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"Jayne's a what?"
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December 27 2005

New for Conservative Christians: Film Reviews, Not Protests. Interesting (but biased) article with a mention of Serenity. The movie is described as "wholesome fluff." Wholesome fluff!?!?!?!?

Quote: "Like their secular counterparts, Christian critics are diverse in their judgments. Most laud the semi-allegorical "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," based on the spiritually infused novels by C. S. Lewis, as well as tales of salvation like "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Last Samurai" or the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which many pastors cite in sermons. But many also praise wholesome fluff like "Serenity" or serious fare like "2001: A Space Odyssey," which appears on the Vatican's 1995 list of 45 great films for its blend of "science fiction and metaphysical poetry."

Hmm. Perhaps what they meant to say was "dear and fluffy"? ;-)
Kaylee Frye: Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!

Yep, nothing but wholesome fluff here. ;~)
I've heard that some ministers have come out in favor of 'Serenity' and are recommending it. Which is okay by me, the more people who see 'Serenity' the better.
Fair enough calling Serenity fluff. Not everyone likes sci-fi or genre films. But wholesome?

It's not the Waltons in space.
Maybe they liked Book's character alot. Whats even weirder is when a violent show like "Lost" wins family awards 2 yesrs in a row. Maybe I'm just not up to date with the moral fiber of America. ;)
I think you're onto something, eddy. Probably has to do with the whole issue of belief. The movie didn't have any of Mal's bitter anti-religious moments.
I have a feeling that the author of the article was just assuming that "Serenity" was "wholesome" because the conservative critics like it. I'd be surprised if any Christian reviewer really called it "wholesome." As for "fluff," well... it IS fluff, albeit momentous fluff.

(my first post!)
Kaylee Frye: Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!

Yep, nothing but wholesome fluff here. ;~)

Exactly!! lol

Actually, it's weird to see "serenity" called "fluff" in the same sentence that calls "2001" "serious fare." I'm sorry, but a lot of 2001 just seems to be "trippy" to me, not all that "meaningful." Do reviewers think that jokes automatically make something "fluff"? *shrugs*

I think you're onto something, eddy. Probably has to do with the whole issue of belief. The movie didn't have any of Mal's bitter anti-religious moments.

Well, I might say that Mal was still anti-religious, but maybe not so bitter about it. But you both have a good poinnt: there were scenes of discussion or even debate about belief, which you do not see that often in film or TV. (The deleted part of the scene with Mal and Book that was included on the DVD went even deeper in this direction.)
Gosh, I missed the wholesome fluff version; the film I saw had the hero shooting unarmed people, "live" cannibalism and the wholesale slaughter of lotsa innocent folks.

And I'm pretty sure that Book said he didn't care *what* Mal believed in, as long as he believed.
hmmm.... was that a compliment?
Obviously they must not have picked up on Inara's profession or I'm sure their opinion of the film would probably change dramatically.

Personally I thought that most of the discussion on belief in Serenity was centred around oneself rather than religion, as when Book asks Mal, "When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?" I think through the film Mal finds belief but not through religion or spirituality but through his own strength and his friends.

Whilst I didn't feel that the film was particularly anti-religion, I didn't feel it was supporting it either. I'm sure once they realised that it was made by "Josh Wheaton" who made that silly vampire show that dared to realistically portray lesbians on screen they will be outraged and interpret Serenity completely differently.
"Wholesome fluff" was apparently the phrase of the New York Times reporter, not any Christian reviewer. From the perspective of this Christian, "Serenity ain't fluff," but there's an argument to be made for anything that portrays good taking on evil (and winning) as "wholesome." And greetings to all from a Whedonesque newbie.
Well said, Anwyn, you've made my argument for me ;)
The fluff label? That's the easy criticism levelled against all of Joss' original work, isn't it? Some of it's inevitable because of the scifi/fantasy genre aspects. Only the smarter critics (and an increasing number of academics) see the layers beneath and metaphors beyond the fluffy exterior. Oh, and us fans, lol.
I don't get the "wholesome" or the "fluff"... There are words somewhat synonymous to wholesome that could be used to describe Serenity but not that one. Wholesome makes me think of oatmeal & Little House on the Prairie.

