GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Religions in Firefly

POSTED BY: ASTRAGYNIA
UPDATED: Friday, April 15, 2005 03:18
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Saturday, April 9, 2005 5:40 PM

ASTRAGYNIA


One of the things I like best about Firefly is that the future universe is multicultural - but what do y'all think about religion in the 'verse?

There's a woman in a burka on the train - does that mean Islam is still around? Or is it just a cultural holdover of some kind?

And of course, there's Shepherd Book, and the Bible is mentioned (shown?) but not much is said about his theology (other than, uh, pacifism via "kneecaps") - is he a Christian, or is it some type of composite religion (like in "Dune")?

So, how does religion change/stay the same in the Firefly future?

Any thoughts?

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Saturday, April 9, 2005 7:30 PM

NEEDLESEYE


Well there's also the "Whoa, good Bible" conversation between Mal and Saffron.

Keeper of Jayne's goggles. 8)
I caved.~ http://needleseyeland.blogspot.com/

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Saturday, April 9, 2005 7:36 PM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by Astragynia:
And of course, there's Shepherd Book ...

In a deleted scene in Inara's shuttle, reshot for broadcast, Book refers to himself as a Christian. But, of course, That ain't a Shepherd

Reynolds was wearing a crucifix in Serenity Valley.

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Saturday, April 9, 2005 8:24 PM

SOUPCATCHER


And Nandi's comment in Heart of Gold about Inara being on track to become House Priestess.

---------------------
Next up: Early "Nutcrusher" Jubal and the Firebuggers

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Saturday, April 9, 2005 8:26 PM

FALLENANGEL


I wonder about that too, but I just firgured of it mostly Christians around. I wonder if Catholism is still around or that falls under the category of Christianity?

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."- Lao Tzo

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 5:33 AM

SIMONWHO


I must admit I was a bit disappointed that they still have recognisable religions in Firefly. It's like the Vikings writing a series set in our present day and having people going around praising Thor.

It's not that I think in the future we won't have religion, just that today's religions will have been washed away, just as the gods of previous empires have. Zeus faded from view, Odin is a distant memory. One day, Jesus will be a bit character in the the future's equivalent of Douglas Adams's latest novel.

I don't mean to offend but if you look at history here's the pattern: empire rises, brings new Gods with it. Empire rules, Gods are revered by all. Empire falls, gods go into decline. Time passes, gods become punchine. It has happened again and again and again. Each time they believed their gods were eternal and their empire would last and of course the previous set of widely accepted gods had to fall because they were false gods and the current gods were the real gods.

When empires fall, faith turns to dust. Just look at Mal.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:28 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
It's like the Vikings writing a series set in our present day and having people going around praising Thor.

Five hundred years ago, I think the inhabitants of Scandinavia would have recognised the religions of the Book - would have been fighting wars over them, indeed

EDIT: It's been suggested to me that the People of the Book won't be readily identified by fireflyfans. I think we're sufficiently erudite, but just in case here y'go http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/faithpeople.html

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:39 AM

EMBERS


in five hundred years we would expect some shifts
and some different sects
but I would think that Christianity and the Bible would still be around

of course there would be more and more translations
and alterations
and interpretations....
things I doubt very much that Joss wants to put in the forefront of his story.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:51 AM

SIMONWHO


Actually Sweden (and most of Scandinavia) switched around about the 12th century:

http://faculty.washington.edu/leiren/vikings2.html

(Caution: this is based on 10 minutes Googling, I do not have a degree in History)

Religions can disappear like that. Sometimes it comes from nowhere. Think about Judaism. 4,000 years of spreading to every corner of the globe and then in supposedly civilised times, they suffer an attempt at mass extinction, one that had the circumstances been slightly different, would have effectively succeeded. Horrifying to think about it in an age of reason but there you go.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 8:30 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
Actually Sweden (and most of Scandinavia) switched around about the 12th century ...

Sadly, conversion to Christianity didn't stop Wars of Religion (sic), just altered the (pre)Texts

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 8:44 AM

SIMONWHO


Yeah, I agree that religion is often used as a "we, not-we" divider. It's particularly galling as most religions have peace at the core of their philosophy and zealots (who should by definition stick the most closely to the texts) are the ones who most easily shrug it off, q.v. Osama insisting that there are no civilians to justify his attacks when the Koran very clearly and explicitly forbids attacking them.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 8:46 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
When empires fall, faith turns to dust. Just look at Mal.

Really? Yet somehow the Roman State religion as established by Constantine in the 4th century not only persisted and continued to spread for 1500 years following the fall of the Roman Empire but remained the major religion of an entire culture right to this day.

Religions don’t necassarily disappear with the Empires that foster them. They change with shifting cultures and new ideas, but religions are not tied to the existence of the state. They exist independent of it. I would also think that if a religion can last for 2000 years, then there is little in my mind that makes believe it couldn’t last for 2500 years.

-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 10:16 AM

CHRISISALL


It's an old story, religion get co-opted and used to justify and compel actions of the ruling class, look at right to life and family values and all the little jingoistic nonsense of the current clowns in office(they're all clowns, some have better rubber noses...).

