Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
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Revisiting Firefly - Belief in the 'Verse

19 April 2013

Dev Purkayastha recently concluded a series of posts that revisit the Firefly/Serenity universe. There’s some great stuff there that takes some of the more problematic issues in the ‘Verse and attempts to solve them.

One area that Dev’s posts don’t touch on is religion. Since belief and theology are kind of in my wheelhouse, I thought it’d be a good idea to add some thoughts of my own to the mix. Let’s start with what’s in the canon.

As far as I know, the only religion mentioned is a very nominal Christianity. My entire thoughts on that would probably require another post, so I’ll just say this: it’s a thin veneer of belief with very little impact on the setting.

I foresee three different approaches to handling religion in Firefly. Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

1. Keep What’s There

Approach #1 is to keep the thin veneer of (in my opinion) touchy-feely Christianity. I think this is okay, but misses a golden opportunity to tell some really interesting stories.

2. Genre Inspiration

Firefly’s basically an American western set in space, so we could stick with what’s typical for the genre and have missionaries that attempt to spread the Christian faith. Native American faith doesn’t figure into much of the genre, as far as I know, so this solution leaves us with some of the same problematic material vis-à-vis colonialism.

3. Earth Religions

What’s that leave us with? How about we take actual belief systems and drop them in, making changes as needed for the setting? Most of the beliefs of the major Earth religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) require no changes whatsoever to their belief systems (as far as I can see).

My Take: Option #3

I think it’s best to take option #3 and put them in. Here’s a couple of thoughts I came up with to spark some ideas. Some are plot hooks; others are merely an interesting idea to take the settings into different directions.

  • Imagine if the crew interrupted a very public nature ceremony being performed by pagans.
  • A prominent Jesuit hires the crew as bodyguards to protect her during a council to talk about the Reaver threat and how best to minister to those affected.
  • The Buddhists believe that the Reavers are actually a manifestation of Neraka.
  • The Christian contingent on a planet has outlawed Companions and their services in a system.

I know there’s some interesting things I’ve probably missed here. Let me know what other ideas could come from this. Have you ever thought of mixing religious belief into Firefly?


digitaldraco said:

There’s some hints of eastern religion. Specifically in Serenity when Mal visits Inara. “Dear Buddha…”

TriskalJM said:

Ooh, I’ll have to watch that episode again, as I didn’t catch that the first time around.

digitaldraco said:

It’s actually in the movie. There’s much less in the actual show.


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