FIREFLY EPISODE DISCUSSIONS

'Jaynestown' and the nature of faith

POSTED BY: PHOENIXROSE
UPDATED: Sunday, August 6, 2006 19:06
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Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:25 AM

PHOENIXROSE

You think you know--what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.


Am I the only one who saw this? The whole episode seemed to be a deconstruction of faith structures, from the obvious ("Bible's broken" "Every man had a statue made of him was one kind sumbitch or another; ain't about you, it's about what they need") to the subtle ("Our time together is a symbol, a ritual, it means something to your father, but it doesn't make you a man.")
I really wish there had been an essay on this in "Finding Serenity". There's just so much to it!

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:32 AM

ONEMANSHORT


Quote:

Originally posted by PhoenixRose:
Am I the only one who saw this? The whole episode seemed to be a deconstruction of faith structures, from the obvious ("Bible's broken" "Every man had a statue made of him was one kind sumbitch or another; ain't about you, it's about what they need") to the subtle ("Our time together is a symbol, a ritual, it means something to your father, but it doesn't make you a man.")
I really wish there had been an essay on this in "Finding Serenity". There's just so much to it!

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I never noticed this before, but it all makes sense. It's an interesting observation and would make a lovely essay.



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Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:54 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Surely the leitmotif is symbol, not faith? However, I do believe in the power of The Tick returning to Edlund's aid when the Studio Notes demanded less gloomy episodes - not that he didn't turn it dark when he guessed the Suits weren't watching

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 4:04 AM

SPACEANJL


Oh God, Jayne as the Tick!! Did you have to put that in my head? Spoon! (Someone do this image for the Blue Sun Room, please)

Firefly is shot through with questions of faith. Serenity spelled it out - just believe. But it is very much finding your own thing to believe in, and thinking it through, rather than blind faith or obedience. Mal believes in his crew, Jayne has a rudimentary faith (which I believe is from childhood: see CCM for details...) The Operative has his faith taken from him, and Simon believes in science.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 4:07 AM

PHOENIXROSE

You think you know--what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
But it is very much finding your own thing to believe in, and thinking it through, rather than blind faith or obedience.


Yeah, that's it exactly. I just think this episode was really going after that. Almost even more than the movie in its own special way. It tore down the idea that blind faith was really the way to go.
Jayne even said it; "It don't make no sense."

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 4:14 AM

SPACEANJL


Blind faith and obedience are the scariest things in the 'Verse', RL or FF. 'Only following orders', for example? I've already aired a few of my concerns over the subject of religious faith, and I'm a bit careful about treading on toes (it's the sandals they wear ) but watching people lose themselves to a nebulous concept that grew out of a way of controlling slaves just makes me a little tweaked.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 8:37 AM

RIVER6213


Everyone has to find something to believe in order to make it from day to day. Believing in something outside of ourselves is a natural human condition ever since human kind's been around. You will find this in every culture and people on the planet in one form or another.

If it isn’t a god it’s the sun or the stars or plants, or animals, or science, and technology, or even humans. And for some it’s themselves. People have an inner need to believe in something. This need seems to be hard-wired into all of us.

Some people have great difficulty in finding something to believe in, so they attach themselves to a group of people and believe in what that group of people believes in because it gives them a sense of belonging and purpose. They end up believing in the group.

Canton was populated by indentured slaves, or prisoners…wasn’t really clear on what they were, but I was clear that most of the people there were forced to be there slaving away for a small, elite few who had all the money, and they were unhappy about it. It seems that the people there were exploited, and not paid very much. Judging by the way everyone was dressed it seemed that life was not all that good in Canton for years. Then along comes Jayne and Stitch. They steal from the top rich guy; they make an escape with Stitch getting pushed out of the aircraft. In order for Jayne to escape he ended up dumping a bunch of boxes of money on top of a town, populated by people who up until that that point saw their collective lives as dull and without hope.

From the town’s people perspective, these guys’ shows up one day, steals money, flies over the town and dumps that money all over it, and then disappears. Robin Hood. He robs from the rich and he gives to the poor. Of course they were going to make him a hero. He gave them hope and something to believe in. He stuck it to the man. He laughed in the face of authority and got away with it.

