Tag Archives: Whedon

Doctor Who vs. Angelus

A few weeks ago, someone got to my blog by searching “Doctor Who vs. Angelus.” I had never even thought about a post on that topic, but now I’m inspired because that is the perfect topic for a Whedony-Whovian geek to ponder. So here it is: The Official Doctor Who vs. Angelus post.

I’ve decided to consider three scenarios – what if Angelus met up with the 9th, 10th, or 11th Doctor? Now I’m not saying that he would encounter all three, but rather, what if Angelus came up against the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) OR the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) OR the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)?

 9th Doctor vs. Angelus:

 Doctor: You think it’ll last forever. People and cars and concrete. But it won’t. One day it’s all gone. Even the sky. My planet’s gone. It’s dead. It burned like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust. Before its time.
Rose: What happened?
The Doctor: There was a war and we lost.

Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor

Angel

The Doctor is a scarred and angry timelord. He survived the Time Lord war, but now is the only Time Lord left in existence. And yet, he is just beginning to let people in again. He teams up with Rose and begins the process of letting someone “in” to his life.

The Doctor and Rose meet Angelus in the 1860s shortly after Angelus had turned Drusilla. Angelus did more than turn Drusilla into a vampire, he first turned her insane by tormenting her and killing her family. Fresh off of that “triumph”, Angelus is seeking his next conquest. The Doctor and Rose arrive, as is usually the case, unintentionally. The Doctor was planning to take Rose to the 1960s but missed it by a century.

Angelus spots the Doctor and Rose in a tavern, and is intrigued by the power and confidence the Doctor exudes. He stalks them for several days, leaving a trail of bodies conspicuously in the path of the Doctor so that he is forced to investigate. Angelus kidnaps Rose and holds her hostage to torment the Doctor. When the Doctor comes to rescue Rose, Angelus kills her spectacularly in front of the Doctor. The Doctor loses it, and flies into a vengeful rage. He decapitates Angelus, but before he disintegrates into a pile of dust, Angelus smiles knowingly. He succeeded in turning the Doctor into a dark, angry, soulless Time Lord who will never again seek out companionship or volunteer to save humanity.

The Doctor leaves earth, never to return. He never takes another companion. Pleas for the Doctor to come and help planets in need go unanswered. The Doctor doesn’t care. He is not a hero. And to ensure that he will never again help, he destroys the TARDIS with no shred of remorse.

Summary:
Victor: The Doctor
Dead: Angelus, Rose, the TARDIS

****

 The 10th Doctor vs Angelus:

 You need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up “genocide”. You’ll find a little picture of me there, and the caption’ll read “Over my dead body”. ~The Doctor, episode 4.6 The Doctor’s Daughter.

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor
angelus

 

 

 

 

 

The Doctor and Donna are traveling when the Tardis breaks down and they land in California in 1998. Angelus has returned, having been de-souled after having succumbed to the teenaged-passion of Buffy. Jenny Calendar has been killed. Buffy and her Scooby Gang are attempting to come up with a plan to beat Angelus while at the same time balancing the demands of high school life. The Doctor and Donna come across Angelus feeding on Theresa, who will deliver a message from Angelus to Buffy when she rises as a vampire. The Doctor rescues Theresa, and Donna exclaims in typical Donna-fashion that she can’t believe that vampires are really real. Angelus escapes, but the Doctor takes up the mission of tracking him down.

Two nights later, Angelus tries to kidnap Donna, who refuses to be a damsel in distress and does her best to fight him off. The Doctor arrives, to see Donna pulling a vial of holy water from her pocket and throwing it at Angelus. The Doctor is impressed with her quick thinking and asked her where she got the holy water. She replies, in her typical flippant matter, that she has seen Dracula movies and since vampires are actually real, thought it would be prudent to arm herself.  Angelus, slightly singed from the holy water, turns his attention to the Doctor. The Doctor barely flinches, steps one step to the left, causing Angelus to fall forward, impaling himself on the white picket fence that was directly behind the Doctor.

Buffy and the Scooby gang never find out what happened to Angelus, and assume that he must have left town, even though that would have been out of character for him, as he was dead-set on besting the slayer. The Doctor and Donna leave in the TARDIS to travel back to the 1920s to meet Agatha Christie.

