KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (12)
February 10, 2022
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of a favorite sidekick — whether real-life or fictional.
THE APOSTLE PETER
When one reads the Old Testament closely, one realizes it’s full of people who suck, and God does not seem to mind. Jacob is a compulsive liar. Joseph is a stuck-up queen. Samson has no redeeming qualities beyond “muscles.” The kings of Israel sacrifice children to Ba’al left and right. These are not minor problems. I would not be friends with any of these assholes.
The New Testament, on the other hand, brings us a more relatable level of dysfunction, and the banner-carrier for this theme is none other than Jesus’ trusty sidekick, Peter. On the one hand, Peter is the rock upon which the church was built, the first Pope (if you get down with Popes) and first among the disciples. On the other hand, as long as Jesus is alive, he’s kind of a dummy. Whenever Jesus really wants to make a point, there Peter is, ostentatiously not getting it. It doesn’t seem like an act, either. Peter’s genuinely doing his best, and his best isn’t very good.
The funny thing, though, is that the moment Jesus dies, Peter undergoes a transformation. In the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, he's suddenly giving passionate sermons; people are seeking to worship him, and he tells them “no, I’m also only a man”; he’s receiving visions that give him license to break Jewish law. Once Jesus exits the scene, Peter takes on his mantle — like Robin becoming Batman — and he’s remarkably good at it. Better than any Robin ever was, frankly.
Maybe that’s why Peter is the most appropriate divine sidekick: he’s the best and the worst of humans, all in one package. A story about Jesus wandering around being perfect would be, frankly, pretty boring. A story in which Jesus simply humiliated opponent after opponent would be almost worse. A story with Jesus constantly correcting Peter, yet never quite giving up on him, is better. And after all, isn’t their relationship a synecdoche for all humans’ relationship to God? The average person isn’t passing their firstborn son through the fire, but they definitely are prepared to deny their beliefs when it’s convenient. Yet God (we are told) never stops chuckling indulgently at our foibles.
Which brings us to what is perhaps the point of Peter’s character. You’re familiar with “Jesus is my boyfriend,” but what if “Jesus is my hero”? Or, cast another way: “I’m Jesus’s sidekick”? We all would like to be protagonists in our own story, but isn’t it rank hubris to assume that we are, particularly if we take as written the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent God-man? Someone get me Jars of Clay, or St. Bernard of Clairvaux, or St. Catherine of Siena. I’ve got a pitch for them.
KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Annie Nocenti on RATSO | Barbara Bogaev on TRIXIE | Sara Ryan on SWIFT WIND | Carlo Rotella on BELT BEARERS | Adam McGovern on JACKIE McGEE | Josh Glenn on RAWHIDE | Gabriela Pedranti on KUILL | Douglas Wolk on VOLSTAGG | Serdar Paktin on CATO | Deirdre Day on TRAMPAS | Dean Haspiel on TIN MAN | Flourish Klink on THE APOSTLE PETER | Miranda Mellis on FAMILIAR | Peggy Nelson on COSMO | Beth Lisick on MARTHA BROOKS | Bishakh Som on CAPTAIN HADDOCK | Stephanie Burt on SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE | Greg Rowland on SPOCK | Adam Netburn on SENKETSU | Mimi Lipson on ROBIN QUIVERS | Jonathan Pinchera on GUTS | Tom Nealon on TWIKI | Mandy Keifetz on DR. EINSTEIN | Judith Zissman on IGNATZ MOUSE | Anthony Miller on DOCTOR GONZO.
KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2022): TBD. BLURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2022): LEFT-CORNER BRICK | JOY IS RESISTANCE | THE FUTURE IS PASSÉ | EVERY MINUTE AN OCEAN | SHUT UP, HE EXPLAINED | & 20 other apothegms to live by. KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2022): ARK II | WKRP IN CINCINNATI | BUCK ROGERS | THE WHITE SHADOW | POLICE WOMAN | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) TV shows. KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2022): KUILL | CATO | COSMO | TRIXIE | VOLSTAGG | & 20 other sidekicks. NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): TIME | THE POST OFFICE | ARDUIN | DOUBT | SUMMATIONS | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.