Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER

Luckylyn

Religion: Let's Waste Our Breath Talking About It

Recommended Posts

I think it could be interesting to discuss how religion is handled on the show.  

 

The GR wants to die and is doing their best to drive others to kill them.   I think martyrdom is their goal, right?

Share this post


Link to post

I don't know if it's martyrdom precisely, because that would imply that they feel their sacrifice will lead them to somewhere better, and lead their people to somewhere better. With the GR, I do think it's more about nihilism and a rejection of society and self. They don't want to be who they are any more, and they want other people to forget themselves too.

 

I am not religious, but I respect people who use their faith to help others, which is why I had a lot of time for Matt in this episode. Is it the right thing to do, helping Kevin dispose of Pattie's body? Legally speaking, absolutely not. But morally speaking? Maybe it is. He knows Kevin, believes him innocent of killing Pattie, believes Pattie killed herself. And Kevin needs his help.

 

The symbolic baptism was a bit heavy handed, but I took it as more a metaphorical washing away of Kevin's troubles, than an overtly religious moment. And the Bible passage was, I think, chosen because it would remind Kevin of his own father, and all the fears he has of living up to his name, of following a man that the town clearly loved, and also of the fact that Kevin is scared he's losing his mind, like his father did.

 

So it's kind of like Matt is saying, 'here's what I believe. Take from it whatever you need to get better'. Which is how I think religion should be offered.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

The symbolic baptism was a bit heavy handed, but I took it as more a metaphorical washing away of Kevin's troubles, than an overtly religious moment.

Yeah, they got more than a little carried-away there, I thought. However, this is a story where an unseen force exists so I didn't feel like they were selling anything.

I think one of the interesting things this story does is to pose the question that "what is this big, undeniably OTHER sort of force enacted such a huge change upon the world, but it didn't fit anyone's scripture, so no group would get to do the 'we were right! suck it!" stuff. It made sense to me that there would still be some people who remained within their faith -- like the Christians we saw -- because when something that big happens, but doesn't fit any scripture, it doesn't then refute the validity of that scripture for all. It would make sense that it would destroy faith for a lot of people, because that is some omnipotent fuckwittery when people are being made to vanish, but for others it would simply be seen as a test.

The show managed to handle religion without getting too terribly preachy. Matt's methods are absolutely a little suspect (and that's an understatement), but it's clear his faith is genuine.

I do think the show was a bit too opaque about some of the cults, but I didn't think they were amiss in suggesting that a crapload of them would form. There was an event, The Departure, that would be nigh-on-impossible to put down to anything other than God or gods (or as I've said, aliens, or wizards, but something hugely powerful) and no religion that adequately explains it.

Edited by stillshimpy
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I thought the Job passage was also chosen for the obvious Kevin = Job (a man who lost everything, but didn't completely lose it himself)

 

Nitpick - can the name of this thread be corrected? It should be breath (noun), not breathe (verb).

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

From Time magazine's review of “The Prodigal Son Returns,” "The Leftovers Season Finale: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs":

Nora—a remarkable character who made Carrie Coon a breakout performer of the TV season—appropriately gets the last word: “Look what I found.” What has she found? In the end, we don’t know any more than Holy Wayne if he was a prophet or a fraud. But savior or antichrist or neither, the baby had a role in the end—to make someone realize she still had the capacity to care.

 

A baby in a basket, prodigals—for a show with so many unbelievers and nihilists, The Leftovers‘ first season was aggressively and adamantly spiritual. But it was about people in an unusual spiritual predicament, summed up by the passage from Job that Matt asks Kevin to read when he buries Patti. In it, Job speaks of both longing for God and being terrified of Him. Likewise, the leftovers have experienced, if not God, then some sort of spectacular power—but at the same time they feel abandoned. They have proof of something greater than themselves—but something so terrifying and capricious that they no longer know what to believe in.

