Fire the Canon!
No, that’s not a typo in the title of the article. As a former English Major and one-time Army artilleryman, I would never commit such an egregious error. I will explain in a moment, but first I want to address some recent squawking from certain movie audiences. My wife and I went to see “Justice League” last night. On the drive to the theater, I told her, “Okay, I need to fill you in on some backstory.” This was primarily information from the previous movie “Batman vs. Superman” which she had not seen. Without this update, she would not have understood the next installment. There needs to be some continuity between episodes for the story to make sense. There have been many versions of DC Comics stories (primarily Batman and Superman) over the years in many formats. There have been iterations on radio, TV, movies, and of course, comic books (where it all began). In the movies alone, there have been several different storylines by different directors/screenwriters with different visions of how the story should be told and seen. Fans of the comics often spend a great deal of energy evaluating the new storylines against the original comic versions. The original version is seen as “canon” or the standard by which all others must be measured. Faithfulness to the original story is applauded when it adheres and criticized when it departs.
This phenomenon is on full display in the controversy over the latest Star Wars movie. Many fans of the original three movies, (i.e. what they consider “canon”), feel that the new story is a betrayal and disappointment of what came before. They feel there is no continuity with the older storylines. That flow is important in any story.
The word “canon” is also comes up frequently in theological discussions about the Bible. “Canon” refers to the 66 books which make up the holy scriptures. These were evaluated and accepted after great debate over which books/letters met the criteria for divinely-inspired writings. The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years, in several different countries, by some forty different writers from all walks of life (kings, shepherds, fisherman, priests, doctors, slaves, etc.). Despite the writers’ personal differences, the story of the Bible is completely unified and consistent even in the details. There is remarkable accuracy of prophecies and their fulfillment. If continuity is important in superhero and spaceship fantasy stories, it is infinitely more so for the most important story of all time. If human writers in Hollywood can’t even get these fairy tales aligned properly over the course of four decades, how could we explain dozens of people separated by sixteen centuries recording a story with flawless attention to detail and perfect unity of theme and purpose? We couldn’t, unless God was directing this process.
People are upset that Luke Skywalker would never have acted in such a way. Some complain that Batman would never have used that particular piece of equipment or formulated such a plan. Wolverine’s origin story didn’t include that ridiculous detail, purists howl. Costume elements are criticized as heresy. These stories don’t ultimately matter. The ONE story of humanity’s creation, fall, and redemption has been preserved in painstaking detail so you might have the vital information about your future. Learn about the true “canon”, the Bible, and what the story means for you.