Okay, maybe a South Park cartoon figure is an unlikely poster-child for a spiritual moment, a movement that I like to think of as Spiritual. Period.
Spirituality is affirmative, defining a group of practices that put meditation, art, community and ecological sustainability over institutional sustenance. If religious practices inform or support these practices, that’s great. If they don’t, well just forget about them. There’s no need to oppose them. Without our support these unhelpful practices just die on the vine. Fine.
So who is Kenny?
On a representational level (what Kenny represents) it’s hard not to recognize him as a Jesus figure. He’s poor, does good, dies and then is alive again. Something like Jesus but Jesus just did it once; Kenny does it all the time. The creators of South Park mock death; it’s not what we thought it was. Death is just part of a plot; it doesn’t have any ultimate meaning. It sure doesn’t have any finality about it; death is a temporary state, a plot point.
So I’m binge-watching Season 14, and Episode 12 “Mysterion Rises” and monks … I need to see this over again… the monks kill Kenny/Mysterion in his dream.
Then in Episode 13, unlucky indeed, Mintberry Crunch describes her superpowers, and the whole group confronts Kenny, what is his superpower?
“I can’t die.”
His friends don’t believe him, infuriating him. He argues that not only is it true – he can’t die – but they never even notice. Kyle tries to console him, argues that maybe that’s kinda cool that he can’t die, when Kenny loses it. “Pretty cool? Do you know what it feels like to be stabbed, to be shot, decapitated… It’s not fucking cool; it funking hurts.”
The evil is pain, not death.
Kenny pulls out a gun, “Pay attention. Try to remember this time,” and he shoots himself. Now insofar as Kenny is a Christ-figure, we’re really in the territory of heresy, common enough, and just to be clear; Jesus was murdered, he didn’t kill himself. And the Father didn’t have him killed. What is revealed with the crucifixion … it’s not this… but that’s for another day. It’s not God that is revealed in the crucifixion as it is who we are; humans will kill innocents – read today’s newspaper. But that’s not the final word; death isn’t the end of it.
Carmen/Coon confesses; he’s really a bad guy. And then he proves that’s true.
Okay… just watch this if you don’t believe this is a fairly serious exploration about some serious theological issues, and most specifically Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
Evil isn’t as persistent as Kenny’s question, “I have to know who I am.”
Watch it. “Use your powers.”
You’ll wind up at Burning Man. In the next episode…