 

From the Entertainment Weekly season finale recap:

Before Christine scrams, a minister approaches Tom with an offer of help. (Kudos to the 1980s' kids who recognized the actor as Geoffrey Owens, Elvin from The Cosby Show.) Tom declines and then, out of curiosity, asks if anyone ever accepted the offer. "All the time," says the minister, before climbing back into his Grace Church minibus. Two thoughts: The exchange evoked the theme of "Two Boats and Helicopter," episode 3, which referenced the Christian parable of foolishly waiting for God himself to save us rather than the good neighbors who act in his spirit. Also, the Grace Church bus was the first real evidence of a motivated Christian organization—no offense, Matt—that seems to be missing from the post-Departure landscape. I've argued that such a momentous, unexplained occurrence, of such Biblical proportions, would replenish and rededicate established religious faiths. Not every lost sheep would turn to chain-smoking cults and bald messiahs, as has seemed to be the case with The Leftovers. Perhaps the Grace Church, or the movement it represents, will return for season 2.
Edited by editorgrrl
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Snakelite posted in the episode

 

The reason I came close to abandoning the show is what many others have pointed out: the seemingly ridiculousness of the Guilty Remnant. I'm not sure that "remembering" the departed is actually the point of their nihilism. I think it might be more about the point of continuing to live and love in a world so uncertain that you can lose your life or the ones you care most about in an instant, without rhyme or reason. Underlying all that hatred is fear. Continuing on is too difficult for them so they have rationalized this cult where they stop caring because caring is too difficult when you can be emotionally devastated in a blink of an eye. The GR is not a new "family." They make sure they cannot become too emotionally involved by limiting communication and individuality. Their family is lost to them and cannot be taken away. The members of the GR are guilty because they are cowards without the courage to continue on and risk loss and pain. The Departure was so pointless and random it could happen again, to anyone. We all know that life is uncertain, but we do so much to preserve it, to increase the odds against losing it, both our own and our loved one's. We get preventative health care, buy the best car seat for our kids, drive carefully, eat a healthy diet and we know we shouldn't smoke. The GR's smoking has nothing to do with remembering, it is a manifestation of the point that it just doesn't matter anymore. Life has become so insecure, so tenuous, and that is what they really want people to remember so they won't be alone in their fear and cowardice. Their anger is at themselves, whether they realize it or not. They have given up to the point where their own lives have lost any joy or meaning and they no longer care if they live or die. Laurie may no longer care about herself, but she still cares about Jill. The idea of losing her to another departure may even have played a role in her attempt to emotionally separate herself from her family.

I think this is an interesting description of what the GR really are about.   Why care about people who can suddenly depart at any moment?   I can understand cutting ties and isolating yourself, but the effort to cause emotional pain to others is where they cross the line.   They wanted people to become violent and harm them.  

 

Is Wayne supposed to be a darker take on Amma.  There's a good chance that what Wayne is offering is a placebo.  People believe his hugs help heal so much that they make themselves feel better.   Still there's a chance he may actually have been the real deal.  I think the baby will answer that question if she inherits her father's ability.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Is Wayne supposed to be a darker take on Amma [aka Mata Amritanandamayi, a Hindu guru whose hugs are said to bring good fortune, well-being, and grace]? There's a good chance that what Wayne is offering is a placebo.  People believe his hugs help heal so much that they make themselves feel better.   Still there's a chance he may actually have been the real deal.  I think the baby will answer that question if she inherits her father's ability.

 

But Wayne has two children (if not more). Might one be the messiah and the other the antichrist?

Share this post


Link to post

I thought the Job passage was also chosen for the obvious Kevin = Job (a man who lost everything, but didn't completely lose it himself)

Nitpick - can the name of this thread be corrected? It should be breath (noun), not breathe (verb).

Not a nitpick. It's been driving this old English teacher crazy!

Share this post


Link to post

Nitpick - can the name of this thread be corrected? It should be breath (noun), not breathe (verb).