Jayne’s action gave a community of people faith…something to believe in; something to think about, something to fight for. Jayne’s thieving actions gave the community of Canton hope, hope to live and fight another day, and the statue of Jayne was a symbol of that hope, of being able to take everything the ‘verse dishes out to you and still be able to stand tall and stick it to the man, and live another day to tell the tale.

River

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 9:02 AM

DONCOAT


Faith and belief (religious or otherwise) was a constant theme in Firefly/Serenity.

Consider "Safe", where River is nearly burned as a witch by a group of blind believers.

Or the two Saffron episodes: she was clearly portrayed as someone who (like Mal) had lost faith in everything but her own self-interest. The scene between her and Mal at the end of Trash makes this explicit. Tracy (in The Message) was also adrift, without a core of belief.

Joss' commentary to Objects In Space points out its origins in the writer's own complex relationship to traditional belief systems and their flip side, existentialism.

Now, I wonder... does this focus on belief systems connect to another main theme of the series -- that of family?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'm pointin' right at it!

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:20 AM

NANITE1018


I think everyone needs to believe in something. It's just blind faith and such that scare me. I guess that is because i believe in reason, logic, and science. To me, without evidence, i can't believe in it. Most religious faith is not based on reason, and that that is isn't based on good logic or evidence in my opinion.

Everyone does need to believe in something though. Something bigger, something to make them want to do good and whatnot (even if their beliefs twist them into neo-fascists or terrorists or gay-haters or racists, or whatnot). Mal had himself, not much. Jayne didn't have much either, except himself and money, maybe also a kind of decency of some form on a very very very low level. Book had God (not a good one in my opinion). Simon had science i guess, or maybe River or something. River had herself and Simon. Maybe Serenity's crew as well. And probably science and whatnot as well. Kaylee had Serenity. Zoe had Mal and possibly God, not sure. Wash had... idk. Inara had... idk. Point is, everyone believes in something. And i think we have to.

It all depends on what you choose to believe in. I personally believe in science, as i said, and also human potential. I can't believe in humanity, because humanity sucks really at this point. But i can believe in what humanity is capable of being. How far we can go. Our potential.

Blind faith is the scariest thing in the 'verse, all aspects, of all 'verses. It gives you Nazi Germany, the USSR, people like Ted Haggard (a deeply frightening person, him and all like him), the current president, the president of Iran and all of those problems in the middle east and all that. Blind faith does nobody any good. Of course, that's my opinion, based on my belief in logic and science. But i still think it is valid. Idk, i think i'm rambling. So i'll stop for now.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:30 AM

SPACEANJL


Inara is a Buddhist, I think, looking at the Training House. But there are also some Hindu elements in there.

Oddly enough, the split looks to be a sort of Buddhist or atheist vibe in the Core, and a slightly more Christian vibe out to the Rim. Maybe I'm reading that wrong, though.

People are unremittingly dumb, though. I don't think five hundred years would do anything to make 'em any better - still gonna look for the biggest bully in the playground to either run from or hide behind.

Not a fan of blind anything, be it faith or obedience. I have a little problem with authority figures.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:40 AM

NANITE1018


I think your right SpaceAnJL. Actually, i think Sihnon (being basically chinese) is buddhist (mostly) and Londinium (being mostly america) is probably a blend of atheism and a little Christianity thrown in here and there. I think the Alliance itself is athiest probably exclusively. And the outer rim is probably christian with some agnostic/athiesm thrown in here and there.

And i agree that 500 probably won't convince people to stop having blind faith/obedience anymore. But we might get better.

Did you know that the Hindu hole books (can't remember which or what it's called, not the Veda's, a later one) say you should do your dharma (duty) without question? Blind obedience and doing your duty. To me that is very frightening. I can't imagine how it is possible to do things with blind obedience or faith, it just doesn't seem possible to me. Every time anyone tells me to do something i ask why. I don't like doing things if there isn't a valid reason behind it. That's why i could never ever ever ever be a soldier.

