GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Religions in Firefly

POSTED BY: ASTRAGYNIA
UPDATED: Friday, April 15, 2005 03:18
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 3:20 AM

GRRARRG


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:

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.


So do you think an answer exists? You're okay with people searching for it, but you don't want them to find it? I know that's probably not what you consciously want, but be reasonable. If people are going to ask the question, then they should be permitted to come to some satisfactory conclusion if they find one.
Quote:

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.

None of those things are happening in my church (to my knowledge). If they were, I would certainly do something to stop them, and go to a different church if they continued, because I realize that those things have nothing to do with my faith - if they occured in my church, it would be because of human flaws, not flaws in the religion itself. I agree that those are bad things.
Quote:



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.

Every church I've ever been to has had a mission of making this world a better place, because we believe that that's a main part of why we are here - to spread goodness and love. Non-Christians often misinterpret our actions, and admittedly there are some Christians who go about this in the wrong way and with the wrong attitude. But again, that is due to human flaws.
Quote:

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.

Yes, if the new world is still consisting of and governed by humans, no matter what religious stance the people or the government take, those people will be there. But the "new world" that Christians believe in won't be governed by an American-Chinese super-union, so the analogy hardly applies
Quote:


>> 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.

No Christian that I know claims to know everything. They claim to know something, and some people who do not know that something feel uncomfortable around them, and attribute their discomfort to a high and mighty stance that, in my experience, is usually not actually there. I can often undersand why a non-Christian might interpret it that way, but that doesn't mean it's the case. Sometimes it is; again: human flaws, not flaws in the religion or the faith.


I mock you with my monkey pants

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 8:49 AM

FOURSKYS


In addition to what GRRARRG, which I pretty much agree with for the most part, I'll just add the following response...

Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:
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.



Now, I'll admit that much of this does and has occured, but that's no reason to judge the entire faith community on the actions of a small number of individuals. Those individuals are condemned even by their own communities, it's not something that's been condoned. Sure, there are extreemists, and there are hippocrits, but these exist in all parts of life. You can't call the entire human race trecherous, vile muderers, just because there are a few who commit these kinds of heinous acts, can you? There's a big difference between individuals and communities.

Quote:


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.



One of the great things about having the idea of a great life ahead of us, is that it encourages us to to better in this one. I don't understand your point about that making things worse. Most religions preach an afterlife which is weighted proportionatly to the quality with which you live your current one. Christianity, Hinduism, etc., they all make you next life better if this one is more perfect. New worlds may still be full of the same thieves, killers, and whores as the current one is, but we can hope that they're different, that they'll change. There's a certian optomism and perfection applied to the religious afterlife, something that can't be said about simply a "new world".



----------------------------------------------------
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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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 1:40 PM

SIMONWHO


I'd like to think that abuses are recognised, brought to light and changes made to ensure that they never happen again. But that's not what happens.

For example, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia's religious police were the ones who locked the improperly dressed girls in their burning school, what has been done about them? Nothing. They still go around, doing their 'God sent' duty, maiming and killing as they wish.

Cardinal Bernard Law, the archbishop of Boston who admitted he allowed confessed paedophiles to transfer freely into new parishes? He got promoted to Rome (he even got to do the Mass in one of the Vatican's four basillicas for the Pope's funeral).

Every institution protects itself. Governments try and cover up their secrets, businesses try to bury their mistakes, the Army fudges over abuses. However religions are different. They are supposed to be based on a fundamental belief in right and wrong. And instead, there they are, protecting the guilty because they are high ranking officials whereas the victims are just ordinary people.

I don't expect that there be no abuses. Just that the powers that be deal with them, not sweep them under the rug. The Catholic Church absolutely fumed against 'The Magdalene Sisters', a film about the institutional abuse of women in a Catholic run asylum. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's paper, called it "angry and rancorous provocation", Vatican Radio called it "clearly false."

Except of course it wasn't. The director himself admitted that he'd had to not use some of the more horrific abuses for fear of upsetting the audience too much. The Church was apparently so embarassed by the counter-backlash, fuelled by survivors who came out with stories that "made our film look like a holiday camp", that the order of Nuns who ran the real life institutions issued an apology (vague, impersonal, an "it's all in the past" that neither placates nor carries sincerity).

