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November 09, 2007

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Mir

Mmmm. I'm not convinced. While I agree totally that FIREFLY ranks right up there, and it was a grave, grave loss to SF artistically that the show was cancelled (oh, hang on, my head almost just exploded--AGAIN--typing that!)--I do think Joss tends to be dismissive and relativistic in this area. Religion was a "side dish' rarely served in Buffy (just the accoutrements, than you, unless it was Wicca), and religion is pretty useless in Firefly. No real commitment to a religion, no real idea of ireasonableness. That comes from a worldview, and its Whedon's.

However, the very fact that Book was a steady, likable presence (except for the thoughts River rad in his head, which seemed hard and mean and not like him), and that he at least was a religious presence, okay, better than nothing, I say. :) I'll take a decent religious character who reads Scripture and tried to do good and offer kindness over no or a stereotypical evil one.

I don't think the Mormon's complaint was that far off the mark, and I think you make too much of an apologia for the show. And I say that as a big fan of the series and the film and possessor of DVDs of them all and a woman with a raging crush on the Cap'n and most things Whedon. :)

BTW, thought of you when I saw this : http://shotnews.net/?p=308

Mir

Mir

Parts of my previous post got "eaten" by the internet. Dang. makes me sound loony.

MIr

Attila the Mom

I really like your analysis! I miss this show. ::sniff sniff::

Josie

When you are talking to someone who doesn't believe in any God you have to start somewhere, and that is learning to believe in a power higher than yourself. I think that is what Book was trying to say here.

Chris inVirginia

It's not just that Mal doesn't believe in God--Mal has abandoned God because he believes that God has abandoned him--remember the opening scene in the first episode of Firefly, when during the battle, he takes the cross he wears around his neck and kisses it (very similar to medieval soldiers behavior)...and how he refers to the expected air support as "angels"...and the look of disbelief and disillusion when he hears that the angels--and the higher authority they represent--are in fact not coming.

So he has lost his belief...this kind of thing has happened countless times throughout human history. Some people, brought to this level, stay there...others work their way back to a belief in and relationship with the Almighty.

Book clearly thinks that Mal is capbable of that.

I have to think this is a much more serious portrayal of faith than is typically seen on television, and hats off to Mr. Whedon, an avowed atheist, for bringing it to us.

ern

I never got the sense that Mal doesn't believe in God. Yeah, he makes a show of saying he doesn't. But methinks he doth protest too much. He was obviously religious prior to the defeat of the Independents. I think mostly he's just angry with God and disappointed in him. Perhaps Mal has lost his belief in God, or perhaps he would have found some way of believing again.

Still, Book's pronouncements are a bit weak for someone who does have faith. Whedon's never been strong on this: the trappings of faith are present in his work, but there is never a character whose faith is authentic and who lets it speak for itself. But that's not really a knock on Whedon, since the same can be said about television broadly. So, yeah, it's better than nothing.

It would have been nice, though, for Book to offer Mal something other than typical postmodern "just believe" stuff. What Book tells Mal could be found in any self-help book. It's not really faith at all. It would have added more to the show, I think, to make Book's faith more traditional and authentic, if only to act as a more effective foil to Mal's irreligion.

ern

I never got the sense that Mal doesn't believe in God. Yeah, he makes a show of saying he doesn't. But methinks he doth protest too much. He was obviously religious prior to the defeat of the Independents. I think mostly he's just angry with God and disappointed in him. Perhaps Mal has lost his belief in God, or perhaps he would have found some way of believing again.

Still, Book's pronouncements are a bit weak for someone who does have faith. Whedon's never been strong on this: the trappings of faith are present in his work, but there is never a character whose faith is authentic and who lets it speak for itself. But that's not really a knock on Whedon, since the same can be said about television broadly. So, yeah, it's better than nothing.

It would have been nice, though, for Book to offer Mal something other than typical postmodern "just believe" stuff. What Book tells Mal could be found in any self-help book. It's not really faith at all. It would have added more to the show, I think, to make Book's faith more traditional and authentic, if only to act as a more effective foil to Mal's irreligion.

Gabriel Mckee

It's also important to remember that Book's past is every bit as complicated as Mal's. They never fully explored it, sadly-- my guess is it was on the slate for season 3, had the show gone that far-- but Book had a military background, and the movie strongly implies that he was an Operative prior to becoming a preacher. There's a lot of guilt in Book's past, and that informs his faith. I think he sees Mal as "the road not taken"-- anger with the world's violence instead of contemplation of it.

Andrey Arkhipov

Most people misunderstand the context and meaning of Firefly, and Serenity... the sole premise.

The context is loss of freedom, loss of choice, and loss of identity. That's what happened to Mal once he lost the war.

Serenity is one of the ways to stay free in the Universe that is now ruled by a tyrannical military dictatorship that is claiming to be a "free democracy".

Each person on the Serenity wants something that they can't get on land - Freedom in a true sense of it. Freedom to believe and to live as they choose to.

Shepherd Book in that sense is a true Christian, because he does not go beating people over the head with dogma... I.E. "God's way, or the highway". He explains these in the language that people he addresses can understand... something that Christians today completely fail to do by using the romanticized version of Christianity with "Accepting Jesus into your heart" and etc. It completely lacks practical and relative perspective.

I do tend to think that Mal does believe in God, although, like Jonah, he feels cheated. He does not understand how injustice can rule the universe that just God created. TBC

Iconoclastes

Are you all nuts? Honestly, it's a SciFi show. And, in my opinion, a really good one. That it doesn't bow to your faith mars it not in the least.

Are you all so insecure in your faith that you'll only consider TV shows that properly represent your view of religion? Really?

What's next? Paintings? Architecture? Cars? Salt-shakers?

Christ, folks, grow up. Religion is a personal thing. Don't wear it on your sleeve. And faith is just that. Stop rationalising it. And stop criticising others' faith, or your perceived lack thereof.

Gabriel Mckee

Iconoclastes,

Yes, it's a good show-- and that means that people think about what the characters think, say, and do. Religion is one of the things they think, talk, and act about. Hence, this. I don't see anyone here complaining that the show doesn't "bow to [their] faith", just trying to make sense of the role of religion in the show on its own terms and in connection to real-world faith and religion.

As for this:

"And faith is just that. Stop rationalising it. And stop criticising others' faith ..."

You're contradicting yourself. Leaving aside the fact that faith and reason are not, in fact, opposed (that's a very recent fallacy), you're making a broad criticism and then telling others not to criticize.

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