BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO BLACK THEOLOGY

God works through me, the same as you. There is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”

-Black Panther

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As fascinating and as unexpected as it may sound, the Black Panther is indeed a very important figure in comics. This exception of the Black Panther does not exclude other significant black superheroes of authority and influence such as the Blue Marvel. But, the Panther takes first place because he came before the rest. His impact on African American thought was revolutionary. At a time when the African American community battled with self identity, Marvel Comics showed that they could rise up to the occasion and create a character who would be the image of African Americans. The Black Panther, though unassociated to the group that went by the same name did something unimaginable. It not only changed how African Americans saw themselves, it also demonstrated that though they originally hailed from Africa [which had been christened the ‘Dark Continent’ in the sixties], that they and their homeland were not so ‘dark’ after all.

In a manner that must have stunned DC readers at the time, the Black Panther was a point in and of himself. Unlike DC’s Cyborg, the Panther was not a sidekick, he was his own authority. He has remained, since the time of his creation, a king, a genius of Marvel’s top cream, a superhero and a priceless contribution to the Avengers’ team on panel. Now, here’s where some of you may ask some questions like, “Wasn’t Marvel just trying to capitalize on a present issue to earn some extra income?”. The answer, a resounding “No”, here’s why; Stan Lee had pointed out that he did not like his character being ‘shadows’ of the so-called ‘main hero’ because he felt that they took something away from this main hero. He later on went to state that he would not do to any of his characters what DC had done to Batman’s Robin and subjugate them.

At a time when comic books themselves were seeking relevance, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were on the right path. Seeking to create characters of substance, and relatability; meaning that the selling point of the characters would not be on their power or abilities but on their diverse personalities, weaknesses, challenges and ability to ‘rise up’ as it were after being knocked down several times over. This, if I must say, is a strength. And as recent comic news is showing us, Cap’s history has been re-written. He is now a triple agent and a HYDRA project?? Anyway, many fans are a bit confused about this reveal but this story is bound to be one that may lead fans to respect the Captain even more. Some of you might be skeptical but watch this space…

Now, to the issue at hand, Black Theology and Black Panther’s contribution to the same. Black theology has had a very powerful influence on American society as a whole. Be it loved or hated, it is a force to reckon with. Seeing the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, pardon me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. springboard the revolution in the U.S. that shook the very core of the rest of America we got the best comparison to the Black Panther character. We got Barack Obama, an educated African man who made African American history through his dual heritage as a Hawaii-born black man. It’s this point that makes me respect Marvel; they looked into the future by being great analysts of the present. I speak and express myself in these posts as a young African man of black descent and I have grown up reading comics. Not only do I love them, I relish their perspectives on several events. As an African theologian, I am thrilled to see the parallels that can be made from the comic book/fictional realm and the realm of theology. If some of the greatest ministers advised other preachers/theologians to hold a paper in one hand and the Bible in another, then comic books qualify right there near the newspaper.

Kudos Marvel on bringing the character to the big screen in Captain America Civil War!

“The more different we are, the more we find that we are the same”

-Chinese Proverb

GENESIS: BEAUTY’S TRUE NAME

WHY BEING MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS IS THE PRIME ACHIEVEMENT OF OUR SPECIES, AND THE ASPIRATION OF THE ‘TOMORROW’

“Adam, where are you?”

-God to Adam

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I have no idea how this topic came to me, but ever since it dropped on my lap I have had this pressing feeling that I have got to do something about it. What is that something, you ask? Blog it, of course! Ha ha. I think every blogger out there appreciates the thrill of sharing from their various fields of interest as they provide insights that were never before witnessed and/or shared by others. To all my fellow bloggers out there, I salute you and appreciate you for the work you do, keep the fire burning. For it was because of you that I gained interest in this art and for that I remain forever grateful.

So, down to the subject of interest, the creation of man in God’s image as the ultimate objective of our existence. What I love about this post today is its uniqueness as it is both the example and the hope of mankind. Our starting point on this subject? God’s question to Adam. When the the first couple experienced the effects of the catastrophe that was the¬†identity changing Fall, they were not prepared for what came next. “Adam, where are you?” Are the first words that the first man heard from God after eating from the tree of good and evil. These words were timely as they were a reflection of concern; they were not words that came from God immediately after the disobedient act of the couple, but rather, later on.

What could Adam have been thinking at this point, as he was being sought after? “Oh no, I’m a goner. That does it, Eve, we are through; we had this coming…”, he, together with Eve probably riddled themselves with guilt to a standstill, with the guilt eating into their conscience. But what’s more peculiar about this is that, although we tend to ask why we as people are in trouble over an issue in life, we often look at the one who confronts us rather than look introspectively at ourselves. If we take the latter option we find that we gain more of our personal identity and character and we actually do become better people in the long-run, an option that the first couple did not consider.

Here’s where I wanted to take this discussion for today; whereas the story of Adam and Eve has been one of the most debated narratives of all time, it offers profound insight into the first sign of our loss as human beings. This loss being the very first sign of the shortcomings¬†of our new identity, person and being. No wonder the name of God, I Am, is of such significant value when it comes to cracking the message of the Bible especially as far as humanity finding its being is concerned.

Although we are at present imperfect, we should be able to understand imperfection as a gift of mortality. We do not live forever, but we can’t surely conclude that it’s Y.O.L.O. either (catchy as the slogan might be). We are limited, we have various flaws and imperfections but we are not hopeless, neither are we useless. We are each of us one of a kind with a journey ahead of us. I’d like to propose that the fullness of this being that was once lost has been regained and that it is attainable today-and right now. God wasn’t concerned about destroying Adam, because as the texts show us, he was looking for him. He wanted to restore him and not merely finish him off.

His mercy is amazing and his greatest desire is that we rest in him in the midst of our failures and crowning achievements. Because, at the end of it all, what defines is not the material but the immaterial. And so begins the search for human beauty, the restoration of being to humanity; filled with purpose, drive, enthusiasm, joy, wholeness, love and peace.

May we truly unlock our potential in His name.