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August 05 2004

An interview with Robia LaMorte. She discusses Buffy and her interest in Christianity, among other things (reg req).

Double post. Sorry. The cat did it. I swear.

[ edited by Angela on 2004-08-05 18:11 ]
Wiseblood - regardless of textual support, the connection between the 'First Evil' and Satan is pretty blatant from the christian perspective, because within it the two terms are practically synonomous. The predominant mindset of the western world is based upon Judeo-Christian theology and any mass-media author is likely to be aware of this. Joss treads a fine line at times - vampires and holy symbols, Buffy thinking she was in heaven - between agnostic avoidance for the sake of his atheism and the necessity to maintain cohesion with familiar tropes for the sake of the story. Thus the perception of the First as Satan is hardly a fundamentalist leap of faith.

(Full disclosure: I'm an atheist and my step sister is a nun.)

(edit - wow: I'm posting this *from the future*... Freaky.

[ edited by giles (yes, it is my real name) on 2004-08-06 01:38 ]
...the name is derived from the Hebrew-Aramaic Shaitan which is generally translated as "opponent" -- not in the evil sense, but rather as one who "challenges."

Another interesting fact: Satan was actually a fallen angel himself, according to Biblical scripture -- one who was once exalted among all God's chosen, known by the moniker 'Lucifer', which means 'light bringer' and also referred to (very beautifully and poetically) as 'son of the morning'.

I've often wanted to go back to my Sunday school teachers (some of whom were no doubt glad when I stopped coming to church because of the questions I used to ask) and put this to them: If God is as merciful and all-loving as we are told, would he not embrace Satan as a brother and forgive him if Satan asked for forgiveness? It's a quandary -- if God can forgive Satan, there is no longer any immortal adversary equal to God, and nothing against which to define Himself as 'good'; yet if Satan is unforgiveable, it seems to call into question the whole idea of an eternally benevolent Supreme Being (who created Satan and therefore should have dominion over him, technically speaking...).

It seems that many fundamentalist Christians take a similar hard line against those who appear to them to be intractably opposed to their chosen way of looking at the world. Consideration of others doesn't ever really enter into the equation; it's all immensely them-centered and paranoid because fear of whatever calls their beliefs into question, or threatens their sense of rightness and morality, is the overriding factor of their everyday existence. An open-minded person not familiar with such a intensely myopic world view can scarcely comprehend how any uncertainty about one's own beliefs is automatically seen as a manifestation of evil instead of simple intellectual curiosity, and strikes the most paralyzing fear into the doubters' hearts.

Just as God needs the Devil, the fundies of my past and present acquaintance need their liberals/radicals/pagans/
feminists/flaming what-have-you's. They aren't sure what they're for so much as they're certain what they're against, and if they can put you in a tidy box, so much the easier for their conscience. It's a universal attitude of "one less thing to think about", you might say.

I think if more Christians could put aside the individual differences among their many sects and embrace the core values of their mutual belief systems (as well as respect for others'), they might actually be that force for good in this world they say they wish to be. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be a very important goal for the majority...

[Edited to thank everyone who's spoken about their religious experiences. It makes me feel like I'm not so alone in choosing a path that diverges from the way I was raised. How can parents expect their children to believe something they don't, or profess a faith they don't genuinely feel? How can they want their children to be anything but honest? Or happy? A lie won't get you into Heaven, and if a soul being steered by what brings it joy instead of fear is meaningless, then what's the point to anything?]

[Re-edited for giles (yes, it is my real name): I realize Satan/The First is an obvious sort of association, and those of a certain Christian persuasion who want to define what the writers were "really" trying to convey will undoubtedly make a point similar to yours. But it isn't factually based, and indeed, is an interpretation that goes against the show's core cosmology.]

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-08-06 04:13 ]
Anything worthy of our worship, would not want it.

I know I'm not worthy of worship, and grovellers really piss ME off.

Rogue Slayer: Just read that link. Waaay funny. Just sent it to all my friends.

