Archive for the ‘You Gotta Have Faith’ category

Comic Art Friday: The universal me

September 6, 2013

The Thing and Sabra, pencils and inks by comics artist Rich Buckler

L’shana tovah and Happy New Year to all of my Jewish friends! (I will presume that you know who you are.) May the year 5774 bring you and everyone you love much good, and none ill.

In celebration of Rosh Hashanah, today’s Comic Art Friday features artworks starring the four most prominent superheroes of the Hebrew persuasion. At the top of this post, you’ll encounter Ben “The Thing” Grimm and Ruth “Sabra” Bat-Seraph, drawn by longtime Marvel Comics stalwart Rich Buckler. Further down, you’ll see Denny “The Spirit” Colt and Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde, rendered by the artist known as Briz (a.k.a. Brian Douglas Ahern).

Someone asked me several years ago why I always post messages to Facebook and Twitter wishing folks well on Jewish holidays, given that I’m not Jewish. The best answer I can come up with is found in the lyrics of one of my favorite popular songs from the 1990s, Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”:

Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
She said, “Tell me, are you a Christian, child?”
And I said, “Ma’am, I am tonight!”

The point being, here’s a Jewish musician singing Christian gospel music in a blues club… and why not?

The Spirit and Shadowcat, pencils and inks by Brian Douglas Ahern ("Briz")

Which is the frame of reference from which I come. I’m not Jewish, but I have a lot of friends who are — in fact, I’m sure that I probably have friends who are Jewish whose religion/heritage is unknown to me — so why would I not wish them well when they’re celebrating? It may not be my holiday, but it is theirs, and they’re my friends and I want them to be happy. That doesn’t seem all that difficult to understand — at least, not to me.

Incidentally, the same principle applies to my friends who identify as some denominational brand of Christian. I’m a Christian, but I don’t celebrate religious holidays as part of my faith practice. That doesn’t mean I can’t wish my friends whose religious practice does include holidays like Christmas and Easter much happiness as they celebrate. (And yes, I do celebrate Christmas — and, to a lesser degree, Easter — in a secular manner. I just don’t acknowledge December 25 as the “birthday” of Jesus, or attach any religious significance to the date.)

Although I don’t always apply this principle perfectly — mostly because it’s a lot of work to keep track of who might be celebrating what this week, and I’m sure I miss somebody’s Festivus Maximus or whatever — but I do apply it as universally as is practical. I tell my ethnically Asian friends “Gong Hei Fat Choi” at the Chinese New Year, even though I’m not ethnically Asian. I wish my female friends well on International Women’s Day and Women’s Equality Day, even though I’m demonstrably not a woman. I salute my friends who identify as LGBT during Pride Week, even though I’m pretty much a 0 on the Kinsey scale.

And why not? It doesn’t have to be my holiday for me to want you to enjoy it if it’s yours.

I believe a key reason why we have so much division among people — both generally, and in American culture specifically — is our tendency to separate ourselves from those we perceive as “different” or “other.” Now, there’s great value in finding and bonding with people with whom we share commonalities. I treasure the bonds I’ve made with folks whose beliefs or vocation or interests or hobbies mirror my own. I think it’s vital, however, to also connect with people who differ from me, so that I don’t end up living in a bland, homogenous world.

I’m glad that, even though I’m a nondenominational Christian, I have friends who identify with other varieties of Christian practice, and friends who are Jewish, and Buddhist, and Muslim, and Wiccan, and atheist. (And yes, I really do have friends who fit each of those labels, and more besides.) I’m glad that, even though I’m genetically biracial and identify primarily as African-American, I have friends who reflect every shade in the melanin spectrum, from inky to pasty and all of the various browns and pinks and goldens in between. I’m glad that even though I test out as more or less left of center politically, I have friends who range from left-wing socialist/anarchist pinko to right-wing reactionary whacko (and I use those terms advisedly). And I’m glad that even though, as previously noted, I’m unrepentantly hetero and monogamous, I have friends who are openly gay and lesbian and bi and trans and poly (and, I imagine, others who aren’t out to me).

I’m glad why? Because I love them all, and I learn from them all. And because my world would be less rich and glorious without them all.

And by “them,” I mean “you.”

So, yes. L’shana tovah to my Jewish friends today. And happy whatever your thing is, when your thing comes around. I’ll try to remember. (If I forget, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It just means I forgot. Or didn’t know. I’ll try to do better.)

And that’s your Rosh Hashanah Comic Art Friday.