Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Preacher makes it all better.
Whenever anyone asks me why a man that's lived nearly a quarter of a century, seen continents pass below and road signs to the side, who's been lucky enough to be a part of epic loves and grand stories, who's learned easy things the hard way and hard things the easy way, how a man like that can still like comic books, it's easy.
"Because of Preacher," I say.
There comes in a time (or a series of times) when everything you believe, know, and believe you know is thrown into the air and dismantled piece by piece. Where your faith fights to hold on in a torrent of cycles and spectacle and ennui and you don't know what to hold onto. You trust nothing and no one and there's not a guiding principle to which you can cling, no guardrail on the staircase.
In these times, I (re-)read Garth Ennis' epic, chronicling Jesse Custer, the young preacher who saw his father murdered when he was five years old. The night that Jesse's parents tried to run away from the theocratic east Texas commune of Angelville, the night they tried to spare him from a live of servitude to a perversion of faith and subservience, Jesse's father spoke to his son.
"I need you to be brave for me, son. An' I need you to know some things, in case we...we don't get a chance to talk about 'em later. I love you, Jesse. You're my own son an' I'm proud of you, an' you brought your mom an' me more happiness than I ever knew there was. You be good to her, an' look after her.
"An' you gotta be a good guy, Jesse. You gotta be like John Wayne: you don't take no shit off fools, an' you judge a person by what's in 'em, not how they look. An' you do the right thing. You gotta be one of the good guys, son: 'cause there's way too many of the bad."
No matter what exists beyond our own fallible human perception, no matter how far the leap between faith and knowledge, no matter what gets thrown at you by God, by life, by circumstance, by whatever, there is a right thing to do, and a crisis of conscience, tested faith, the frailty of life, late-night panic attacks, the cruelty of men, the pains of love, and the loneliness that so often accompanies any and all of them are no excuse to be anything less than decent.
And when Jesse and Tulip, the love of his life, finally escape from the homicidal shackles of the twisted form of faith employed by those who would do them harm, they go to the desert and make love beneath the stars. And Tulip says to Jesse:
"God, you're gorgeous. ...I said, you're gorgeous. Every minute of the day, I want to reach over and touch you to make sure you're real. Your great big eyes and your big smug grin and your black, black hair...I've never had so much fun with anyone before, you know that? If I ever lost you--hell, I think I'd grow old overnight if I lost you."
"I ain't goin' anywhere, baby. I love you. Until the end of the world."
There's beauty all around and there's love and joy and passion and fire and decency surrounding us. It's everywhere and it's ours for the taking. We are our only obstacles.
And darlin', I can't wait to see what you'll become when you recognize that.