Summary:
Victor: The Doctor
Dead: Angelus

******

The 11th Doctor vs. Angelus:

Bowties are cool.

amy and rory pond

angelimmortal

It’s 1894 and Angelus, having been imprisoned by the Immortal, is on a rampage through Italy, angry that the Immortal had (successfully) seduced Darla and Drusilla. The Doctor and the Ponds have arrived in 1894 looking for the opportunity to rest after the chaos of trying to vacation on Apalapucia. The Doctor declares that he wants to take them back to Victorian London. The TARDIS, instead of dropping them in 1894 London, drops them in 1894 Rome, which Rory declares is not funny given he spent two thousand years as a Roman centurion. The Doctor swears he wasn’t trying to be clever, and that he really must get around to adjusting the geo-locator on the TARDIS.

The Doctor and the Ponds come across the remains of a family on whom Angelus had taken out some of his frustration, and realize that nothing human could have done this.  They investigate and track down Angelus, who is angrily sulking alone in an abandoned house, having stormed away from the other vampires (especially Darla) in a fit of pique.  The Doctor swears to Angelus that his rampage is at an end, Angelus grins darkly and says, “Look, another set of chew toys.”

The Doctor evades Angelus’ attacks by running and leaping about, looking rather like a hyperactive walking-stick, while the Ponds grab whatever makeshift weapons they can.  Amy holds a broken piece of window lattice that is shaped like a cross, and Angelus shrinks back snarling.  Angelus throws a heavy book at Amy, shattering the lattice, and advances toward her, saying “You think you have a chance against me?  I was slitting throats when Frederick the Great was invading Prussia!”  A heavy blow strikes Angelus on the back of the neck, and the return stroke sends him flying head over heels.  Rory stands over Angelus, holding a table leg as a club: “And I was slitting throats when Emperor Trajan was invading Northern Thrace.”  Amy has one of her rare moments of genuinely appreciating Rory.

The moment, however, is short-lived, as Angelus lashes out, shattering Rory’s shin with a vicious kick.  As Rory crumples (wishing that he was still made of plastic so that wouldn’t have hurt as much), Angelus backhands Amy across the room and swipes up Rory’s club.  The Doctor, finally outraged enough to take decisive action, adjusts his bow tie and looks very cross.  As the Doctor begins a stern speech about how he, the Last of the Time Lords, scourge of the Daleks, besieger of Demons’ Run, bane of the Cybermen, will stand for no more, Angelus furiously bashes him over the head repeatedly, decorating the walls with Gallifreyan brain matter.

Angelus stands over the doctor, enjoying the sight of blood and carnage. Suddenly, a length of wood protrudes from his chest as Amy impales him from behind with a chair leg.  With a shocked expression, Angelus collapses into a cloud of dust.

Amy turns to the fallen Doctor.  Angelus had killed him far too quickly and the Doctor was unable to regenerate. The regenerative powers that had been given to him by River Song, leave his body, travel across time and space, and re-enter River Song. River Song breaks out of prison and takes up the mission of the Doctor. She travels throughout the galaxy in the Doctor’s TARDIS, and the show is renamed “Professor Who.”

Summary:
Victor: Amy and Rory Pond
Dead: Angelus, The Doctor

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2012 — A Busy Year Both on the Blog and In Real Life

Hello my friends. I hope you all had a blessed Merry Christmas. We had a delightfully quiet Christmas with lots of food (and chocolate) and much-needed quality “just hanging out” time. It was a geeky Christmas in terms of presents.

Not only did The Doctor visit and bring the dvd set of first season of Doctor Who with David Tennant, AND the 50th anniversary Dr. Who Monopoly, but we also got the Settlers of Catan expansion Cities and Knights. Chuck and I have been trying it out, and it’s going to make our Tuesday Settlers date nights very very interesting.

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. It was a very busy year. On the seminary front, I took 8 classes between January and December (Greek, Theology of Forgiveness, Reformation Era, Patristics, Christology, Spiritual Formation, Research Methods, and Pauline Epistles). I have now completed all of the classes for my degree and am gearing up to start my thesis in February, as well as do my internship by helping out in a college-level class for the semester.

Things were also quite busy on the blog. The blog has reached the magical 100,000 hits in a little over 2 years which was awesome. Thank you so much to my readers, and to those who shared posts through Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and other blogs. And, in September the blog moved from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org format. (A big shout-out to Nick who helped me get it all set up).

I think this year had some of my favourite blog posts.