Fluff, in my opinion, is nothing short of an insult.

A lot of this article infuriated me. "Protect your children from the evil occult power of Harry Potter." Or, about Brokeback Mountain, "Mr Isaac...objected that it portrayed the characters' tribulations as consequences of an intolerant society rather than of "the destructiveness of acting on homosexual temptations."' These people would have a field day with Buffy.
hmmm.... was that a compliment?


Personally, I reckon it were fightin' talk!
Serenity was about as wholesome and fluffy as Jayne! Okay, maybe a little more wholesome than Jayne, but still not so much fluff. Maybe they didn't watch the whole film, or they just didn't get it.

I wonder how many mommies will read that and put this "wholesome fluff" on for the young 'uns and get upset? You'd be surprised how many people fail to look at the ratings.

It's not the Waltons in space.


Yes. (Unless I missed the episode when the Reavers visited Walton Mountain.)
The wholesome fluff comment is definitely the NY Times reporter's description. If anyone who did not read the Christian reviews of Serenity, goes to the review threads that were posted back at the end of September, they can read the reviews themselves. The Christian reviewers generally did some very thoughtful reviews that took into account many aspects of the film. Book was of course mentioned, but in the knee-jerk reviews he was objected to because of his statement that he did not care what Mal believed in. One reviewer stated that this was a classic example of a non-believer trying to write for a religious Christian character and getting it wrong.

Interestingly enough, this was the exception. I was actually quite surprised by the openness toward the movie most reviewers with an outside agenda displayed in their reviews. As was commented here at the time, the political and religious groups all seemed to interpret the film to suit their own views. The Alliance was obviously whatever kind of government that group did not like, and the virtues that the group believed in were expoused. Interesting stuff. I encourage everybody who has not done so to read through the old review threads.
I didn't throw in a comment last time this came up, but now that registration has been opened again, I can. This may seem a bit contrarian, but it's not intended to be antagonistic. I, and many of my Christian friends, like Joss's work, and Firefly/Serenity in particular, because of its successes and despite its failings.

The whole idea of creating a "world without sin" through the surgical application of evil is classic hubris, and that's why Serenity works as a movie on some philosophical or theological levels. (Of course, it's good entertainment, well shot, with strong characters and witty dialogue, too. That never hurts.)

Book, however, is a consistent failure _as a Christian_ character. He hasn't got any depth to him in a particularly Christian manner. It's not a fatal flaw, but he's just Counselor Troi redone almost completely differently. :-) Take War Stories, for example. You'd think a Christian minister who knows how to handle a gun would understand the difference between "do not kill" and "do not murder." While I'm not a Christian pacifist, I'm sure those who are were equally repulsed at the shallowness of his kneecaps comment. Again, it's not a fatal flaw, but it's an eye roller and definitely a weak spot in Joss's constellation of character development. I can't say Book will be badly missed here.

Joss also just makes up "Bible" to fit the situation--Safe springs to mind--which is irritating on its own. Overall, props to Joss for _trying_, but he could have done a lot better. To be honest, it probably wouldn't make a huge difference in the audience, and the mainstream critics won't notice or care, so I can't even really blame Joss fo doing a marginal job on portraying Christianity in the future.

So much fiction that's done by Christians, for Christians is intolerably preachy and no good at all for entertainment value. Given the whole selection of entertainment available, Serenity still works a lot better than most movies, which both aren't as entertaining and don't even pose any serious philosophical questions OR do so with a patently anti-Christian bias.

Thus, you have Serenity favored by a number of Christians--based on it's strengths AND weaknesses, it still turns out to be a very enjoyable and satisfying experience to me and those fans I know who hold a similar world view. I suppose someone can take _my_ analysis, and boil it down to "mostly harmless," but just because the sound bite sounded dumb, doesn't mean that it necessarily stems from a shallow review.
Forgive me 'cause I don't know how to do quotes...

"Book, however, is a consistent failure _as a Christian_ character." I'm sorry, what sort of Christian are you? 'Cause, you know, there are different sects and, after all, this is some 500 years into the future so I'm sure by then there'd be more. Christianity runs the gamut from snake-handlers to Amish to Catholics to Calvinists to Quakers to Mormons to Jehovah's Witness to Unitarians... you see my point.

