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June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Superman: Flying to a church near you

By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.

Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.

The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.

“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.

(Disclaimer: CNN, like Warner Bros., is owned by Time Warner.)

Similar campaigns to corral the country's large number of Christians into the movie theater have been used for "Les Miserables," "Soul Surfer" and "The Blind Side," all of which had at least some faith angle.

Baltimore pastor Quentin Scott is among dozens of ministers who received an e-mail invitation from Grace Hill Media, a Hollywood-based Christian marketing firm, to an early screening of “Man of Steel.”

“There was an actual push to say `We’re putting out something that speaks to your group,' ” said Scott, one of the pastors of Shiloh Christian Community Church in Baltimore.

At first, Scott said, he didn’t buy the religious pitch. Then he decided to attend a free midweek screening in Baltimore.

“When I sat and listened to the movie I actually saw it was the story of Christ, and the love of God was weaved into the story," said the pastor.

"It was something I was very excited about that with the consultation of our senior pastor, we could use in our congregation.”

CNN Entertainment: 'Man of Steel' director Zack Snyder on Superman's Christ-like parallels

Grace Hill’s sermon notes are specially designed for churches like Shiloh that integrate multimedia into their services.

“Let’s take a look at the trailer for `Man of Steel,’” the notes suggest after briefly introducing the movie’s history and themes.

The man behind the notes, Pepperdine University professor Craig Detweiler, has prepared similar material for films like 2009’s "The Blind Side" and "The Book of Eli" from 2010.

The spiritual themes in “Man of Steel” are abundant, Detweiler said, and his notes enable Christians to thoughtfully engage with pop culture instead of shunning it.

“All too often, religious communities have been defined by what they're against. With a movie like `Man of Steel,’ this is a chance to celebrate a movie that affirms faith, sacrifice and service,” Detweiler said.

It will be hard for even casual Christians to miss the messianic metaphors in "Man of Steel.”

The movie focuses on the origins of Superman, who was sent from the planet Krypton as an infant to save his species.

He is raised by surrogate parents who help him grapple with his special powers, even though they don’t fully understand the source of his extraordinary abilities.

When he turns 33, Superman must willingly sacrifice himself to save the human race.

Sound familiar?

If that’s not enough, as a boy Clark Kent is shown wrestling with his superpowers, and asks his earthly dad, Jonathan Kent, “Did God do this to me?”

“Somewhere out there you have another father and he sent you here for a reason,” says Jonathan Kent.

Even the visuals hammer home the messianic motifs.

During a fight with his archenemy, General Zod, Superman plunges down to Earth, his arms outstretched as if he were being crucified. Of course, he rises again.

Detweiler writes in the sermon notes, “What Jesus and Superman both give us, through their `hero’ actions but also their `human’ actions – is hope.”

“I think it’s a very good thing that Hollywood is paying attention to the Christian marketplace,” said Ted Baehr, who runs Movieguide, a website that reviews family friendly films from a Christian perspective.

“Where it gets sticky is when they try to manipulate the market and when Christians try to manipulate Hollywood. But here I think we have the right balance.”

But other Christians are heaving a supersized sigh at the movie marketing.

"Any pastor who thinks using `Man of Steel Ministry Resources' is a good Sunday morning strategy must have no concept of how high the stakes are, or very little confidence in the power of God’s word and God’s spirit," writes P.J. Wenzel, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Dublin Baptist Church in Ohio.

"As they entertain their congregants with material pumped out from Hollywood’s sewers, lives are kept in bondage, and people’s souls are neglected," according to Wenzel, who said he was e-mailed information about the movie.

Scott, the Baltimore pastor, said he knows that Warner Bros. Studios has a financial incentive in pushing the film to pastors.

But he said that’s fine with him. “They’re using us but in fact we’re using them,” he said.

His church won't show clips from the movie this weekend because it had already planned out its service. But he plans to use them later, during meetings with the church’s men’s group.

“If you give me another opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus Christ, and I can do that because of your movie, that’s a win for me, because it is about spreading the Gospel.”

CNN's Erin McPike contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Entertainment • Media • Movies

soundoff (6,545 Responses)
  1. faith

    What a fvcking fraud you are. You can't answer the questions no matter who's asking them, you phony little turd. Thanks for proving that you're nothing but a blowhard.

    lol

    blah blah blah

    June 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Science

      Well faithy you having a hard day....................just cut #2 out of the 4 chondrites brought home from the shack yesterday

      Blow me away...........about a 1/4 inch size chondrule jumped out at me..........every color under the sun is in that chondrule

      faithy.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Science

      Oops forgot to mention faithy ............do not cry do hard about your nasty faith..........because the stony irons are tear drop

      shape until contact...........where they get the hammer toe or pentagram ..........so these are whole stony irons faith.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Science

      Oops that damn thumb.................to.................you know chad and the ICR and carbon -14

      June 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Science

      Hot damn did it again...............faithy...........you know ...........the PING.

