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Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

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Let's Talk about TV and Religion [Jul. 15th, 2010|10:46 am]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

There's been lots of religious references in various television series recently, but very little of it positive.

For example:

On Trueblood, there's been the poorly-researched and quite offensive 'Maenad' plotline (did you know that worshippers of Dionysus grow monster claws and murder people (after making those around them crazy)? Did you know that centuries-old Maenads build altars with modern Goddess-worshiper idols on them?), and Christians don't fare much better - they're portrayed as being intolerant, hate-filled and violent OR ineffectual and self-congratulatory assholes.

On Bones, there's been a Wiccan group portrayed as out-there flakes (who affect stilted 'ritual language' when being interviewed by the police in connection with a murder!) in order to allow the protagonists to make snide remarks at their expense.

And let's not even get into Supernatural.

I miss the thoughtful tenor of Deep Space Nine, where fictional religions were given respectful voice as complex belief systems. And the best part was that there was a range of practice represented. Some people were devout and holy and good, some were opportunistic and grasping and bad...but there wasn't some shorthand where religion in general was made the villain or the buffoon.

Why is Hollywood so antagonistic to religion (in general) these days? Why do writers use their characters' religious lives as a source of derision? I can't think that it translates to a larger antagonism towards spirituality in the US- while my experience is limited, I see more people with active religious life now than I ever did in the past (which may or may not include worshiping within an organized congregational model of whichever religion.)

While such antagonistic writing is not wholly unexpected in 'mainstream' programming, I find it particularly disappointing to see it in shows that deal with genres that should have (in my opinion) greater tolerance and a wider imagination than the average bear.

Have there been any television portrayals of religion (any religion) that you found particularly infuriating or particularly gratifying? How do you think they inform (or are informed by) the general public?
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Orcus vs. the Maiar [Dec. 18th, 2006|11:04 am]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

So I have a question.
Does anyone know of any fantasy lit/fic/anything that involves actual *religions* in the setting, as opposed to relatively stand-alone gods?
A setting in which all the gods are one big pantheon doesn't quite count. I'm looking for something that could potentially involved *differen* religions/pantheons/whatever going head-to-head.
The only example I can think of is Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, in which the violent god Om wants his followers to destroy the worshippers of all other gods.
Any thoughts?
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(no subject) [Aug. 6th, 2006|08:45 pm]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

I had some thoughts about god in the Buffyverse, and someone said 'why don't you post it to churchofjoss', so here is a link.
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Interesting Site [Aug. 6th, 2006|09:35 am]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

[mood |happyinterested]

I was doing my random-surfing of weird blogs today, and found this site. It's a site which has detailed the religious affiliations of various comic book characters.

Since I'm not a comics reader (except for one brief flirtation with Swamp Thing in the mid-80's), I admit to surprise at the wide variety of faiths represented. Go take a look.
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Riley's Christianity [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.)
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Here goes... something. [Jul. 28th, 2006|12:57 pm]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

( Click for discussion on Christian themes on AtS - in my LJ )
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(no subject) [Jul. 26th, 2006|04:58 pm]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

I think this is appropriate to this community.  In the fic I'm currently writing I'm about to do some very involved spells to facilitate the climax.  I've got Wiccan friends who can help me but after Writer Con I face a conundrum.  I heard two opposing viewpoints.  Both started from the point that Joss obviously knew little about Wicca and that neither Willow nor Tara followed the tenets of that faith.  Some said this could be corrected in fic, others said it was disrepectful to pretend they were real Wiccans at this late date because that's not how they were represented in the show.  Opinions?  Discussion?
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Alien religions: Are they convincing? [Jul. 25th, 2006|07:08 pm]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

What are folks' thoughts on space-opera/outer space travel shows? Specifically, do you believe that religions concocted for SF media are too one-dimensional and flat, or that they have a convincing richness?

Let's consider it with an example. In the Farscape ep "Suns and Lovers", a local cult believes that the surrounding empty space, dubbed the Sacred Stillness, is a sort of holy ground that should not be entered. (SPOILER WARNING) When that holy place is disturbed by commerce and industrialization, the cult uses a homing device to lure electromagnetic storms to the space station, attempting to destroy the place and thus purge the intruders. There's definitely a strong sense of ownership, territory, purpose, and method behind their actions as baddie-of-the-week.

Spock's religious beliefs are another good example: his people (which we could understand as more of a national identity than a species) attempt to purge themselves of all emotion, seeking logic and reason as much as possible. They undergo cleansing rituals to advance towards a cold enlightenment. At the beginning of Star Trek: the Motion Picture, we see Spock trying to complete the last bit of one such ritual. He is about to receive the honor of having completed kolinahr, or total discipline over emotions, but he reacts emotionally to the news of V'Ger, the machine-entity, and its destructive wake. This invalidates him from receiving the distinction of kolinahr.

What are some examples of relatively shoddy alien religions? Of religious organizations that are poorly thrown together, lack verisimilitude, or pursue a single trait with unrealistic specialization (militarism, racial superiority, pacifism, etc.)

Aside from the somewhat tacky religions/cults that focus far too much on some prophecy (such as a messianic religion with *no other qualities*) and are thereby extremely short-lived in a series, I think that more religions than not are actually pretty well developed, or at least explained well enough to have some meaning and color.
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