“Man of Steel, Man of Faith?” – Part 1

“Man of Steel, Man of Faith?” – Part 1

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I was never that kid.

I was never that kid who wore Superman pajamas to bed or a big red cape draped over his shoulders when he went with his mom to the grocery store.

I never jumped off the top bunk in an effort to fly, never tried punching my brother so hard that he’d land in the laundry basket, or tried looking through a sliver of an opening so small as to pretend I had x-ray vision. Come to think of it, I don’t even recall ever owning a Superman action figure or any Superman merchandise during those impressionable years.

I knew who the Big Guy was, of course. I had seen him in cartoons, in live action movies centered around the iconic image of a flying Christopher Reeve, or the iconic image of a black and white George Reeves on “Nick at Nite,” or even by (iconic?) Dean Cain on “Lois and Clark.” But I was never that kid.

Christopher Reeve as Superman in Superman the movie

And yet…

Fast forward twenty-five years, after seminary, a wedding, and two ordinations, and I find that I have become that kid. A married, ordained, Greek Orthodox priest living in the San Francisco Bay Area, age 32, and yes, a huge Superman fan. I’m not exactly sure when it happened.

It may have been during my early 20s, a time when psychologists tell us the last stages of brain development are occurring, and when sociologists tell us that human beings ask themselves the key question of “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” I was a freshman in college when I felt a calling to the priesthood, and some time later, I actually embraced the reality of the call and answered it. Maybe it was around then, when I realized that God can use anyone, anywhere to help make the world a better place (whether they are those who administer the sacraments or not).

Or maybe it was just when I began dreaming about how much good can be done in this country and in this world, when I started realizing that I am an idealist, and that my soul craves what is good (as do all souls, whether we know it or not). Most importantly, I realized how much good can be done when any human being endeavors to live the best life they can live, and “simply” be a good person. I am convinced that, in doing so, the impact on others around us is immeasurable, and far more profound than we realize.

I am inspired by Superman.

Allow me to ask a question which may shed some light on this realization: “What is Superman’s greatest power?”

Flight?

Super strength?

Super speed?

Heat vision?

We could go on naming powers and debating their merit (as we geeks inevitably do), but instead I’ll use a quote from superstar writer and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns (producer/writer of hit shows Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash), who said in a recent interview: “Superman’s greatest power is that he always does the right thing.”

He has the power to conquer a country. Instead, he chooses to be its servant.

He has the opportunity to flaunt his achievements for all to see. Instead, he hides behind a pair of glasses.

A fictional example of humility? Benevolence? Yes, and more.

He is a metaphor for Moses, the aspiration of two Jewish teenagers from Cleveland who created him, and the star of a multi-billion dollar movie franchise with six entries in the series, and a seventh, “Superman vs. Batman,” coming in 2016.

In the coming weeks, I intend to analyze, dissect, and celebrate this hero. I hope to adequately describe what he, and what other heroes depicted in, and created for, the art form known as the graphic novel, have meant to me, and what I have learned from them. You can join me, if you’d like.

I am inspired by the character of Superman.

You bet I’m that kid.

“And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

 

Where did I write this?

Four Barrel Coffee on Valencia Street between 14th and 15th seemed to be the most appropriate choice to write my first blog entry, given that it’s a mere half block from the Cathedral and a frequent destination of mine. Four Barrel’s signature is roasting their beans in house and French pressing all their coffee, which adds up to a beautiful fresh taste and a full texture that is not unlike Greek coffee. Its hipster atmosphere and high quality somehow personifies San Francisco’s Mission District. If you come here, don’t make the mistake of asking for decaf. Your baristas will look at you as if you have three heads.

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Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

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Fr. Niko Bekris

Father Niko Bekris is the priest at Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church in Castro Valley, California. He is originally from Seattle, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2004 with a bachelor's in history, and from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2008 with a Master of Divinity. Father Niko is married to the love of his life, Presbytera Stella Bekris, and the two have two sons, Christo and Dimitri. Father Niko also enjoys talking about pop culture and theology and how both relate to our faith in the world today! He is an avid comic book reader and sports fan and loves being a parish priest very much. You can find his blog at Christ, Coffee, and Comics, and also his podcast, "Creative Blessings," with Chris Kotsakis on iTunes." In addition to being passionate about ministry and our faith, he loves the San Francisco food scene and the graphic novel art form. He writes about comic books and theology each month from a different coffee shop and hopes to do so for a long time. You can find his blog at, Christ, Coffee, and Comics