This actually goes WAAAY down the list after Rogue Slayers reference to http://members.tripod.com/ejm/bible_infalible.htm

[ edited by redfern on 2004-08-06 20:04 ]

[ edited by redfern on 2004-08-06 20:05 ]
I am oddly compelled not to register to read this article, as I feel I know all I need to know about Robia. At least enough for my tastes. Any highlights?
Rogue, I don't think there's anything new here. She talks about God of course, but there's a segment about her time on Buffy, complete with high praise for Whedon.

I hope this qualifies as a hightlight:

Did anything ever happen on Buffy that you didn't want to do, as a Christian?

Yeah, it got to a point where sometimes, it was hard to be there. Buffy was never really a "horror" show, but Joss liked to play around with a lot of the horror archetypes, so they got into some really dark stuff at times.

Near the end of my run on Buffy, they asked me to come back for a Season Three episode called "Amends," and I didn't read a script because they didn't have one, and I agreed to do it. And I found out that I was basically playing... Satan. The character was called the First Evil, but it was essentially Satan. I wanted to get out of it, but there wasn't really an opportunity to. I don't know how I would handle it today; I would probably just decline and say, "I'm sorry, I can't do it." But you know, I was a new Christian, and I didn't know how to handle it.

But I loved Buffy and I love [creator] Joss [Whedon], and they were really good to me, and I didn't want to put them in a position where they were going to have a problem.


Regarding her religious beliefs:

I can't help wondering if Joss might have a problem with that. He doesn't strike me as a petty person, but I just wonder if that might lead to any professional conflicts, because he's a very outspoken atheist.

Yeah, I don't know where he stands with that. He was always really great to me, just as a person, and in a working environment. But I have to say, I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't work with Joss anymore. Not for personal reasons, like he would have anything against me. But I think from where he comes from, creatively, he may not want to deal with the boundaries that I would bring as an actress. Where a lot of actresses are pretty much, "Whatever." I have different requirements.

Well Joss is an outspoken liberal too but he still works with Emma Caulfield and Adam Baldwin who are apparently fairly right-wing, so who knows.

But then as Robia says, her beliefs can literally interfere with her work and I think any director would probably prefer to get someone who doesn't have a problem with a role.

That it was hard for her to play satan as a christian I can see, I suppose. But I also recall her saying in a different interview that she didn't like the episode because it showed evil in a positive light or something. She seems to've dropped that part when talking about it. I'm glad to see that because it really was a silly thing to say. In Buffy, evil is there to be conquered, not glorified.
In Buffy, evil is there to be conquered, not glorified.

Unless your Glory :)
I guess I still don't see the problem with playing evil, because the Buffyverse has pretty much always put evil firmly in the negative category.
If you view the show as getting a positive message across, which many people do, then having evil characters in the show is essential. How can you show good defeating evil if you don't show evil? Having an evil character in the show doesn't mean the show is about, or promoting, evil.

Does she wan't the bible rewritten to remove all the bad characters?

How come it's ok for her to talk about Satan but wrong for her, as an actress, to portray a satanic character in an episode that shows why he's evil and has to be defeated? Isn't that a better way for her to get her message across?

Actors are quick to slam anyone who confuses them with their character insisting they are just playing a role, yet here it's the actor who is saying playing a role will mean she is identifing with and supporting the beliefs of a character.
Actors are quick to slam anyone who confuses them with their character insisting they are just playing a role, yet here it's the actor who is saying playing a role will mean she is identifing with and supporting the beliefs of a character.

That brilliantly explains one of her posts on her board I read yesterday, when she talks about getting a job in a beer commercial. She says that in the commercial, her character is a woman having a beer with her husband at a barbecue. But she wouldn't have accepted the commercial if her character was a girl dancing in a bar and having a beer. She's really concerned about image. Something that other religious actors are able to separate and rise above. I guess she doesn't think her fans are smart enough to realize she is not who she plays? Or maybe, like ZZ9 said, she thinks she's condoning a specific action......I don't know. I'm gonna get a headache if I try to figure her out.
I sympathize with Robia here, but agree with zz9...it's almost a truism that you don't have good unless there is evil against which to compare it..."Paradise Lost" is not much of a poem without Satan.

