Book Review: God on the Streets of Gotham

God on the Streets of GothamIn God on the Streets of Gotham, Paul Asay (long-time associate editor of Plugged In), takes a detailed look at the meaning and impact of the Dark Knight on the lives of those who come in contact with his story. The Batman series, especially the recent trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, has been one of the most successful film franchises in cinema history. In God on the Streets of Gotham, Asay seeks to explain why the person and story of Batman are so popular in American culture and how the caped crusader continues to fascinate viewers around the world. Drawing upon both traditional Batman narratives (be they DC Comics or Adam West) as well as the modern Bale-Nolan series, Asay presents a wealth of discussion worthy material surrounding the meaning and symbolism of Batman for Christ in the modern context.

Asay engages a number of topics in the book, including sections on what we can learn from Batman’s struggles, the importance of selfless sacrifice, and the necessity of teamwork. My favorite section  dealt with Batman’s nemeses. Asay outlines how each of Batman’s enemies reflect ideas and actions that not only Batman struggles with, but tempt the Christian as well. Carmine Falcone embodies corruption and compromise, Scarecrow represents fear, Ra’s Al Ghul demonstrates over-zealotry, Two-Face embodies despair, Catwoman indicates amorality, Bane shows addiction, and the Joker displays annihilation and nihilism. Asay not only outlines the meaning behind the characters, but also applies their temptation to the reader’s life as well, turning a discussion of Batman’s enemies into a discussion of our enemies, and showing how, like Batman, we can overcome the darkness of sin and death with the light of Christ.

BatmanAsay’s writing style and analysis are convincing and he writes in a manner perceptive of his audience and their concerns. His use of illustrations and knowledge of Batman is extensive, but this book doesn’t read like a comic book geek got a hold of a major publishing house. As someone with a casual knowledge of the pre-Christopher Nolan series and a big fan of the recent films, I found this book both engaging and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy the Batman story as portrayed in the recent films and seek to understand their meaning and significance on a deeper level. As a discussion guide for a small group leader or youth minister, this book would provide a wealth of information worthy of use in any classroom or small group.

 

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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