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Faith, Community and Religion in Firefly November 13, 2007

Posted by Chris in Firefly.
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Here’s an interesting essay/blog post on religious and community-related themes in Firefly.  It makes a similar point to my earlier post on the episode, “Out of Gas“, where I proposed that Firefly revolves around questions of relying upon (and having faith in) one’s community and the larger social world.  Whedon, an avowed atheist, seems to take a neutral position on the existence of God and the importance of religion in personal and community life.  However, the blog’s author seems to take a leap (of faith?) beyond what I said in my earlier post, and suggests that Whedon’s themes of love for friends and faith in community might really be the first steps towards faith in God and religious devotion.  He quotes Paul in first Corinthians 13:13: “Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 

Does Whedon tip his hand and reveal a religious devotion masked by a set of more contemporary and religiously neutral narrative themes?  I think not, but I will credit the blogger with having an open mind and for appreciating the religious themes expressed in Whedon’s work without dogmatically requiring unquestioned faith.

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1. Kym - November 13, 2007

I think like we talked about earlier (my blog or yours?;>)a good writer doesn’t dogmatically throw their opinions in their reader/viewers’ face. Whedon allows us to make the text/scene or own by allowing us to interpret what we see through the lens of our own belief. So WHendon talks about spirituality and religion without telling us how to believe.

2. Chris - November 13, 2007

Right…I think we talked about that in comments to one of my earlier posts. You have a good point here, too that Whedon isn’t heavy-handed in his writing, which is a sign that he’s confident in his spiritual beliefs and his technical skills. In the end, this form of argument is much more convincing anyhow…if you can make a subtle argument (whether in favor of the existence of God or the lack thereof) and the audience feels they’ve been treated fairly, then the power of your message and the effectiveness of your writing will be greatly enhanced. I think Whedon makes an excellent (and subtle) argument in Firefly for the idea that we really can’t know the answers to most religious questions, but we do know and feel the importance of love and community in our lives everyday.

3. Kym - November 14, 2007

I don’t have much religion but Family and community are what makes sense out the senselessness of much of life. Maybe that is why Firefly speaks so close to my heart.

4. Chris - November 14, 2007

Me too…no religion in my upbringing, and none to speak of with my kids. Mal’s dissapointment with religion and God are understandable to me because at the heart of it, he’s wondering if God exists and if s/he does exist, how could s/he put us through all this crap. Viewing religion from the outside, it seems to me that religion doesn’t have any answers to these questions…it just asks you to have faith. Mal feels burned by these ideas…How can I put faith in someone who continually puts me through hell and won’t give me a straight answer as to why? At least when we have faith and love in friends and community, we know these things are imperfect, because people and the universe are imperfect…we know we’ll be disappointed sometimes and we have a better understanding of why. But if God and God’s creation are supposed to be perfect, then how do we explain all the misery? Oh well…enough of that line of thinking…thanks for listening to the droning of my heretical mind.

5. Kym - November 14, 2007

I was raised to be very religious. But at 19, I went through a year long search for God. I couldn’t get a response that I could recognize so I decided, we’re here on our own. We just need to do the best we can and treat each other kindly. Basically, still my philosophy.

I agree, that if this is the best that a perfect God can create then maybe he/she isn’t so perfect.

6. Chris - November 15, 2007

“We just need to do the best we can and treat each other kindly.” What worthy diety could fault that? If the only thing missing is the need to believe in HIM/HER specifically, as defined by other human beings through the centuries, then s/he sounds pretty immature. Self-centered? I guess this is a hazard of being God. Yes, the whole world really does revolve around him/her. But why would s/he need to hear everyone constantly proclaim it? I guess it’s lonely at the top.

7. Kym - November 15, 2007

I guess God needs to get over himself;> Actually, if there is a God, and I doubt it, I think faith would be low on the list of attributes that he/she seeks in a person.


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