Again, as you say, we mustn't judge a community by a few individuals. But isn't it fair to judge an institution by its leaders and their actions? If leaders condone abuse, by direct or knowing inaction, where else should the blame lie?

And, to get back to the point (at long last, I hear you say), because of this corruption and because we live in an age where every dirty secret is starting to come out, I think the basic building stones of core faiths are being undermind. In particular, I have high hopes that with the spread of democracy to the Middle East, suddenly women will ask themselves "Why must I be considered worth less than a man? Why should I let the religious authorities push me around?"

But as I said, that's just the way I see the future. Joss, despite our matching religious cynicism, obviously has a different vision and his vision has a catchy theme tune plus a big movie coming out.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 3:05 PM

ASTRAGYNIA


Quote:

Originally posted by SimonWho:

Again, as you say, we mustn't judge a community by a few individuals. But isn't it fair to judge an institution by its leaders and their actions? If leaders condone abuse, by direct or knowing inaction, where else should the blame lie?



The blame lies squarely on those individuals who committed and condoned the abuse.

I might agree that it's fair to judge an institution by its leaders (though even that is debatable - would you judge the institution of democracy by, say, Saddam Hussein? Just because he said it was democracy doesn't make it what true democracy should be, just as the Saudi religious police saying burning girls is God's will doesn't make it what religion should be), but the result of any such judgement is usually going to be "it needs to change," not necessarily "it needs to go."

Besides, the high-ups in the Roman Catholic Church are not the "leaders" of Christianity. First of all, there are millions of Christians who aren't Roman Catholics. And more importantly, they are only humans - from a believer's perspective, the true "leader" is Christ/God. Obviously, not everybody will agree with the "the Church is transcendent, not an earthly, human institution" argument - however, that is how most believers see it and will continue to see it in the future. And that applies to most religions, I think, not just Christianity.

Oh, and one more thing - I'm not sure if you meant the comment about women and the spread of democracy in the Middle East to mean that you think Islam will go into decline just because women might have the same rights as Western women, but if that IS what you meant, then let me point out that Islam is still going strong among many immigrants in the West who do have such rights.

(Sorry, I seem to be getting a bit off-topic in a thread I myself started... how ironic. Oh well).

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 4:37 PM

NITEFALLS


QUOTE]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.


(I'm new, please forgive strangeness)
Actually, Constantine didn't make
Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. He converted, but it was one of his decendants that made it the official religion. And, I'm sure that the religions of the gods were still flurishing even then; at least for a little while.

In 500 years or so, I would hope that more religions are amalgoms of eachother. Buddhist thought intermingled with some Islamic philosophy, with a dash of the old pagan respect for women and female power in general. After all, Book even goes to one of the abbies to meditate...maybe that's a little bit if Buddhist influence right there.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 5:19 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by nitefalls:
(I'm new, please forgive strangeness)
Actually, Constantine didn't make
Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. He converted, but it was one of his decendants that made it the official religion. And, I'm sure that the religions of the gods were still flurishing even then; at least for a little while.

Well, Yes and no.

Yes, the Capitoline religion remained after Christianity became State sanctioned Roman religion, particularly among the patricians and the Senate, which were more conservative. In less populated parts of the Empire, various pagan religions persisted for many centuries after Constantine. So also did other Roman religions such as Sol Invictus. And other popular, though unsanctioned religions, such as the Cult of Isis.

And No, it was Constantine who made Christianity the religion of Rome when he signed the Edict of Milan in 324 AD, among other actions which helped to bring Christianity to dominance within the Roman Empire.

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

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 9:34 PM

EMMA


Quote:

it was Constantine who made Christianity the religion of Rome when he signed the Edict of Milan in 324 AD, among other actions which helped to bring Christianity to dominance within the Roman Empire.


If anyone is interested it was (probably) an entirely political move. The Roman Empire was falling and he needed something to unite people, he didn't convert until he was dying.


I really should get me a signature

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005 4:38 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


It certainly was a political move. He was a Roman Emperor, everything that he did as an Emperor was political. I’m not sure that the Roman Empire was necessarily falling in 324 though. If I had to identify a date when the Roman Empire began to decline I would say that it wouldn’t be until 330 AD, when Constantine moved the Capital of Rome. Constantine is a complicated person. It may never be known, why he did the things he did, but of all the Roman Emperors, Constantine is one of a very few who seems to have genuinely desired peace, and he is the first to have encouraged Christianity.

