Pardon me for starting this week’s Postcards with a 90’s pop culture digression, but one of the stupidest cartoon shows ever created, in my humble yet absolutely correct opinion, was Captain Planet. Five kids, each representing a continent (excluding Australia and Oceania) were granted magical rings by the living embodiment of the Earth so they could fight pollution. Rusty, the angry red-headed American, had fire. Kwame, the African leader (who, like all other characters from Africa or of African descent in this time, was voiced by Levar Burton) had Earth. Linka, the Russian, had wind. Gi, from Asia, controlled water. And then Ma’ti. Oh, he still makes me so mad, with his stupid pet monkey. Ma’ti, from South America, had the power of heart.
So these ridiculous, unchaperoned teenaged ethnic caricatures would fight villains with the power to melt walls and emit radiation who were less concerned about robbing banks (which is totally what I would do if I could melt walls with a touch) and more concerned about dumping sewage into streams or building a huge can of hairspray to expand the hole in the ozone or whatever. And the kids would all shout their powers and, with their powers combined, would create Captain Planet, a blue-mulleted silver man in red underpants who’d make puns while beating up the bad guys.
But seriously, the power of heart? What kind of a power is that?
I blame Captain Planet because I think at the age of eight, after seeing that cartoon, I started to move into my brain. Culturally, Americans are better at living from their brains than their hearts. We’re told to think before we act. We are warned against wearing our hearts on our sleeves. And yet, throughout the Gospels, the heart keeps getting mention. Where your heart is, there will be your treasure. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (first), your soul, strength and mind (last). And of course, Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God.
This is not to say we should eject thinking from our faith nor the practice of Christianity. Ultimately, the Church needs more thought, especially now, rather than less. But without the balance of the heart—compassion, mercy, hope, and love—what would be the point? When would we see God in this world otherwise? Let’s find out together on Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then.