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Religion in Babylon 5

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  • #16
    I find the fact that jms himself is a non-believer significant, in a way that it allowed him to stand back and take a bit more of a non-fundamentalist look around him. I can find no bias for or against a specific religion in B5, something you usually do see in tv-series. Even if it is very subtle.

    In my view he did not so much treat religions with respect, he treated religious people with respect, he showed them to be human. like everybody else.

    And the Foundationists were right up my alley, but that is an altogether other matter.
    "En wat als tijd de helft van echtheid was, was alles dan dubbelsnel verbaal?"

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Harrdy
      I don't know how I can describe it in a foreign language... two people (can) see themselves as a unity, three people are different.
      "Two's company, three's a crowd." English isn't your first language? I honestly never would have guessed; you have better grammar than most people I know, myself included.

      Originally posted by WorkerCaste
      ò At a time when TV mostly portrayed religion through fanaticism, B5 mostly avoided religous fanaticsm and portrayed characters of faith in a positive light.
      I agree with you here. How many times in Star Trek did Kirk "save" the "primitive" people of the random planet of that episode from their "superstitions" and showed them the blessed light of reason and science and the warm hug of Federation Big Brother? In "Believers" there is clear conflict between trivializing these people's beliefs and respecting them, even at the cost of their son's life. I never saw that in any of the ST series (but then again I wasn't hooked onto those shows, so please correct me if I'm way off the mark there).
      Last edited by sjerose; 04-29-2005, 08:23 AM.

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      • #18
        I think there is something for everybody in JMS's treatment of religion in B5. If anything, it's eclectic.

        I find the apparent respect for religion in B5 astonishing for two reasons: 1) We live in an age where religion is commonly ridiculed; 2) The science fiction format has never been especially friendly to believers of any faith. Knowing that JMS proclaims himself an Atheist, the treatment of religion in B5 is all the more surprisingly kind.

        On the other hand a music professor I know, a Russian of Jewish heritage who was an Athiest due to being raised in the Soviet Union, pointed me in the direction of my conversion to the Russian Orthodox (Christian) faith. This occured during her classes on Russian music at Ohio State in which she demonstrated her sincere respect for anyone who had a faith of any sort.

        Earlier in this thread I saw something I do not understand. Perhaps someone can bring me up to date. What does "g" mean?
        Michael Malloy

        Never forget:

        Moscow; Beslan 2004
        Kosovo: 1999, 2004
        New York City: September 11, 2001
        Smyrna: September 9, 1922

        http://www.hri.org/docs/Horton/hb-title.html
        Armenian Genocide in Turkey: 1915-1917
        http://www.armenian-genocide.org/

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        • #19
          Hi, Harrdy,

          It surely suggest that ALL civilisations have been tempered with, with the exception of the Centauri, who don't see "an angel", or so they say at least. I am not all that sure that Londo doesn't see anything, but that is only my opinion 9-)
          Actually, it is only Londo who says that he doesn't see anything - we can't be certain that other Centauri did not (or would not have).

          Amy

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Michael Malloy
            Earlier in this thread I saw something I do not understand. Perhaps someone can bring me up to date. What does "g" mean?
            Michael, if the "g" is in pointed brackets, like this:

            <g>

            it's shorthand for "<grin>". It's an alternate form of:

            :-)

            Basically, it's a way to tell people that what you just said was lighthearted, or a joke.

            Amy

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            • #21
              sjerose, is your look at religion in B5 limited to just the series?

              Because if it is not it might be a good idea to look at both River of Souls and Crusade.

              With River of Souls look at the commentary on the DVD, they go into a lot of religious talk there, especially for Martin Sheen's character.

              As for Crusade, there are so many things I don't know where to begin: Gideon's name, allusions to The Book of Job, and similarities between Job and Gideon himself, just to name a few. The JMS commentary for Racing the Night had some very good stuff in it, despite the controversy.

              Hope it helps!
              http://www.andrewcardinale.com
              @acardi

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              • #22
                I find the apparent respect for religion in B5 astonishing for two reasons: 1) We live in an age where religion is commonly ridiculed; 2) The science fiction format has never been especially friendly to believers of any faith. Knowing that JMS proclaims himself an Atheist, the treatment of religion in B5 is all the more surprisingly kind.
                1) The most visible religious aspects are often the ones doing the most ridiculous things, as are the most visible secular aspects. It's a sad situation - world gone mad, and I'm only half joking.

                2) Joe may claim he's an atheist, but there was a recent post up there where he detailed that he has a LOT of experience studying all sorts of religions. All the majors and quite a few of the minors, taking something from each. It's a way of learning I discovered and value, to recognize that there is something wise to learn from just about everything. I admire the man much more for mastering it well before I could put words to it. Probably teaching it unconciously at some level in everything he does, as I watched Sheridan's leap or Sebastian's interrogation or.... And they say TV rots your brain...

                As you said, and as even Sheridan said... eclectic.
                Radhil Trebors
                Persona Under Construction

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by JDSValen
                  sjerose, is your look at religion in B5 limited to just the series?
                  I'm not quite for sure just yet. Brace yourselves: I have never seen Crusade. The initial reason was simply that I didn't have cable at the time, but now I'm just either lazy or don't really have the interest to see it. Right now I'm focusing on the B5 series and the accompaning books and movies. Though a spinoff still centered in the B5 universe, Crusade is still a different show altogether. Right now I've got enough piles of information to sort through with Babylon 5 itself, but we'll see...

                  Thanks so much for the suggestion though; I'll definately look into it.

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                  • #24
                    sjerose, you might want to look at Mithraism as a source for some of JMS's ideas, including the "return from death' of Sheridan.

                    I have never agreed with the linkage of Sheridan's mythos to that of jesus. First, it is too obvious, and JMS "does not do obvious." Second, it seems a clanker, as Sheridan was not at all Jesus-like. He was, however, very Mithras-like in that he emphasised honor, courage, and self-sacrifice. Mithras was a warrier's god, but not a bloody one. Mithras-worship was about making the warrier strong internally, not about calling on outside help. Like Jesus, Mithras was a savior-god, another link to Sheridan. Mithras was also strongly associated with the stars, unlike jesus but much like Sheridan, who wanted to die among the stars.

                    Mithraism also apparently featured the lords of order and chaos, though this is less clear in Mithraism than in its parent religion, Zoroastrianism.

                    You might find some other interesting tidbits about what the early Christians adopted from the cult of Mithras (also known as Sol Invictis) like Sunday being the holy day and the winter solstice being his birthday, but these do not relate to B5.

                    Unfortunately, Mithrasism was a "mystic' religion and so not a great deal is known about it. However, your concern would be for what was known to JMS, not what is unknowable.

                    Look also at Isis, another reborn god. Not much seems on first blush to apply, but i am not greatly knowledgable in this field (other than what I glean from Stargate SG-1 <g>).

                    As for the Vorlon AS angels rather than exploiting the angel myth, I agree with CE that JMS meant the latter, not the former.

                    I think that JMS saw religion as a process, not a product, much along the lines of what Mohandas Gandhi taught. Some people believe that the truth cannot be known, it can only be sought, and I think JMS's view of religion is very much along these lines.
                    I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

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