When Buffy's end was announced, there were a lot of analyses of the 7 seasons, with many lists of writers' favorite episodes. I remember Jonathan Last, online editor of the rather conservative Weekly Standard beginning his essay with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the best show it TV history." He had his own list of best episodes, including "Amends", which of course is the episode in which The First manifested itself as Jenny...Last called "Amends" one of the most profoundly Christian episodes ever to air on TV (that wasn't overtly Christian, of course).

Good luck to Robia, whom I admire and hold in warm esteem, but she needs to take a step back and see art for what it is--"Amends" cannot in anyway be seen as an endorsement of evil--rather, it is a marevlous evocation of forgiveness and our need both to forgive and be forgiven. (Also, see "I Only Have Eyes for You" for similar themes.)
I haven't read the article, like some others of you here, but I've read some other stuff (and thanks for the highlights). I'm not Christian, but isn't one of the beliefs that the devil can show up in people--in devilish behavior, that one could be drawn to "the dark side" (okay, mixing genres!)? It seems to me, then, that the First, being able to take the form of any dead person--and thus be more effective/powerful that way--would fit in. Plus, "Amends" was a very effective episode, and Jenny generally expresses what her real disappointments would have been (such as not having children and "fat grandchildren"). I think my logic went a bit awry here, but does it make sense?
First time watching 'Amends' I thought it was one of the most schmaltzy episodes I had seen in ages. Looking back now, it's actually bloody good.
"She wouldn't have accepted the commercial if her character was a girl dancing in a bar and having a beer."

What is wrong with dancing in a bar and having a beer, I wonder? I don't get it.

I always felt that Robia's portrayal of Jenny in "Amends" was just plain awful! She seemed so detached and wooden. Now I know why.
Does anyone else feel this way?
I just rewatched Amends, and I'm convinced Angelus's facial hair is a far worse crime against God.
Don't forget his accent randygiles :)
I used to prefer to avoid all religious debates both in real life and also online due to the fact that by there very nature, nobody can ever be wrong. Your religion is your faith and that will always be something you will, and should, defend.

Over time though i've become more willing to defend my own beliefs and in doing so i feel more free to give my opinions on others.

I used to believe myself to be athiest, i don't believe in "God" and i have absolutely no belief that humanity was intentionally created by a higher being. We exist simply because the planet we inhabit was in the right place at the right time to create and evolve the lifeform we eventually became. Basically we are a fluke of nature.

However i have always believed that, because we are a part of said nature, we are therefore part of something much greater than just our species. What i didn't realise until i hit college and started mixing in new circles was that my personal beliefs very much matched those of the wiccan faith, which is what i know follow.

Robia has every right to stand by her beliefs but she needs to realise that everyone has their own interpretations of spirituality, all equally valid, and that if she intends to stay in the business she is in, or any business that involves being part of a multicultural society for that matter, her faith needs to be a strength, not a hinderance.

When she cannot detach herself from her own beliefs long enough to play a character or role then she needs to ask herself if acting is really what she should be doing. Seems to me like the only characters she is now willing to play are basically carbon copies of herself.
While I have not read this article, I was at a convention where she talked about this episode. She did not EVER say it glorified evil. She actually said that one of the things she LIKED about Buffy was that the show is about good triumphing over evil. She likes that in Buffy, evil is fought, and is shown to be not so black and white all the time. Her problem with playing The First was NOT that it glorified evil, it was that she was uncomfortable in the role. She didn't feel she was able to portray the role well, because she didn't agree with acting like Satan. The theme of the show, and of that episode, is not what her problem was with, it was with having to BE SATAN HERSELF.

Also, she has stopped acting so much. She said that she knows she can't do it alot because her beliefs get in the way, and it is no longer her main focus.

Overall, I think that her strength in her beliefs is something that I admire in her. She may be hurting her career, but she doesn't pretend that she was always perfect. She still talks about how wonderful everything she did before she became christian was, even if she would not do it today. She loved being on Buffy, even if some of the things she did, she would not do today. She loves the message of the show, that good triumphs over evil, and that sometimes you have to make sacrafices for this to happen. She would be the first person to tell you how great she thinks that is, and how great Buffy is.

Don't knock her just because she didn't want to be Satan!!
Good points, Darkest Soul. She defintely does not seem to be able to "detach herself from her own beliefs long enought to play a character or role...".