"Joss also just makes up "Bible" to fit the situation--Safe springs to mind--which is irritating on its own." Uhh, I think that everyone does this & it's the main reason why we have so many sects. You shouldn't assume that your interpertation is the only one, or the right one. There is a very long history of Christian persecution of so-called witches. King James himself wrote "Daemonologie", which details how to test & kill witches.

"You'd think a Christian minister who knows how to handle a gun would understand the difference between "do not kill" and "do not murder."' Book knew how to handle a gun before he became a minister. That knowledge is just left over from his previous life, like a tattoo. My guess is he did some bad stuff and, in recompense, he decided to dedicate his life to god. As for the difference between kill & murder, well all of the bible is open to interpertation, right? I imagine Book feels this way because of his aforementioned bad deeds that he's paying for.

Now, all that said, there was only one moment that made me cringe a little at Book. When the crew was talking about the Reavers and he said "I don't accept that. I believe there's a power greater than man." Book's side of that conversation just seemed weak to me. 'Course, that's my opinion.

I'm an atheist who lives in the Bible Belt so these sorts of things irritate me. Sorry if I got on my soap box, jclemens :-)

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-01 07:54 ]

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-01 07:55 ]
Right wing Christians liking Whedon's work?
Interesting. Since he is not particularly religious (anyone listen to the commentary on "Objects in Space"?).

But it proves something interesting about his work---
There is truth telling happening, on deep emotional levels.
lyrabelacqua, there are some handy tips here that will teach you how to do quotes.
lyrabelacqua, there are some handy tips here that will teach you how to do quotes.


Thanks Caroline :-)
Not once in the series or movie does it suggest anywhere to Book being christian. The comments of those reviews just show how self-centered they are. Not all men of god have to be christian, there are plenty of religions out there. It's 500 years in the future races and cultures have merged so it makes sense for religious beliefs to have changed as well.

[Edited to correct punctuation - please use caps where appropriate. Thanks.]
jdclemens, thank you for articulating one of the main things that bothered me about Book that I didn't quite think out fully at the time of watching "War Stories"--the murder/kill thing among others.

I love Book as a fascinating character and at least an attempt at a representation of a godly believer, but one of the most glaring places he fell short was in Serenity itself when he told Mal he didn't care what he believed--just believe. The reason this is a flawed and dangerous command to Mal is because of the characterization of the Operative--how it's stated several times that he's powerful because he's a believer (in what he's doing and in the Alliance). So obviously, by Joss's own writing, it does matter what you believe--because what you believe comes out in your actions. About the best I can say for Book's line is that maybe he trusted Mal to believe in the right thing, especially with the Operative staring him in the face.
I actually think Book is a great character. We haven't really been told yet what religion he belongs to, whether there are new ones or some of the old ones have ceased to exist or what. But I always got the impression that he wasn't Christian. I suppose his attitude towards violence sort of doesn't fit any current religion. But I think his is an interesting viewpoint. He certainly doesn't glorify violence, but clearly has no problem using it when neccessary, really to the same level any of the crew would- when they are threatened. I think that's very interesting because he seems to adopt the attitude that violence can be appropriate in certain circumstances.

Of course perhaps old Operative habits just die hard? I wonder if Book's order share his views or whether he may have left because of them. Very interesting, I think.
not once in the series or movie does it suggest anywhere to book being christian.

While I don't know (and don't really care, ultimately) whether or not Book is a Christian in any categorical sense, it can certainly be inferred from his response to River's "Bible's broken" editorializing and literal reorganization of the text in his copy of the book, and I beleive he turns to his Bible in OoG when it appears that the entire crew may die. So there are at least two instances in the series where one might intuit that he is Christian.
When Mal finds the dying Book on Haven, Book says, "I killed the ship that killed us.. Not...very Christian of me."

Granted, that's not a forceful declarative sentence, but given the other examples cited above, it looks pretty clear that Book is a Christian of some kind.
I assume Book to be Christian mainly because of Jaynestown and the fact that his bible seemed to be pretty much the same one Christians use. But, as I said before, there are many types of Christianity. I'm sure there are Christian pacifists who believe you should never kill anyone at all.

one of the most glaring places he fell short was in Serenity itself when he told Mal he didn't care what he believed--just believe. The reason this is a flawed and dangerous command to Mal is because of the characterization of the Operative--how it's stated several times that he's powerful because he's a believer (in what he's doing and in the Alliance).


