On March 30, Batman turned 75. That same day, our church celebrated a 24th birthday and a 10-year anniversary of having moved into the Grove Theater. The irony of it hit me like a ton of bricks because many of the seeds that led me to become a minister were, strangely enough, planted throughout the pages of my childhood comic books.
Batman has had his share of ups and downs over the years. From the most campy television programming imaginable in the 60s, to witnessing Robin bludgeoned to death by the Joker in the 80s, to actually dying and being resurrected a few short years ago…I’ve managed to stay with the Dark Knight through his many twists and turns. At age 45, perhaps I should have outgrown it all, but I haven’t.
The truth is I owe my childhood heroes a pretty huge debt. They instilled in me at a very early age the belief that truth and justice were not just abstract forces in the world, but that they could be shared and experienced with enough effort and courage. At a time when it felt like the world was growing more cynical and afraid, I came to believe that honest people could really make a difference—that good really could win out in the end. The stories of my childhood were saturated with hope.
Moving through ministry for about two decades now, I almost always find that I arrive back where I started. I find that, fundamentally, hope is a life-blood running through the veins of healthy people. I find that fear, doubt, and cynicism are toxins that course through the bodies of the most unhealthy. I also discover that I am not immune to any of it. I experience these poisons too, times when I wonder if I shouldn’t just hang my hat and choose another profession in despair over our human condition. [Read more…]