Interesting choice of profession. Though, in all fairness, she clearly sees her career as a means to "portray" her ideals. I don't know Robia, have never even met her, but she seems to feel that there is a need for more "positive role models" in film and TV, and that she has a "higher standard".

That's fine. But I agree with what's been said above. In the context of Buffy, a show built around the ongoing fight against evil, I don't see how a portrayal of the First Evil, "glorifies the dark side". I mean, The First didn't join the Scoobie Gang and start telling funny stories about the havoc he's reaped. He was the enemy. To be destroyed.
“When she cannot detach herself from her own beliefs long enough to play a character or role then she needs to ask herself if acting is really what she should be doing.”

I think it would be quite difficult to play a character if you were always standing back and judging them for how they did or did not fit in with your real-life faith or values. If she feels limitations in acting opportunities, it’s because she is the one who is limiting herself. She may have “boundaries” and “different requirements” but –newsflash!—it’s all make believe.

I remember reading an interview with Ralph Fiennes and how he went about portraying the commandant in ‘Schindler’s List’ when it was so far away from anything in his own experience or how he was raised. He said he tried to remember that such a vile person was once just an innocent baby. He wasn’t trying to sympathize with the character, but he was able to find a spark of humanity in order to play him.
It’s just acting. The suspension of disbelief. Or in Robia’s case, I guess that would have to be the suspension of belief.

I may not agree with Robia’s views, but if they’re what makes her boat float, that’s up to her. If she is a person who can believe that if she just puts things in God’s ‘hands’ it will all work out, well, then she has more faith than me. I think there is something larger out there-- maybe an energy that can be influenced by humans praying or what have you—but I don't know if I would bet the ranch on it.
First time watching 'Amends' I thought it was one of the most schmaltzy episodes I had seen in ages. Looking back now, it's actually bloody good.

Same for me. I hated it when it originally aired, but now I appreciate I lot more, and I even understand it better. 'Course, I was only 13 when it first aired.
See what I don't get it this.

As a Christian actress she seesm to have a lot of moral issues with her roles. The whole Buffy thing is one. The beer commercial that was only acceptable because she having a beer with her husabnd. She probably even has a problem with the New York Times commecial she did. (isn't coffe a narcotic?)

So if she beleives she risking her very soul by playing these roles why is she fighting around in mainstream Hollywood. I'm sure TBN or EWTN needs some actresses for something, there's always these Cristain production companies making the next "Megido: The Omega Code". If its all so wrong you need to hold a God panel to re-eductate the heathen masses, then you probably shouldn't be there tainting yourself. Its just seems hypocritical to me that she can find evil everywhere in her profession but she still works in it. Kinda like a vegan working at a leather store.
Having been raised a Southern Baptist (though I long ago parted ways with its precepts, except as a familial touchstone), I understand where Robia is coming from, though I don't necessarily agree with it on a personal level. The world she sees, unlike most of us, is a dangerous place peopled with sinners and those fallen from God's grace, and she (who seems to be a well-meaning person, if a little extreme by many standards) desires to minister to that perceived need through any means at her disposal. In her mind, she apparently believes it's God who has put her where she is and blessed her with the visibility to allow her to reach a broad range of people with the gospel. Yet it's incredibly ironic to me that she continues to bemoan her part in 'Amends', which did indeed demonstrate, through Angel's spiritual struggle and her personification of his guilt and sin, the power of redemption and forgiveness -- and did so more effectively than anything else she's been associated with (and on a much wider scale than she's likely to ever experience again, at this rate).

Also, this correlation with The First as 'Satan' drives me bonkers because in no way is it supported by any text in the show whatsoever. Robia (or anyone) can say The First is evil incarnate, if you like, but The First has never been stated to be 'Satan', nor does repeatedly saying it make it so. I dislike the fact that terminology more typically associated with religious fundamentalism is leeching into BtVS circles and generating polarization, when the series was clearly and deliberately designed with the intent of keeping such labels and designations out of its vocabulary. Not that this topic can't be discussed with reason and intelligence -- that tends to be a hallmark of this board, for which I'm perpetually grateful.

