In the past, whenever Batman was mentioned in the media, it was usually accompanied by such verbal cleverness as…Wham! Bam! Pow! Holy Batman! This was inspired by the silly TV show from the 1960s, which was the popular cultural view of Batman. It was obligatory for any news story about the comic book character to start off with a recognized cliche. Back when the first Michael Keaton Batman movie came out, this was common. And today? When Batman is mentioned now, the box office success or the acting of Health Ledger is discussed with no “Holy Cow Batman” in sight. What happened? The popular cultural view of Batman has changed, evolved.
Occult hit: Witches bucking religion trend
A couple days ago as I was reading the newspaper during lunch, I came across an article on page 10 of the Chicago Sun-Times. It was a story about witches. I was sort of taken aback, since I can’t recall when I saw an article with the word “Occult” in the headline.
The article is a fair story concerning Wicca and “new” religions. As a page 10 story it wasn’t hidden away in the depths of the newspaper. Does this mean that Wicca has been accepted in our mainstream culture? Not really. While the article is nice, it has the same “gee whiz Batman” condescending air that shows Wicca has a long way to go in the popular imagination. For instance, the first two lines of the article, ”They don’t toil over bubbling caldrons or cook lost kids. They have no use for flying monkeys.” Oh please! Cauldrons and cooked kids. Sigh. Wiccans are still thought to be caricatures from Halloween and the Grim Fairy tales. When will Wicca be mainstream? When news stories don’t begin with brooms, pointy hats and references to the Wizard of Oz.
Another misconception is using the words “occult” and Wicca in the same breath. They are not the same thing. Wicca is a religion. “Occult” is mostly a philosophical approach that touches on religion, but is really not religious. An occultist may seek to understand and interact with a hidden reality and aspire to higher consciousness, but it does not offer information about the nature of God. Mysticism is religious, concerning man’s attempt to have direct knowledge of God. The witch, the mystic and the occultist are not exactly the same thing, even if one person could be all three at the same time.
On the bright side, it is nice to see alternative spirituality recognized in the media, so bravo to the Sun-Times. On an unhappy note, the Chicago Sun-Times filed for bankruptcy this week. The Chicago Tribune already filed for bankruptcy earlier. What is going on with our newspapers? I love newspapers, I am a daily reader, and I enjoy the feel of newspaper, the way the ink darkens my fingers. It is one of life’s great simple joys, like having a cup of coffee in the morning. Reading the news online is not the same relaxing, tactile experience as reading a newspaper. Lets support our local newspapers!