Whilst acknowledging that Book is a flawed character, he outlines the way in which the Shepherd demonstrates a missional model of living. Inspired by Michael Frost's book 'Exiles' he writes:
' [Shepherd Book] embraces the call to God’s mission in this world (Missio Dei) he clearly sees beyond the titles smuggler, thief and whore and recognises the fingerprint of God in peoples lives (Imago Dei) and seeks to find where Jesus is already at work and dares to step into that context and work with him (Participatus Christo). He moves outside his comfort zone and finds Proximity with those he seeks to serve and love. He clearly seeks to practice the presence of Christ in the midst of serenity’s crew, living as he believes Jesus would aboard the ship. He embraces material and temporal powerlessness although there is an indication that he had the potential to come among these people from a position of power he instead came as one of them and as a servant. Finally he does in key moments embrace proclamation, he becomes the voice of God in situations far removed from the church. '
As I reread that paragraph I can think of instances from the show which back up each of his comments. For example 'he moves outside his comfort zone' is illustrated by his admission to Inara in Episode 1 'I think I'm on the wrong ship'. She replies 'Maybe. Or maybe you're exactly where you ought to be.'
I presume the statement: 'there is an indication that he had the potential to come among these people from a position of power' is based upon the fact that when Book was injured in the episode 'Safe' the Alliance Commander took one look at his identity card and said 'Get this man to the infirmary at once.' This is another one of the cryptic clues to Book's mysterious past.
I going to continue looking at the character of Shepherd Book through this particular lens as I rewatch the DVD.
B. E. Wheatley goes on to comment that
' What attracts me to [Book] is that the character was created by a self confessed atheist and absurdist, Joss Wedon. I see Joss (alongside the likes of Kevin Smith and Larry and Andy Wachowski) as a key voice for a group of subcultures that I have a massive heart for. To me Shepherd Book is a call to the church from those subcultures about the kind of people they wish we were. To put it simply – They like Shepherd Book but not the Church and I think that means they wish the church was missional.'
This is another fascinating facet of this study - that is addressing one of the suggestions from my post on 25th April i.e. ‘Reflect on the possible journey that led the film maker to produce what you have just seen’.