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Two for the show

Tonight's show is brought to you by more time than I ought to be given to think - turns out the survey got me thinking about my thoughts on Serenity. The topic is on belief.


Let's just assume I've made my point that this this is a useful concept to ponder and that Serenity portrays it without making it the cliche that it so often is. Thanks - you saved me the half page I just deleted.

Some points to think about:

"Why, whenever I start to talk about believing in something, do you always think I'm talking about God?"
"Don't care what you believe, just ... believe."
Book's personality is greatly characterized by these two lines. It does not oversimplify him - the statements are plenty deep enough. They warrant some meditation - and next time someone tries to talk about their beliefs, give then the benefit of assuming their rational enough to see beyond their immediate faith.

Mal may not have understand that until Book's death, and even then maybe not for a while after - but I think it's very possible the opposite could be true. Mal is no simpleton. I think he just lacked a basis for anything to believe in: the war's end left him without direction, and he got used to it, and preferred it over the pain of having his trust shattered again (note that he was a devoutly religious man before and during the war.)

The Operative: He was intelligent, competent, and rational. And he believed. His unwavering belief gave him the ability to do whatever it took to perform the task he was given. Even if it meant killing children. Scores of innocents. Their deaths ensured something so much greater, individual life paled in comparison. Most people fear such thought, and automatically bias themselves against it as insane or irrational - but it's not. Think about it. Yeah, I hear the little screaming alarm in my head going off, too. But this character is portrayed without the glaring flaws we often see in such individuals - save his custom of finishing off a target as a practiced assassin (but really, what if he truly believed that was the only way such a person could die honorably - then he is once again doing so for the dead man's best.) He frightens me, because such people can and do exist, and have always been the most highly prized of all soldiers. They will even hold themselves responsible in the end, sacrificing themselves so others can have better - no doubt the Operative killed himself with his sword to pay for his many sins. Book likewise strove to atone. Comparing the two yields some interesting points I should think.

It would be admirable if it weren't so dangerous. Many gawk and wonder at how some atrocities can be committed with the excuse that the means justify the ends. We are trained to immediately state that the means do not justify the ends - but that is naive. Such expressions merely gloss over the difficult questions - what means justify what ends? The Operative acted in the manner he thought was required, and if that meant that he would be irredeemable in order to allow many more to be redeemed, then that was a sacrifice he could make. In fact, the Operative isn't hypocritical at all. Rather noble, if the acts weren't so evil.

Quite an interesting quandary, but it doesn't smack of paradox - it's just a tough problem. Solve it and you've likely got the solution to angst and ennui.


Ah, yes.

See, I told Greg as we were leaving the theater that I knew (in part, at least) why you loved Serenity, and it was for what you wrote here.

The intelligence and lack of cliches in handling belief was what made the movie enjoyable. I have a lot more respect for Whedon now than I did even after watching and liking the series.

Some of the things Orson Scott Card mentions also rang true with me, although he didn't touch much on beliefs. Just thought you might like that tidbit, too.


Re: Ah, yes.

Wow, that's cool. I'm glad to have my notion that this film rules verified. Terrible fear that I became a blindly raving fan took me over. Now I know - Serenity IS a good movie (and the number one slot I've been reserving all these years is now taken!) Other movies will come and improve upon it in different ways, but it will always have a place in my heart, kinda like Chronotrigger.