I did a series on Women in the Reformation, looking specifically at Invectives and Insults that leading Protestant women faced for their attempts to proclaim the Gospel:

In light of this new egalitarian theology, women from a variety of backgrounds found a voice and entered into the action of proclaiming the Gospel and wrestling with the new theology of justification by faith. As Daniel Frankforter notes, at the advent of the Reformation, “many women comprehended immediately what it was about, embraced its faith, preached its message and encouraged its leaders.” Unfortunately, the response from the leaders of the Reformation to these women actively participating in preaching and teaching was not entirely positive. More often than not, the women who chose to write, preach and teach were met with invectives, attempts to expunge their writings, and silence.

I did a tongue-in-cheek exhortation on why Christians should never read the Patristic Fathers:

10. They’re boring. They don’t talk about anything interesting. Ever. And they are polite and never ever disagree with each other.

9. People were baptized naked. Yup. Naked. Oh my victorian/evangelical sensibilities!

8. What do you mean there were women in leadership in the early church? Church Mothers? Desert Mothers? Everyone knows that the only biblical model for women is to be at home in high heels and have supper in the oven…

Speaking of tongue-in-cheek humourous posts, I also did a very loose interpretation and reimagining of Proverbs 31, In Praise of the Geeky Wife:

A wife of geeky character who can find? She is worth far more than gold-pressed latinum.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks no season of Doctor Who.

She brings him buffs, not de-buffs, all the days of her life.

She grinds mats and rep and works with eager hands.

She is like Cyrano Jones, bringing her tribbles from afar…

I wrote about how Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Merida from Brave are illustrations of young evangelicals:

I guess what it comes down to is this: I wish there was a little more humility; a little more listening. I get the disenfranchisement of the young people in the church today, I really do. I am of that generation. I think the difference is that I didn’t grow up in the Church, so I didn’t have my rebel moment. I came into the Church at the age of 16 with my eyes somewhat open to what I was choosing. It was (through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit) my choice to respond to the gracious gift of Jesus; it wasn’t forced on me (“you have to be a Christian because that is what this family does”). Add to that, I have spent a lot of time reading Church history, listening to the elders who have gone before, and sitting under their wisdom. It has changed me. It has softened me. It has made me (somewhat) more patient with the foibles and frustrations of a Church that is made up of imperfect humans.

I wrote one post on the Biblical Womanhood hoopla that arose in the blogosphere after Rachel Held Evans’ newest book came out:

For 17 years I have struggled through the minefield of messages and advice, trying to be an obedient disciple of Jesus. And yet, I have also learned that much of the “advice” that is given out by well-meaning lay leaders in the church is loaded with spiritual guilt and peer pressure. Not only is there a desire to be a faithful servant, but there is a social need to fit in. And when those pressures are combined with “biblical” wisdom, it becomes a power cocktail of stress and anxiety, one that leads to a salvation by works rather than a salvation by faith, as women try their best to live up to the expectations.

I introduced y’all to some of my favourite female theologians, and Chuck talked about how to be a smart consumer of the academic literature that focuses on the complementarian-egalitarian gender debate:

First, there is a difference between “gender differences” and “inherent gender differences.” Gender differences (and that includes personality differences) are often substantial, but are the product of both biological and social factors. So finding larger differences than previous studies found does not lock us into the interpretation that these differences are all about God’s design. Also, the CBMW author rails against secular academics who are trying to prove that gender differences are “negligible, circumstantial and not a part of design,” but ignores the fact that the study (which I’m guessing he didn’t read) is about a conflict between academics who expect gender differences to be small and other academics (mostly evolutionary psychologists) who expect them to be large…Pointing to a poorly written study in a poor-quality journal and using it to “prove” an organization’s position actually serves to undercut the credibility of said organization.

On the sci-fi front, I wrote about the theme of apocalypse and the nature of humanity as portrayed in the Whedon-verse and Doctor Who and compared it to a Christian theological understanding:

Indeed, and here is the biggest difference, the Christian apocalypse is primarily redemptive. The Christian apocalypse is not about utter and total destruction. The earth and humanity will not be left in ruin, where the survivors are left alone to somehow bravely rebuild their lives. True there will be judgment (and violence). But even that judgment is redemptive.

So once again I want to say thank you to all of you out there. Some people think that blogging is an impersonal and isolating endeavour, but I have made new friends and even met some of you in real life as a result of the community that has been formed through the blogosphere.

May you all have a restful Christmas holiday. And I look forward to all the conversations that will happen in the blogosphere in 2013.

