“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
So, I recently finished watching the first season of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix. I know, I know, where have I been for the last three years? What can I say? I’m slow to watch a few things. But, the upshot of being a step behind the times on my TV viewing is that I can talk about it without worrying I’m going to spoil it for anyone. And I think there is plenty to talk about from the standpoint of the Christian worldview. Just in case, then, if you are even further behind than I am, I’m going to include spoilers in what follows.
So then, what does the Christian worldview have to say about Marvel’s Luke Cage? Well, several things. It helps that the show is filled with biblical allusions. Let’s hit the highlights.
The first part of the season was good, but things really pick up at the halfway point with the introduction of Luke’s main antagonist, Willis Stryker, or Diamondback. We gradually learn that Stryker is Luke’s (whose original name is Carl Lucas) half-brother. They share the same father. This background knowledge eventually serves to set up the largely one-sided tension between the two, but it wouldn’t warrant much comment from me except their father was a preacher.
The senior Lucas and his wife could not have children. The result of this and his having a young, attractive secretary with whom he spent a great deal of time was eventually an affair that led to the birth of a son—Willis. Stryker bore the pride of being his only son—if an illegitimate one—until a couple of years later Reverend Lucas and his wife conceived and along came Carl. And, though the show sets up the conflict between the two brothers to be a replaying of the story of Cain and Abel, it’s really a retelling of Isaac and Ishmael’s drama.
Luke doesn’t know any of this history for sure until he learns it from Stryker. He just always assumed the boy he had grown up with so closely was his best friend and that was that. You see, rather than sending his secretary away after her affair, she stayed in her position. Both of his sons—only one of whom knew the truth about their father—grew up together in the same church family. Carl, later Luke, never knew any of it. Stryker, on the other hand, bore the constant pain of having a father who was constantly before him, but refused to claim him. And what started as a simmering sadness, grew into a burning jealousy. It was this jealousy that would define the conflict.
Stryker could have blamed a lot of people for the shape of his life. He was in many ways a victim. He was a child who should never have been born in the first place. The relationship between his parents was sinful from the start. His father, rather than trying to own his sin, spent his whole life trying to deny and hide it in plain sight. Of all the people he blamed, though, Luke took the top spot because in Stryker’s eyes, he took what could have been his (although it never would have been in actuality). Stryker’s jealousy became an intense hatred that took him down a very dark path indeed.
I think there are three lessons we can take from all of this as followers of Jesus. Surely there is much that is not worthy of our praise or attention in the show, but as I have been trying to instill in the hearts and minds of our boys recently, we need to be able to praise what is good—or at least true—in the media we consume, even if we have to weed out much that isn’t. I’ll share these three lessons tomorrow.