It's just a shame that she can't figure out who her audience really is, and that she can't seem to distinguish what an appropriate venue for her message is. Acting is not a profession well suited to fundamentalist Christianity, by its very nature; my childhood church would have repudiated her involvement entirely unless she renounced any association with such an ungodly profession. Her moral standards are high, and that's laudable in many respects, but there's a drastic variance between the message she's espousing, and the use of fame connected to a popular TV show that she's willing to trade upon in order to get that message across.

Practicing her beliefs as she wishes is a basic right in this country, but using a non-religious, privately funded forum to promulgate those beliefs is not. Her appearance at the con is subject to the individuals or company who hired her based on her affiliation with Buffy alone, and not on her personal spiritual convictions. If they were okay with her speaking about her beliefs in such a specific forum, then all would be well. It's everyone's right to believe as they wish, but it is also the right of others to oppose having that belief impressed upon them in an environment they should reasonably expect will be free of such interaction.

Perhaps she would do better by choosing which master she wants to serve -- God or Hollywood -- and if it's the former, cut ties with the latter so her personal ministry isn't diminished as a result?
I have been reading the various posts re Ms Robia and Christianity with interest. I am also gritting my teeth to prevent myself from starting my anti-fundamentalism rant. Not an anti-God rant, not an anti-Christian rant, but an anti-worship-my-way-or-you-go-hell rant. Don't know why they call if "fun"dametalism. Perhaps it should be "fundament"alism. Arrggghhh. I'm slipping. Must grit teeth again.

Wiseblood : The problem with "Practicing her beliefs as she wishes is a basic right in this country" is that fundamentalists think this only applies to them/their religion (Animal Farm, here we come). Intolerance seems to be a fundamental (hah ha) characteristic of extremist monotheistic religions. Arrggh. Doing it again. Must stop now.

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments.
I know whatcha mean, redfern. As I mentioned, I grew up surrounded by exactly this kind of repressive, self-esteem damaging indoctrination. Basically, anything that might remotely make one think for oneself, or could be construed as 'fun' by a majority of other kids, was largely off limits for me. (Yes, that meant most of the little things -- music, fun clothes, movies, TV, etc. -- that make our brief stay on this planet enjoyable.) Perhaps a little leniency at home would have made me less inclined to run in the opposite direction as fast as I could go when I got old enough to leave. But I digress...

Not that all Christians are like this. Just the bigoted, racist, close-minded ones I was unfortunate enough to know as a youngster. There are good people out there of all stripes (and no stripes, too, like our beloved maverick Joss).

Intolerance is just not intelligent; intolerance stymies healthy growth of the social order, and what doesn't grow will most certainly stagnate and die. It's Nature that has given us this example, after all, and if you believe God created Nature, well ... 'nuff said. ;)
I got a good dose of "repressive, self-esteem damaging indoctrination" from growing up in a working class British home in the north of England - without the religion (folks were CofE but they/we never went). I learned about life and religion(s) from reading (5+ books a week) and since SF/fantasy was my #1 choice, I got lots of exposure to "multi-god" & "science as god" universes. Now I live in Toronto which is a very multicultural city. Most of the couples I know are mixed race, same sex, mixed religion, different cultures, etc.

I guess my biggest beef with fundamentalism is it has such a pin-hole view of the universe. I look at the night sky (or Hubble pictures) and think about the hugeness of the Universe, the beauty and the grandeur, the (almost) infinite variety and splendor. If you believe in God-the-Creator, how can you believe that that which created this bounteous Universe is small enough to care about people’s color, or job, or sexual preference, or how they choose to connect to the divine.
"If you believe in God-the-Creator, how can you believe that that which created this bounteous Universe is small enough to care about people’s color, or job, or sexual preference, or how they choose to connect to the divine." - Redfern

That is a wonderful statement! I'm very much enjoying both of these threads on Robia because it is showing, at least in the Whedonesque universe that most people are really tolerant of each others differences and beliefs. It is a very small, yet very vocal, group of extreme religious groups that don't feel like most people do and those are the ones that feel they need to convert everyone to their way of thinking. I'm very pleased to see how open minded the people on this board have been.
We all have met people who simply do not want to hear anything that questions or contrasts their point of view on an issue. It has always been my humble opinion that anyone who does exclude all other perspectives does so, to some degree, out of fear that such dialogue would call their beliefs into question.

