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Pastor's Message - September 2022

Conservatives were freaking out, organizing book burnings, and passing bans. This wasn't Nazi Germany in the 1930's, but instead was the United States in the 1950's, and the target was not “decadent” writing or “red” texts connected with another hysteria of that time (for would-be authoritarians always need enemies and a crisis, preferably several)... The books being banned and burned were comic books, filled with “depravity” and “immorality.” In order to avoid government censorship, the comic book industry created its own standards, the draconian Comics Code Authority, adopted in 1954.

Turns out, the conservatives were right. Even with the CCA in place, comic books became a gateway to increased tolerance. Women were strong, characters defied gender expectations, people of color could be heroes, the “authorities” could turn out to be the bad guys, and many characters were coded as queer. So many kids came to identify with the mutant X-Men, persecuted, gifted, unique.

Marvel, the publisher of the X-Men titles, was the first to officially break with the CCA, in 2001. The last two publishers adhering to the code, DC Comics and Archie Comics, abandoned it in 2011.

The world did not end.

Even as comics promoted diversity, the industry itself became more diverse. Pioneering works like Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” expanded the art form, bringing in new fans, drawing the attention of scholars and critics. Today, “Maus” is among the works conservatives are trying to ban.

It didn't work then. It won't work now.

In the end, you cannot control holy creativity and imagination, a God that is prolific and exuberant, not with a “Comics Code Authority,” not with a stone rolled in front of a tomb. Holy Saturday sucks, but love always wins in the end.

Hang in there. We're gonna make it.



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