I think including the cross in the first ep was wise, gets you into the feel of the situation immediatly without having to explain a whole new religious archetecture.

And anyone who includes even the implication that violence can be done in the service of religion should be killed.

The tyrannical Chrisisall

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 11:02 AM

SIMONWHO


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:

Religions don’t necassarily disappear with the Empires that foster them. They change with shifting cultures and new ideas, but religions are not tied to the existence of the state. They exist independent of it. I would also think that if a religion can last for 2000 years, then there is little in my mind that makes believe it couldn’t last for 2500 years.



And if it can last 2500 years then it can last 3000, etc, etc. And yet religions keep on dying. My point wasn't so much that the fall of an empire always leads to the fall of its religion. But very often the fates are tied together. The Roman Empire collapsed, it wasn't properly conquered as such, therefore it didn't have its religion replaced.

To get back on topic, we know Earth has fallen. Surely the enforced abandonment of our entire planet would make people question their beliefs, their value systems, letting soccer moms drive gas guzzling SUVs at $3 a gallon? Everyone would leave Jerusalem, Mecca, Mount Sinai, every single religious location behind. Vast passage of every religious text would become inapplicable (how would Muslims face Mecca for example?) Isn't it reasonable to assume that once again humanity would change its mind over religion once more?

I'm not saying there would be no faith, I'm just saying it wouldn't be the ones around at the moment. Christianity in the UK, where I am, has plummeted in recent years. Most people in this country still call themselves 'Christian' yet attend very few services (Christmas and Easter normally). This would have been unthinkable 50 years ago and yet here we are.

Also, according to the Firefly timeline, the two remaining superpowers are the United States and China (let's ignore the fact that the EU has a bigger GDP than both of them). If there really was a Chinese/American merger (which the flag implies) then wouldn't there be more Buddhism/Taoism cultures prevalent (particularly as there are already 4 times as many Chinese as Americans in the world)?

But of course, Firefly was a TV show aimed at being broadcast in America. I suspect if the show had stated explicitly that Christianity had died out a few centuries ago, it wouldn't even have lasted as long as it did. I just think that all religions have a lifespan and such a universal shift as the entire abandonment of Earth would cause an equal shift in beliefs.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 11:32 AM

ASTRAGYNIA


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:

But of course, Firefly was a TV show aimed at being broadcast in America. I suspect if the show had stated explicitly that Christianity had died out a few centuries ago, it wouldn't even have lasted as long as it did.



On the contrary, the Star Trek franchise has made it quite clear that in its universe all Earth religions have died out entirely (except Native-American spirituality) - and we all know how long ST has been going. Though to be fair, I guess it did originate in the 60s Modernism period when religion was seen as a dying thing of the past.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 11:34 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
And if it can last 2500 years then it can last 3000, etc, etc. And yet religions keep on dying.

Clearly not all of them. Judaism is even older then Christianity; in fact it’s older then 3000 years. And Judea fell even longer back then the Roman Empire.
Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
To get back on topic, we know Earth has fallen. Surely the enforced abandonment of our entire planet would make people question their beliefs, their value systems, letting soccer moms drive gas guzzling SUVs at $3 a gallon? Everyone would leave Jerusalem, Mecca, Mount Sinai, every single religious location behind. Vast passage of every religious text would become inapplicable (how would Muslims face Mecca for example?) Isn't it reasonable to assume that once again humanity would change its mind over religion once more?

Given that scenario, maybe, maybe not. I don’t know that it was ever pointed out why earth was abandoned, if it actually was. But why would you think that hardships would make a people abandoned religion? Secularism is a philosophy that is historically associated with developed and established cultures with enough stability to pursue academic philosophies. Historically, I would think cultures in upheaval tend to shift towards the more religious, not less.
Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
I'm not saying there would be no faith, I'm just saying it wouldn't be the ones around at the moment. Christianity in the UK, where I am, has plummeted in recent years. Most people in this country still call themselves 'Christian' yet attend very few services (Christmas and Easter normally). This would have been unthinkable 50 years ago and yet here we are.

That’s true of a lot of Europe, but it’s not necessarily true of the US or China.
Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
Also, according to the Firefly timeline, the two remaining superpowers are the United States and China (let's ignore the fact that the EU has a bigger GDP than both of them). If there really was a Chinese/American merger (which the flag implies) then wouldn't there be more Buddhism/Taoism cultures prevalent (particularly as there are already 4 times as many Chinese as Americans in the world)?

That’s ignoring the rapid success of Christianity in China, or what trends may occur in the future.. Currently it’s difficult to say what trends in religion exist in China, but it is very likely that Buddhism/Toaism are actually declining and being replaced by Christianity. Christianity is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing religion in the world. One can’t simply assume that Christianity will vanish because it is declining in the UK.
Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
But of course, Firefly was a TV show aimed at being broadcast in America. I suspect if the show had stated explicitly that Christianity had died out a few centuries ago, it wouldn't even have lasted as long as it did. I just think that all religions have a lifespan and such a universal shift as the entire abandonment of Earth would cause an equal shift in beliefs.