The zeal with which some deeply religious individuals speak about their faith, in the context of converting the sinners and condescending those who do not agree exactly, at every single opportunity never fails to take me aback. Earlier in both of these Robia threads, I've seen many comment on their personal experience with "born again" Christians, for example (though examples can be found within any religion). Most such individuals seem to "settle down" over time, IMO as they "settle in" to their faith and stop feeling threatened by anything that calls it into question.

A true and beautiful expression of religious faith is evident to me in people who embrace circumstances and knowledge that allow them to re-examine, and reaffirm that faith.

Robia is certainly entitled to pursue roles that she feels comfortable fall within the framework of her faith, but I can't help but feel that "pushing the envelope" and embracing roles that are rich, deep, and thought-provoking, such as Jenny Calendar's role in the Buffyverse, would only further her understanding of her faith and her role in the world. I don't know how much growth, or depth, can be found in roles that fit so easily into the narrow framework she seems to have defined.
As a point of etymology: While in its modern sense, "Satan" is synonymous with all things evil, the name is derived from the Hebrew-Aramaic Shaitan which is generally translated as "opponent" -- not in the evil sense, but rather as one who "challenges." Thus in the biblical account, King Solomon was sent an adversary (Haddad the Edomite) referred to as "satan." And in the Book of Job, God has a conversation with "The Satan" (ha'Shaitan), and asks off the cuff, "Have you considered my servant Job... a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" Says ol Scratch, Job ain't all that. So The Big Guy gives Satan the power to test His servant -- just 'cause that's what celestial beings do. (Satan sends him some yucky sores for fun. Eww.)

In the Islamic account, Shaitan was a djinn (spirtual being) who refused to follow Allah's edict to bow before Adam, and was thus sentenced to eternity in hell -- he won a reprieve and was allowed to stick around to tempt believers away from Islam, using deceit and trickery.

And that seems to be pretty much what Christian fundamentalists take as the contemporary Satan: an entity whose purpose is to tempt people away from the right path. I suppose Ms. LaMorte is worried "the enemy" is trying to keep SF/Fantasy convention-goers from finding out "The Truth" (whatever that might be.)
We all have met people who simply do not want to hear anything that questions or contrasts their point of view on an issue. It has always been my humble opinion that anyone who does exclude all other perspectives does so, to some degree, out of fear that such dialogue would call their beliefs into question.

This is precisely how I felt as a Christian. I didn't want anyone to challenge my beliefs, because I really couldn't defend them as they didn't make much sense to me. But I was told I was a Christian, so I just went with it.
And I didn't want to have a conversation about my beliefs, because I felt doubting the Christian ways was bad, and that if I just ignored everything else and had faith, it would be alright. That attitude only got me so far. I proceeded to feel extremely guilty and terrified. Over a period of time, I came the the realization that if there really was a God and he was good, he would not want me to feel that way. So I just prayed that God would find the right path for me, and I basically left Christianity behind. It wasn't a decision I made in one day. I kind of realized gradually that I just didn't buy what I had been taught, it didn't work for me. And no amount of hoping can make you believe something you don't believe. Because, really, I *wish* I could believe in the Christian ways. It would make my family life(excluding Ed) a lot easier. My family still thinks I'm a Christian and I'm not particularly inclined to make them think differently, because it's not worth the hassle of my family thinking I'm going to hell and praying for me all the time.

But personally, I just have to trust that I'm on the right path because where else can I be but where I am?
But personally, I just have to trust that I'm on the right path because where else can I be but where I am?

Rogue, that's pretty much my philosophy on everything. Life gets to complicated when you try to think otherwise.
My family still thinks I'm a Christian and I'm not particularly inclined to make them think differently, because it's not worth the hassle of my family thinking I'm going to hell and praying for me all the time.

Rogue Slayer, my family knows that I'm "going to hell". It's sad really, but nothing I can do about it. And I don't regret rejecting my born-again christian upbringing, nor do I regret that I've made it clear to my family that I'm not a Christian. I've never been able to pretend anything very well, and I've never had the desire to.