      A problem caused this program to stop interacting with Windows.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Science

      Chondrites are stony meteorites. They’re the most common and probably the most fascinating type of meteorite. The meteor/meteorite that broke windows in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk this past February was a stony chondrite.

      http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2013/04/chondrites-and-chondrules.html

      June 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Austin

      nice...rock

      June 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Science

      Not a rock Austin.................the dust from cutting grows green slimy stuff in about a week in the sunwhen left in a mason jar with

      water .

      June 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Austin learn how our planet got the water we drink .............with out it we are dead in the water.

      Clue the same way the gold was created.

      June 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  2. faith

    zero

    June 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  3. faith
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    June 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • faith

      or b deemed a liar

      oh no! anything but that murdie

      June 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  4. faith

    Thammbo b going off the deep end. she ain't gawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwd afterall. u answer me! lololololololol

    June 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  5. faith

    The real Tom
    I don't give a ripe f if you were addressing (it isn't "speaking", you stupid cluck) me or not. This isn't your private chat. Now either answer or be deemed a liar.

    TEMPER TEMPER GAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWD! LOL

    June 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Common Sense

      I believe it is currently suffering a stroke from the stress right now.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What's wrong, faith? Didn't mommy breast feed you long enough?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • faith

      or be deemed a liar.

      i'm ruined.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Stress? Hardly. I'm about as relaxed as it is possible to be, honey. But do continue to make excuses for your inability to address the questions posed. It's quite revealing. I doubt anyone here other than the other christards buys what you're selling, Uncommonly Skeevy.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Athy

      Ignore faith. I do. He's obviously a child and just craves attention.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I do, most of the time. It amuses me to bait the little squirrel on occasion.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Common sense
      We're waiting for your answer.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I suspect we'll only see Uncommonly Sleazy appear here again under another screen name.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Hopefully something more appropriate like- " I haven't a clue what I'm talking about."

      June 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I'm sensing the presence of Chad. . .

      June 17, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Ah. That explains the smell of sulfur.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  6. faith

    wowwee, look at all that proof. holy macerels.

    YAWN

    if u ever gets some, wakes me up

    nitie nite dm. don't work 2 hard

    June 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It's "mackerel." Look it up, filth. It's a fish. Probably has more brains than you do.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  7. faith

    duall see all thar proof? lol

    June 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  8. faith

    al qaeda is a co-pilot. has a tight schedule

    June 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Akira

      Are you a member of Al-Qaeda? The NSA may be monitoring your. Beware.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  9. Colin

    What is the one thing, in the entire history of humanity, that has proven itself to be the greatest adversary of relgion, any religion? I ask this question quite seriously.

    The answer is education. It is not even seriously debatable. What does that tell you?

    June 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • maximo

      Whats the greatest adversary of atheism?

      Ask CS Lewis – intellectual giant turned believer.

      Read his biography!

      June 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Colin

      @maximo. I would regard the greatest adversaries of atheism as ignorance, provincialism and political weakness.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      What 'part of seriously' should I be following Colin?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Jeremy

      "CS Lewis – intellectual giant turned believer. Read his biography!"

      Read it after reading all seven Narnia books. Then I read Tolkein and it made me realize that CS Lewis wasn't much of an intellectual. His friend John Ronald Reuel could write and think circles around him, and often did.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  10. faith

    al qaeda got the proof, baby. she terrorizes itself with her breath

    lololololol

    June 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  11. faith

    where's thammbo? workin hard? i heard she gotta a job emptying toilets at the airport.

    the real tom b her sup

    one one can't count 2 2

    ha ha

    i'm dying here girls

    where's their proof? 0000000!

    June 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  12. The real Tom

    Uncommonly Senseless is so stupid it imagines that one must wait to "speak" until "spoken to" on this site.

    Were you born dim?

    June 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Common Sense

      I never stated such a thing. I replied to an individual on the previous page. You quoted what I stated as though the statement was made to you, which it clearly was not. You demanded a response to a statement which you somehow felt was directed toward you. But, as we can all see, it was merely an excuse for you to launch yourself into a tantrum of superiority, complete with name-calling.

      I believe your kind love to reference this consistently as an ad hominem attack. But please, continue. It really helps your case.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Sure you did. You are such a chicken-shit that you need to latch onto any excuse not to address the questions asked, and if you think anyone will fall for your crap, you're daft. Again, dumbazz, this isn't a private chat and if you make statements, anyone is free to call you out on them, regardless. Doesn't matter if they were directed at me or at anyone else. Are you stupid?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  13. faith

    hitler, their hero

    yawn

    this b exhausting.

    blah blah

    zero

    it is called nothin

    June 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  14. faith

    hitler was a christian

    nazi god-hating fascists don't believe him

    June 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Akira

      Nazis were overwhelmingly Christans. You have more in common with the Nazis than atheists do.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  15. faith

    hitler believed in god

    June 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Akira

      Yes, he did. The same God you say you believe in. Should we disbelieve *you*?

