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X-Men

Magneto's first appearance in X-Men #1 (Sept. ...

Magneto’s first appearance in X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963). Written by Stan Lee & art by Jack Kirby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The X-Men are a fictional team of mutant superheroes with special abilities, created by Marvel Comics writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The original comic book series has been successfully translated into several films and an animated TV series, with no less than 5 films slated for release in the near (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and not so near future.¹

An American/Canadian science fiction TV show called Mutant X is also based on the original Marvel comic strip.

The idea of X-Men compels us to consider that genetic mutation and recombination need not be a bad thing. And the X-Men series now includes X-Women, although no definitive attempt has been made to rectify the all-male implications of the original series title.

In the fictional story arc, social condemnation of the X-Men and their genetically enhanced abilities is unfounded, even paranoid. And it parallels real, misinformed or downright nasty social discrimination toward those at the extremes of the so-called “normal” bell curve.

Quite possibly some of today’s “freaks, geeks and flakes” are a precursor to the next stage of human evolution.

It’s also been suggested that X-Men is a symbolic protest against the racism and discrimination that different religious, ethnic and status groups may exhibit toward one another.

¹ See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men_%28film_series%29#Upcoming_and_potential_films

X-Men by sjmck via Flickr

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Xenophanes

Muse tuning two kitharai. Tondo from a white-g...

Muse tuning two kitharai. Tondo from a white-ground Attic cup, 470–460 BC. From Eretria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Xenophanes (c. 570 BCE) was an incredibly advanced ancient Greek thinker, born in Colophon, an Ionian coastal city.

Xenophanes challenged the cosmology of other luminaries like Homer, Hesiod. And he critiqued the pre-Socratic view of religion and mythology, which was popular at the time.

From his surviving fragments – and from writers commenting on his work – it’s clear that Xenophanes satirized the anthropomorphic nature of the Greek pagan gods, arguing that God must be unmoving and changeless.

5. But mortals suppose that the gods are born (as they themselves are), and that they wear man’s clothing and have human voice and body. [Zeller, 524, n. 2. Cf Arist. Rhet. ii. 23; 1399 b 6.]

6. But if cattle or lions had hands, so as to paint with their hands and produce works of art as men do, they would paint their gods and give them bodies in form like their own-horses like horses, cattle like cattle. [Zeller, 525, n. 2. Diog Laer. iii. 16; Cic. de nat. Deor. i. 27.]¹

Likewise, the early Christian writer Clement of Alexandria (2nd – 3rd CE) wrote in his Miscellanies 5. 109:

Xenophanes of Colophon puts it well indeed in teaching that god is one and without a body (asomatos): “There is one god, greatest among gods and men, who is not like human beings either in form (demas) or in thought (noema).”²

Poseidon’s Wrath by GBrush via Tumblr and deviantART

With his piercing criticisms of the pre-Soctratic mindset, Xenophanes nevertheless believed that we cannot be certain about anything. As such, he said that his observations were necessarily conjecture.

E. L. Hussey says that Xenophanes made the “first known attempt at philosophical theology.”³ In a nutshell, he thought about faith instead of mindlessly reproducing its cultural and historical aspects, a practice that sometimes proves to be awkward, embarrassing or harmful.

In addition, Xenophanes was something of an ancient social critic. He saw through and beyond the Greek glorification of sports and warfare. How many of us can say the same thing today?

¹ Arthur Fairbanks, ed. and trans. “Xenophanes: Fragments and Commentary,” The First Philosophers of Greece (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1898), p. 67.

² “XENOPHANES of Colophon” http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/xenophanes.html

³ Ted Honderich, ed., Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 1995, p. 920.

Related Posts » Comparative Religion