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ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE. (Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate)

It should be no surprise to those who have been on my flist for a while that I love talking religion. For the record, I am not a believer in a higher power. At all. I also do not denigrate those that find comfort and peace in their belief of a higher power, so please know that you can be candid with your thoughts on religion with no fear of retaliation, snickering, or attempts to convert from my end. And I'll hope for the same. (OMG, no Watchtowers of BoMs, please!)

I'll state first what (imo) are Joss' thoughts on religion, and try and support that with moments/themes from the show. It's my opinion (and was glad to hear someone else say this at WC) that God and religion failed Joss Whedon in his life, and he has a rather sour outlook on them both, but maybe a part of him wants to believe. I also think that he's sensitive enough (and intelligent enough) to see the value in not preaching atheism (i think he approaches from an agnostic viewpoint) to the viewer, and while he tends to revere the dark more than the light, he still lets the viewer make the final decision as to how they see the god of their choice, or the lack thereof.

Gosh, I love a story with scope.Collapse ) cross linked to churchofjoss

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( 97 comments — Leave a comment )
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stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah - that show!! I mean, even the drivel on PAX that is supposed to be inspiring? Look at what discussion is being borne from ONE SEASON of a television show! Brilliant. It was absolutely BRILLIANT. *cries with loss*

Go check out TKP and ST_SALIERI's comments - they are brilliant.

*massive hugs*
(Deleted comment)
makd
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
I've bookmarked this for later reading. Thanks - I do enjoy reading spiritual/religious analyses of Joss' works.
stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
In case you haven't checked it out already, a community was made to foster this very type of discussion: churchofjoss.

So far, so good! (And feel free to jump in anywhere and start talking!)
viciouswishes
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC)
You've just named all the reasons why I love AtS, especially S4, so much, and why I was always more (this is going to sound strange) comfortable with the Old Testament than the New one. Of course, now I'm a pagan and worship gods whose tactics were the inspiration for the Old Testament. I always find it interesting how the bloodshed is often looked right over. Those were always the tales that I preferred to read in my time at religious school.

A few years ago (during S4's airing), I wrote this essay, comparing Angel's journey to Celtic mythos. Which, of course, was written down by Monks so there's a lot of Christian similarities there.
stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
Oooh, thanks for the link! (And you should foster a discussion about the pagan elements at churchofjoss! Many of us would be fascinated to hear/read what you have to say!)

And I know what you mean about the OT. I used to teach a Gospel Principles in the Old Testament class YEARS ago (with a particular sect's slant, unfortunately) and it's AMAZING to me how people take this sunshine and puppies mentality of God from it. I mean, he's a HUMAN god, in a lot of ways - mistakes, bargaining, jealousies... SO different from the god of the New Testament.

And much more interesting, yes. :)
semby
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
Wow! I love your big, beautiful brain. And Joss's brain. This was so insightful, thank you!
stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
*puts ribbons and bows on brain*
*twitches and loses ability to walk left*

I ♥ Joss, yes I do. I ♥ Joss, how 'bout you?
luvxander
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
*stares in awe at your brain*

*loves*

I so need to get a dictionary so I can read these essay posts. I know next to nothing about religion, and I like it that way. But you did inspire me to have nasty christian related slashy thoughts.
stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
Hahahahaha!!! OH, didn't you know there's a BIBLESLASH comm?!? Jesus and Judas seems to be huge. Man, for every kink, there's a hundred people sekritly writing smut about it.
... - luvxander - Jul. 29th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
girlpire
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
i read this. and i can tell you've thought about it a lot, which is great. you seem very excited and energetic about it.

i'm sure i would have more to say if i understood it. i'm a christian, and i know my bible pretty well, so i got your references... for the most part. but i kind of had a hard time following the discussion. i'll reread later and see if i can suss it out. :)
stoney321
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, what isn't clear? Again, there will be no bashing of religion in this post, only discussion of themes, etc. Feel free to question, contradict, whatever! I'd love to hear what you're thinking!
entrenous88
Jul. 30th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
Really interesting thoughts throughout. I think in some ways it is Holtz that encourages Connor to see his relationships in the light of a perverted Trinity -- a perversion Holtz *must* know about, that he's visiting on Angel's son as a kind of sins-of-the-father thing, communicating it to him and then witnessing his adoption of it as proof of Connor's fallen nature. Because really, who is more of a Calvinist than Holtz? Connor is a tool to him, himself fallen, and not one of the elect (I don't know that in Holtz's view there's really room for anyone else besides him in that heavenly number). And as much as Holtz might appear to do good by Connor, everything he teaches him is a twisted version of gospel that Connor then reflects back at him, in a kind of skew of the modern transference/counter-transference of love/obsession/therapy in its demonic/religious context.

