||[Aug. 5th, 2006|08:34 am]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love
Okay, here's what I'd like to talk about today: Riley's Christianity.|
I think someone at the WC panel mentioned that Riley's Christianity was played as a joke: haha, look, the corn-fed Iowa boy goes to church. Which, well, I guess it was (it was certainly delivered with the one-two punch of a joke):
FAITH (as Buffy): How did you respond so fast?
RILEY: I didn't. I was just late for church.
But to me, that was a fascinating revelation about his character. Okay, I admit, up to that point there was really nothing about him that interested me (sorry!) so I may've glommed onto this new aspect extra hard. But still! He had hidden depths! I was intrigued.
In a show where everyone regularly uses crosses and holy water to fend off vampires, I believe he's the only main character who's an actual practising Christian. What does that mean? How deep did Riley's Christianity go—were his beliefs important to him, or was going to church more of a social ritual? Assuming traditional Christian beliefs were important to him, how did he reconcile them with his experiences in Sunnydale?
And of course, Riley's Christianity (or church-going) is only ever mentioned the once, as far as I can recall. This doesn't mean it wasn't an ongoing thing for him (lots of important facets of secondary characters' lives happen entirely or almost entirely offscreen—for instance Willow and Xander's interactions with their own families in high school), but it means that we don't know.
I once tried to work out some of these thoughts in a drabble. Since it's topical and, um, short! I'll stick it in here:
( On Being a Christian in SunnydaleCollapse )
So, yeah. The idea I was trying to get at there was that in the beginning of his Sunnydale experience, when he worked with the Initiative and thought of demons as HSTs, there was no conflict with his faith. But as he became involved with Buffy and the Scoobies, and encountered their (increasingly undeniable) magical interpretation of Sunnydale wildlife and events, he hit a crisis of faith. And then he quietly stopped going to church, and never said anything about it. I figure that this contributed to his descent into personal darkness in S5—it was one more source of stability that he'd lost.
So, um, that's all I've got for now! Thoughts?
(Btw, if you're wondering where I'm coming from: I'm an atheist Buddhist, but I was raised Presbyterian.)