Faith & Fandom
Daredevil/Jessica Jones: Fighting for Heaven in Hell's Kitchen
Thanks to the always helpful Netflix, many of us have taken a trip to Hell's Kitchen. No, I'm not talking about the cooking series with Gordon Ramsay yelling at people while making delicious food, but the section of New York. Specifically Hell's Kitchen is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It is considered to be the region between 34th St in the south, 59th Street in the north, 8th Ave in the east, and Hudson River on the west. If that doesn't mean much to you, please understand, this is a huge, extremely densely populated area where a lot is happening. Just a month ago I had my first visit to New York City and saw this with my own eyes, and in this one little borough there were more people there than most of the entire cities I had ever seen. In the world of comics though, this is the area that is also home to a handful of heroes. Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones. Spiderman occasionally swings through, but for the most part it's Daredevil's neighborhood. This is the neighborhood he patrols, defends, protects, and keeps vigilant watch over. The bigger question is, "Why?"
What motivates Daredevil or any other hero to take it into their own hands to watch over a place? Sure, his blindness wouldn't allow him to be a police officer, but I don't think that would have been the route he chose anyway. There's something in us that wants to protect the defenseless, that wants to rescue those in danger, and that notion is there from God. Sure, we all don't do it in costumes or with the aid of superpowers, but it's in us.
I think it starts when we recognize that something is wrong. When we see things in our world that aren't the way they should be, and if we aren't looking for them we can easily turn a blind eye to it, even if it's right in front of us. Daredevil is always vigilant of what's happening, whether it be gangsters, criminals, ninjas, drug dealers, etc. We have to be aware of what's going on in the world around us, and know in advance how we will respond when it is before us. In the Bible, David lets us know what that looks like to him in Psalm 101:
3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
The fact is though it takes more than just being aware of evil and avoiding it. You can't just see evil and avoid it or keep away from it. We are called to do something about it. Maybe you don't have to beat the wicked into traction, but we are failing when we do nothing. As Jessica Jones points out, "Knowing it's real means you gotta make a decision. One, keep denying it. Or two...do something about it." As we see with the loving rapport with Fisk and Daredevil: Fisk: You're a child playing at being a hero.
Matt: No, no, I'm not trying to be a hero. I'm just a guy that got fed up with men like you and I decided to do something about it.
Fisk: That's what makes you dangerous. It's not the mask. It's not the skills. It's your ideology. The lone man who thinks he can make a difference.
So what can you do? Let's head back to Psalm 101 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate. 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.
Even if you aren't leaping off building or taking on hallways full of gangsters, there are simple things you can do to combat the wickedness in your city. David shows us that it's as simple as not putting up with slander or people speaking ill of each other, silencing that foolishness. That it's combating pride with
encouraging humility. We fight evil by actually identifying the faithful, the good, and the righteous, encouraging them, equipping them, and aligning with them. It's the small things that put into large practice actually make a huge difference. It's so much easier in superhero culture when all your problems can be solved, and wickedness can be combated by beating the snot out of evil doers and leaving them tied up in the street for the police. But in our life if we decide to fight evil that way we will probably end up dead or in jail for assault ourselves. But we can't just sit idly by can we?
Look at Psalm 101:8 "Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord."
Or look at Proverbs 21: 10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them. 12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin." Scriptures like these make me want to seriously take on evil, and injustice, to take those who are evil and bring them to an end. The problem with all that though? Who is evil? Because if we are real with ourselves, we are all sinners. We are all evil. We all have fallen short of the glory of God. So we have to be careful not just in our actions towards others in the name of good and evil, but even our attitude.
As Father Lantom told Matt Murdock, "Few things in life are absolute Matthew.
Even Lucifer was once an angel. It's why judgment and vengeance are best left to God." Or if we take Jessica Jones' conclusion, "They say everyone's born a hero. But if you let it, life will push you over the line until you're the villain. Problem is, you don't always know that you've crossed that line."
We have to be extremely cautious that in our efforts to fight evil, that we don't become the evil we fight. If our hearts move to hate, if our actions move to hurt, if our motives cease to be love, then we are really close to becoming the same thing we feel the need to fight against, but we rarely ever realize it. "Another man's evil does not make you good. Men have used the atrocities of their enemies to justify their own throughout history." - Father Lantom
For the longest time Wilson Fisk even thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was being the hero of the story, until he finally realized that that's not who he was.
"I'm not a religious man, but I've read bits and pieces over the years. Curiosity more than faith. But this one story...There was a man. He was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was set upon by men of ill intent. They stripped the traveler of his clothes, they beat him, and they left him bleeding in the dirt. And a priest happened by saw the traveler. But he moved to the other side of the road and continued on. And then a Levite, a religious functionary, he came to
the place, saw the dying traveler. But he too moved to the other side of the road, passed him by. But then came a man from Samaria, a Samaritan, a good man. He saw the traveler bleeding in the road and he stopped to aid him without thinking of the circumstance or the difficulty it might bring him. The Samaritan tended to the traveler's wounds, applying oil and wine. And he carried him to an inn, gave him all the money he had for the owner to take care of the traveler, as the Samaritan, he continued on his journey. He did this simply because the traveler was his neighbor. He loved his city and all the people in it. I always thought that I was the Samaritan in that story. It's funny, isn't it? How even the best of men can be deceived by their true nature. It means that I'm not the Samaritan. That I'm not the priest, or the Levite. That I am the ill intent, who set upon the traveler on a road that he should not have been on!" - Wilson Fisk
The last thing we want is that days, weeks, or years from now we look back and see that we have become the villain instead of the hero. So we have to make sure that we are bringing justice not vengeance. Bringing peace, and not strife. Because if we truly care about our city, or family, or community, and the world we live in, we will do more than just fight evil. We will bring more good to it.
"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." Psalm 101:15
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:21
We can't overcome evil with violence, armor, scary voices, Foggy, blind ninja training, or any other efforts of vigilantism. The only way we can overcome evil is with good. So, be vigilant. Look for the evil and injustice in your world, and fight, even if you never throw a punch. Bring good into the world that God has placed you in. Even if you don't fight it is difficult and you will take an emotional and spiritual beating when you fight against evil, but the world will see it, and the difference you make.
Claire: You know, the only thing I remember from Sunday school is the martyrs...the saints, the saviors...they all end up the same way. Bloody and alone.
Matt: I never said I was any of those.Claire: You didn't have to.