Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Catholic Ethics & Sex Between Humans and Non-Humans

byzantine_creation_of_eve.c1160Here is a question that you’ve probably never thought about (and probably don’t want to know the answer to): What would the Catholic Church say about sex between humans and sentient non-humans? Aliens, faeries, werewolves; in much of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, humans are getting busy with some non-human being. And while that is all well and good, I always kind of wonder: if this were real, what would my church have to say about it?

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Why Are There No Female Religious Leaders in Geek Culture?

xcheia-de-graca-vogue-brasil.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.BQu0flMx8lDid you ever notice that when a fantasy or sci-fi story includes female priests or female religious leaders, the religion is almost always a pagan or pagan-like one? Why is that? Perhaps it’s because in a lot of a fiction, especially within the fantasy genre, the mythology of a fictional world incorporates or is based on some type of religious belief. Because writers so often use religion to build their fictional universes, it’s possible that when creating their own fictional religions, they feel they need to remain true at least to the spirit or structure of the religion on which they are basing their fictional religion.

I don’t know about structure, but I certainly hope writers don’t feel as if the spirit of my faith, Catholicism, is all just patriarchy and female oppression. Despite this, I have never read, watched, or heard of a fictional religion based on Catholicism which features women as priests, bishops, or even, dare I say, the Pope.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: The Morality of Murder in Superman

052213_manofsteelzodtrailerfeat-600x450If you have seen the recent Man of Steel movie, some of you may be crying foul because of the ending.

Superman has always been a Christ figure and has always been a symbol of all that is morally good and right in the world. Superman is your basic good guy. Yeah, he struggles with it—there are some days he’d like to kill Lex Luthor (or at least beat him unconscious like Batman does with his villains), but he usually doesn’t. If Superman could, he would solve all his problems nonviolently, but it’s not always an option. Still, he tries to harm someone as little as possible and he certainly never kills anyone.

Big Man of Steel spoilers after the jump!

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Universal Salvation, The Devil, and Fanfiction

So there is a topic within Christianity that is pretty taboo. No, not gay marriage, not Mary’s virginity, or anything about communion. This idea is so taboo that it’s almost never discussed: the idea that Lucifer, the devil, can be redeemed.

The very idea seems absurd and blasphemous to many Christians. In fact, I dare you to bring up the idea to any Christian. Some may simply dismiss the idea, and others may even be offended that you would dare suggest such a thing.

The redemption of the devil is actually a pretty old idea and one that was popularized by Isaac the Syrian, a seventh century mystic and bishop who is considered a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Catholic Church. Isaac the Syrian believed in a concept called universal salvation. Universal salvation is the belief that God is so loving and merciful that even if there is a hell, it’s empty, because God would never allow anyone to be damned. This idea has been critiqued because it seems to diminish free will. Some theologians that believe in universal salvation have added to this concept, saying that it is possible for us to reject God and condemn ourselves to hell, but that God would never reject us and would in fact forgive us of everything. Isaac the Syrian was so radical in his belief of universal salvation that he actually believed that there is no such thing as a just God. God, he argued, cannot be just because he is so in love with us. This idea, however, is incredibly controversial.

Another theologian named Rob Bell wrote a book called Love Wins, which discussed similar themes. He actually never completely says he agrees with universal salvation, but argues that Christians should hope that all people, no matter what, go to heaven. This so enraged people that in an interview on MSNBC the interviewer basically attacked Rob Bell and accused him of “amending the Bible to make it palatable”. MSNBC isn’t even a Christian station, so it was surprising that they were outraged. What should have been an objective interview turned into an attack on Rob Bell’s morality. I will never understand how people get so upset with the idea that others might not go to hell. And Rob Bell’s ideas of universal salvation didn’t even include the devil.

Isaac the Syrian, however, believed that Lucifer and the other fallen angels would be redeemed as well. Because they were created by God, they were originally good, and at the end of days all things will be reconciled back to God. Isaac the Syrian actually actively prayed for the redemption of the devil.

Despite this idea being, in my opinion, a really interesting idea, it’s not one that has been used that often in pop culture. The closest that anyone has gotten is probably Neil Gaiman in The Sandman comics. There is one notable episode were Lucifer decides to quit and simply leaves hell, but he isn’t really redeemed so much as retired.

There is one place in pop-culture where this idea is played out, however, and that’s in Supernatural fanfiction.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Dear Fandom, It’s Not Always the Catholics

So, I have a little bit of a complaint here.

You see, I am a Catholic. In fact, not only am I a Catholic, but I actually decided to dedicate my life to the Catholic Church by studying theology. I am currently going for my Masters in Theology and further plan to go on to get my PhD. That means I have already dedicated about six years of my life to studying theology and I intend to keep doing so for the rest of my natural existence. Clearly, I care about my faith.

That being said, I am the first to admit when the Catholic Church does something wrong. Actually, because I am Catholic, I tend to come down harder on the Catholic Church and other Catholics for doing something wrong.

And I will come right out and say it—the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is wrong. It’s not just kind of wrong, it’s completely and utterly wrong.

However, fandom, can you please stop making the Catholic Church seem like the freaking Westboro Baptist Church when it comes to homosexuality!

I have read a lot of fanfic and a lot of slash fanfic. Some are what you would call Alternate Universe, where instead of say Dean and Cas being a hunter and an angel fighting demons, they are both starting college and have been paired up as roommates—hilarious hijinks happen!

Inevitably, however, in slash fanfic set in our world a lot of authors tend to incorporate religion into the plot. After all, if one character has been taught their whole life that homosexuality is wrong and then realizes they are gay, well, that is a pretty dramatic and intense story. However, almost all of these fanfic have the uber-religious character be a practicing and devoted Catholic, which would be fine if they didn’t portray my faith like it was Nazism. Continue reading