The Sandman: On Deconstructing Faith & Building Hope
Netflix's The Sandman, based on the series of comic books from universe-creator Neil Gaiman, is something I have found myself falling in love with and something I've seen a lot of myself in. There's a power in the way life, mysteries, higher powers, and more are represented… but for me, it was the elements reflecting and helping me in deconstructing my faith.
I grew up in a Baptist environment, full of some more toxic ideologies and views on the world in front of me. The world is a crazy place, but I was a little kid with undiagnosed anxiety thinking the days of Revelations were upon us any moment and others needed saving. Watching and reading The Sandman I am seeing become an interesting part of reflection in my life. I grew up looking at stories of Cain and Abel, Hell, Heaven, dreams, or nightmares drenched in evangelical rules. Seeing these characters, places, concepts, and more addressed in such a unique way has been enlightening, to say the least.
The Sandman takes a short but complex look at the brothers Cain and Abel, dives into the depths of what constitutes hope in the midst of hell, and displaces the fear I still carry deep down within me of death and what an afterlife may mean. The series brings such visually stunning moments to life from the page and reminds you that life may be scary and complex, but there's something profound and personally uplifting to be found in it.
Deconstructing my past evangelical faith and looking towards my current exploration of Norse paganism that connects me to generations of my family before me, The Sandman starts the process in an interesting way. It almost promotes an incentive to look inward and examine the harmful ways I viewed things like dreams, desire, death, and more. While I've been deconstructing my faith for many years now, it's always going to be a process, no matter how small.
The Sandman is officially one of my favorite shows of the year, and I thank Gaiman for exploring the aspects of religion and belief in these ways. I'm pushing myself now more than ever to expand what comics I read and how I take in content like this. Permission given to explore the complex and difficult parts of the past, trauma, and more has never been more important.