People named Rachel are the best, aren’t they?
There are four amazing Rachels who come to mind when I think of that name … Rachel S., Rachel P., Rachel T., Rachel L. … and you may have already met a couple. But the last time Rachel Leitch was here—with her beautiful guest post, “The Gospel in Fairy Tales“—was almost two years ago, and I think it’s about time that you hear from her again.
This Rachel’s writing voice is one of my favorites, and what I love to read on her blog the most is her posts about movies. She watches movies (often Marvel or Pixar) through a gospel lens and offers profound, beautiful insights into the themes. It is such an honor to share one of these such posts on my blog today, and allow Rachel to share how diversity might just be a bit like the Spider-Verse.
P.S. – I also got to visit Rachel’s blog and share a summer camp devotional about joy! Be sure to check it out after you read Rachel’s part of the blog swap. =)
Diversity is Like the Spider-Verse | A Guest Post by Rachel Leitch
I recently watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with some friends of mine. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a rather bizarre but incredible movie about a bunch of different versions of Spider-Man meeting each other.
Yes, that is as fun as it sounds.
All around, it was just a good movie—stunning visuals and solid story and character work.
It also may be the most diverse movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Anyone can find themselves in that movie.
Here’s how it goes. (And to circle around to the point I’m making, some spoilers may be contained in the following sections.)
Miles Morales, a middle-schooler from Queens, has recently discovered his own spider powers when he stumbles upon a machine that can bring people from other universes into his own. Of course, that machine is in the hands of a villain who just wants to use it to bring his family back—from another universe, against their will, and killing anyone who stands in the way.
The Spider-Man in Miles’ universe is one of those who stands in the way.
Queens has now been left to Miles’ jurisdiction.
As well as about four other Spider-Man variants who have found their way through the machine. Peter is a thirty-something whose life is a disaster. His main goal is to get home and forget any of this happened. Gwen is a fellow middle-schooler who lost her best friend. Noir is a film noir detective from the 20’s. And one is a (can’t believe I’m typing this) cartoon pig.
Trust me on this one.
The Spider-Man group created in the film included characters of all races, of both genders, of all ages. But no one in marketing slammed a stick over anyone’s head and announced, “This is a movie about diversity!” (I mean, as far as I know.)
Instead, they just brought a group of very different people together. And those characters realized for the first time that they weren’t alone.
It’s a little bit like life—especially Christian life.
Usually, the first thing one of the Spider-Man variants says when they meet another is, “You’re just like me.” Because in their universe, they were the one and only Spider-Man (or Spider-Noir, or Spider-Gwen, or whatever).
Never did Peter and Miles tell Gwen that she couldn’t fight with them because she was a girl.
Never did Miles or Gwen leave behind Peter or Noir because they were older.
Never did Miles exclude any of the others because he was black/Latino and they weren’t. And none of the others excluded him either.
They said, “You’re just like me.”
There’s a lot to be said there.
While it manifests itself in a number of beautiful cultures and personalities and stories, humans are all basically the same. We are all created wonderfully, hand-crafted by God. We all have our things, our big struggles that we carry around and do battle with each day.
You’re just like me. Just in different ways.
But the differences don’t stop us. The differences don’t keep us away from each other. Whether it’s through celebrating a culture or tearing it down, the moment diversity becomes a barrier line to keep people out, it has fallen short of what it was meant to be.
Diversity and unity are believed to be two opposing sides, and to have one, you can’t have the other.
But it’s actually the opposite. Diversity is what brings unity. And unity is what brings diversity.
Our differences just enhance our sameness. And our sameness brings beauty to our diversity.
We are both the same and different.
No one was turned away in the Spider-Man group. They recognized they all needed each other. They realized they were all valuable and important. They knew it was going to take all of them if they were going to make it out.
We’re the same. Whether it’s the church, the family, or some other unit, we need each other if we’re going to make it through this crazy life. And we need to know that we’re valuable and important. And how will we know unless someone tells us? How will anyone else know if we don’t tell them?
Maybe we can learn a few lessons from this film. Maybe we’re already learning them. Maybe we’re already crossing the imaginary lines between us, celebrating all that makes us different and all that brings us together.
About the Author
Rachel Leitch discovered the book of writing when she was seven. She’s been turning pages ever since! She lives her own American adventure in northern Indiana, with her parents, three sisters, two brothers, and a dog who thinks he’s the hero of her story.
She writes young adult historical fiction with a dash of adventure or a spark of magic. She will appear in Wild Blue Wonder Press’ Springtime in Surrey this summer. When she’s not hidden away writing, she’s trying to fit all her reads on her shelf in a somewhat organized manner, obsessing over character arcs, drinking chai, daydreaming at the piano, or teaching students to be just as bookish as she is. In all her adventures, she learns how to shine brighter for the Father of Lights.
I hope you enjoyed Rachel’s guest post as much as I did! Let us know in the comments: Have you seen Spider-Verse? What did you think of it? What are some of your favorite ways you’ve noticed diversity in your own church, friends, or family?
Head on over to Rachel’s website if you would like to read more of her work, or check out a guest post I did for her. It’s called “Joy in a Broken World: Psalm 73” and it is based on a devotional I shared at a summer camp: https://www.racheljleitch.com/adventure-journal/joy-in-a-broken-world-by-eliana-duran