Why was this written? Jeremy Lott, writing at the very conservative American Spectator, compares Dr. Manhattan of the newly released Watchmen fame to the Mormon idea of elevated humanity?! If you know me you had to know this one was going to catch my eye. I’m an owner of an original set of comic books comprising the now classic Watchmen graphic novel (along with a large collection of other comics) and a purveyor of all things Mormon in the public eye – I cannot let this lie.
This piece came out yesterday – a week after the movie’s opening. The movie had a good opening weekend and will do well over time (DVD sales will be killer), but it is not the blockbuster the advertising build-up tried to create. Big talk about what Mormons believe died when Romney withdrew. So again, why this now?
Well, if you are really watching there is little doubt there are a bunch of people jockeying for position in the GOP – Romney among them. Could Lott be trying to subtly influence that jostle by sawing on what should be a dead horse? Comparing a religion to a comic hero is hardly complementary; it reduces the faith the the purview of fan-boy geekdom (guilty of fan-boy geekdom though I may be). You would think with Mitt Romney being THE preeminent economy candidate Republicans would be lookng to shove him front and center – or at a minimum let those far more salient factors decide things rather than this nonsense.
Or is Lott trying to “mainstream” Mormonism by the comparison? I vividly recall the absolute wave of literature in the wake of the original Star Wars movie (yes, I’m that old) in which primarily Evangelicals, but really the religious of many stripes, tried to show how “the force” was indicative of their faith. My opinion, it was a bad idea for Evangelicals then and, if that is the game Lott is up to, bad idea for Mormons now.
Or another theory – if you hang around in comic book shops (guilty!), they are festooned with all things Obama. Missed me, during the election my hobby was on a bit of hiatus, but apparently Obama had a whole “new media” outreach to the comic book community – a burgeoning demographic. Apparently we are supposed to think we have a true comic geek in the white house. (Call me when he has original Jack Kirby art hanging in the Oval Office, until then, I am going with marketing ploy here.) Could Lott be trying to do the same thing for Romney? If so, this is not the way to do it. Marketing Romney based on his faith is a proven loser.
Chances are good this is just a writer having a dry spell and a deadline, but there is the law of unintended consequences.
Lowell adds: I vote for the “dry spell and a deadline” explanation. Lott describes himself as a protestant convert to Catholicism, and he has written about Romney’s religion before as in this piece about Romney’s big speech in December 2007. His prior work seems fair to Mormons, and he seems to have a fairly decent grasp of Mormonism. Even so, in the Spectator piece John links to Lott gets Mormon doctrine wrong in a few places and the whole thing seems a little silly. I think Lott was just musing about things.
UPDATE: Our reader Lee Allred comments:
I read the Jeremy Lott aricle and thought it a bit off the mark, but otherwise quite benign.
Having said that, Lott does miss the big picture in his comparison. The salient fact about Dr. Mahattan is that his ascendency to ‘godhood’ has had the effect of removoing him from the affairs of humanity entirely. He neither cares for, of, or about humankind. Or even spares us much thought at all.
Nothing could be further from the Mormon concept of God. If anything, Mormons take flack for believing that God is too involved with, too caring of modern mortal men on a continual and day-to-day basis.
Lott didn’t mean ill, he just missed the big picture.