      June 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  16. The real Tom

    Uncommonly Senseless brays: "You don't know me. You only know what your atheist parents have told you to believe."

    My parents were believers who attended church. My maternal grandfather was a minister, you idiot.

    "You have been taught to be afraid. You have been taught to ignore consequence and to judge anyone that is willing to be held accountable for their own actions. Your beliefs are what have been destroying society"

    Which beliefs of mine are "destroying society"? The belief that we're a nation of laws and not a theocracy? How is that "destroying society" when it's true?

    The belief that all people should be treated equally under the law, including having the right to marry the person he/she loves? Do point out any research that has shown that gay marriage has had ANY negative effect on society. What other beliefs atheists have are causing you to foam at the mouth, you hysterical ninny?

    "It's someone else's fault." -The anthem of the atheists.

    What is "someone else's fault"? What the fuck are you on about, you moronic wackaloon?

    June 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Common Sense

      First of all, I wasn't speaking to you.

      Second, your verbal attacks echo the atheist code of morality, which is at a zero.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I don't give a ripe fuck if you were addressing (it isn't "speaking", you stupid cluck) me or not. This isn't your private chat. Now either answer or be deemed a liar.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Common sense

      You were talking to TrT with your idiotic generalizations about atheists. If you're going to accuse, expect a rebuttal.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • .

      Gassy Tom

      Easy on that beans, ok?

      June 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Dottie, stick it up your fundament if you don't like it.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Common Sense

      How can I answer a question from you to a response that wasn't meant for you? You seem to be itching for an excuse to attack people. Equality? As long as they believe in what YOU believe in, equality, right? That's what you really want. But if not, then let's attack them.

      Continue on with your tirade, it is humorous and mildly entertaining.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Secular, no. I was not. Please review the previous page and correct yourself. I was replying to another individual.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, look, Uncommonly Senseless can't answer a question about a statement made about atheists unless the person she was conversing with is the one asking.

      What a fvcking fraud you are. You can't answer the questions no matter who's asking them, you phony little turd. Thanks for proving that you're nothing but a blowhard.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Akira

      If one makes generalizations about atheists, and an atheist answers, why should one be surprised?
      And I’m still waiting to hear a valid reason not to take every person we meet as an individual instead of as a representative of a group.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Did you or did you not make this statement, Uncommonly Stupid? "It's someone else's fault." -The anthem of the atheists.

      Your made general statements about atheists. I am calling you out on them. Either answer the questions or be revealed as a lying POS.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Oh yes. Let the hate flow through you.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Common Sense – not an answer.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Common Sense

      It is quite apparent that you are incapable of grasping the concept of context in regard to communication. Please review the contents of the previous page and let us all know when you've calmed down. Even the other atheists are keeping their distance. Perhaps a visit to the psychiatrist is in order for you. After all, it's only the Internet.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Misdirect and run. Not a good strategy.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Did you or did you not make the statement I quoted above, Uncommonly Stupid?

      If you did, why are you afraid to defend it? Don't you have GAWD behind you?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  17. faith

    the new testament says, don't mess with children.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Unfortunately the pedophile priests of the RCC and those that covered up their crimes didn't read that part of The Babble.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Observer

      faith,
      Where is messing with children called a "sin" or "abomination" in the Bible?

      Good luck.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I doubt faith can read the bible, either. How can some boob who writes such drivel read anything above a 2nd grade level?

      June 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • One one

      Here is a relevant bible passage. The reader can decide for themselves what it means. It's the OT, but still the same god.

      1 Kings 1 & 2: “Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with cloths, but he could not keep warm. So his servants said to him. “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king and let her attend the king and become his nurse, and let her lie in your bosom that my lord the king may keep warm.”

      June 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Colin

      For the record one one, I'm finding it hard to keep warm tonight.........

      June 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  18. faith

    proof? 1 ounce. 1 ounce, surely nazis can make up 1 ounce. no? 2 bad

    June 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  19. faith

    how dat big blue ball get here?

    no. u can't ask nazius that question. science can't answer it. duh. we deal with facts.

    prove love exists

    June 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  20. faith

    devils twin makes the scene

    tough girls

    she blieves the stork don brought us here

    hail sammi the stork

    (garshk, i'm havin fun!)

    June 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • science

      Partly Cloudy ................enjoy faithy your speed !

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a6Pe1ovKHg&w=640&h=390]

      June 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.