It's hard to break my mother's heart but it's her issue and not mine. I can't be untrue to what's in my heart and pretend Born-again-ism works for me. It just doesn't. I'm the one that has to live with my spiritual choices, and in the end it all comes down to my relationship with my "god". I'm at peace with my decisions and with the status of my soul, and that's what matters.

That's what I tell religious fanatics that try to convert me. Just recently a man on a bus tried to tell me about God. Yeah, like I haven't heard about that guy before.
Heh esg. I sympathize. And know EXACTLY what you mean.
I think people have read too much into Robia's interview. I think she just didn't want to play Satan. As someone raised Jewish, I would have a problem if I had to act the part of a Nazi. I understand it's just acting, and professionals have to take on all sorts of roles abhorrent to them, but I personally would not want to play a role that far against my nature.

I was raised Jewish, but in college I found myself becoming more interested in Buddhism and Wicca and the tolerance and peace those beliefs espouse. A few years ago, the group Nine Inch Nails, which I had previously enjoyed, recorded an album in the house where the Manson family went on their murder spree. NIN said they wanted to draw down the energy from the house into their album. When I heard that, I had to give up my CDs, because I don't want that kind of evil in my life, albeit precariously.

So although I come from a completely different direction than Robia (certainly not from the Christian perspective), I too would have reservations about creating evil through my words and actions. It's why I could never be an actress.

Give Robia a little more slack, people. Show her the tolerance that the worst advocates of her religion are famed for lacking.
Here here joyfulgirl, Theobroma.
This is mostly in response to Theobroma, but also relates to Joyfulgirl's post.

From my point of view, not to mention those of most other people that have commented on here i would imagine, we are all very tolerant of Robia's beliefs and choices. I certainly have nothing against her personally and as an actress i think she is a very talented person, not to mention being stunningly beautiful.

From reading these posts on here and the other Robia thread i believe that most of us are just a little confused by her decision to work in a business that is so obviously conflicting with her faith.

From what i understand a person becomes an actor or actress from a desire to experience the whole variety of roles, constantly wanting to stretch your abilities and try to push the limits of your talent. To do this you have to accept that these roles are your job and not an extension of who you are in reality. Robia does not seem comfortable in doing that and so is clearly opting to only take roles where she is playing somebody who is exactly like herself these days.

To me that suggests that she needs to rethink her career and do something that will fulfill her in a way that acting clearly no longer can due to the limitations her beliefs now force on her.

Playing the First should not have been an issue to her, as an actress she should have been able to see it as a role and leave any issues she had in the studio once the job was done. Whilst she has every right to not play roles that she finds unsavoury she really needs to question if doing that means that she shouldn't be in this career at all. If she is constantly going to be only playing "herself with other names" then maybe she should just admit that acting was not her true vocation.
“…I basically left Christianity behind. It wasn't a decision I made in one day. I kind of realized gradually that I just didn't buy what I had been taught, it didn't work for me. And no amount of hoping can make you believe something you don't believe.”

And no amount of church going, Bible studying, or fear of going to Hell can either. After reading some of the comments about what it’s like to be brought up Southern Baptist or born again, I feel kind of lucky. I was raised an Evangelical Lutheran and my pastor is (or was, as I haven’t been to church regularly in over ten years) a really cool and open-minded guy. Some in the congregation are intolerant hypocrites, but that’s another story. : )
I didn’t have to run away from any oppressive environment; everything just eventually felt like meaningless repetition. I’m glad I went to church growing up and had a grandmother who lived with us and imparted some good values on me, but I just can’t subscribe to one belief system. The church is not a building it’s the people, as I learned in confirmation class, but I didn’t feel any closer to God being in a church with others of the same faith. Bible thumpers who try to convert everyone in their path and draw them away from their supposed path towards damnation really turn me off. I would like to learn more about other faiths, but it’s better to discover something on your own and have one of those more meaningful “ah ha!” moments instead of having something rammed down your throat.