 

 

Not a nitpick. It's been driving this old English teacher crazy!

 

 

Sorry for the typo.  I can't fix it but a mod can.

 

Fixed.  Just an FYI, next time you guys can click the report button to send your request to the report center.  It will probably be taken care of quicker that way.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Before Christine scrams, a minister approaches Tom with an offer of help. (Kudos to the 1980s' kids who recognized the actor as Geoffrey Owens, Elvin from The Cosby Show.) Tom declines and then, out of curiosity, asks if anyone ever accepted the offer. "All the time," says the minister, before climbing back into his Grace Church minibus. Two thoughts: The exchange evoked the theme of "Two Boats and Helicopter," episode 3, which referenced the Christian parable of foolishly waiting for God himself to save us rather than the good neighbors who act in his spirit.

 

And Tom has been doing that all along—the phone calls he almost made to his father, the people in the hospital where he first took Christine, to name two examples. Although at least in this case, he was on his way home to ask for help. 

 

That encounter did make me wonder about the Grace Church, however. Were the church folk just on a day trip, or is their ministry driving around in a bus, looking for troubled people or wanderers who need help? 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I notice a lot of people are frustrated with the show and this episode in particular. Here's the weird thing for me - I can NOT stop watching this show. There have been other shows in the past that I had to stop watching because they were too stupid, confusing, derivative or just plain pointless. But this one just keeps me coming back. Something about the combination of the writing and the acting. Oh, and I also teared up when the little boy held up the wrist band to Matt.

I'm not religious at all, but I also know that sometimes things happen to us that we aren't able to explain. And an event that I perceive as a simple coincidence, someone else might see as an omen, or a miracle.

Much as some people view a TV show as really gripping and entertaining, but other people think it's crap.

Note: I replied to this comment from the "No room at the inn" episode thread in here because I stray from the episode topic in my reply.

I started out complaining about this episode being Matt centric, but I sure as hell have been talking about it a lot.

It must have not been that bad, and I think the discussion in here has made me like the Matt character a little more.

In regards to spirituality and religious matters, I am not surprised that I'm interested in this show.

I am an atheist who used to be a devout Christian. My conversion to atheism took over a decade to unfold and was painful at times.

What you said about how people reconcile the unexplained, is so very true. That and how people interpret the bible in so many different ways played a large role in my journey to atheism.

What makes this show interesting to me is how people are coping with such an extraordinary event.

I can't say how I would react to an unexplained disappearance of 2 percent of the world's population.

Even if I suspected the hand of God was involved, I'd be pretty darned angry at his insistence on being ambiguous about it.

I've never understood why faith is virtuous.

Edited by ToastnBacon
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I've never understood why faith is virtuous.

 

Yeah. To me faith isn't virtuous. It's necessary. Basically it's synonymous with accepting that there's a mystery to life--to the basic questions, what is life, why does life even exist, why is not the entire universe made up of minerals instead of also containing animals and vegetables?--that we will never know the answer to.

 

But to somebody else, who either doesn't care about these questions or feels he/she has complete answers to them based on pure reason--answers which I have yet to hear!--faith wouldn't be necessary, and that doesn't make that person "worse" in any sense.

Edited by Milburn Stone
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah. To me faith isn't virtuous. It's necessary. Basically it's synonymous with accepting that there's a mystery to life--to the basic questions, what is life, why does life even exist, why is not the entire universe made up of minerals instead of also containing animals and vegetables?--that we will never know the answer to.

 

But to somebody else, who either doesn't care about these questions or feels he/she has complete answers to them based on pure reason--answers which I have yet to hear!--faith wouldn't be necessary, and that doesn't make that person "worse" in any sense.

That is a good way of looking at it.

I've come to terms with not knowing why we exist, I am at peace with not knowing.

When I normally ponder that question, I'm usually looking at it from the angle of why a creator would put such stock in his creations having faith, or not.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

...why a creator would put such stock in his creations having faith, or not.