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

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005 8:58 PM

EMMA


Quote:

If I had to identify a date when the Roman Empire began to decline I would say that it wouldn’t be until 330 AD,


I am not sure I agree with you is all. It is possible to argue many dates for the decline of the Empire, technically it could even be argued that it never declined merely transformed and became the Holy Roman Empire. I think the decline was well under way before Constantine even took (quite literally) office. As you say the move to Byzantium was the nail in the proverbial coffin.

This would be a fun debate, I suspect everyone else would be bored rigid though so I return to my observation outpost!


I really should get me a signature

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 5:45 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


True. The date at which the Empire began to decline or even finally did decline has been a point of contention since the Fall of the Roman Empire, assuming it fell. But I think you’re right that this discussion is well outside the scope of this thread. I don’t know if one could justify such a hijack.

I’m actually interested in opinions on the religions of Firefly, which I find equally interesting, and hope some more discussion on that immerges.


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

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 6:03 AM

BARNEYT


I'm not qualified or knowledgeable enough to get into a discussion on the likelihood of whether or what sort of religion would exist 500 years from now.

My personal opinion is that the massive upheaval would lead some people back to the traditional forms of religion because they offer a structure for society that is clearly defined, and this is what a lot of people would need if there's been a mass exodus from Earth.

I did want to point out, though, that in Heart of Gold, Book is clearly shown to be a Christian of some variety because he makes the joke about being able to build the barricades because he's spent his life following the teachings of the son of a carpenter.

(a joke I found very funny which is why I remember it! )

EDIT: I've obviously spent too much time reading the grammar threads, I completely missed out punctuation in that last paragraph
---
"I think the right place to start is to say, fair is fair. This is who we are. These are our numbers." Mr Willis of Ohio - The West Wing

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 6:27 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by BarneyT:
... that in Heart of Gold, Book is clearly shown to be a Christian of some variety ...

OTOH: Book's tardiness in engaging with sex-workers in that episode is so unlike any Minister of Religion within our comprehension, that it may make us wonder ...

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 6:51 AM

CHANNAIN

i DO aim to misbehave


Quote:

ScottishBrowncoat said
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?

Lutherans are practically Catholics as it is these days - I should know, being a church-going Lutheran my own self. Our litergy has been taken from the Catholics and used during services for the past 25 years or so. So on the one hand, it wouldn't surprise me that the Catholic and Protestant religions may have mixed it up.

The pastor at my church looks at it as a sibling rivalry - Martin Luther picked a fight with "big brother," a fight ensued and the two sides of the Christian religion stopped speaking to each other. So on the other hand, I don't see the Catholics and Protestants getting together anytime soon. That fight only got started in 1517, so the wounds are still too fresh.

That, by the way, is 488 years and the Protestants are still here. In fact a few other demoninations have sprung up since then. Covenant, Evangelical Free... if there's a different way to understand Christianity, we're still doing it over here!

It hasn't been proven that Book is preacher turned pawn, as Chrisisall mentioned way up at the tippy top of this really interesting thread. Neither has it been proven that he's former Alliance turned preacher, which is where my head is at right now. Someone just suggested to me recently that Book was former Alliance Black Ops. Having survived long enough to have gray hair, he was given the opportunity to retire, and they way that is done is to close him up in a monastery for a few years.

I'd go into the question of Book's chosen path of religiosity and whether the Shepherds are a Christian sect or not, take another look at "Heart of Gold" but that's just been covered. It's easy to forget that Jesus had a secular profession before the three years he spent walking the walk.

Speaking as someone who lost faith and found it again, I would agree that Mal was a man of faith, yes. However, had he been a man of STRONG faith, he wouldn't have lost it, no matter what happened to him. He would have seen everything that befell the Valley and the Independents as part of God's plan, no matter how awful it became.

Mal kissing the cross strikes me more as the same sort of good luck charm as putting a dab of spit on the end of a bat before getting up to the plate.

Fans come and fans go...but zealots are with you until the bitter black end.
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Thursday, April 14, 2005 8:46 AM

ASTRAGYNIA


Quote:


Speaking as someone who lost faith and found it again, I would agree that Mal was a man of faith, yes. However, had he been a man of STRONG faith, he wouldn't have lost it, no matter what happened to him. He would have seen everything that befell the Valley and the Independents as part of God's plan, no matter how awful it became.