~Amanda

 

 

 

In Praise of the Geeky Wife

A wife of geeky character who can find? She is worth far more than gold-pressed latinum.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks no season of Doctor Who.

She brings him buffs, not de-buffs, all the days of her life.

She grinds mats and rep and works with eager hands.

She is like Cyrano Jones, bringing her tribbles from afar.

She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and healing potions for her guildies.

She considers an expansion pack and buys it; out of her earnings she buys comic books.

She sets about her work vigorously; the Force is strong with her (but without the midichlorian thing).

She sees that following the Rules of Acquisition leads to profit, and her lava lamp does not go out at night.

In her hands she holds the bat’leth and grasps the tricorder with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the noobs and extends her hands to the nerdy.

When the Shadows return to Z’ha’dum, she has no fear for her crew, for she is allied with the First Ones.

She makes Starfleet uniforms; she is clothed in command red (TNG>TOS).

Her husband is respected at Comic-Con, where he takes his seat among the gamers.

She makes die-cast models and sell them, and supplies the comic shops with figurines.

She is clothed with the slave Leia metal bikini; she can laugh at the Days of Futures Past.

She speaks Buffyspeak, and she can kill you with her brain.

She watches every zombie film and does not eat the flesh of the living.

Her children arise and call her shiny; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but no power in the ‘verse can stop you.

Bow ties are cool, and the Star Wars prequels are awful; but a woman who boldly goes where no one has gone before is to be praised.

Give her the fourth pip she has earned, and let her works bring her praise on ‘teh interwebs’”.

Thoughts on the Theme of Apocalyse and the Portrayal of the Nature of Humanity

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.” ~ Riley, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It’s interesting how often the shows I watch deal with the theme of apocalypse. Maybe I have some sort of fascination with the utter destruction of humanity, but that’s beside the point. The theme of apocalypse is a powerful tool for storytelling.

The Whedonverse is, of course, obsessed with the apocalypse. Whether it’s Buffy and the hellmouth, Angel taking on Wolfram & Hart, Echo dealing with a post-apocalyptic world brought about by the Rossum corporation, or Cabin in the Woods ending with an ancient god rising after the annual sacrifice failed, the end of the world is pretty much nigh in Joss Whedon’s world. (Even when Joss goes mainstream, like with The Avengers, the apocalypse is right there).

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But it’s not just the Whedonverse that is apocalypse-heavy. Look at Doctor Who. How many times in the seven short years of this new series has the Doctor and his companions worked to avert the end of time? At least once a season, but often more, especially during the David Tennant years.

All of this has got me thinking about how the nature of humanity informs and influences the nature of the apocalypses presented.

1) It’s not humanity’s fault. In this case, the apocalypse is brought about by outside forces, be it aliens or demons depending on the show. Humanity becomes either merely an innocent bystander who is largely unaware the imminent danger (think Joyce through the first two seasons of Buffy, or also Xander in the episode “The Zeppo.”), or they become the reason why the heroes fight. In the latter, humanity is precious, special and good and should not be wiped off the face of the earth. Thus, in Doctor Who, the Doctor speechifies quite a bit about how earth and humanity are important. The best example is at the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor, as he’s telling the Atraxi to not mess with earth, and the image of all the previous doctors flash on the view screen of the alien menace.


2) It’s humanity’s fault.
In this case, humans are directly responsible for the resulting apocalypse. In Cabin in the Woods, after two victims of the annual ritual sacrifice survive and discover that they were manipulated to their deaths by an elaborate underground organization that sacrifices 5 young people every year using the gruesomest means possible. Now of course, there could be some sympathy for the office grunts behind this, as they are merely appeasing the ancient gods who threaten to rise and destroy humanity otherwise. But as Joss Whedon aptly summarizes on the commentary, sometimes “people are more important than humanity”. Another example can be seen in Dollhouse. Here, the world faces it’s apocalyptic future because people get greedy about being able to have the ability to be imprinted on any body they want and live forever.

In either scenario (not humanity’s fault/humanity’s fault), the primary motivator is the need for power. The alien, demon, or people who bring about the apocalypse usurp control that was not theirs to have. As well, in either scenario, humanity is on the brink of complete destruction. True, that in Dollhouse, for example, the good guys win, and find a way to undo the “wipes”, humanity has definitely been devastated.