I don't see this as flawed. Mal doesn't believe in anything; he has no purpose besides keeping his crew safe & his ship flying. But that certainly doesn't mean he's a bad person. When Book said "I don't care what you believe" I think what he meant was "I don't care if you share my beliefs or not. I have a general idea of what you think to be right but you don't believe it to be right. Just believe." I hope you see my point. It's not a matter of Book thinking that Mal might, for instance, believe that elves are real or torturing people is a good thing. It's a matter of Book knowing who Mal is, recognizing he doesn't share his own beliefs, and telling him to have conviction about something.

Also, can someone tell me how to edit posts? It wasn't on the how to page & I can't figure it out.
Also, can someone tell me how to edit posts?

If you look at your post right now, the word 'edit' should be next to your name under the post. Click on that.
Anwyn, Many people have expressed the opinion that Book is trying to get Mal to begin a process. It is certainly not an accident that the main trait of the Operative's that is explored is his belief that he is right. It is also not an accident that Book is the one who understands just what kind of man the Operative will be and warns Mal about him. Book knows how dangerous belief can be, but he also knows how powerful belief can be. He knows Mal has rejected the concept of belief in anything other than basic survival. He has been bringing Mal along slowly, but at the moment he tells Mal to believe in something, he didn't care what, he had run out of time, and he knew Mal was going to be facing someone whose beliefs made him powerful through the ruthlessness his beliefs gave him. When you are trying to save someone's life, you do not worry about breaking a few ribs. That will have to be dealt with at the hospital later.

I am in agreement about how religions change with time and with circumstance. The ministers of the frontier were not always the same as their city brethren. Christianity 500 years ago was the Spanish Inquisition, the consolidation of the power of the Anglican church and expansion of many other Protestant sects.

Even looking within the Catholic Church there is a tradition (about most of which I am admittedly ignorant) of monastic groups being set up with much more intellectual interpretations of religious canon than was common in the populous or the Church itself. So even if Book is Christian, what would his Christianity look like?

As far as bible interpretation in things like Safe, that poor book is probably the most mis-used book in history to justify whatever a particular person wants. I shudder to think of the murderers, slave apologists, racists, misogynists, tyrants etc, who have used the bible to justify their actions. They pull out some section that suits their purpose and ignore the rest. Ignorant, isolated people are especially prone to that. It is not the Bible's fault, of course, it is the fault of the people who use it to justify their actions. If the Operative is Christian, which is as much a possibility as Book, I sure he could quote passages to justify all of his actions.

As a side note, Christian frustration with Book pales in comparison to the frustration my brother expressed while watching the use of the classical Gods and Goddesses on BTVS. He kept saying, "Rrrrrr. A cheap investment in a couple basic books would have kept them from making such outrageous mistakes." ;-)

Oops people have been posting while I have been writing so some of this is old news.

As far as editing, I think you can't edit until you have been a member for a few days. I remember someone else having the problem a while ago and there beeing a discussion.
Yes four days after you join, you get editing rights along with posting link rights.
Oops, my bad! Sorry for the misinfo...
As Mal might explain it:

Did you see boobies?
[no]
WHOLESOME!


Was there a chase scene?
[yes]
FLUFF!


PS
My first post. Weee!
Best first post of the day in my book.

Welcome AlanD and all you other new members. My tips: read the how-to page; glance at the rules page; consult the archives; be respectful of one another's opinions; and . . . punctuate, punctuate, punctuate. :)
[Y]ou know, there are different sects and, after all, this is some 500 years into the future so I'm sure by then there'd be more. Christianity runs the gamut from snake-handlers to Amish to Catholics to Calvinists to Quakers to Mormons to Jehovah's Witness to Unitarians... you see my point.


