Lucifer Rising, Supernatural Falling

This article details plot points of Supernatural Seasons 1-4.
Protestantism vs Catholicism
AKA: Some of my best friends are protestants!

It's a very tired conversation, and I'm sure as you read this, you're steadily on one side or the other. But! The refreshing surprise comes when you realize this 500-year-old argument has come to, believe it or not, the CW.

“What?” you say, “That Network with Chad Michael Murray and Smallville?” Yes.

The show is “Supernatural” and it's one of the best shows on TV today. Quickly summarized it's about two brothers who grew up hunting ghosts, demons and all those lovely “things that go bump in the night”.

Sam: When I told Dad I was scared of the thing in my closet, he gave me a .45.
Dean: Well, what was he supposed to do?
Sam: I was nine-years-old. He was supposed to say, "Don't be afraid of the dark."
Dean: Don't be afraid of the dark? What, are you kidding me? Of course you should be afraid of the dark! You know what's out there!

The writing is exceptional, and it is one of the only shows to actually get better and better as the seasons progress. I recently re-watched the first two seasons and boy, they were a snore compared to what comes next!

Ignoring the “atheist” angle (which is an even more tired conversation and rather pointless in the context of actual demon-killing) the comparison between Christianity and it's sects is starkly shown in the relationship between the brothers, their father and the moral ground they walk.

Obviously the two boys are human and don't represent the ideal version of the theories I've tagged them with (in fact, they're pretty much deaf to the arguments altogether).

The Catholic
Dean is the Catholic. The reason might surprise you. It comes down to faith, which I realize is something that the Protestants like to hold in their corner, but I'm not talking about faith in some internal belief that holds your reason above everyone else. The faith Dean holds is a belief in something he can't understand and doesn't need to. He is a soldier. He takes orders from his father without hesitation, even though he hardly ever sees the big picture or even the motives behind his father's decisions. This fact is often brought up as being Dean's biggest fault:

“Dad knew who you really were.
A good soldier and nothing else.
Daddy's blunt little instrument.”

But as the storyline progresses, we realize this stubborn loyalty is the only thing keeping him from spiraling out into oblivion. The one job his father gave him, the one rule Dean lives by, is protecting his younger brother Sam, no matter what. Sounds simple enough, that is until it turns out little brother is part of a massive demonic plot to bring about the apocalypse, and gets his spinal cord cut clean through by a rival demon-blood-infected psychic in hell's version of “Survivor”. This prompts Dean to do the unbelievable (and maybe ridiculous) as he sacrifices himself at the Crossroads – his soul for his brother's life, eternity in hell for Dean in exchange for a few years above ground for Sammy. He might get scared, and even complain, but his faith never wavers.

“My father was an obsessed bastard!
All that crap he dumped on me about protecting Sam,
that was his crap!
He's the one who couldn't protect his family!
He's the one who let Mom die,
who wasn't there for Sam!
I always was! It wasn't fair!
I didn't deserve what he put on me!
And I don't deserve to go to Hell!”

So, when an angel pulls Dean out of hell so he can stop the rising of Lucifer, it's no surprise where his loyalties lie. He might be proud, he might be stubborn, but Castiel is working on him, and as soon as he let's the angels and God take the same title his father held, there will be no stopping him, or his cause, because he has faith. Faith in what he can't understand. Obedience to what he can't perceive. And humility in his ignorance. A Catholic.

“You're scared. It's okay, I understand.
See, when I was your age, I saw something real bad happen to my mom,
and I was scared, too. I didn't feel like talking, just like you.
But see, my mom - I know she wanted me to be brave.
I think about that every day. And I do my best to be brave.
And maybe, your dad wants you to be brave, too.”

The Protestant
Sammy-Boy is our happy Protestant. The thinker. The knowledgeable one. The one who, at the beginning of the series, you would consider 'the good one'. He is compassionate, walks a straighter moral path and is constantly torn over whether or not they're “doing the right thing”. The flaw in his philosophy is that everything he believes rests on a little thing called “private judgment”.

Sam constantly needs all the information. He needs to make “his decision”. He is his own personal Pope sitting on a lonely hill rejecting all available help in a prideful fight to 'go it alone'.