Similarly, I think Jasmine's peace-on-earth is a perversion of Heaven, even if we think of it in its simplified form (everyone being happy, no worries about making choices) because we see that the same unhappy behaviors go on, it's just that people don't realize their unhappiness -- it's a bit like the veiling of unhappiness that Buddhism warns against. Prostitution still happens, but no one feels cheapened by it, etc. (when we see Fred in the seedy motel, witnessing the happy-happy-joy-joy transaction between the john and the whore).

So really, Jasmine seems like nothing so much as an anti-Christ, who comes and reigns while people mistake her for the actual savior/messiah. In that way it isn't as much a skewing of Christian calendar as it is a fulfillment, since if we follow John then the anti-Christ has to come first to pave the way for the final age and Judgement.

Lots of great food for thought -- I'm sure people at the new comm cheered to see an essay like this they could dig into. :)
stoney321
Jul. 30th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
reposted, for bad html
Oh, I am absolutely on board with Holtz being responsible for Connor's mindset. I think Holtz represents the Church in the middle ages, and Connor his captive parishoner.

Oh, I like the idea of Holtz as a Calvinist, although I think (with all the bloody imagery and violence it's more 13th century Italy, for me.) As for the heeeeeeaaaaaaven aspect, yes! [info]tkp and I have been discussing that very thing in her thread above.

OOOH! I love the reminder of the hooker/john bit! I completely glossed over that with my re-watching! Excellent point. So, if I understand what you're saying about Jasmine as an anti-christ, you're saying that Joss/ME isn't negating(forgetting) the Christ of our world, but Jasmine represents the anti-christ prophesied in the bible? (If we lifted up her maggot hair, we'd see 666?) Or just that she's a metaphor for that mindset FROM revelations?
Re: reposted, for bad html - entrenous88 - Jul. 30th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: reposted, for bad html - stoney321 - Jul. 30th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
ex_dovil323
Jul. 31st, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
This is why even though you've got a great rack and hair, it's your brain I love best.
speakingsilence
Jul. 31st, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
It's interesting, too, to think about some of the place of Wolfram & Hart in all of this, because ostensibly, they're set up as the evil in the world. Yet they're quite willing to use religious imagery as well, not only with Lilah giving Wes a copy of Dante, but also in the whole idea of temptation and offering the "keys to the kingdom" at the end of S4. And Team Angel does 'fall' in a way by accepting -- good and evil become more convoluted.

Also, I can't help but think about Connor's return with S5 and his reconciliation of the two lives that he has. He now has three fathers to claim with Holtz, Angel, and his human family. As the son to these three, he even moreso seems to embody good, evil, and human, yet he manages to reconcile them in a more accepting and balanced way than any of the others. Of course, this, in the end, somehow means he can no longer participate at the very end in the last battle where it seems like good and evil once again become completely dichotomous forces.

Hmmm, thoughts on all this in my head are still quite muddled, but I very, very much appreciate the opportunity to be thinking about all this.
shadowscast
Aug. 5th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
I just read your essay. Wow, that's a lot of really thought-provoking stuff.

I'm not sure if I'm going to manage with any sort of intelligent commentary, but I wanted to at least let you know I've read this and really appreciated your insights!
stoney321
Aug. 5th, 2006 01:48 pm (UTC)
Well aren't you a sweetheart for that! I appreciate it, and if you change your mind, or something pops into your head, comment anywhere you want here! I love discussion, so don't worry if it's a week from now, or a reply to another comment, okay?

:)
mangofandango
Jan. 30th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Hey, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading this. It got me thinking about a lot of things, and I kind of want to rewatch Angel now. So thanks for referring me to your "Connor" tag the other day, I am having a good time poking around. :)
stoney321
Jan. 30th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, cool! And rewatching Angel is NEVER a bad thing. It just gets better with each viewing, imo.
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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