“It doesn’t matter who you are, or how good you got things. Sooner or later, shit goes wrong for everybody. Sooner or later there comes a time when all you want to do is shout ‘F- You’ to the world.” Johnny Lee Wombat

After reading through the entire run of Preacher
, there are several conclusions to draw from Jesse’s (spiritual) struggles and misadventures:

1. You don’t get angry about things you don’t care about. Or don’t think exists. We start with the fact that for him, the existence of God is a foregone conclusion. A friend of mine shared with me that a girl she was dialoguing with revealed that she “only believed in God because I’m mad at God. When I cease to be mad at God, He might not exist for me any longer.” She was pissed that she lived in a society that marginalized women and sexualized their existence, pissed at the list of dos and don’ts people prescribed as the only way to please God, and pissed that we’re not allowed to be pissed at God. Questioning God, being angry at God, isn’t the issue. He’s capable of handling that and wants us to be honest with him. The ironic thing is that Jesse Custer never completes his intended task, but, as it is with all of us, it is the journey for truth that forms him.

“Folks don’t like the truth. That’s the point. It’s easier lyin’. Stops us havin’ to face up to trouble when it comes along to do wrong insteada right.” Jesse Custer

The search for answers from questions without answers isn’t all its cracked up to be. As Jesse found out during the course of his journey was that “what seemed so easy to figure back then has become a hell of a lot more complicated.” There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that it’s not like we’re owed any answers. We think we are, and the reasons for that I’ll discuss later. Many times, we don’t even understand the questions that we’re asking (again, we think we do. I have a four year old that loves asking me “why?” but when I turn around and ask him “why what?” all he can do is stare at me cutely because I’m supposed to explain to him the question as well as the answer). For that matter, we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with the answers, because, as Jesse learned during his stint as a minister, “folks never believe more than what’s convenient.”

2. We ascribe human notions to a being beyond conception. Jesse does what many of us do, put human characteristics and motivations on God. “You got power, you got to use it right,” he says. You see, and I don’t want to overwhelm you with deep theology but, God is … big. In order to relate to Him, we project our own humanness on Him; sometimes our foibles and notions of right and wrong. We bring Him down to our level and put Him in an understandable box. So it becomes perfectly understandable that we forget his otherliness.

3. Our frustration stems from a feeling of broken trust. Why bring us into this world of pain? Do you even have a plan? If Genesis has the power to rival God’s, then why would God suffer its existence? Also, knowing what would happen to creation, why do it? We wonder why He has to be so cruel about going about His business. He strikes us as capricious by our way of thinking. Yet, is it really so much for a Creator to ask of His creation that we trust him?

4. We have a low vision of God and an entirely too high vision of ourselves. We’re so quick to blame God for what is wrong with the world around us that we let ourselves off the hook. We have free will and we have a responsibility to our fellow man.

“The Lord announced His great leap forward. Life on earth, not in Heaven, that could think for itself and decide its own spiritual destiny. Men of free will. Every angel in paradise knew what that would mean. Without the love of God around them–tangible, real, as it is in heaven–men on earth would turn from God. Go their own ways. Divide into factions, fight war upon war upon war …” An adephi.

God created man in His image and gave man free will so that we could choose to love Him. However, we, in turn, have created a God in our image. So that instead of God being complete unto Himself, the Trinity in eternal community–creating from an overflow of that dynamic love– we’ve come to see God as an egomaniac who feeds on love. That is why we presume that he needs a helping hand with His divine plan, that somehow we’d know better how to do things. We’ve fallen victim to our hubris that leads us to believe that the creation has outgrown the Creator and need to be free of His machinations. That is the same pride that believes we could do so much better left to our own devices, without Him.

Again, after all the evil that we’ve seen, the day-to-day violence and degradation that we inflict on one another, man’s ever inventive ways of being cruel to one another, the question becomes not ‘how can we believe in God?’ but ‘how can we keep believing in man?’

Preacher features more than its share of blasphemy,” one reviewer said. Is this a blasphemous work? My Oxford American Dictionary defines blasphemous as profane talk. To profane, from the same dictionary, is to treat (a sacred thing) with irreverence or disregard. The idea behind profanity is to take something which is high and trample it underfoot. I don’t know if there is disregard at the heart of the book, and if we are to engage people where they are, many are at a place of disregard and outright blasphemy. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t to be engaged with.

Crass in its humor, vulgar in its satire, and hyperviolent, Preacher is not an easy book to wrestle with. You may not like the way in which the tales are told, but it asks challenging questions. Questions that we all ask and we need to be prepared to be held to book on.

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