Sam: That makes no sense. Why doesn't Dad just call us?
Why doesn't he tell us what he wants; tell us where he is?
Dean: I dunno. But the way I see it,
Dad's given us a job to do and I intend to do it.

Sam just wants to be 'normal'. He wants to be 'happy'. And his private judgment is the giant hammer used to bash anyone and anything that tries to interfere with what he feels justified in doing.

Sam: Well, Dad never treated you like that, you were perfect.
He was all over my case. You don't remember?
Dean: Well, maybe he had to raise his voice, but sometimes you were out of line.
Sam: Right! Right, like when I said I'd rather play soccer than learn bow hunting.
Dean: Bow hunting's an important skill!

Laugh all you want, but this tiny example from episode two is only the crack in the dam. Just like protestantism started by 'just removing a few things' before transforming humanity into Dr. House, Sam's personal judgment starts flying him off a forgotten cliff into what can only be called evil. (Though, of course, those with private judgment are free to disagree).

Dean tells him he has free will, Sam feels he might not have a choice. Dean tells him not to mess with his demon-born psychic powers, Sam feels he can control them. The Angels of God tell him to stop working with a demon named Ruby, Sam feels he can use her demon-training for 'good'.

His private judgment takes him from a sweet kid in law school to an isolated liar who sucks demon blood in his spar time and makes snarky remarks at Angels. His opinions are equal, right? He has the right to choose what he thinks morality means, right? Who are these omniscient Angels and their plans for him anyway?

Interesting thoughts from a man who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that hell exists.

It All Falls Apart
I wrote the beginning of this article four episodes away from the finale of Season Four. Back when the writing was building on previous episodes so meticulously you just knew the ending was going to be epic. But no, I guess Kripke didn't realize what he was building, or just didn't like it, and decided to doze EVERYTHING in 20.3 minutes.

Now, instead of two brothers being driven toward opposite ends of the moral ladder, we have two brothers who were equally tricked by two immortal corporations who differ from each other in that they... well, we actually can't tell anymore. Can you?

Demons possess people against their will.

<> Apparently so do angels. Just ask Jimmy.

Demons don't care about humans.

<> Angels really don't care about humans.

Demons lie and make people sin.

<> Angels lie and make people sin.

I guess the only obvious difference is that demons get stuck in devil's traps, while angels waltz right though. Which begs the question, if there is no God, and angels are tricking people just as much as demons, what makes an angel into a demon? Can you really 'fall' if there is nothing to fall from? Or is it some sort of clubhouse effect – you disobey the older kid's whim, he turns you into a demon?

Am I to believe that Kripke is some sort of humanist? He spent all this time showing us angels and demons so his big reveal could be “I believe in people!” This seems to be one of the biggest faulty beliefs today: bad people feel more, love more and are better friends; while good people feel less, hate more and are just plain full of themselves. Want to take a look at an actual list of sins at any point? I believe arrogance and vanity are on there. It certainly doesn't say “To be a good person, please judge everyone in your path and hail yourself as a saint”. Try reading some writings from an actual saint some time. Do they sound like the church lady?

In Kripke's world, good doesn't exist even in the smallest form anymore. Unless of course you count the innocence of 'good' people who are just too dumb to be bad. No one could be good AND smart. Angels couldn't possibly be around forever and be so gullible as to believe in God. Especially in a good god. But, in the midst of this agnostic carnival, we're supposed to believe that there is a heaven? A place where you turn into some sort of happy vegtable with no will or memory at all? Why is this heaven such a 'good' place if there is no one around who believes in good? Is it just some old relic magic trick left over from when God was around? Though, I guess from Dean's reaction Heaven isn't such a good place after all, and hell might be the better choice since at least you're still you there. Whatever that means.

Did Kripke realize that pulling on the 'there is no God' thread would topple the entire structure of the story he has been building for four years? Did he realize that making the angels the same as demons would erase all meaning of good and evil? Does he realize how thin and lonely his view of the world is?

It seems like Kripke didn't want to admit the only solution to the problem he created was obedience to a higher power. To, I don't know, something like the Catholic Church? His show almost proves the need for a unified, monarchist, moral leader!

Oh right, I forgot. It's Winchesters vs. Everything now. If only Sam and Dean were God, then it would all be ok.

Because even after all the proof Kripke gave himself, he's still a firm believer in “private judgment”.

Good luck with that.