Sunday, 30 November 2008


In the episode ‘Objects in Space’ River hears the thoughts of the other folk on board Serenity.

Uncharacteristically Shepherd Book fiercely looks at River and thinks: ‘I don’t give half a hump if you’re innocent or not! So where does that put you?’

What does that mean?

Also, what is the significance of the name ‘Book’ for the character for whom the Bible is so important?

And is it just coincidence that the names ‘River’ and ‘Reaver’ (both victims of the Alliance) are so similar?

Saturday, 29 November 2008


If I haven't referred to Inara much then I've said even less about Simon and River. Time to address that, but first a pithy statement from Book which could have come straight out of a conversation in the Emerging Church.

In the episode Jaynestown, Shepherd Book finds River editing his Bible in order to remove the contradictions.

Book: ‘River you don’t fix the Bible!’

River: ‘It’s broken, it doesn’t make sense!’

Book: ‘It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something. And letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.’

Commenting on this dialogue, and on the relationship between Simon and River, Alyson Buckman writes:

‘Ironically, River is like the Bible – she “doesn’t make sense,” and her brother attempts to fix her as she attempts to fix the Bible. As Book says about the Bible, the crew of Serenity must come to have faith in River, which they do by the end of [the episode] “Objects in Space.”’
Buckman, AR, ‘Much Madness is Divinest Sense’ in Wilcox, R & Cochran, TR (editors), Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier, (London: I.B. Tauris,2008) p.46.


Some of Inara's wisdom from the episode 'Serenity' (Maybe this proves that Book isn't Jonah.)

Book: ‘I've been out of the Abbey two days. I've beaten a lawman senseless. Fallen in with criminals. I watched the captain shoot the man I swore to protect. And I'm not even sure if I think he was wrong. I believe I just … I think I’m on the wrong ship.’

Inara: ‘Maybe. Or maybe you're exactly where you ought to be.’


There seem to be some similarities between the characters of Shepherd Book and Inara. Both have left behind communities; Book left the ‘Order’ of Southdown Abbey for the ‘chaos’ of Serenity, whereas Inara left the Companions’ House in Sihnon where she had at one time harboured ambitions to be the House Priestess. They are both known by their occupation/vocation/calling. Are they both running away from something/someone? Is Book looking for a ticket to Joppa even though he should be going to Nineveh?

Shepherd Book often comes out with pithy statements - as in this exchange from episode 1:

Kaylee: ‘How come you don’t care where you’re going?’

Book: ‘’Cause how you get there is the worthier part.’

As I re-watch the series I am going to look out for ways in which Inara exhibits the same sort of wisdom in what she says.

Or is it wisdom?

Cynthea Masson thinks that some of the pithy sayings used by Inara ‘verge on cliché’ and rather than being full of meaning they are actually used as a way of avoiding actual conversation - ‘an aspect of verbal etiquette in which a Companion would surely be well versed’. Masson, C, ‘But she was naked! And all articulate!’ in Wilcox, R & Cochran, TR (editors), Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier, (London: I.B. Tauris,2008) p.20.

Could the same accusation (obviously without the reference to Companion training) be made against Shepherd Book – or against the Church/Emerging Conversation?


I haven't said much about Inara yet, but she comes over as a very spiritual character, both as a result of her training and through her lifestyle.

Whedon explains that:
'Companions trained in all the arts, extremely well-schooled. They lived not unlike nuns, worked not unlike geishas, and often rose to political or social prominence when they retired,’
Whedon, J, Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, (London: Titan Books, 2005) pp.12-13.

After describing temple/sacred prostitution in ancient Middle Eastern society, Andrew Aberdein writes:

‘Inara also exhibits a strong spiritual side. She is frequently associated with religious iconography, primarily Buddhist, and both she and Nandi invoke the Buddha in Chinese imprecations. Moreover, Inara explicitly links the sacred to her practice as a Companion, referring to her shuttle as ‘a consecrated Place of Union’ (Jaynestown).’
Aberdein, A, ‘The Companions and Socrates’ in Wilcox, R & Cochran, TR (editors), Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier, (London: I.B. Tauris,2008) p.67.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Some great insights into the characters and storylines in the 'Firefly Diaries' on


Listed all of the key spiritual themes that I have identified so far:
  • Brokenness
  • Sacrifice
  • Lost/Found
  • Community/Family
  • Table Fellowship
  • Death
  • Morality/Ethics/Conscience
  • Betrayal
  • Fear/Hope
  • Prayer
  • Safe/Saved
  • Promised Land
  • Good/Evil
  • Myths
  • No Aliens = No God?
  • Psychic Powers
  • Personhood/Being Human
  • Doubt
  • Nomadic Lifestyle
  • Music
  • Belief