I doubt Christianity was inserted in Firefly to appease Americans. Americans watch many shows that have nothing to do with Christianity. I think it probably had more to do with keeping with the Reconstruction Era theme, then anything else.


-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 11:57 AM

ASTRAGYNIA


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:
It's an old story, religion get co-opted and used to justify and compel actions of the ruling class...



While I entirely agree that this happens and continues to happen today, do you think this is what's happening in FF? For some reason I thought of the Alliance as being secular and religion being mostly on the Rim (the witch-hunt being one extremist example) - but then as soupcatcher pointed out:

Quote:

Originally posted by soupcatcher:
And Nandi's comment in Heart of Gold about Inara being on track to become House Priestess.



so that means there must be some kind of religion in the Alliance worlds (though of course it could just be that the Companions' Guild honour their own goddess(es)/god(s), which would be very similar to how many guilds in the Roman Empire worked).

Simon and River are of course the major examples we have of the "ruling classes" - I don't remember either character mentioning or implying a religion, though I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

(Edit) - Oops, now I know what I'm forgetting - Book's mysterious connections to the Alliance.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 12:30 PM

SIMONWHO


This would be the Star Trek that had Kirk exclaiming in the episode 'Bread and Circuses' that the Planet 892-IV, had both Caesar and 'the Son of God'? I can't remember any episode specifically declaring that religion was dead.

Christianity is growing in China but apparently only by as much as the population is growing. Plus of course the government periodically cracks down on it. America is of course a predominantly Christian country but that's rather the point. The only way to go is down.

Why do I think people will dramatically change their attitudes after the Earth is abandoned? Think about the changes after 9/11. Suddenly people reassessed who they were. It was like a global phenomenon. The number of articles that have started "Ever since 9/11...". Just today Britney Spears's husband said how he decided to have children after it, the attacks making him think about what's really important.

That's what happened when two buildings got knocked down and a few thousand people died. Now imagine that every building on the face of the entire Earth is coming down. You're being crowded onto packed shuttles to an unknown destination. You're chances of survival are slim. It's your Christian nation that has used up the world's resources. Are you telling me that people aren't going to question what they've been told? What about the new generations that never even saw Earth? Won't they see religions as backward tales from a cursed planet? I just don't see preachers turning up on Sunday for work as normal coming to anything.

As for the long term future of Christianity in the real world, I don't think there's much point looking at yearly trends. Centuries is the way to go and centuries predict that religions come and go or evolve (Judaism into Christianity). Plus nowadays we have a widespread number of people who make up their own religions, frequently claiming to take bits from each religion they know of. My favourite is David Beckham who said about his son "He's going to be baptised but we haven't decided into what religion yet."

He makes more in a week than we will in any year of our lives. Makes you think, doesn't it?

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 12:45 PM

CHRISISALL


Quote:



so that means there must be some kind of religion in the Alliance worlds (though of course it could just be that the Companions' Guild honour their own goddess(es)/god(s), which would be very similar to how many guilds in the Roman Empire worked).



Exactly. Just look at Inara whenever she mentions Guild Law, it's like saying ' yeah, I have to get my shots', she says it with a chuckle sometimes, but she isn't comfortable with being controlled to that degree. Which she likes(loves) Mal, he's free! And whatever gods or godesses there are are probably there to say 'Guild is good, Guild is law...blagh blagh".

And Book is preacher turned pawn of the Alliance, another example of government controlling God and his mouthpieces.

To Simonwho, really insightful stuff. I'm as surprised to see brilliantly clear thought here as I am to see Herbert-like thinking on the real world events threads, lol.

The religiously cynical Chrisisall

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 2:32 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
This would be the Star Trek that had Kirk exclaiming in the episode 'Bread and Circuses' that the Planet 892-IV, had both Caesar and 'the Son of God'? I can't remember any episode specifically declaring that religion was dead.

Christianity is growing in China but apparently only by as much as the population is growing. Plus of course the government periodically cracks down on it. America is of course a predominantly Christian country but that's rather the point. The only way to go is down.

Why do I think people will dramatically change their attitudes after the Earth is abandoned? Think about the changes after 9/11. Suddenly people reassessed who they were. It was like a global phenomenon. The number of articles that have started "Ever since 9/11...". Just today Britney Spears's husband said how he decided to have children after it, the attacks making him think about what's really important.

That's what happened when two buildings got knocked down and a few thousand people died. Now imagine that every building on the face of the entire Earth is coming down. You're being crowded onto packed shuttles to an unknown destination. You're chances of survival are slim. It's your Christian nation that has used up the world's resources. Are you telling me that people aren't going to question what they've been told? What about the new generations that never even saw Earth? Won't they see religions as backward tales from a cursed planet? I just don't see preachers turning up on Sunday for work as normal coming to anything.

Rather convoluted. Have you thought about this?

What changes that occurred after 9/ll have led you to believe that Christianity will disappear? How is Britney Spear’s husband opting to have children evidence that Christianity will disappear in the future? The US definitely uses its share of resources; some might argue more then its share, but no where near all the worlds’ resources. Why would they necessarily see religions as backward?

