Monday, July 16, 2012

66 Days of Preacher: Day 3

Angels! Demons! Vampires! Saint of All Killers! Genesis! This issue brings us closer to the main plot line of the series and its theological thrust that compels me to write about Preacher.

Standard Preacher NSFW protocols apply.

Preacher #3 "And The Horse You Rode In On"
Garth Ennis - Writer. Steve Dillon - Artist. Matt Hollingsworth - Colorist. Clem Robins - Letterer. Julie Rottenberg - Assoc. Editor. Stuart Moore - Editor.

Two of the Adephi angels are drinking and lamenting over this whole Genesis situation. They make vague references to the Grail and hope this whole matter is cleaned up before the Grail becomes involved. One even suspects that the Adephi that woke the Saint of All Killers (and who the Saint shot dead in response) was actually a spy for the Grail. Whatever the Grail is, it is apparently powerful enough to have spies in Heaven. Now that is a weird idea to think about.

Back on Earth, Jesse and Tulip understandably freak out at the revelation that Cassidy is a blood sucking vampire. They argue, words are said, and Jesse calls Cassidy an abomination. Cassidy takes the truck and heads off on his own. Without a ride, Jesse and Tulip break into a nearby motel room to lay low while the police arrive to investigate the bar brawl that they instigated in the previous issue.

While investigating, the cops hear a description of one of those involved in the brawl that matches the preacher from the Annville incident, making Jesse Custer a prime suspect in whatever is happening in rural Texas. They call in our good pal Sheriff Root to help out at the scene. Unbeknownst to Root, his son is stowing along in the back seat of his car because this all sounds like a good, fun adventure to the kid.

Elsewhere, the Saint encounters some more police at a small town tavern. The results are what you would expect. Shortly thereafter Cassidy drives past the massacre and finds the Saint still at the bar. Being a vampire, and therefore theoretically invincible, Cassidy decides to start a fight with the Saint. It doesn't go well for Cassidy and the Saint shoots a big hole in his abdomen.

In the motel room, Jesse and Tulip are still at odds over whatever happened in their past. Tulip won't tell Jesse why she was in a shootout in Dallas back in issue 1 and Jesse is very hesitant to explain how in the world he ever became a minister. Instead, Jesse sets his mind on Genesis and wants answers. He figures whoever imprisoned Genesis and wants it back must have sent the Saint after Jesse, so the Saint of All Killers may just know why this is all happening. Despite Tulip's objections, Jesse decides to go search for the Saint.

They don't get too far, though. When they exit the motel, they find Sheriff Root standing outside their door, pistol aimed right at Jesse's head.

Theologically, we've got a couple issues floating around here, and we still haven't even encountered the main theme of the series yet. When the Adephi are drunkenly talking about the Genesis situation, we get a sense of foreboding that the whole state of Heaven and the spiritual order may be in jeopardy. One of them bluntly says, "Believe you me...the Kingdom of Heaven is fucked."

Of course that could never happen, right? God's Heavenly kingdom is perfectly controlled and nothing could ever upset that balance. Well, according to Christian tradition (or mythology, or whatever you want to call it), it's already happened before. The fall of Lucifer from Heaven and the war of his rebellious angels, however it occurred, must have surely disrupted the order of Heaven. Rebellion and war certainly indicate some lack of control over what was going on up there. And the question inevitably rises, at least for me, if Heaven became that chaotic once, why couldn't it happen again?

Another noteworthy moment is when Jesse and Cassidy argue and Jesse calls the vampire an "abomination." Jesse later regrets that, partially because he was really starting to like Cassidy, and also because he "never stood in judgement like that on a fella before." This brings to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged" [NRSV].

Usually this is used as justification for questionable behavior. "You can't judge me or say this is wrong because then you can be judged for your own behavior, man!" We tend to misappropriate this verse to insist on a lack of discernment or that everything is permissible. At least for ourselves. But Jesus wasn't talking to those being judged (those who would use this verse to justify their actions) but to those being judgmental.

I heard it said one time that a better way to think of the verse is "Condemn not to hell lest ye be condemned," or simply, "Damn not lest ye be damned." It's not necessarily the act of pointing out a sin, but of outright and fully damning that person's soul to hell for all eternity because of it. We do not know the whole story or the underlying motivation or causes for such actions and behavior. Plus, damning someone like that is putting limitations on the saving power of Christ. If he could save the thief on the cross next to him and could forgive those crucifying him, how can we condemn someone as being beyond the reach of Christ's love?

Abomination. That word isn't just used to describe vampires. It gets thrown around a lot when Christians talk about homosexuals. Maybe you believe it's a sin, maybe you don't. It doesn't really matter. Who are we to stand in judgment of a fella like that? Such judgment is for God and God alone.

Jesus didn't tell us to judge people. He told us to love them.

Christians seems to have a really hard time grasping that concept.

Counts of Blasphemy: 10

Best Line: "But because Genesis was a new idea, it was as powerful as either've the old ones. You were talkin' about the Word of God, and I got a feelin' you were right. This thing I got: I think it's as strong as God Almighty." - Jesse Custer

Best Panel:
Poor Cassidy.

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