Who is a Hero?

whohoodWho is your hero?

This past weekend I watched a new episode of Doctor Who, “Robot of Sherwood”. In the story, the Doctor travels back in time with his companion, Clara because she wants to meet Robin Hood. The Doctor assures her Robin Hood never existed. I will not spoil the show, but suffice it so say they meet someone who claims to be the real Robin Hood in 1190 A. D. — ish.

The entire episode is about heroes. Who are they? How do they become our heroes? Are our memories of these heroes real? Or, do we embellish those memories and raise our heroes to the status of legend? If we were to meet some distant, now long dead hero would that person match the hero we have internalized?

In our postmodern culture, we have taken to deconstructing “heroes”. Over the past few decades our founding fathers have become something less than the idealistic men and women portrayed in our history books. Why do we do this? It is because in postmodernism, all authority is questioned. There is no absolute authority; no absolute at all. Thus, these men and women must have been flawed and we cannot trust what is written about them. In fact, all written or recorded words and events must be discounted.

Is it any wonder that in our current time, our heroes are taken from comic books? Our heroes are fictional? After all, fictional heroes can’t be deconstructed. They are created and the creator of these characters has written only so many words about them. There are no secrets to be discovered outside the mind of the writer.

As a child growing up in the deep pine woods of Northern Louisiana, my heroes were fictional. Someone would ask: Bruce, wasn’t your father your hero? I have written about my father many times on this website. I loved him and he loved me. But, he was never a hero to me. Why? Because in my mind, heroes were larger than life; powerful and brilliant; super powered, in fact. My father was ordinary and I wanted to be anything BUT ordinary!

Doc Savage, Iron Man, Superman, Captain America and the like were my heroes. Yes, I grew up in the golden age of comics when Jack Kirby and John Buscema were crafting and creating characters like the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock (the first Marvel comic I read in 1967 was Fantastic Four comic where we meet Adam Warlock in his cocoon for the first time.)

supeIn contrast today our heroes are dark and flawed. We cannot embrace idealism anymore. Even Superman, once the ideal hero — “Truth, justice, and the American way” has become darker and morose. What has happened to idealism? When did our heroes aspire to be ordinary?

The only hero to escape this cynical deconstruction has been Captain America. The movies have managed to preserve his idealistic attitude about right and wrong by making those values “safely” anachronistic and nostalgic. But, is it any wonder that Cap’s latest movie is considered by many to be the best movie of the year? (Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding). Could it be we are craving just a little bit of idealism in our lives? Could it be we sense that absolutes do exist and that there is such a thing as right and wrong? Could we be longing; striving; hungering for a world that is not postmodern but firm and real and providing a true foundation for our lives?

heroesMaybe our heroes should be ordinary men and women who still have the spark of this idealism within their everyday thinking. These men and women long to help, to aid, to fight against wrong, to try and make the world a better place than they found it. These men and women are our soldiers, our law enforcement agents, our nurses, our doctors, our school teachers, our missionaries — anyone who is willing to risk life and limb to better a person’s life. They are out there surrounding us and meeting our needs everyday.

Now that I pause and think about it, maybe I never considered my father to be my hero. But, rest assured he SHOULD be my hero even as I hope to be a hero to my own children. I will never pass into legend. The Doctor will never bring his companion to visit me. But, I resist a dark, cynical world that tells me I must dwell on flaws and shifting morality. I must reach into the shadows and find that gleaming ray of Light that shines out and illuminates Truth and make sure that someone; at least one sees the Light of goodness.

Who are/were your heroes?

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on September 8, 2014, in Apologetics, My Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Spider-Man was always my hero, and for the very reasons that Stan Lee created him. He was an aberration from the norm. He wasn’t a muscle-bound, invulnerable titan who couldn’t be hurt with no cares in the world. He was an Everyman, dealing with real problems like relationships and money and self-doubt. But despite all those shortcomings, he still put that mask on and went out. He felt deep within his soul that the very fact that he could make a difference meant that he was supposed to make a difference, even if the world hated him.

    I see so many parallels between my life as a disciple of Christ and the story of Spider-Man. I have it within my power to make a difference in this world by showing the love of Christ to those around me. And if I am able, then being a disciple means I am obligated to. Great power, great responsibility. And the responsibility exists, whether my faith is popular or not to the world around me. The J. Jonah Jamesons of the world call me a menace because I believe in one God who revealed Himself through Jesus Christ and is the only path to eternal life. But, when given the opportunity, I’m still supposed to show them Christ’s unconditional love.


    • I couldn’t have put it better. When I was a teenager, Spiderman was my favorite next to Cap. The reason is I was a nerd (before nerd was a word!) and I never hit it off with the girls. Spiderman being the underdog, the misunderstood, the guy sacrificing everything to do what was right and never getting the credit for me represented where I found myself in my journey as a Christian. So, like you, I drew many parallels with Spiderman. Captain America represented for me the values and work ethic of my parents’ generation and something sadly lacking in any generation since.


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