Note: The words below are my own, and I do not speak for the Presbytery or the denomination that I serve.
Full confession: I’m a geek.
I’m not the overt geek I once was (I’ve only purchased one graphic novel in the last three years and I’ve not (yet) seen Antman and Wasp and I’m sorely behind with some of Marvel’s offerings on Netflix) but my geek roots run deep. What I’ve come to appreciate most about the various universes that have been spun into existence are the ways in which they address some of life’s central questions – specifically those about power.
Some of the most persuasive superhero stories are those where the villain’s intent is something we resonate with. What if, with the snap of my fingers I could end suffering for half of the universe, even if it were at the expense of the other half? What if by removing human agency, I could bring about peace? And yet, we recognize that as infatuating as those ideas might be… they deny the core of what it means to be human. We recognize that the true intent on the part of the villain is not to end suffering with that snap of the fingers… but to selfishly avoid dealing with his own grief.
As we approach the midterms, we watch as all sides attempt to amass power. The extent to which they are willing to go (as individuals and as political parties) at times betrays their true intent. Tragedies are used as a platform in order to gain votes, and are managed by those with that particular skill set. In the midst of a community’s grief those who strategize to maintain power position themselves for photo opportunities – instead of discerning that the needs of the community to sit shiva may be more important. Others engage in window dressing through the use of a religious personage only to have the curtain pulled away exposing that what was presented was instead a defrocked prop.
In the midst of this there is a prophetic voice stating: “It’s not all about you”. This is not a place for you to gather power… this is a holy place for those who grieve to be held and comforted. These are not words of hate, but rather words of anger and grief calling those in power to accountability. This is the prophet Amos holding up the plumb line, demanding we check our privilege as well as the purpose for our striving for power.
Those who hold power should be held to greater accountability. Remember, although we recall Uncle Ben telling Peter Parker that “with great power comes great responsibility”* those words echo those of Jesus: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48).
Let us hold all who amass great power accountable.
*yes, I know that in the comic book itself these words were not those of the beloved Uncle Ben but instead belonged to the narrator. Hush.