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Superman is Dead

You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

(Exodus 20,4-6)

The death in New York City of the American 'idol', the 'film-star' Christopher Reeve, was announced on Sunday 10 October. Paralysed since a riding accident in 1995, the last years of his life had been difficult, indeed the actor had even contemplated suicide.

His death at the age of only fifty-two is highly symbolic, for this actor had become a 'film-idol' since playing the role of the American cartoon character Superman in Holllywood films. The Democratic candidate for the forthcoming Presidential Election, John Kerry, has even gone so far as to call Reeve 'an American hero'. How curious that this man should be a popular hero of a society.

Strange though it is to the Orthodox mind, American, and therefore Western, society is fond of such heroes. All such figures, Superman, Batman and Spiderman, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars for the American entertainment industry every year, are in fact descended from Christian figures, the angels. All can fly through the air, all have supernatural and superhuman abilities, all fight evil, all are flying protectors and avengers. They are, to use modern jargon, icons of how American and Western society sees itself - but not how the rest of the world sees American and Western society.

The death of Superman, paralysed and aged only fifty-two, is therefore highly symbolic. It betokens the death of one of the myths that Western society has given itself. Whatever the financial and technological superiority of idolatrous Western society, it is still haunted by death. Whatever idols it creates for itself, they are all mortal, and those who idolize them in some sense die with them, as if by a death-wish.

What is curious in Orthodox eyes is that though Western society mourns its idol of the dead Superman, it still cannot celebrate the undying and undead God-Man, Christ, Who, smashing the gates of hell, rose from the dead, and brought life to the millions who had been captives of hell.

Superman is dead, but Christ is Risen!

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