Wednesday, July 25, 2012

66 Days of Preacher: Day 6

The adventure in New York continues! Detectives Tool and Bridges investigate further into the Reaver-Cleaver murders! Tulip and Jesse argue! Cassidy swears a lot! And Jesse continues to literally look for God...

Standard Preacher NSFW protocols apply.

Preacher #6 "New York's Finest"
Garth Ennis - Writer. Steve Dillon - Artist. Matt Hollingsworth - Colorist. Clem Robins - Letterer. Julie Rottenberg - Assoc. Editor. Stuart Moore - Editor.
Cover by Glenn Fabry.

Jesse and Cassidy are playing pool in a deserted bar. Through their conversation we learn that the bar owner insulted Jesse, and the good preacher knocked the owner out cold. So the two pals play pool and drink through the night. But they keep count of how much beer they drink and leave payment for the unconscious man. Jesse is attempted to lead by example when it comes to his ideals of being responsible to his fellow man.

As Jesse returns to the hotel, he overhears Tulip having a heated and hushed telephone conversation with someone about the shootout in Dallas. Whoever Tulip was meant to shoot in Dallas still isn't dead, and the person who wanted Tulip to do the killing is not pleased at all with Tulip. Jesse, quite aghast by what he's heard, demands (but not with Genesis) Tulip tell him what she's into and just what happened in Dallas. Indignant, Tulip says she'll only tell him if Jesse first tells her why he left five years ago and became a minister. The two remain at an impasse.

A woman has received part of her husband in the mail. This fits the methods of the Reaver-Cleaver so Tool and Bridges pay the woman a visit. It isn't pretty (see Best Panel below). Back at the police station, Tool receives an ominous call from someone claiming to be the murderer. Since the caller knows details that no one outside of the police knows, Tool is inclined to believe he really is the killer.

Cassidy's reporter buddy Si tells Jesse about a blind man in town that supposedly navigates on his own because God directs him. Jesse reckons it is a good place to start. If this man can hear God, maybe he can tell Jesse where God is. So, Si takes Jesse and Tulip to the blind man's building, but due to an unsavory history with the man, Si opts to stay in the car. Tulip sticks with Si and Jesse ventures in to see the blind man on his own.

At the police station, Tool receives a tongue lashing from his Lieutenant. And article about the latest murder, written by this Si fellow, details too much information too soon. The Lieutenant thinks Tool has been leaking information to the press. If Bridges was in on the meeting, he would defend Tool, but Bridges called in sick on this day. But then the killer calls Tool again and says he wants to turn himself in. He gives Tool his address and tells him to bring a SWAT team.

Cassidy, still hanging out alone in Si's apartment, finds something very disturbing in the fridge.

In the car, Si takes out a large knife and stabs Tulip's hand, impaling it right into the dash.

What a twist!

Okay, theology time! Jesse Custer is looking for God. Literally. The preacher explains, "You're lookin' for God -- I mean literally, not some soul-searchin' bullshit -- where the hell're you supposed to start? Jerusalem? Rome? Top of a mountain? Billy Graham?" Where does one go to find God? Where on earth would one find God? God, of course, is an entity of extreme power, so we would logically assume God would appear on earth with great power and profile.

But that's not how it worked 2000 years ago when God walked the earth. Born in a stable. Son of a lowly carpenter. Spent his ministry as a wandering teacher and eventually executed like a common revolutionary opposed to the Roman occupation.

So why would we expect God to come to us now in the guise of power? Routinely in church, or even at the dinner table, we beseech God to meet with us. But we expect an encounter with an overwhelming presence of majesty and grandeur. At least, that's what I always expect. However, that is not how God tends to appear, as John D. Caputo warns, "The next time we look up to heaven and piously pray "Come, Lord Jesus," we may find that he is already here, trying to get warm over an urban steam grate or trying to cross our borders" ( What Would Jesus Deconstruct? 253).*

According to the book of Hebrews, this is literally how God or other heavenly beings may come to us. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV). The author of Hebrews references the stories of Abraham and Lot where the men offered great hospitality and kindness to strangers who were literally angels (Gen. 18:1-8; 19:1-11). Lot, especially, entertained these angels at the risk of his own detriment, even going so far as to offer up his virgin daughters to a rambunctious mob in order to protect these strangers he had just met. Would any of us be willing to sacrifice so much for someone we do not even know?

Jesus said the same thing, though it sounds more metaphorical. But the sentiment and outcome is the same. Whether God visits us literally and personally, or by proxy, his form will be lowly and humble.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."  - Matthew 25:31-40 NRSV
God will not appear to us as something glorious, but as someone in need. For most of us, it will be a hassle and an inconvenience. Yes, if God knocked on my door right now as I write this, I would find it very inconvenient. Caputo says, "We constantly pray and call for Jesus to come, but the question is - and this, we recall, is part of Derrida's analysis of the messianic -- do we really want him to come, or is his true appearance always really uninvited? Is not Jesus showing up the last thing we really want to have -- dressed in rags and laying claim to us in all his neediness, as one of the least among us" (916)?

We claim to invite God into our homes and churches with great frequency. But what if it actually happened? What if it has happened and we turned God away? How many times has God appeared to me and I turned him away? Caputo calls such appearances of the Divine a threat to our complacent lives. "Christianity would be well advised to consider itself under the permanent promise/threat of just such a visitation -- quite uninvited -- by Jesus, who may at any time show up at the doors of our churches, requiring of us an accounting of what we have made of his memory or asking for a cup of cold water -- or perhaps an increase in the minimum wage and basic health insurance" (920). That last bit might strike a raw nerve, since in America affluent Christians tend to view "the least of these" not as angels to entertain, but as the dregs of society: the lazy, the junkies, the leeches sucking on the teat of social welfare services paid for by the productive members of society.

Really, we don't want God to come. We don't want Jesus to visit us. We don't want the inconvenience of giving assistance to the least of these.

"Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest..."


Counts of Blasphemy: 7

Best Line: "He said somethin' about the pope, so I pissed on his Harley. I always get Catholic on heroin." - Cassidy

Best Panel:

That's not a question anybody wants to be asked...

*Kindle ebook location

No comments:

Post a Comment