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Thursday, August 3, 2006 2:06 PM

TRAVELER


DONCOAT. I'm glad you brought up family. Here is Mal after the war. He is disillusioned and wants to escape everything on this spaceship he names Serenity. What does he get. A family. A large disfunctional family. Way to go Mal. You can run but you can not hide. Being alone sucks and if Mal was serious about being alone he would have gone a different direction. So even if he keeps telling himself he is free, he really loves his family. You make me think that in "Out of Gas" Mal is not only staying behind in hopes of saving Serenity but also the family that shares it.

You know this Joss can not be this smart. This show works on so many levels. Is it just instinct on Joss' part or are we reading to much into it.

But when you mentioned family, well that is how I see them. They care. They squabble. They tease and play. They are comfortable around each other.
Sure Jayne betrays Simon and River. He just didn't consider them family at that point. I love how Mal gets the idea across to Jayne about them being part of the crew by trapping him in the airlock. But Jayne is the child and has a lot of growing up to do.

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Thursday, August 3, 2006 9:53 PM

SPACEANJL


I got the Buddhist thing from the OVC - Joss actually says that it is the majority religion in the Core.

And I nicked the mantra in Zen..., 'datta, dayadhvam, damyata' - give, sympathize, control - from the Upanishads (via TS Eliot.) I think they might be the writings you mean.


The obedience thing is interesting - Mal and Zoe were both soldiers, but Mal was a volunteer and Zoe comes from a military career background. So she is happier following, and Mal will go off on bizarre tangents. Jayne is a mercenary, rather than a 'proper' soldier, and so is making up the structure as he goes along.

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Friday, August 4, 2006 3:01 AM

ESTHER


Quote:

Some people have great difficulty in finding something to believe in, so they attach themselves to a group of people and believe in what that group of people believes in because it gives them a sense of belonging and purpose. They end up believing in the group.


Highly interesting thread!
River, I think that's a good thought you hade there, well formulated.

As for me, I think, "blind obedience" is something, no-one would find good. However, faith is about trust. And when you trust someone, you will start to do things, even if you don't fully understand them. No-one can live without trusting in something/someone. But it's a decision, everyone of us has to make, in whom or what we trust (in most lifes, I'ts mire than one thing.)

In my view, "religion" is putting your trust in people ("the group"). Their "orders" can be very clear, very specific - and very wrong.

"Faith", on the other hand, is putting your trust in God. His orders are somewhat "fuzzy" (specially, when it comes to the subject of kneecaps ), and so you are never relieved of making up your own mind about what would be right to do in a certain situation. (i.e. the Bible says: you shall not kill, but a German theologist named Bonhoeffer took part in a killing attemt against Hitler, because he believed, that otherwise, he would end up "killing" all the innocent people, which could have been saved, by killing Hitler). This is why I love christianity: Jesus gave only two "commands": love God and love your neighbour. That's all, and we are supposed to fill in the blanks of everyday life, based on these two commands.

And these are two commands, I would love to "blindly follow" if I just had the strength.

Esther





My lessons learned from Firefly (no. 11):
A ruthless bounty-hunter can still be a philosopher (That seem right to you?)

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Friday, August 4, 2006 3:27 AM

YINYANG

You were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens.


Quote:

You know this Joss can not be this smart. This show works on so many levels. Is it just instinct on Joss' part or are we reading to much into it.


He actually admits in the Objects in Space commentary that most of the deep things he does with the characters he does unintentionally (and then his wife points it out later ).

---

Forgive me, for I am new.

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:06 PM

QWERTYUIOPASD


Quote:

Book had God (not a good one in my opinion)


I just wanted to highlight and comment on this. why do you say its not a very good one? simply because it is the christian faith? I don't have any problems personally with the christian faith or the bible, but I have a problem with the blind faith int he church, and the sheer machine-like ways of the church. hell, at the council of nyceam or something, they voted, picked, choosed, edited, revamped the bible to fit their needs to make it a converting and controlling machine, and, guess what. it worked.

the bible, if you read it yourself, without bias, take it as stories and good advice, make up you own mind about it, is a good thing. but when somoene says they've read it, has read it, tells people whats in it, tells them what they or what their higher-ups think, and these people follow as a flock of sheep.

whats really scary is they really DO call the followers a flock, and these people don't even notice it! they're sheep without realizing it... its sad.

but I'm not going to simply be agaisnt something because it is under the title "christian"

~Qwerty

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