One of the things that is fairly common in many religions is some sort of erotic relationship between gods and mortals. Especially in various pagan pantheons, gods frequently have sex with mortals, often resulting in the creation of some sort of superhuman child. This is where we usually get the heroes of many of these myths. These heroes are able to stand up to gods and monsters of all kinds, but not all of the children created from these unions are good. In fact, some end up being vicious monsters or even just powerful humans using their godly abilities for evil. Either way, the union between gods and mortals ends up creating a powerful elite class of beings. With that being said, is it ethical for gods to ever have an erotic relationship with a human if the union can create such powerful and dangerous beings? Furthermore, when there are powerful and immortal people sleeping with changeable mortals, this creates a whole other set of issues involving the large power imbalance between the two people involved.
Almost a month ago the Lucifer season finale premiered and I enjoyed the heck out of the episode. I loved everything from seeing Lucifer pray to getting a glimpse of hell, but the show really threw me a curve ball with Lucifer’s final line in the episode and the feminist theologian in me isn’t sure how to feel about it.
Most religious people believe in a god or gods that exist independently of humans, and that do not need anything in particular from humans in order to keep on existing. Some people believe their god or gods predate the existence of sentient life, or even of the universe itself. Neil Gaiman likes to play around with this idea of belief in deities. In particular, in his comic series The Sandman and in his book American Gods, he posits a surprising (to people of faith) scenario: what if gods exist only because people believe in them?
This has some fascinating implications for human (and, in Sandman, other sentient being) agency. It essentially grants superhuman strength to human belief, empowering us to control our own destinies. On the other hand, this premise also opens a whole bunch of cans of worms. It directly contradicts many faiths’ theology and causes issues with causality. Perhaps most chillingly, however, it introduces a degree of moral relativism that could (and in the stories, does) lead to unjust consequences.
Mild spoilers for the Sandman series and American Gods below.
I have recently become enamored of the new TV show Lucifer,and while I fear that it will just be another Supernatural, I’m a sucker for religiously themed supernatural shows. And this one is based on the Lucifer character created by Neil Gaiman, whose Sandman comics had amazing magical, supernatural characters, as well as worldbuilding that really helped the reader understand how magic and magical beings existed in this world. Upsettingly, however, Lucifer seems to have none of those things. The characters are amusing and even somewhat complex, but really if you boil the show down to the bare bones, it’s just a cop drama that happens to have the devil in it. Where’s the magic? Where’s the supernatural? I’m starting to wonder if there will be any at all.
I want to discuss a strange one-sided trope I’ve noticed, and why I have a problem with it: immortal male characters who have a series of mortal girlfriends. For some reason, this trope appears in geek media fairly often, yet I can’t think of a single example of the reverse (i.e., immortal women with several mortal boyfriends) or of a queer version. In fact, immortal women tend to only be allowed to have a single male lover, and must spend the rest of their long lives alone after their lovers die—or else give up their immortality. This perpetuates the double standard that it’s okay for otherwise good men—heroic men, even—to have multiple lovers, while if women want to remain “pure” and upstanding, they can only ever love a single man. This whole issue is worse than a double standard; it’s a matter of differential power in relationships.
Slight spoilers for Doctor Who, Watchmen, Sandman, Lord of the Rings, Stardust, and The Last Unicorn below!
Yes, the Doctor is pretty much immortal… as long as he keeps making money for the BBC.
Syng: Merry Christmas! Guess what present Neil Gaiman and Co. got for us? Overture #4! And even though its release was delayed by a couple months, we don’t mind one bit. This time, Neil Gaiman (with art by J.H. Williams III and coloring by Dave Stewart) takes us on a journey to the stars and beyond the bounds of time. Spoilers in our summary and review below!
Dream keeps telling me to shut up about him, but I refuse!
See, I told you I was going to keep talking about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series! Today I’m going to discuss three ways in which the series subverts the expectations of readers familiar with Christian lore. These tropes are the Mystical Pregnancy, the Death of the Son of God, and God Dying for Our Sins. I think these departures from Christian canon are ultimately more “human”—more relatable and thus, perhaps, more believable.