Christianity has associated with it a doomsday belief, so why wouldn’t they see the end of the world as prophesized by God? Why wouldn’t they believe that John’s prophecy had come to pass? Why wouldn’t such a scenario serve to strengthen belief in Christianity?
Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
As for the long term future of Christianity in the real world, I don't think there's much point looking at yearly trends. Centuries is the way to go and centuries predict that religions come and go or evolve (Judaism into Christianity). Plus nowadays we have a widespread number of people who make up their own religions, frequently claiming to take bits from each religion they know of. My favourite is David Beckham who said about his son "He's going to be baptised but we haven't decided into what religion yet."

Yes, centuries. Today the fastest growing religion is also 20 centuries old.


-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 2:47 PM

SHINYSEVEN


Well, we know that Mal wore a cross at the battle of Serenity Valley; that everybody on the ship knows what a "Shepherd" is and that they have a distinctive costume; that Shepherds live together in Abbeys and practice meditation there; that the practice of saying grace before meals may be contentious but doesn't need to be explained; and that some Shepherds choose celibacy and others are allowed to marry.

IIRC the commentary to "The Message" says that Inara is a Buddhist.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 5:35 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by shinyseven:
IIRC the commentary to "The Message" says that Inara is a Buddhist.


Ron Glass, the actor who plays Book, is a Buddhist. The rest of your post is well & succinctly put.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Paul Simon, "You Can Call Me Al", from "the Collection"

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 5:45 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
Today the fastest growing religion is also 20 centuries old.


15 centuries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam#Historical_origin_of_Islam

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Robert Plant, "29 Palms", from "Sixty-six to Timbuktu"

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:11 PM

REGINAROADIE


Actually, the whole issue about religion and spirituality in not only FIREFLY but all of Joss Whedon's work I find a very interesting contradiction.

If ever I were to meet Joss Whedon, my first question towards him would be "You lost your faith in God because of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND?" In the "Objects in Space" commentary, he talks about how he saw the flick and because of it he lost his faith in God and Xtianity. Which to me is the most bizarre thing anyone can say because whenever I see the flick, I feel more spiritually alive. The whole movie is a sci-fi version of the story of St. Peter and is about faith and how believing in something bigger than yourself can help you in the long run both as individuals and as a society. And for me to hear Joss say that it made him lose faith is bordering on blasphemy. Sci-fi has always served as a great way of commenting on faith, spirituality and religion. DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, CE3K, 2001 and CONTACT are films that can serve as parallel religious epics.

And so despite Joss being an atheist, it's interesting that one of his characters in FIREFLY is a man of God, and BUFFY and ANGEL are about demons and angels and an acknowledgement of Satan and Hell. And those two can't exist without God and Heaven, right?

As for religions in FIREFLY, I think that they may call it a different thing, but the fundamental characteristics are the same. The way I see it, even though there are dozens of different religions out there, were all praying for the same thing. Understanding of who we are and the world we live in, protection of those we love, the ability to be better than what we are right now, all basic spiritual and human needs. It's just that some people pray to God, some to Allah, some to Buddha, some to whoever.

So whether or not it's Jesus or Buddha or the Dali Lama that's going to come and save us for our sins, it's still the same dude. So it doesn't matter if it's still Xtianity that's the dominant religion in the verse or if it's some new fandangled thing. It's still a belief system that has both advantages and disadvantages.

"NO HAI ES BANDAI. THERE IS....NO.....BAND. AND YET....WE HEAR A BAND."

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:15 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by YT:
15 centuries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam#Historical_origin_of_Islam

It's debatable as to which one is the fastest growing, but certainly one of them is and they are both many centuries old.
Quote:

Originally posted by reginaroadie:
And so despite Joss being an atheist, it's interesting that one of his characters in FIREFLY is a man of God, and BUFFY and ANGEL are about demons and angels and an acknowledgement of Satan and Hell. And those two can't exist without God and Heaven, right?

Interesting that a professed atheist finds so much in religion that interests him. I remember be criticized for setting a bad example for the children at my church because I watched Buffy. Buffy had a strong enough religious overtone to it that this person felt threatened by it.


-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 6:37 PM

THEGREYJEDI


I would like to point out that the Hebrew God is the same God as Christianity. Judeaism has been around since, oh, say, the beginning of recorded history. Which is some 7,000 years ago. And we're talking about 500 years. Not 5000 years. The Greeks worshipped Zeus, etc for a few thousand years, then the Romans assimilated them. Then Constantine converted Rome. If God can make it through the past 7,000 years of recorded history, I think God, and his Son, Jesus can make it another 500. I'm not saying Christianity won't grow or change (a la Orange Catholic of Dune fame), but that it will continue. It's not the biggest religion on this earth for nothing.

--------------------------------------------------------------
Chief Engineer - USS SereniTREE.
http://www.jed-soft.com Gamer Rigs, Budget Prices
http://tomeofgrey.blogspot.com
Real Fans Wait - 09/30/05

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 7:12 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
It's debatable as to which one is the fastest growing,


Perhaps, but I have no intention of joining such a debate in this thread, or for that matter in this forum.