And an excellent point it is. My apologies if my answer to it got lost in the length of my post. In my estimation, Book doesn't look convincingly like a fast-forward-500-years version of any particular Christian denomination, even using the most expansive definition of "Christian." You mention Quakers. I'm not one, but I don't find it convincing that anyone with an Anabaptist/Mennonite sort of Christian pacifism would be OK with shooting people in the leg as an alternative to killing them outright. Likewise, anyone following Augustine's "Just War" theologies would likely have no problem shooting to kill in the situation as portrayed in War Stories. Book comes across as a caricature of Christianity--the kneecaps line may make funny dialogue, but it's terribly shallow theology, not reflective of any current Christian theology that I'm aware of, nor any future projection of Christianity that I find plausible.

Take Simon in counterexample. Have we heard any doctors here saying that Simon conducts himself differently than they would expect from future doctor? If not, why not?

Uhh, I think that everyone does this & it's the main reason why we have so many sects. You shouldn't assume that your interpertation is the only one, or the right one.


So, there's a subtle distinction here that I'm not sure would be visible to someone outside of Christianity. Yes, there are a thousand competing interpretations, some quite mutually exclusive and hostile to one another. But they all, almost without exception, use the same Bible. The King James Version you reference is used today by Mormons, Catholics, and Baptists alike throughout the world. Christians have no problems whatsoever reading their own biases into the texts, and even giving their own biases preferences to the clear meaning of the text, but they don't mess with the actual wording of the text. People who've tried have been roundly condemned as heretics _and died out_. (Those who keep the text intact and just rely on interpretations to facilitate their "heresies" are historically much more sucessful and enduring)

I must confess to having my FF DVD's out on extended loan (sigh, time to buy another...) so I can't refer to the precise quotes in Safe, where they're condemning River to the stake, but the implication was that the rest of the speech, beyond that "suffer not a witch to live" bit, was Bible. It ain't. It's not that Joss made up an interpretation, if my memory is working correctly--and it made a pretty strong impression on me--was that Joss inserted a Bible "quote" from somewhere that wasn't Bible, at all.

Contrast that to Book's reaction to River's snippage of his Bible. That, actually, is one of the more authentic/convincingly Christian reactions Book has, IMHO.
jclemens, again, right on, and excuse my eyes for previously reading "jd" instead of "jcl" :)
My take on the kneecaps comment was that it was just Book's way of saying "I will do the job" and he will do what it takes to get the mission accomplished. Shooting someone's kneecaps is a non-killing way to neutralize the opponent... and I can see that fitting within his personal belief system, especially if it's to save his friend Mal.
Well, it should be noted that the "Bible Quote" people are discussing here was delivered by Saffron in her attempt to seduce Mal. She may simply have been making it up on the fly, confident that Mal was either to ignorant or too flustered to tell the difference.

And as for the "kneecaps" line, I imagine that given Book's nebulously dark past he would have problems killing *anyone* for *any* reason. And because he's a huge fan of Terminator 2, he compromises with kneecaps. ;)
Catholics use the King James Bible? The text of the Bible does not get changed?

Wasn't the King James Bible created to solidify the reputation of the Anglican/Episcopal Church? If the Catholic Church endorsed the King James Bible, it must have been a fairly recent development.

New, "modern" translations of the Bible have been coming out for quite a while. When every version is a translation, new "more correct" translations are always on the way. The whole difference between "kill" and "murder" is certainly an example of a change that many would see as needed to be more accurate to the original meaning.

Interesting that Mormon's would be mentioned. Just curious, can anyone come up with something in Christianity of 500 years ago that would indicate to a person of that time, where the present day Morman form of Christianity had come from?
I am Catholic, and we do not use the King James Bible. There is text in the Catholic Bible which in not in other versions, we have two books of Maccabees in the Old Testament. That difference I know for sure, there may be others but I am not extremely familiar with the King James Bible.
I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure the only quote in Safe was "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live", which is Exodus 22:18. The patron says "The witch must burn, god commands it" or something along those lines but that wasn't meant as a quote, just the hillfolk's interpertation.

I agree with stakethelurk that Saffron's bible quote was probably something she simply made up, though it sounds like it could've come from Song of Solomon.

Thanks newcj for pointing out the bible translations. Many of them completely change the original texts. For instance, in the Living Bible, it changes the verse that says Jonathon kissed David to Jonathon shook David's hand. I guess they couldn't handle the fact that there might be homosexuals in the bible.

