modern heroes

I happened across this post on Agora about hero worship that focuses around superheroes, and it made me want to do a little dance. While tumblr has me regularly immersed in what we call ‘pop culture paganism’, I haven’t encountered it that often elsewhere. (And one of my posts on it received a comment that people are free to believe what they want, just as others are free to laugh at them. I think it should be obvious that laughing at someone just because they’re different is a tad, just a little tiny bit, problematic.)

So, obviously, I was happy to read the post.

My brother and I are both partial to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I know a lot of people don’t consider me a ‘real’ superhero fan. I wouldn’t really say I’m a fan, even though I enjoy superhero movies and they are one of the few types of movies I look forward to watching. I find the comics confusing (due to how many restarts and variations there are) and the culture of superhero comics hostile to quite a good deal of people. That said, I do enjoy reading the ones I’ve gotten my hands on. And I do love the movies, even if that makes me a ‘fake’ fan. (What it really means is that I like the stories in most of the movies and am able to understand that the movies are different from the comics.)

But I do have a lot of pop culture and geekery influences in my work. I like modern stories. We still have incredible writers whose stories captivate and ensnare. While there are some things in my life that are separate from my religious practice and will remain that way, plenty of modern storytelling leaks into what I do. From wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey and the idea of the Bad Wolf to interesting commentary on spirits in fanfiction, there are connections and concepts. (I was reminded of that today while stumbling over this quote.) I’m not against using Pandora as a sort of divination.

It likely helps that a huge part of my religious life is focused on the modern. It likely also helps that where I do draw lines, I draw them firmly. My practice with the Four Gods and the faeries has a lot of pop culture crossover, but my devotional practice with Antinous has less (I won’t deny that modern songs make me think of him). Of course, I enjoy lines and borders – both establishing them and crossing them.

But, what I’m rambling about is – I think it is excellent that more people are realizing the importance modern heroes have in our lives. And I look forward to hearing more nuanced discussions on the ‘realness’ of fictional characters and their roles in religious practices. Tumblr, unfortunately, isn’t known for nuanced discussion, and often the sides which approve of pop culture paganism have as weak arguments as the ‘everything must be historical’ camp. Reverence, worship, or just acknowledging the importance fictional characters and heroes have in our lives isn’t really all that new, but I’m hoping it becomes a bit more highlighted and less funny just because it’s different.

(I also hope to explore how much of this pop culture paganism is more the spirituality side of my work, as opposed to the more religious, god-focused side of my practice, later on.)

Edit: Also connected and relating to what I want to explore!


Oh No New Things
Basics: the Clarene (Relationships)
Why I am a Polytheist
Happy Easter
About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • Scootareader

    Whoa… followed a link that had to do with ponies and stumbled across this. I’m not familiar with the names you’re saying with the Four Gods and Antinous, but I really like what you’re getting at here.

    I’m with you on comics being convoluted (I’m actually reading the MLP main series and micro series as they’re released), as well as the refreshing nature of superhero movies that tell a straightforward story with none of the additional burden of knowledge. I can’t just go pick up a comic and enjoy it; it has to be from start to finish. A movie is really easy to get into at this point.

    As far as heroes in religious practices… well, we’ve got people who believe Jedi are a real thing, insofar as being wise mediators in disputes, which is obviously inspired by the wisdom of Jedi in the Star Wars series. Futurama also did a big spoof about Star Trek becoming a religion, though it calls a lot closer to home than some care to admit.

    All in all, it’s what makes someone feel complete when they’re pursuing it, right? Some prefer to think there’s a spiteful little kid torturing us with “commandments;” others take a more naturalistic approach based on what they observe and know. I personally favor the “I don’t know” argument. Why not let Jedi have a religion? It’s what people want to pursue.

    Let people have their superheroes. They’re role models, the idea that something as simple as a human can become something truly great. We’re supposed to look at such things as inspiration for ourselves and become something more in pursuit of the emulation of their image. I think worshipping Iron Man, as well as a multitude of other superheroes, can lead to great things.

  • Christine Hoff Kraemer
  • Aine

    I think they can lead to great things as well…but I can’t deny that there are plenty of spirits in my life that hand down ‘commandments’ that are just as important to me as the pop culture spirituality side of my practice, which is more ‘naturalistic’.

  • Aine

    Added to the post!

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  • Sunweaver

    Rainbow Dash is a particular favorite at our house. Between My Little Pony and the Kung Fu Panda movies, the kids are getting a pretty good education about how to skillfully exist in the world. When I was a young sprog, it involved Fraggles.

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