Christianity is the most efficient shorthand for most of Firefly's anticipated audience. Think about it. It wasn't important to Joss that Mal be Christian, or Book. What was important is that that Mal was a man of strong faith, who lost it. Joss takes about 4 seconds to show Mal is a man of strong faith (kissing a cross & tucking it back against his skin). Later in the ep we see that he has lost that faith (6 second Q&A from Book to Mal, who won't have grace spoken @his table). In ten seconds, Joss has what he wants. OK, maybe the "why" took another ten seconds, but that had nothing to do with Christianity. In the same ep, Joss introduces nine recurring characters, three villains & their associated jeopardies, gives us three climaxes, and a come-along ending. Does anyone seriously think he could have fit in the invention of a new religion, too?

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Allman Bro's, "Revival", from "Dreams"

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Monday, April 11, 2005 1:27 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


You’re missing the point, YT. No one is asking you for an opinion on comparative religion or social demographics. The question is whether or not it is plausible for Joss to have used Christian symbolism or whether it is plausible to assume that Christianity, or some derivative of, is the religion practiced (at some point) by Mal and Shepard (and perhaps others) in Firefly.

SimonWho’s opinion seems to be that it is not plausible because (for reasons I’ve not ascertained) he or she believes that Christianity (and perhaps religion in general) will not survive into the future given Firefly’s premise.

I, on the hand, believe that it is plausible that Christianity will survive 500 years into future, because it clearly has survived many such 500 periods. Nor do I think that religion, in general, will vanish.

Your opinion seems to be that it is not relevant what religion is used; only the establishing of the character is important, and that the use of Christian symbolism is purely pragmatic. I agree that the more important thing is the establishment of character: Mal as a man who has lost his faith, Shepard as a religious man, etc. But I also think that the use of Christian symbolism was intentional. Christian symbolism is used to establish continuity between this world and Joss’ futuristic one. Indeed his whole theme seems to be a futuristic re-enactment of Reconstruction Era America.


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Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 2:28 AM

EMMA


I am finding this debate fantastically invigorating!

I am writing a lecture on the Bible in Whedonverse at the moment and was wondering whether you would mind me quoting some of your comments?

A couple of quick thoughts before I go:

I think some people would take issue with the idea that Christianity 'evolved' out of Judaism. evolution is a loaded phrase usually implying 'better'. Also, on this basis Islam 'evolved' from Christianity and Judaism.

Scholarly debate usually accepts that the world's largest religion is Christianity but the fastest growing religion is Islam. Although as you have all proven there are dozens, of acknowledged variants of each. This also depends on a very 'typical' definition of religion which excludes football, capitalism and so on.

I really should get me a signature

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Monday, April 11, 2005 4:12 AM

SIMONWHO


My reason for believing that Christianity and probably all current religions would die out is quite simple: everyone will have experienced the end of the world. I think people would start from scratch, in culture, philosophy and religion. There's no big trick to it, no scientific study. Just a belief that if the entire Earth is laid to waste, religion would fall too. You might think that people would run to religion instead. I disagree but there we are.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 5:33 AM

CHRISISALL


As much as I hate to say it, religion(s) will survive as it suits the people who run this world. If necessary to control the masses with the belief that heaven will save them after a short and brutal life on Earth, then it will go on. If unnecessary due to economic conditions or severe climate changes (trying to keep from freezing or drowning or dying of thirst) then it will die away.
Religion is mostly a tool to be used and manipulated to pacify the sheep into not hittin' the fence too hard or too often.
True religion begins and ends within one's self and needs no justification from churches, governments or even friends.

How about this, if each one of the people who visited the Vatican recently gave the $50 or so they spent in travel to needy families, how much less hunger would there be in the area?

The incendiary Chrisisall

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Monday, April 11, 2005 5:41 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:
... Religion is mostly a tool to be used and manipulated to ...

... act as a cover for non-Religious activities?

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Monday, April 11, 2005 6:00 AM

CHRISISALL


That as well.

Just remember, I'm only commentin' on the downside of religion, as I see it. Just 'cause I ain't goin' on about an upside, well that don't mean there ain't none.

The objectivly subjective Chrisisall

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Monday, April 11, 2005 6:24 AM

DIETCOKE


I think Christianity is still around because it's only 500 years in the future. How long has Christianity been around? 2000 years? How long has the Jewish faith existed?

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Monday, April 11, 2005 7:59 AM

GRRARRG


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
America is of course a predominantly Christian country but that's rather the point. The only way to go is down.


nobody's contesting the possibility that Christians could be a very small minority
Quote:


Why do I think people will dramatically change their attitudes after the Earth is abandoned? Think about the changes after 9/11. Suddenly people reassessed who they were. It was like a global phenomenon. The number of articles that have started "Ever since 9/11...".

As I recall, most churches reported unusually high attendance the next sunday. Other religions probably did to. I also recall seeing politicians gathered together in from of the Capital, praying on TV. As you said, people reassessed who they were, as well as what was important to them. When someone is searching for meaning and value in a life that suddenly seems pointless, they often turn to religion, as very clearly evidenced by 9/11. Of course, many people would say that the flock to the churches was short-lived, but as you said,
Quote:



That's what happened when two buildings got knocked down and a few thousand people died. Now imagine that every building on the face of the entire Earth is coming down. You're being crowded onto packed shuttles to an unknown destination. You're chances of survival are slim.

