Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Phantom Stranger, Pt. 1

As promised, you get an extra dose of me due to my departure and adventure down in Atlanta for DragonCon 2008, but first a little exposition on The Phantom Stranger...

DC created this character waaay back in 1952, sort of a mysterious "Lone Ranger" occultist who delved into mysteries mortal men could not ken. Sort of "The Shadow" without guns or violence.

Yeah. He didn't go too far with that schtick. But later on, he came back and was slowly revealed to have some significant mystical power and even was on par with the Spectre, DC's other mighty mystical personage of judgment. The thing about the Phantom Stranger is that he would show up as a messenger of God (supposedly) to warn and/or guide our heroes - but would not interfere beyond that, like Marvel's Watcher (Uatu). So he was neat and offered writers a way to place heroes in strange circumstances, but he really had no clearly defined goal or motive for doing so.

So finally, in the 80s, they decided to give him an origin. But not just one origin - FOUR origins were proposed. Like the Joker, no one is sure which origin is "correct". But all attempt to answer why he has his powers, why supernatural evil forces are afraid of him (or respect him highly) and why he is an eternal stranger - never human, but always caring for humanity.

I like the "Wandering Jew" version the best, especially since his "curse" is an immortal that God has granted him to help others who cannot find their way.

And that, as you know, sounds a bit like another Jew, an immortal, who bids us kindly to walk with Him.

Yeah.

Jesus. I'm talking abut Jesus.

But you know what is so very funny and sad? People still confuse following Jesus (a spiritual discipline of attachment to Christ) - with going to church or just obeying even MORE rules.

Jesus is not interested in how good or kind you are. He'll fix that later. What He wants is you to admit you cannot do it without Him.

What "it" you may say?

Any "it", I reply. Marriage, love, truth, friendship, health, sex, money, work, etc.

You see, when He says "Follow Me!" He's offering something way cooler than the regular things of this world. He's offering intimacy with Himself and detachment from what everyone else is doing or thinks is important.

Strangely - pun intended - the Phantom Stranger was used to beckon others to do the same - to enter a supernatural adventure. Faith is not craziness - but it sure looks that way at first! :D

Matthew 9:1-9
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.


You know, it's pretty awesome that Jesus healed this guy. And I think it was miracles like that that woke people up from their spiritual stupor and self-pity. But note what the greatest miracle really is: Jesus can forgive this man before God. He has that Authority. He only does the miracle to SHOW He's got authority. "So you will know the Son of Man has authority..."

According to Matthew, soon after this Jesus asked him to follow. It meant leaving behind all Matthew knew and understood, including a cushy government job, but really, he was a social outcast because of it. [Tax-collectors were seriously hated for betraying their Jewish brothers - sort of like Jane Fonda is viewed by many Vietnam vets.] I'm sure he thought about it before he left, but here were his choices:

1) Stay in the position he's got, which gives him money, but no joy, peace or satisfaction, until he dies or...
2) Leave immediately on an adventure where lives are changed, souls are healed and God is clearly at work.

Matthew chose the latter. He was not stupid.

This supernatural stranger who was healing people called him into fellowship. It changed him, forever.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how this same Stranger grabbed the ex-White Witch I gave a ride unto. He now like Matthew follows Jesus anywhere He goes.

'Cause truth is stranger than fiction, boyo.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Amen.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you ever give sermons, or is your ministry through your writing alone? Are you ordained? What is your denomination? I'm not trying to pry.

Plus ... is justice your real name? It's okay if it's a pseudonymn, like Mark Twain. Again, I'm just curious because I always learn something when I come to your site.

Justice said...

Anon,

Let me answer in order:

1) Yes, I do give sermons - but they are very eclectic, based on giving the person a fresh perspective of Christ as a living Lord, not a religious martyr/"get out of Hell free" card. ;) I usually preach in the local jail.

2) My writing ministry is for myself as much as others - I discover a lot by writing. A friend started this blog for me so I use it as I can. It is good discipline and of course, I can link and say things here that I cannot teach to a mixed crowd - they wouldn't get it like us geeks do. ;)

3) Justice is my real given name, though it is not my first name. I was working with two other guys in a restaurant and they BOTH had my first name. I said, "Well, just use my middle name then so we won't get confused." "What's that?" "Justice." "Really? That's a cool name." I've been using it ever since.

I am so glad you learn something each time you come. I talk too much and this way I can share my thoughts at the speed a "listener" wants to "hear" them.

Have a blessed day in Jesus!

peace
justice

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