Because without faith many of those created would lose the will to live? --just a guess based on my current observations of someone who is overcome with grief over the loss of a lifelong companion and who is losing the will to live and who does not have faith in a creator, which coincidentally fits somewhat with the scenario of the show.
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

Because without faith many of those created would lose the will to live? --just a guess based on my current observations of someone who is overcome with grief over the loss of a lifelong companion and who is losing the will to live and who does not have faith in a creator, which coincidentally fits somewhat with the scenario of the show.

Sure, I can see that.

Especially with a creator that chooses to be silent and remain hidden. Otherwise there is no need for faith, the creator could eliminate the need for faith by appearing and being known.

A creator that punishes those who question and have doubts about his existence when he hides, doesn't sound benevolent.

This sounds more like a model for a creator that was created by the ancestors of those he lords over. A creator that is myth and legend.

According to the texts of my former religion, I am the worst kind of sinner for saying such a thing.

Murders, rapists, cut throats, thieves can all be forgiven, but not a blasphemer like me.

Edited by ToastnBacon
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

According to the texts of my former religion, I am the worst kind of sinner for saying such a thing.

Murders, rapists, cut throats, thieves can all be forgiven, but not a blasphemer like me.

Well, that's because Faith and Religion are not interchangeable words. Religion is a construct around a faith, but it isn't the faith itself. Religion is the far more fragile thing, and seems to have the 'carved in stone' rules set around challenging it. People can have faith in something more without having any religion. Religion has a tendency to separate and segregate. People who believe X, Y, Z are in this column, people who believe A, B, C are in this one, etc.

Religion is just an organized construct around the concept that there is something more to life than we see, or understand to be possible.

Part of what is fun about the show -- despite the weekly references to being spared and saved, etc. etc. or someone bringing up the rapture -- is that this giant thing happened and it doesn't fit with anyone's scripture. What a mindfuck.

The show did something brilliant -- the rapture is generally something that evangelicals (literal interpretation of the Christian bible) believe in -- but it isn't necessarily even part of other Christian interpretations. However, evangelicals regard Catholicism as a cult (because Catholicism has idols, its own scripture, etc. ) ....and one of the people who "Departed" was the Pope. Cracked me up. Reminded me of an old joke about the Pope being told there is good news and bad news. The good news? Jesus has returned and is one the phone, wanting to speak to the Pope. The bad news? He's calling from Salt Lake City. (For anyone that doesn't land with -- basically there's no way for both Catholics and Mormons to be right, Mormons believe in a the Celestial Kingdom, etc. etc. etc. )

Basically the point being that even religions built around the same central notion manage to divide believers in ways that the belief systems are forever divided.

So religion is something that tries to build a structure around Faith. I think a lot of people now try to convey that feeling with "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" -- which hey, if that works as a descriptor for them, rock on with it.

One thing that the show does well, I think, is to look at the aftermath of the "No one was proved right that day, so what the hell would that do to the world?" aftermath.

The show seems to understand the basic difference between having faith and having religion and how the latter can actually damage the former in the face of the truly inexplicable. Having Faith might mean someone believes there is some point to all of this, something beyond our understanding (which is not actually the same thing as believing in a central creator) , whereas someone who was religiously faithful might find themselves destroyed in the aftermath of the thing that no one religion can claim as being from scripture.

The show itself only mentions the rapture in conjunction with Matt passing out flyers, talking about how it wasn't the rapture, but it's funny that reviewers and audience members still bring it up. It was demonstrably not the rapture on multiple levels and from every angle....including, but not ending with ...."Well, the rapture is a Christian construct and pretty much the moment a Hindu disappeared, the Rapture was disproved as a possibility."

But that's how powerful trying to explain things through known parameters is, "This incredibly weird, inexplicable, still unexplained to this day thing has happened to our reality, how will we deal with that?" So even though it's not the freaking rapture, that's still the terminology that reviewers reach for because it's a known category. That's the stuff of religion. How to interpret the weird, inexplicable stuff. Religion gives that names like "It's because of free will...." (which, wow, free will is supposed to be the root of all evil in most Western religions).