Center panel: John the Evangelist on Patmos
John the Evangelist on Patmos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Christian apocalypse is quite different. First, we live in a tension as to the nature of humanity. Humanity is God’s good creation, precious and loved, but at the same time it is fallen and corrupt and tries to seize control and power it does not have. Humans are free and have responsibility and will be judged for their actions and inactions.

Second, the Christian apocalypse is not about some god trying to seize power and control. Instead, the God of the universe, the God who created humanity, loved it and called it good is ultimately in control. He doesn’t usurp power, and he doesn’t unlawfully subjugate humanity. God does not have to swoop in like the Doctor who was visiting another plane unaware of what was happening on earth and at the last possible minute try to fix everything. God decrees and knows, and proclaims to us how it will end before it has even started.

Indeed, and here is the biggest difference, the Christian apocalypse is primarily redemptive. The Christian apocalypse is not about utter and total destruction. The earth and humanity will not be left in ruin, where the survivors are left alone to somehow bravely rebuild their lives. True there will be judgment (and violence). But even that judgment is redemptive. Earth will not be some burning desolate rock floating in the universe for the rest of eternity. Instead, the apocalypse brings about a new heaven and a new earth. Through the power and blood of the Lamb, sin that has infected and corrupted humanity will be eliminated. And the people of God will live in resurrected glory. The Christian apocalypse is not about hope of an ethereal life in heaven. The Christian apocalypse is about the hope of a physical, redeemed and resurrected life on earth. It’s about restoration to God’s intended purpose for humanity. It’s about reclamation wherein God reclaims his good creation from the grasp of sin.

The promise of a crown of life.

A call to repentance and to worship.

God dwelling with his people.

The song “Praise Yahweh” being sung by the multitudes.

The victory of the Lamb who vanquishes all evil.

A holy city, a new Jerusalem contrasted with the unholy city of Babylon.

A return and restoration of Eden.

Emmanuel, the king who promises to come quickly for his beautiful, sanctified bride.

 

 

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The Princess Bride — Whedon Style

One of my biggest pet peeves is Hollywood’s insistence on sequels, reboots or remakes of perfectly decent movies. There are some movies that should and must be off limits from Hollywood’s lack of creativity. The Princess Bride is one of those movies that must not ever be touched. Ever. But the writer of TPB has been talking about how he’s been trying to write a sequel.

So I’m going to give Hollywood a hand. The only way the Princess Bride should be done again, be it reboot or sequel, is if it is left in the hands of Joss Whedon. And so, I’m putting on my “casting director” hat and give you all the official and only cast list for The Princess Bride reboot. This is largely inspired by the brilliant casting of the soon-to-be-released Much Ado About Nothing.

Westley: Alexis Denisof

Alexis has proved that he can play comedic and swashbuckler. This rogue demon hunter also demonstrated that he can play the lead, as can be seen in his upcoming turn as Benedick in Much Ado.

Buttercup: Felicia Day

Given that Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker have great chemistry, it would have been easy to choose Amy Acker for this role. But at the end of the day Felicia is the better choice. I mean, can’t you picture her saying the epic Buttercup line, “when I say you’re a coward, that is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth.”

Vizzini: Fran Kranz

Fran has proven that he can play the “brain” in his turn as Topher Brink, and his twitchiness and quick wit (see both Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods) would help bring Vizzini to life.

Inigo Montoya: Harry Lennix

Harry Lennix’s turn as Boyd Langton demonstrates that he can play both intense and emotional. Can’t you picture those intense dark eyes staring down Count Rugen, and with a quiet seriousness, Lennix saying THE line: “my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

Fezzik: Marc Blucas

No one can replace Andre the Giant. But if it was re-done Whedon-style than my choice is Marc Blucas. The way that he played Riley, he showed that he could handle a character who is good-hearted but not excessively bright. A good runner-up could also be George Hertzberg, who played the cyber-demon-human Adam in season four of Buffy.

Humperdinck: J. August Richards

Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndam-Price fought side by side. Wouldn’t it be cool to put the two actors up against each as enemies instead?

Miracle Max & Valerie: Danny Strong & Emma Caulfield

Jonathan and Anya. Together. That is all.

Count Rugen: Nathon Fillion

After turns as Captain Hammer (Dr. Horrible) and Caleb (Buffy) I just love Nathan as the “bad guy.” His ability to play smarmy self-absorption would put a different (but equally funny) spin on the lines about “preparing the definitive work” detailing his “deep and abiding interest in pain”, which Christopher Guest had delivered with a quiet sociopathy.