I imagine people would be taking it even more seriously, and newfound religion would be more deep-rooted.
Quote:


It's your Christian nation that has used up the world's resources. Are you telling me that people aren't going to question what they've been told?

People have a funny way of using current situations to reinforce what they want to believe. Strong Christians would see it as part of the prophesy of Revelations, or as God providing us with safe passage from a place that we made hazardous (could apply to a person of any religion). It would strengthen their faith. Others might see it as a cleansing act similar to the Flood (although God told Noah that that wouldn't happen again). Atheists might see it as supporting evidence that there is no god, because a god wouldn't allow this sort of thing to happen. People of weak faith (of any religion) would either see it as a wake-up call (like many did with 9/11) or as a slap in the face, that they were barking up the wrong tree. Those people might lose their religion, whatever it was.

Christianity survived through a time when it's followers were hunted down, arrested, killed, or fed to the lions. Judaism survived through enslavement, centuries of persecution, and the holocaust (just to name a few). I'm quite certain that both of them, as well as many others, would be able to survive the exodus from Earth. Again, they might very well be reduced to very small minorities, but they'd still be around.
Quote:


What about the new generations that never even saw Earth? Won't they see religions as backward tales from a cursed planet?

There are new generations of Jews who haven't seen Israel, and Christians who never saw Jesus. I know that that factor gets multiplied many times over when those generations aren't even on the same planet, but it's not about the location - as long as there are people who still believe it and live it, it will survive.
Quote:

My favourite is David Beckham who said about his son "He's going to be baptised but we haven't decided into what religion yet."

He makes more in a week than we will in any year of our lives. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Yeah, there are lost of people like that, and there will continue to be. I'm missing your point about what Beckham's salary has to do with it. Surely you're not implying that that gives him more credibility?

[edit: I meant "there are lots of people like that." Typo, or Freudian slip?

also, other than their being no Mecca for Muslims to pray toward or travel to, what (in any religion) would no longer be possible if Earth was destroyed? (which, of course, didn't necessarily happen in the Firefly 'verse - it could be sitting there as a mostly-barren tourist destination for all we know, though I doubt it.)]
I mock you with my monkey pants

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:08 AM

FOURSKYS


Quote:

As much as I hate to say it, religion(s) will survive as it suits the people who run this world. If necessary to control the masses with the belief that heaven will save them after a short and brutal life on Earth, then it will go on. If unnecessary due to economic conditions or severe climate changes (trying to keep from freezing or drowning or dying of thirst) then it will die away.
Religion is mostly a tool to be used and manipulated to pacify the sheep into not hittin' the fence too hard or too often.



You're saying that organized religion only serves as an instrument weilded by governments to manipulate its populace? I'm sorry, but I find this quite outlandish. There are, no doubt, cases in which you are correct, that I can't deny, but to genarlize it to all organized religions and belief systems is a bit much, don't you think?

First, in your defense:
Catholocism in the middle ages. Certainly a tool weilded by those in power and those who wanted power in order to maintain some semblance of peace through fear of condemnation.
Cults often wield religious authority to motivate masses into personal or political ends.

But I would argue that this is, at least to a significant extent, not how the majority of the world's religions function. That's not to say that, in the future, a reprisal of Dark Ages and Medeival opperession can't reoccur, but there's nothing saying it has to either.

To support my argument:
Communist Russia. Russian Orthodoxy survived decades of very severe opression, where non-atheist tendencies were a death warrent. Congregations would convene in basements, in secret, and pray quietly so they wouldn't be overheard. Enthusiastic government opression did nothing to styme the beliefs of the people there, and, further, likely strengthened their beliefs.
The early Christian Church. In it's most vunerable and formative years, the Roman Empire, as was stated briefly in previous posts, actively persectued Christians, feeding them to lions and the like. If a religion that young, and that formative, could survive the harsh persecution of Nero, what makes you think that an organization, with members numbering in the billions, would fold easily? Sure, some would loose faith, but all billion of them?

And lastly, religions are often, whether for good or bad, based around some form of governmental rebellion. Jesus spoke out against heresies of the Roman and Jewish political leaders of the day, Martin Luthor spoke out against Heresies committed by the Catholic Church of the time.

Religions don't pacify the "sheep"-like populace. All too often, religion infalmes them, and often the government takes the brunt of that passion.

Again, my point is not to make generalities, but to point out that there are many possible alternatives, and, likely, in 500 years all of them will show up in some form or another. And if there is at least one small conclave of Christians who still hold to the purity of their religion, uncorrupted by greed, power, and/or politics, it is likely to survive in some form. With over a billion alive today, I propose that it is not only likely, but almost a given that Christianity, in some form, will have survived, regardless of opression, abuse, misuse, failings, misjudgements, persecutions, holocausts, hatred, war, or even peace.

Beliefs are something that live inside someone, not tied to an individual place. Destory the earth, but as long as people live on, relgions will continue. Organized religions can be a lot less concerned with materials and places than some people might think.

