men can be seen as an analogue to gays in our society, but they are also meant as analogues for all oppressed groups. The original comic debuted in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. I'm sure many blacks striving for equality and acceptance saw some of themselves in the X-Men.

And that's one of the great things about stories. Instead of picking up a specific, real world cause, they can create fictional analogues to stand in for a multitude of subjects. And if the fictional Reverend Stryker's vitriolic language against a fictional group of people angers us, maybe we can then ask why a real world preacher's vitriolic language against a real world group of people doesn't anger us.

And who would have thought a comic book could have such a poignant theological title? I love it.

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