This is an interesting conversation :-)
Jclemens, I sympathize with you about missing your DVD's. I loaned the first 2 disks of Firefly out to a friend who wound up never bringing them back so I had to buy the whole set again:( Now, I only loan out 1 disk at a time and stress the importance of bringing it back to me quickly ;)
I would be incredibly surprised to learn the Eastern Orthodox Church use the King James.

Also don't the Mormons have the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price as works of scripture equal to the Bible? (Feel free to correct me on this, my knowledge of the LDS s very limited)

[ edited by TheDivineGoat on 2005-12-27 22:48 ]
Newcj, I would be happy to carry on a personal correspondence on the nuances of translations, and my ideas of how this would carry forward five centuries into the future, but I fear we are straying out of bounds of Josscentrism.

My point about the translation/interpretation issue is that Joss' making up of Bible quotes on the fly is in stark contrast to a very firm and relatively universal Christian committment to keep the text unchanged that has lasted the better part of two millenia... so far.

To StakeTheLurk's point on the Bible quotes, I was specifically speaking about Safe, not OMR, and for exactly the reason you point out: I had an initially annoyed reaction, but then decided it wasn't a legitimate objection when she was revealed as a con artist--her motive was simply to convince Mal of her sincerity based on fraudulently assumed religious belief. Saffron can put together whatever she wants the Bible to be, since it's not like she's going to make a habit of seducing theologians who would see through her charade...

And as for the "kneecaps" line, I imagine that given Book's nebulously dark past he would have problems killing *anyone* for *any* reason.


StakeTheLurk, that's what I would think too--that given a shady past, Book would pick a sect of Christianity that contrasted the most against what he'd done in the past (which, of course, we're all still guessing at). If so, I'd've loved to see him with more angst about actually picking up a weapon again in War Stories--a crisis of the conscience if you will, or in HERO System RPG terms, an EGO roll to force himself to do what needed to be done against his Psych Lim. The kneecaps line doesn't work for me on that level either. Instead, Kaylee and River get the cool dynamic on that score, not Book.
This is an amazing conversation, and I praise and thank everyone for their respectful tone! I especially thank all the people on this thread who obviously are bringing knowledge of their own particular beliefs to us to inform this discussion, not try to bash anyone over the head with it. This is really an example of good behavior, kindness and respect by all involved! :-)

jclemens (any relation to samuel?!), you have made some excellent points, and I really like that you brought up your viewpoint in this discussion. I see your point about the kneecaps not being necessary if Book believes in fighting as a soldier in a "Just War." Do you think he might have made an additional vow to himself, not necessarily as part of his sect, not to kill anyone again, like if he had been an Operative or other person with a lot of kills in his past? I guess that's what I thought about him.

Also, I wonder if it's possible that he's kind of new to being a Shepherd and is kind of feeling his way along, and he just plain makes some mistakes on the way -- he talks a lot about just leaving the abbey and all. I get that feeling every time there's a scene of him reading his Bible and feeling overwhelmed, or when he confided in Inara in the pilot.

He might also just have a sense of humor, or be aiming things to his audience, like when he tells Inara he has some good sermons he could use, or when he warns Mal that there is a special level of hell for people who talk in theatres. I know there's no sect that actually preaches that...but it still seems like a good idea! ;-)
Minor point possibly in support of Book being some manner of Christian: in "Serenity" (the series debut) he asks Mal if he can say grace before the meal.
I think that Book's kneecaps comment was just a joke/not meant to be taken seriously. I do think Book would kill someone who was essentially evil if it was to save someone else's life, as this is specifically allowed by the Bible (according to my understanding).
Regarding Book being Christian or not: In Jaynestown when River is "fixing" Book's holy book, she specifically refers to the animals fitting in the ark, which led me to conclude that this was a Christian Bible in question.

On a related note, at the Flanvention, Ron Glass indicated that he had discussed with Joss that Ron would like to see Book follow something more Buddhist in nature, but Joss was pretty insistent on him being Christian. Joss added (as I recall) that he thought Inara was shown to be more Buddhist in her beliefs, and that needed to be balanced with Book as Christian, although he felt Ron had a zen to him as he played Book. Joss also said something about alluding to the Yankee preacher character type, and that he specifically wanted a very practical, non-ivory tower religious man for the reality of the gritty frontier. I imagine Simon was the representative of the sheltered/ivory tower perspective anyway.