----------------------------------------------
People who claim to know nothing and people who claim to know everything have at least one thing in common: both are either fools or liars.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:32 AM

T


Religion won't die. People have been beheaded, crucified, boiled in pots, staked, fed to wild animals and still are being persecuted in different forms around the world.

Anytime people go back to a grassroots approach (i.e Firefly), they take up a religion. Will it be Christianity or Islam or Taoism or anything else, that's not known, but it's unlikely that some form of these religions won't still exist.

I was talking to someone very familiar with the Catholic faith and they told me that this generation of Catholics are becoming more fundamental than their parents' generation. People will experiment, but religions are here to stay.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:32 AM

T


Religion won't die. People have been beheaded, crucified, boiled in pots, staked, fed to wild animals and still are being persecuted in different forms around the world.

Anytime people go back to a grassroots approach (i.e Firefly), they take up a religion. Will it be Christianity or Islam or Taoism or anything else, that's not known, but it's unlikely that some form of these religions won't still exist.

I was talking to someone very familiar with the Catholic faith and they told me that this generation of Catholics are becoming more fundamental than their parents' generation. People will experiment, but religions are here to stay.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:51 AM

CHRISISALL


FourSkys, your reply was thoughtful and detailed. I didn't mean to say that was all religion was used for was questionable or evil, I just meant to say that the main use the ruling class has for religion is questionable or evil.
Like I posted right after, I didn't say religion didn't have an upside.

I sometimes have a way of makin' my statements sound a mite broadern' I maybe mean 'em...

It's just when you organize something, that something is more vulnerable to abuse and corruption.

Bruce is my Buddah Chrisisall

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Monday, April 11, 2005 10:22 AM

FOURSKYS


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:
I didn't mean to say that was all religion was used for was questionable or evil, I just meant to say that the main use the ruling class has for religion is questionable or evil.
Like I posted right after, I didn't say religion didn't have an upside.



I did happen to miss that second post of yours, thanks for pointing that out. And I'd agree with your last post that the main use of religion for the ruling class is generally, at best, questionable. An "opiate for the masses" in, probably, it's most mild case. But that doesn't mean that this is the only use for religion (not that that's what you were saying, Chrisisall, I just want to clarify a point). People who belive in something are always ripe for manipulation. When someone is willing to go to lengths for anything, there are always people willing to exploit that agenda for their own purposes. It's human nature (and the reason Socialize fails, but that's a whole 'nother story, all together).

But manipulation of that religion, its use, would, by definition, fortify it, and strengthen it. Even still, though, religion doesn't fade when "unnecessary". People who believe in something, in their own faith, stand to gain something from it. They find their own upside, and their own reasons.

I was thinking that I'd like to try to give some good examples of an upside simply to have both sides clear on the table, but then I realized how hard of a task that is. Religion is so much a personal thing, even to those of us in the organized sects. It can be generalized to peace and community, and altogether good feelings (at least most of the time), but it's very difficult to put a finger on the "upsides". Everyone gets something different out of it, and often times I feel (this is not directed at anyone in particular, please don't take offense by it) that most people simply consider practicing Christian sheep, following along with what everyone else is doing. While I'm sure some are, there is definitely a significant majority who feel real truth in what they believe, who are doing what they are doing because they feel it is right, not because it's expected of them. Anyway, this is getting significantly off track, but, if there is a true core of faith in a number of individuals in the FireFly 'verse, then there's no reason religion will die...

----------------------------------------------
People who claim to know nothing and people who claim to know everything have at least one thing in common: both are either fools or liars.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 10:51 AM

CHRISISALL


I think we're both of a mind in this area, albiet your words are a mite more eloquent than mine.

And, of course you're right, religion of some kind or other will never completly die out, and hard times seem to make 'em stronger(on a person to person level, I mean).

The glib, yet nonetheless spiritual Chrisisall

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Monday, April 11, 2005 12:37 PM

SIMONWHO


Indeed, I agree. As long as people ask "Why am I here?" there will always be people who can give them an answer, largely involving a tenth of their earnings, everlasting damnation/eternal rewards and/or sexual favours. I don't think that part of humanity is going away any time soon.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 2:28 PM

FOURSKYS


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
Indeed, I agree. As long as people ask "Why am I here?" there will always be people who can give them an answer, largely involving a tenth of their earnings, everlasting damnation/eternal rewards and/or sexual favours. I don't think that part of humanity is going away any time soon.



It sounds to me like you have an irrational dislike for all thing spiritual/philosophical. What issue do you take with asking a broader question which might not have an immediate answer?


----------------------------------------------
People who claim to know nothing and people who claim to know everything have at least one thing in common: both are either fools or liars.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 7:39 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
You’re missing the point, YT. No one is asking you for an opinion on comparative religion or social demographics.


That partly explains why I haven't offered one. It also seems rather far afield from "General Discussions About Firefly".

Quote:

Your opinion seems to be ...snip... that the use of Christian symbolism is purely pragmatic.


I wouldn't say "purely", but that's reasonably accurate.

Quote:

But I also think that the use of Christian symbolism was intentional.


