Cultural relevance is a major buzzword in Christian circles these days. Cultural relevance is, according to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s CampusWideWiki page, is “a term used to describe how well a given idea, or the presentation of such an idea, speaks to a given group of people.” Some people like the idea, others think it’s heresy. I don’t have a problem with it. In my opinion, if you’re going to present a message to someone, you need to do it in a way they understand. One of the ways you can speak to younger people is thorough comic books…, oh sorry, graphic novels. Some are good, some are not so good. And, some just plain suck. Here are a few examples:
When I was a kid, reading comic books in church was frowned upon, to say the least. Now, they’ve made a graphic novel version of the Bible? If this had been around back then, I’d have all over the Bible.
Staying with the comic book theme, check out Captain Salvation. This may be the lamest cartoon superhero since Captain Planet. I found this on Jesus Needs New PR, one of my favorite sites. Matt explains the problem with this thing better than I:
At the end of the comic book, Captain Salvation urges kids to pray with him “to ACTIVATE your salvation.”“Why do so many “Christian” ideas have to rip off popular culture? And do it so explicitly… like a parody…The name of hero is Captain Salvation…The first issue is called The Kingdom Strikes BackThe hero tries to get kids to “ACTIVATE” their salvation…One of the catch phrases of CS is “to the HOLY ROLLER!!!”…Every one of the above ideas are refurbished “REAL” other people’s creative property… That’s the saddest part of ideas like this…
The prayer: “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for me and rising again. Come into my heart and forgive my sins. I give my life to you from now on. Amen.”
So far, Hawn says, 1,200 kids have recited the prayer. That’s what it’s all about, he says.
“My goal all along has been to inscribe the word of God in children’s hearts.”
“Archangels” is an “illustrated comic series of spiritual warfare. It tells the tale of four heavenly angels, dispatched by the Spirit of the Lord to war against the evil plotting the destruction and damnation of a young man. Clad in shining armor and wielding fiery swords, the archangels win some battles and lose others as they fight to insure the salvation of one who does not even know that they exist. But they are there, present throughout all the real-life struggles which the series uses to illustrate a message of hope through the power of faith and prayer” (from the Archangels website). I don’t agree with the theology presented here, but from what I can tell, these comics aren’t an overt rip-off of anything secular and they look to be well done. Other than, I don’t know.
So, are Christian comic books and graphic novels heretical? Who knows. Will kids read them? Not unless they’re a lot edgier than I think they are. Unfortunately, this is the kind of comic your mom would like. And, that’s the problem. Comics, graphic novels or whatever you want to call them are something you read to piss your parents off; no kid is going to read one that meets with their approval. Classic example of an idea that’s great in theory, not so great in practice.