Faith can cover anything from "I believe there's something we don't understand at play, but it is not targeted at me, or through me, there is just more to this life than we understand" to "God is real and has a personal plan for you." and everything in between.

Religion is more like the list of Rules for Having a Safe Summer at Camp: Water Safety through Fire Containment (aka the woods are actually out to kill you: here's how to stop them). Except that the woods are life and religion is the stuff that gets people through by offering rules and definitions.

Faith just seems to be a deep conviction that there is something else going on. That might extend to a belief that it is all for a reason that personally involves you, but that's not necessarily the case.

Coolest thing about this show, in my opinion, is that it provided a world where there was a demonstration of "There is more to life. There is something more going on. There is an unseen force. Also? No ones religion covered what it is yet. So good luck figuring out what to do in the aftermath!"

When the team from MIT bought Nora's house, she's seen asking, "Do you think this is going to happen again?" and the MIT guy answers, "Why wouldn't it?" which is precisely why the whole thing would be such a giant "Wha....?" Since it doesn't fit the known religions, scriptures, texts or beliefs, there's no road map that would seemingly apply. The math and science guys approach of "Why wouldn't it? We've yet to explain why it happened in the first place, which means, we don't stand a prayer of preventing it if we don't know what caused it."

I really disliked the stupid Guilty Remnant because a ritualized cult around "It's all meaningless, nothing has meaning" is sort of ironic "We have rituals around how meaningless it all is" would seemingly negate itself at the launch pad. But I've liked the look into what the churches are doing. A sort of "Right then. Well, that was unexplained and...really...un-hinted at, which is far more disturbing when standing in the construct built around making the woods safe ....but....carry on! Business as usual. It's not faith if you lose at the first massive, religion negating, scripture-detonating global event! Onward!"

I'm personally an agnostic. Maybe part of the reason the show appeals to me is that I've never really understood the practice of religion. The stuff seems so clearly constructed to subjugate the population in general and women in particular in so, so many forms. Atheists demonstrate a similar level of conviction as believers do, as far as I can tell: Absolute conviction in knowing. It's weirdly made of the same stuff that leads to faith and seems to often involve transferring conviction onto science. I saw an article the other day about what were good things to say to an atheist who is grieving. Ways to honor a person's loss without dragging in a belief system. It was an interesting and helpful article. One of the recommended things was to reference the laws of thermodynamics.

That made sense to me, that was an "Aha, yes. I see what that would help, good advice" (as was the very simple "I wish I could take away your pain" as a way of expressing sympathy) ....and then I realized something kind of amusing: The Laws of Thermodynamics are something that I just accept as "People with a keener grasp of all things science and math figured these things out. I sat in a classroom and listened to the rules being broken down, saw those numbers, held the books, listened to the explanations ....but ultimately it is something that I accept as making sense rather than being the person who can put things in the order that will have them make sense."

Tripped me out to realize: Whoa. I take a lot of science on faith. How freaking weird is that?

Edited by stillshimpy
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

, why is not the entire universe made up of minerals instead of also containing animals and vegetables?--that we will never know the answer to.

 

 

People use why for two things: by what cause and for what purpose.

 

As far as causal mechanism 

The exact same chemical reactions that make minerals possible also allow for life, perhaps even make it inevitable under the right conditions (life arose on Earth very soon after the Earth had liquid water).

 

There's no evidence of any magic ingredient in living things that isn't in non-living things. If it makes you feel wise to insist that there must be, feel free, but don't expect other people to find it convincing.

 

As far as purpose? Who says there is one? Or that life is an important part of it as opposed an incidental occurrence? If life is so important, why are conditions in the universe mostly very hostile to it? Maybe making lots of neutron stars or red dwarfs is the purpose of the universe. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size