Since it seems I was not clear in my earlier post, I think Joss's use of Christian symbolism was not only intentional, it was brilliant.

Quote:

Christian symbolism is used to establish continuity between this world and Joss’ futuristic one.


I think Joss said something like: take the old west & the future, combine them and make them seem like now. I'd say "support" rather than "establish", but if this seems to you different from what I posted, all I can say is they sound similar to me.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Stones, "Almost Here Your Sign", from "Steel Wheels"

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Monday, April 11, 2005 7:40 PM

ASTRAGYNIA


Emma wrote:
Quote:

I am writing a lecture on the Bible in Whedonverse at the moment and was wondering whether you would mind me quoting some of your comments?


Certainly, you have my permission if what I've written interests you - and will you be posting this written lecture somewhere? I'd be interested in reading it.

The conversation seems to be at something of a standstill, though - ShinySeven put everything so well, s/he pretty much answered the original questions!

I notice nobody's said much about the burka, though - it seems a bit strange to me that it's the only reference to Islamic cultures that we've seen - and with all these desert landscapes, you might expect to see more of the long, loose clothing traditional in the Middle East and North Africa. I would say that it's because it wouldn't fit into the whole Wild West theme - but if that's the reason, then why the isolated burka?

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Monday, April 11, 2005 8:13 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by YT:
Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
You’re missing the point, YT. No one is asking you for an opinion on comparative religion or social demographics.


That partly explains why I haven't offered one. It also seems rather far afield from "General Discussions About Firefly".

Indeed. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted your post. There seems to be some anti-religious underlying tones to some of the posts that are hard for me to construe, and that may have lead me to draw an inappropriate assumption on what you were trying to say. But it does seem like we are of similar minds on this.

-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:38 PM

EMMA


Quote:

will you be posting this written lecture somewhere? I'd be interested in reading it.


I can do if people would like although it may not be so exciting as I am comparing televisual depictions of martyrdom (and possibly redemption) with movie depictions: the Whedonverse & Babylon 5, with The Passion of the Christ and Dogville.

I am also applying to write a PhD on how science-fiction/fantasy depicts the Bible and how fans understand the Bible through science-fiction. I figure that way I can combine my hobby with my work, pretty lucky if it comes off!

This really is a great discussion, us Browncoats are so friendly; normally religion sparks nasty arguments but everyone here is shiny - hoorah!


I really should get me a signature

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:44 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Astragynia:
- and with all these desert landscapes, you might expect to see more of the long, loose clothing traditional in the Middle East and North Africa.


Might that not have reminded SciFi fans of Dune? I have no idea whether such garb even occured to Joss but, he was trying to tell a story as unusual today as Dune, in its time; he may have prefered to avoid a reference to a SciFi classic.

Quote:

I would say that it's because it wouldn't fit into the whole Wild West theme - but if that's the reason, then why the isolated burka?


My guess is it was Shawna Trpcic's idea, with no input from Joss.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Jazz Is Dead, "Eyes of the World & Two Sisters", from "Further Most"

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:52 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted your post.


No big. I think I know where you were going with your previous post, but if I posted my reaction to what I thought you meant, but did not say, we could wind up so far afield we might not get back in time for the BDM.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Stones, "Far Away Eyes", from "Some Girls"

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:30 AM

SIMONWHO


Quote:

Originally posted by FourSkys:
It sounds to me like you have an irrational dislike for all thing spiritual/philosophical. What issue do you take with asking a broader question which might not have an immediate answer?



I have no dislike for the spiritual nor the philosophical, nor those who ask broad questions. I do have extreme scepticism for those who say that have the answer, particularly as the powerful they are, the more odious they become. This isn't irrational. This is what happens when you've read too many accounts of priests abusing boys, women being pushed back into burning buildings for being improperly dressed, warriors being told to fight in the name of God and above all else, the leaders of those institutions defending the abusers, attacking the victims, defending their institution rather than doing the right thing.

Perhaps if we stopped those who say that there's a great life ahead of us in the next world, maybe we'd try to do better in this one. Because if Firefly demonstrates anything, even if there's a new world for us, it'd still be full of the same old people - thieves, killers and whores.

>> People who claim to know nothing and people who claim to know everything have at least one thing in common: both are either fools or liars.

That nicely sums up my attitude to religious leaders too.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 1:02 AM

SCOTTISHBROWNCOAT


If there is one faith that I would think could stand the destruction of Earth, Hinduism is the one that stands out in my mind.

Yes there is the Ganges river that would be lost, however, Hinduism is a versatile and lasting religion.

Even in Dune, Frank Herbert recognizes that this would be one of the few religions unchanged(at least in name), this is probably due to it's fluid nature.

I heard at one time that there was a mention of Catholics in the Pilot for Firefly, it is before Book sees Kaylee, he goes to one ship where the owner says "No Asians or Catholics" and then book turns and heads toward what we find is Serenity, I heard the scene was cut because they didn't want to catholicize Book. But he does seem very "High Church" to me, maybe the Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, and Lutherans Mixed it up?

It would make sense that various groups would eventually merge together, especially if they are fleeing a destroyed earth, with that kind of horrific event, I am sure matters of theological difference become null and void.

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