The Albino: Alan Tudyk

“The pit of despair. Don’t…*cough, hack* don’t even think about trying to escape.”
Alan’s previous roles have encompassed a wide range of characters, from his humourous horror hillbilly role in Tucker & Dale vs Evil to the many faces of Alpha. I’m not sure how he would choose to play Count Rugen’s casually-sadistic lab assistant, but there is no way it would not be brilliant.

Chief Enforcer: Tahmoh Penikett

Tahmoh is awesome.

Clergyman: Tom Lenk

Lenk’s affected way of saying “vampyre” in his role as Andrew (Buffy and Angel) makes him the ideal candidate to talk about “mawwiage.”

The Grandfather: Anthony Stewart Head

Everything is better with Tony Head in it. Runner up for the role of the Grandfather could also go to James Marsters who just turned 50! (when did Spike get so old?)

So there you have it. The Princess Bride remade. This is the only way it can be done. I’ll await my royalty cheque! :)

High School is Hell: Parallels to Life in the Church

I’ve been away on a silent retreat (aka: an introvert’s dream). So these last couple of days I’ve been posting some re-worked posts on Christianity and the Buffyverse. Enjoy!

***

One of my favourite themes in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that high school is hell. From the cheerleaders who spontaneously combust, to the swim team that is made up of creatures from the black lagoon, to the fact that the high school was literally sitting over a hell-mouth, Whedon explores the common high school experiences through a supernatural lens. Not only does his comment on the high school experience, he also captures the irony of Hollywood and our culture exalting high school as the “golden years” of our lives. Sunnydale High looked like an idyllic California school, but those who attended knew the truth of the darkness and problems that existed in its hallowed walls.

Are there parallels between the “high school is hell” motif in Buffy, and the reality of living as a Christian in the North American evangelical Church?

Like Sunnydale high, there seems to be more focus on the drama of relationships and interpersonal conflict than on the purpose of the institution. For Sunnydale high, the purpose was education; for the community of faith it is worship.

Like Sunnydale high, from the outside the community of faith tries to look like a sunshiney-bright place. In reality, what resides within it is infighting, outgroups, bullying and ostracizing.

Like Sunnydale high, the community of faith is a place that has jocks, beautiful girls, geeks, losers, punks and brainiacs. There are the hyena people who bully and prey on the weak. There are those who are ignored and are basically invisible. There are the jock and popular girls who are the “in-crowd” and who define what is popular and cool.

What both Sunnydale high and the Church in North America have is a slayer who protects and fights against the dark powers of the hellmouth.

At Sunnydale High that slayer is Buffy. In the church, that slayer is grace.

Grace fights against the legalism.
Grace comforts the outcasts.
Grace unites the different cliques and reshapes them as they journey through they come together to worship.
Grace takes on the darkness and wins.

Buffy, Bella and Mark Driscoll

I’m on my way to a silent retreat (aka: an introvert’s dream). So the next couple of days I’m posting some re-worked posts on Christianity and the Buffyverse. Enjoy!

***

There’s a clip of a sermon by Mark Driscoll making the rounds on the internet. (Both Tim Challies and Marc Cortez have picked it up). Basically, he laments the “top picks for pre-teen girls” at Amazon. They almost all have to do with vampires, werewolves, magic and death.

In many ways he’s right. The majority of the books out there for young girls are spin-offs of Twilight. And he’s right, there is some pretty questionable stuff in Twilight.

But I think here he misses the point. Yes, Twilight is awful on so many levels. First, the writing is dreadful. Second, Bella is a non-character with no personality.

And my biggest pet peeve is that people are pitching the series as an example of chastity and abstinence. This is a load of hock-patooey. In a nutshell, Bella pines and longs for Edward. Edward has the “moral” courage to resist her advances, saying that they need to be married first. What is the message here? Girls, if you long and pine and desire to be with a guy, it’s okay because the (teen-aged, hormone fueled) guy will be strong enough to rebuff your advances! Um. I don’t think so.

Where Driscoll goes wrong is in suggesting that the current vampire trend is indicative of the vampire/werwolf/zombie genre in general. I think when done correctly, vampires et al become a tool to examine humanity, to explore desires and motivations and to present the struggle between good and evil.

Now, I have to be upfront and admit that I am a huge Joss Whedon fan, so I may be a bit biased. But Whedon got it so right in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the first three seasons at least).

The premise of the first three seasons is High School is Hell.