I respect Robia’s obviously strong convictions, but if everything in her life has to revolve around how it relates to her faith, let’s just say I’m glad it’s her life and not mine.
And no amount of church going, Bible studying, or fear of going to Hell can either.

Funny thing is, reading the bible actually helped turn me off my old way. And the fear of hell helped me come to the realization that this wasn't the way for me. No religion should use fear as a catalyst for obedience. I just can't believe in a God that would create me with free will and willingly put temptations in my path(or allow them if Satan is the real culprit), and then punish me if I went off the straight and narrow. Ed and I were discussing this the other day, it's similar to putting candy in front of a child every day of it's life and not feeding him very well, but telling him if he even THINKS about eating the candy, it's as bad as eating it, so you're going to slap him everytime he thinks about eating the candy. That line of reasoning just doesn't fly with me, and my God don't play that way.

Ed also helped me realize that in the old way I was thinking, God is either not all powerful because he can't stop bad things from happening, or he CAN stop bad things from happening but doesn't. (And what does THAT make him?!) But we are led to believe if we pray hard enough, he WILL stop bad things from happening. None of that works for me, in my personal life. And I can't imagine a God so petty that he requires worship, but that's just me.
Rogue Slayer, I was also raised in a Southern Baptist church, which I rejected as soon as I went away to college and was not forced to attend. I can relate so much to your comments -- particularly the issue of fear, both in the use of fear to compel behavior, but also the feelings about being challenged regarding your beliefs. I questioned many of the beliefs I was supposed to hold at an early age, but, not only was I fearful of defending beliefs I did not trust, I was also fearful to ask questions about those beliefs of parents or Sunday school teachers -- because to ask the questions was threatening to those who supposedly had the answers. Ultimately, I could not accept a belief system in which religious or intellectual curiosity was considered potentially sinful, and I guess this is why I cannot understand people who are passive consumers of ... well, anything.

Which of course brings me to add to the comments about what an interesting community Whedonesque is, where there is so much curiosity about a variety of subjects Whedon-inspired -- no passive consumers of ideas here -- and with lively and civil discussions of so many different things, including tough subjects like religion.

OK, getting out of cheerleader mode now.
“No religion should use fear as a catalyst for obedience.”

God as a parent who will whup your butt if you misbehave.

“I just can't believe in a God that would create me with free will and willingly put temptations in my path(or allow them if Satan is the real culprit), and then punish me if I went off the straight and narrow.”

God as passive aggressive practical joker!

“God is either not all powerful because he can't stop bad things from happening, or he CAN stop bad things from happening but doesn't. (And what does THAT make him?!)”

God is tiring of his little experiment with humans and hopes we all destroy each other soon so he can concentrate on something else. Or he’s just lazy.

“And I can't imagine a God so petty that he requires worship, but that's just me.”

Hey, who doesn’t want to be worshipped?

The one thing that I think really made me start to doubt whether God was really listening or cared that much was my above mentioned grandmother’s 10+ year slow decline from Altzheimer’s disease. Her husband had been killed in a car accident when she was in her 50’s, and she had some serious health issues, but she went to church every week, taught Sunday school classes for adults, had a Bible study group, prayed and read her daily devotions. At her funeral, our pastor said she was the closest person to a saint that he had known and even he questioned why God let something like this happen. Now some people would say it was all part of God’s plan and I would be tempted to put their porch lights out. She was a humble and devoted servant and for what? She may have used her faith to help her through hard times, but I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t believe there’s something out there that can’t be explained, I’m just not sure it’s of any use.
Now some people would say it was all part of God’s plan and I would be tempted to put their porch lights out. She was a humble and devoted servant and for what? She may have used her faith to help her through hard times, but I just can’t.

I know, I hate hearing that someone suffering or a child dying or any terrible tragedy is part of God's plan! If THAT is part of his plan, I'd like to opt out of his plan, if possible.

And I never liked the idea that life was just a series of trials and hardships that we had to endure to get to the good stuff. How come life can't be the good stuff?

A great link which I think puts my feelings on this subject in a lovely light: http://members.tripod.com/ejm/bible_infalible.htm

Some of you may know it, it's the Kiss Hank's A$$ argument!
Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?

Classic! Thanks for the link, Rogue.

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