P.S. THE prop bible from Firefly signed by Ron Glass was auctioned at the Flanvention. The winner seemed to be a dealer to me, but I haven't heard about it being sold.
I too not only think Book's kneecaps statement is a joke, but that Book is the kind of person that fits his statements to his audience and to the moment. It was not the time for an in-depth discussion of his beliefs or how he came to the decision to help free Mal. Zoe, the leader of the group had asked him in an indirect way, if he was going to be of any help in this, or if he was going to get in the way of them killing if that was what needed to be done. In a few words he put her mind at ease by letting her know that he was willing to hurt people and that he had faith in his own abilities to help without the need to compromise his religious beliefs. He was speaking to Zoe so he spoke in terms that she would understand.

jclemens, I don't think a personal conversation is necessary on this point, though anyone is always welcome to e-mail me to discuss something. One reason is because I don't think it is off topic at all, and I am sure the mods will straighten out my wagon if I am wrong. We are discussing the use of religion in Firefly and Serenity. That certainly includes what may happen between now and the time of that universe. Also, though I have a certain amount of knowledge an many subjects, I do not have extensive knowledge on almost any. My knowledge is wide but shallow...with sudden unexpected depths, so watch out! ;-)

Religion I find interesting because it has affected and continues to affect human beings so profoundly. I also probably find it interesting because my family has had a multitude of religious facets and my friends are extremely diverse. People's beliefs are all over the map, even when they fall under a large umbrella like "Christian."
Billz, thanks for the compliment. And yes, I am a 3rd cousin, 4 times removed, from Samuel L. "Mark Twain" Clemens.

I agree with both Billz and Vampire Dan that a joking interpretation may be the best way to view some of Book's comments. Oh, but I wish Book had had even one chance to say something uniquely Christian. It's somewhat depressing, really, how there was so much potential to use Book as a foil to launch into more serious discussions of religion and morality, and yet he never got used there. Perhaps because Joss isn't personally familiar enough to be comfortable doing so, perhaps because the jokes worked better, perhaps because he just ran out of time. Oh well, it's just one of the minor tragedies of the series' untimely demise.

To those who previously pointed out that the KJV is not routinely used by Catholics, my apologies. I should have picked another major denomination to use as an example, although I'm relatively certain it's held by the Roman Catholic Church to be a reasonably accurate Bible translation.

Lyrabelacqua, again my apologies for not being able to re-watch Safe. So I googled, and the script at http://average-bear.com/firefly/104.html has a line by Doralee: "'And they shall be among the people, and they shall speak truths and whisper secrets... and you will know them by their crafts.'" The Patron's speeches, as someone else pointed out, aren't direct quotes. Doralee's line seems to be--although it isn't clear whether it's supposed to be from the Bible or some other particular doctrinal book their sect would use, the implication as I understood it was that it was Bible.
"'And they shall be among the people, and they shall speak truths and whisper secrets... and you will know them by their crafts.'"


I forgot about this one. Does sound an awful lot like a quote but it definitely isn't from the bible. King James wasn't the only person who wrote a book on how to hunt & kill witches; the quote could have feasibly come from a book like that though I'm probably grasping at straws ;) More likely it's just something the writers made up.

Oh, and some quotes from Song of Solomon: "He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts...I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste...Come, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits...My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved by him." BTW, I got this from the Skeptics Annotated Bible, one of my favorite websites.

I still don't see anything wrong with Book's kneecaps comment. I think he obviously said it for laughs but meant it on a deeper level as well. As ronald_sf said, it's a great way to neutralize someone without killing them. Book doesn't believe you should deliberately take anyone's life so I think the kneecap comment was appropiate.