The swim team jocks are actually mutant monsters after being injected with steroids.

The girl who is ignored by the cool kids eventually becomes invisible and goes all “Carrie” on her classmates.

Frat boys are servants of their giant snake monster, and want nothing more than to feed you to it in their basement.

A gang of bullies are possessed by a hyena-spirit and will pick on the weak and outcast in the school, not to mention they will also eat the principal.

And the big one: If you sleep with your boyfriend, he will lose his soul and become a monster! This of course then gets repeated in Season 4, when Buffy goes off to college and ends up with a human (normal) guy who ends up being a jerk as well.

High school is hell. And Whedon uses vampires, werewolves, snake monsters, Frankenstein and more to explore this theme. It works. It is brilliant. And then, he continues using the genre to explore the theme of redemption with the spinoff “Angel.”

My point: We need discernment. Which Driscoll does talk about. But that discernment also means not just throwing something away because it has vampires and werewolves or young wizards and witches. What do these fictional and fantastical creatures say about humanity? If they don’t say anything, then we need the discernment to see that they are nothing more than fluff marketing by publishers and movie studios to make a quick buck.

The Soul, Non-Reductive Physicalism and Buffy The Vampire Slayer

I’m on my way to a silent retreat (aka: an introvert’s dream). So the next couple of days I’m posting some re-worked posts on Christianity and the Buffyverse. Enjoy!

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Halfway through the fifth season of Angel, Whedon kills off one of the main characters (surprise, surprise). Fred is killed so that an ‘old one’ or ancient god can assume her body and conquer the world. Angel and his team are devastated and vow to find a way to bring Fred back. Angel says, “it’s the soul that matters.” If they can find where Fred’s soul has gone, they can re-soul her and then live happily ever after. Unfortunately, they learn that Fred’s soul was destroyed when the god Illyria assumed her body.

Watching the episode made me think about the understanding of body and soul in the Buffy-verse. Overall, it presents a platonic understanding of the soul: soul is good, body is meh.

Take Angel, for example. In season 2 of Buffy, Buffy sleeps with Angel and quickly learns the moral lesson that if you sleep with your boyfriend he’ll turn into a monster. In this case, Angel loses his soul and becomes ‘Angelus’ the most vicious vampire ever. Buffy and her friends try to find ways to re-soul Angel, which eventually happens, just at the same moment that Buffy must kill him to save the world from total destruction.

In Angel season 4, the team is trying to find out information about a big bad meanie, and figure that if they can bring back ‘Angelus’ they will find out the info they need to defeat the big bad. Angel’s soul is mystically removed and put into a special jar, safe and sound (for a little while anyway). Plot twist, plot twist, plot twist, and the jar that houses Angel’s soul disappears. Not to worry though, Willow saves the day and magically breaks the jar, thereby releasing the soul, which allows her to re-soul Angel.

Over and over again, it is demonstrated that the soul is what matters. It is the soul that makes someone human rather than demon.

15 years ago, had you asked me what I thought about body and soul, I would have agreed with this basic understanding of the soul: it is the soul that matters; the body is just ‘meh’ or even unnecessary. In fact, part of my testimony of how I became a Christian includes being confronted with the question, “where will your soul go when you die?”

Of course, I’ve had lots of time to learn and think and reflect and have my assumptions challenged. Thanks, in large part, to N.T. Wright I have come to see the value and importance of the body. We will be resurrected, body and soul. The body is not unnecessary, nor is it inherently evil. It will be redeemed and recreated and we will dwell in the temple of God as embodied persons not just wispy non-corporeal souls.

What I’m not sure what to do with is the non-reductive physicalism of scholars like Nancey Murphy, Malcolm Jeeves etc. Basically, they argue that there is no dichtomy. Humans are entirely physical beings and that biblical references to soul or spirit refer to the qualities of being alive and in relation to God. Is this position an over-correction against platonic understandings of the soul?

What would the Buffy-verse look like if we adopted a non-reductive physicalist position? From what I’ve seen, non-reductive physicalists interpret demons as oppressive social structures, and allow only God to be Spirit. So a person could not become a vampire due to a demon setting up shop in their body. Indeed, using a non-reductive physicalist position requires that Angel, Spike and all the other vampires in the Buffy-verse be re-written as zombies!

Wahoo! Zombies! Of course they’re not nearly as sexy and broody and mysterious as vampires. But, maybe it would mean the “Master” might have ended up looking a little prettier if he had been a zombie.