Sunday, November 20, 2016

American Gods, Supernatural, and Jesus

Recently I have been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, as well as watching the TV show Supernatural, which has been on for pretty close to 15 years now. I am finding both of them quite enjoyable. They have strong similarities, specifically they both take place in America (Trump's America?) where behind the scenes of ordinary life (a pretty dreary ordinary life mostly in the country or very small towns) biblical or pagan gods, culture heroes, and etc. pursue their own agendas, generally with bad effects on human beings who stumble across them.
American Gods has a high reputation and it is very entertaining and well-written. The specific plot of the story is that many of the ancient gods of European or Middle Eastern origin are trying desperately to make a living, generally by running some kind of scam. They are old and weak because nobody much believes in them anymore more and sacrifices are hard to come by.
There is one very noticeable weak point in American Gods, and that is the complete absence of Jesus in the storyline. When the human hero of the story comes across these gods and goddesses, many of them talk about how things are not nearly as good as they were back in the old days. They are upset about the current condition and talk about it in some detail. But Jesus never comes up. Churches, priests, ministers, huge suburban ministries with a strong television presence likewise. Jesus should be there in that landscape, but he isn't, not even as a figure on whom to blame the sad plight of the old gods. It is fully in line with the tone and logic of American Gods that the old guys should take a new human ear as an opportunity to pour out their troubles.
Supernatural is a bit different. A lot of biblical and semi-biblical mythology is strongly present in the main plot line. You can kind of understand how the makers of the TV series might back off from including any commentary whatsoever on Jesus.
But it is very odd that a novelist who likes think of himself as innovative, would censor himself in this way. Or is there some other explanation for his strong desire to ignore the most important American God?

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