July 05, 2006

Superman R.I.P. 29 September

The pastor gives me Wednesdays as a day off.

Today I saw the new "Superman" movie.

While Superman is unconscious in a hospital, Perry White (the editor-in-chief of "The Daily Planet") and reporter Jimmy Olsen are working on a "just-in-case" front page headline:

The month and day that appear with the headline caught my eye: September 29.

The Catholic feast of the archangels Micha-El, Gabri-El and Rapha-El!


Superman's native Kryptonian name, "Kal-El," sounds like Hebrew. The suffix "El" is one of the ancient names for God, used throughout the Bible. It is also found in the names of great Biblical figures like Isra-El, Samu-El, Dani-El and angels such as Micha-El, Gabri-El and Rapha-El.

"Micha-El" means "like God" or "likeness of God".

"Gabri-El" means "mighty one of God".

"Rapha-El means "God heals" or "God has healed"

The prefix of Superman's name, "Kal," sounds close to the root of several Hebrew words: "lightness," "swiftness," "vessel," and "voice." "Kal-El" sounds similar to something in Hebrew that could mean:
"Lightness of God"...
"Swiftness of God"...
"Vessel of God"...
"Voice of God".

No one seems to know whether the comic-book creators of Superman were aware of-- or so much as intended-- these Hebraicisms.


Anonymous IA_ said...

Don't quote me, but I think I heard in the Houston Chronicle that the creators of Superman were Jewish and Superman was based off of Moses.

"Joseph Shuster was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Jewish immigrants."
"The son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Siegel was the youngest of six children."

1:36 AM  
Blogger Professor J. S├ínchez said...

I second the notion: I'm pretty sure that the creators of Superan were Jewish. How well-versed in Hebrew they were, I have no idea. But it's an interesting coincidence if they didn't know they were giving him a name fraught with significance.

9:25 AM  
Blogger CMinor said...

If you're interested in researching this, Father, I suggest you start at adherents.com. This website collects data on religious affiliations of cartoon action heroes famous and obscure. Much ink has been spilled over the years on religious symbolism in Superman, and this site's article, (somewhat long, be warned,) is a thorough overview of what has been written. It's also well-referenced.
For the record, Superman's portrayed religious affiliation is Methodist, though his creators were Jewish. Students of the genre point out that his 'history' is something of an assimilation allegory for his (children of immigrants) creators' own experiences. Early superheroes tended to be pretty uniformly white-bread Protestants!
The url www.adherents.com takes you to the main page; you can find Superman listed under Methodists.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I've done a little reading.

Although Superman is clearly portrayed in the comics as having grown up W.A.S.P., there was a stretch in his adult life when he was speaking with a Catholic priest as a spiritual director and even as a "confessor" of sorts. Superman was doing some interior spiritual wrestling, and the help of a "cassocked" Catholic priest inside a graphically CATHOLIC church seemed to be the best way to portray intense spirituality. One could imagine that being W.A.S.P. was not enough for Superman. He had to go to the Catholic Church.

8:11 AM  

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