I am a huge fanatic of the fictional character Catwoman (Selina Kyle) who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. However, I was baptized in a Catholic Church as an infant. I was raised Catholic. Since Catwoman represents one of the seven deadly sins, which is lust, I think that the Catholic Church would forbid viewing this comic. This is super tough for me due to the fact that I love the comic books. I am not sure what to do about this. What should I do about this?
Hi there fellow fan of fiction and fantasy,
Jesus Himself often taught using parables (fictional stories). Stories help us know and explore our human nature. Comic books, fairy tales, movies, story-based table top games, and other such are not bad, as some people would have you believe, but are reflections of our world that can help us explore and find meaning in our lives. Think of the “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, or “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien; these are two examples of great literature that are positively theologically inspiring. Tolkien writes in his essays that “fables can depart from the physical world and the created universe, but not from the moral order.” He goes on to say, however, that fables should not portray “a reality in which the moral and spiritual structure are inverted or confused, a world in which evil is good.”
In every story there are characters. Rarely is a character pure good or pure evil. Most characters fall somewhere in between – in the realm of being able to choose and act. Catwoman is a brilliantly written character who has some powerful flaws which she struggles with. She is often thought of as a villain, but I believe she is really more of a tragic hero. She is conflicted. She struggles. She often does the wrong thing while trying to do right. If we can’t appreciate her as a “person” (albeit a fictional one) because she struggles and yet often sins, then we can’t really appreciate anyone because we all struggle and do bad things from time to time.
As followers of Christ we are called to pray for and love everyone, and not to judge them. In real life this is difficult. People who hurt us and/or others are often very hard to love. However we must always remember: “Love the sinner, not the sin.” Catwoman herself is not “Lust”, but is a fictional character that often falls into the sin of lust and often makes others do so. She indeed struggles with morality, however this struggle itself is something good. It is much better than not struggling and simply giving into evil all the time.
Can your being a fan of Catwoman become a problem? It sure can. It is easy to let things get out of hand. It is okay to like comic books, but is not okay to be obsessed and therefore ignore your neighbours, parents, the poor, nor God, nor is it okay to hoard posters and comic books when people around you are hungry and homeless. If this is the case, I recommend confession and spiritual counselling.
Can your being a fan of Catwoman become a blessing for you? I believe so. Look for the positive everywhere (including in fiction), and then apply it in the real world. Perhaps even your hope for Catwoman to convert to doing good will help you have faith and patience with real people too. (Although, don’t hold your breath, if all of Batman’s “opponents” become good, then the comic book series would become boring and not sell well.)
On your other non-written but implied question: your struggles with the Church indeed show that you are more part of the Church than you think. We all struggle. Struggle is good and forms character. Above all, it leads us to rely more on God’s grace.
I want to conclude with an awesome image and quote from St. Paisios of Mt. Athos. “Be the Bee”.
“Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.
“Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow.
“You see, the fly only knows where the unclean things are, while the honeybee knows where the beautiful flowers are.
“As I have come to understand, some people resemble the honeybee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honeybee only see the good in everything they see.
+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos
Fr. Bo (Bohdan) Nahachewsky