Also, Mark Twain is the greatest! I've been trying to run down a copy of his Notebook, which I'm assuming is a collection of essays, but haven't had any luck. I've read quotes & paragraphs that are attributed to the Notebook and it sounds like an excellent read.
Very cool family lines, jclemens! :-)

Good point that ThereUR brings up about a Buddhist influence in Ron Glass. I read a cool interview with him where he talked about being Buddhist himself and how he sees Book's viewpoint. He was trying to go for "encouraging, but not forceful" in Book's dealings with others. It can be seen as a missed opportunity if Book is not presenting a strong and clear image of "Christian preacher," but I can also see the beauty in being a man who has come to Christ after being very far removed from religion or religious behavior. Maybe he relies on humor a lot, and maybe there would have been lots more serious use of Book had the series gone on *sniffles sadly*, but his presence was a good start to at least have an opening to think about morality and belief in God on the frontier.

Yeah, the people in the "Safe" village seemed alittle more like people itchin' to burn them some witches than people who were observant Christians. I could see that they would be totally using some folk writings instead of the Bible, but it was too bad it sounded Bible-y, which was misleading.

Oh, yeah, another instance that shows Book himself was Christian: he volunteered to help fix up the whorehouse in "Heart of Gold" because he's "been following a carpenter," or something to that effect. Book did get a chance to show that he was a *good* preacher, with the way he interacted with the girls who wanted to pray with him (after the dishonest preacher "took it out of them" earlier). And they sang "Amazing Grace" very beautifully and respectfully when they were burying Nandi in that same episode.
I’ve found this a really interesting discussion. When I first heard Doralee’s line (mentioned above by jclemens and quoted by lyrabelacqua) I didn’t catch the word ‘crafts’ and had a puzzled reaction. Next time round I paused the dvd and rewound several times because I found the rhythm of the sentence reminiscent of a song I leant at primary school with a chorus or repeated line “you will know they are Christians by their love”. There's a creepy dissonance between the cheerful song and the line in the episode. The song sticks in my mind because the lyrics would annoy my mother immensely. I remember her reminding me and my brother that everyone was capable of love, not just Christians. As I recall she took the view that the song was against both the spirit and the letter of the Bible and generally unChristian.

Anyway, that phrasing tapped in to my memories of the ways in which, as a child/adolescent, I had questioned the role of religion in the village where I attended the 'mission' school. I was (and still am) very suspicious of anyone who is not willing to discuss right from wrong (or in between) without resorting to quotes.

So, on cue, I become extra suspicious the moment a character's dialogue turns to 'quotespeak' be it churchlike, political dogma or legalese. Alas, my dvds are also out on loan so I can’t re-watch the scenes, but I think I found that Doralee’s change from friendly character (in the context of a kidnapping!) to quotebot very effective – without in any way assuming that she was actually quoting from the bible – be it a current or some later one.

I also have a response which is akin to Jclemens comments above about Saffron’s seduction quote

“I had an initially annoyed reaction, but then decided it wasn't a legitimate objection when she was revealed as a con artist--her motive was simply to convince Mal of her sincerity based on fraudulently assumed religious belief. Saffron can put together whatever she wants the Bible to be, since it's not like she's going to make a habit of seducing theologians who would see through her charade...


It is revealed via River’s telepathy that the Patron is a murderer who took on a leadership role as a result of the murder. Its not therefore a big leap to assume he has ‘a fraudulently assumed religious belief’. It could therefore just as readily be said that the Patron can put together whatever he wants the Bible to be – and pass that on to his flock - since he’s not going to make a habit of kidnapping theologians who would see through his charade…

As for Book's kneecap comment - I took the view that that was shorthand for something along the following lines " you're not trying to talk me out of it ... you're just being glib... and now is not to talk about why I'm OK with this, we can do so later." or "I'm doing this - and talking about it now would be a distraction".
Just to comment on the Catholic Bible, it is usually called the Apocrypha. It includes something like 14 other books that are, while considered good books and are mostly inspired by Scripture, they are not considered "God Breathed" by the majority of the Christian community.

BTW, I am a Christian and I love this movie and series. I recommend it to anyone who will listen.
I am not a religious scholar. However, just to fine-tune LOUiE's post -- I believe the Roman Catholic Bible is the Vulgate. The Apocrypha are the Old Testament books in the Vulgate that are not accepted by Protestants as canon. (These books are the source of a great amount of famous religious art, BTW.) I think the word apocrypha is sometimes extended in usage to cover the Gnostic Gospels, as well. And for anyone interested in the Gnostic Gospels, or early Christianity more generally, I recommend Elaine Pagels' writings.

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