Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite events of the year: The Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. This is the 34th year that the Smallville-esque town has held the four-day long festivities, and if you’ve never been, you’re missing out on a treat, and by “treat” I mean a riotous good time with fun people, laced with coma-inducing deep-fried fair food.

I’m not even a Superman fanatic, per se. Oh, sure, I grew up loving the character on TV and film and in the comics, but I’m certainly not partial. What intrigues me about the town of Metropolis is the people.

Incidentally, this will be the first time in 6 years that I have not been in attendance for the entire celebration. My brother, Kevan, and I are making the 3 hr. trip up on Sunday (don’t worry, the Sunday strip will still be posted) to hang out and goof around with some friends, but I will not be setting up as a guest in Artist Alley as-per-usual.

It’s sort of sad break in tradition, but with three sons under the age of 5 who are not ready to enjoy the trip or the stay, I opted to not leave my wife to wrangle them alone the whole time. My mother has bravely offered to lend her assistance in curbing the male-dominated mayhem on the Sabbath that I am away, selflessly depriving herself of any potential rest or relaxation.

So why am I blogging about this in the middle of the week? Why should you care about what happens in a tiny mid-western town in the heat of the summer? Well, it always fascinates me to learn about and experience things that people are passionate about. Ok, maybe “fascinate” is the wrong word, but let’s remain positive here.

Pop-culture conventions (comic-cons for example) are easy to pick on. Entertainment is THE big business that is not going away, and everybody wants a piece of it. Lots of fanboys, cosplayers, gamers, collectors, enthusiasts, wannabes, and quasi-celebrities milling about together in an overcrowded, unwashed, festering mass. It’s a sight to behold, and the attendees and participants compose a sizable growing percentage of the population. They are occasionally eccentric, ostensibly awkward, and not always what society considers “physically attractive”. And they are drawn together by a love for fictitious creations. The reasons vary, and I’m sure could undergo extensive psychological scrutiny, but nonetheless, these humans have found common ground that they can share in close quarters for a short period of time semi-annually.

And how do they differ from sports fans? I find the same passion whenever I walk into a stadium or a sports bar or someone’s living room when a game is on. It’s just louder and more frequent. And what ties do fans have to any team of athletes whom they have never met and have no say in their selection, training or performance? No more than a comic shop fanboy has to the creation or existence of a superhero.

So why the (often fickle) commitment and dedication to something that has no bearing on everyday living, or better yet, a place in eternity?

It seems to me that the driving force behind these passions has, at least partially, to do with the desire to connect with people and be a part of something, regardless of whether or not it is actually important in the grand scheme of things.

What are you passionate about? Is it your career? Your education? Your finances? Your physique? Your health? Your possessions? Your sexuality? Your habit? Your own opinions? Your sin? What consumes you? What defines you?

Might I suggest directing some of that passion toward something worthwhile? While “society” is distracting us and lulling us to sleep with entertainment, let us take back our attention and focus it on something that lasts. Value people. Invest in people. Build relationships. Help someone. Love God and love each other.

That is why Metropolis, IL is so special. The residents there go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome. They even go so far as to hold ceremonies during the Celebration to induct eager participants as honorary citizens of their town. They welcome people with open arms (for free, might I add), thus imparting a wonderful and joyous atmosphere that everyone shares in. Sure it’s always hot, and there are images of a “strange visitor from another planet” plastered all over the place leading to a fifteen-foot statue, but that’s just the tip of the Kryptonian iceberg. Let the Man of Steel remind us that there is One who has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. He is True and He is Just.

Satisfy that innate urge to connect with people by believing that we ALL have something in common. We are all lost. We have all turned our back on our Creator and given in to our own selfish desires. We all need a Savior. And we are all going to spend eternity somewhere. And I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be Comic-Con.