Mal kissing the cross strikes me more as the same sort of good luck charm as putting a dab of spit on the end of a bat before getting up to the plate.



Certainly, I agree; that sort of thing seems much more superstitious than spiritual, to me. However, different branches of Christianity approve/disapprove of such things differently; the Roman Catholic Church, for example, is much more into the kissing-things-as-part-of-normal-ritual than most Protestant churches.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 9:26 AM

CHANNAIN

i DO aim to misbehave


Quote:

Astragynia said
Certainly, I agree; that sort of thing seems much more superstitious than spiritual, to me. However, different branches of Christianity approve/disapprove of such things differently; the Roman Catholic Church, for example, is much more into the kissing-things-as-part-of-normal-ritual than most Protestant churches.

This is true. We don't have prayer beads, we don't generally cross ourselves, or genuflect, or even kneel during services either. That pastor I mentioned, though, he encourages former Catholics to continue crossing themselves as they are accustomed to. He doesn't believe in compromising all traditions in favor of one belief system or the other.

This is the same guy who wears a Native American medicine wheel in lieu of a cross, along with an arrowhead pendant made out of a green stone that I think is either aventurine or jade. Interesting things for a Lutheran pastor to wear, since we're often deemed too traditional for such things. He's taken part in annual sweat lodge ceremonies too, which is VERY Native American.

Fans come and fans go...but zealots are with you until the bitter black end.
I draw...therefore I am. http://www.mnartists.org/artistHome.do?rid=7922
Minnesota Meetup - join us! http://firefly.meetup.com/45/

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 4:47 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 PurpleBelly:
OTOH: Book's tardiness in engaging with sex-workers in that episode is so unlike any Minister of Religion within our comprehension, that it may make us wonder ...


OtGH, Book later (in HoG) says something very like, "Been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for awhile, now". Clearly a reference to the Naz. Also clearly vague as to how long.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) ZZ Top, "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers", from "Tres Hombres"

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 5:11 PM

GETUPKID


In one of the essays in "Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds, and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly." Leigh Adams Wright talks about a scene that was cut in the episode Serenity when Book was looking for a ship. The scene that was cut described there to be a "fancy dressed" person in front of a high class ship, and that person in front of the ship was either a crewman or the captain, and he said "No Asians or Catholics aboard." This must mean that Catholicism is either close to abolished or just rare to find in the ‘verse. This just plays into the mass diversity that Firefly has, and one of the aspects that makes it one of the best series to ever be shown.


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Thursday, April 14, 2005 5:58 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Actually all it means is that that person doesn't want Asians or Catholics on his ship.

But really, there has been a rivalry between Protestants and Catholics going back to the Reformation. This rivalry was particularly strong among certain groups of Protestants, Anabaptists and Calvinists for instance. Some of these groups (or groups like them) often had considerable disdain for Catholics. My point is that Catholics need not be rare or even a minority for some people to dislike them.

I personally think it is a little unrealistic to expect that that particular animosity would last into the 25-26 century. So much of the politics that originally fostered the bitterness between Catholics and Protestants has already dissipated. Even here in the South where Anabaptist Christian culture (or descendents of) is common, much of the dislike of Catholics seems to have settled.

Even in Northern Ireland the political turmoil seems to be winding down. However, one should still be cautious when declaring oneself a Catholic or Protestant in certain parts of N. Ireland. But the animosity in Northern Ireland is a completely different sociopolitical beast from the Anabaptist thing, which I think is probably closer to what Joss was driving at.

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

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 7:11 PM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by YT:
... Book later (in HoG) says something very like, "Been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for awhile, now" ...

But, By their fruits shall you know them. Accepting someone's statements on the basis of their choice of clothing is rarely to be recommended.

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Friday, April 15, 2005 2:37 AM

FREDIKAYLLOW


Quote:

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.


If you listen again, Joss actually says that at the age of 16 he realised that he had no faith. He then saw the movie and had an 'existential epiphany'. It wasn't the actual movie that made him lose faith

***********************************
No Power In The 'Verse Can Stop Me
XOXOX-FREDIKAYLLOW-XOXOX

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Friday, April 15, 2005 3:18 AM

GETUPKID


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
My point is that Catholics need not be rare or even a minority for some people to dislike them.
-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.



Yeah that was my point to.


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