Sunday, 29 June 2008


There's some great comments on a Study Series on Firefly on The entry for 13th May focuses on Episode One. As well as commenting on the effects of Mal's experience at the Valley of Serenity and Book's doubts about whether he is in the right place, this study material also draws attention to ...
  • The similarities between the crew/passengers of Firefly and the disciples that Jesus called - ' How did Jesus choose the people who followed him? Would we be hard pressed to not find people like the characters in Firefly in Jesus’s followers? The prostitute, the criminal, the priest, the lover, the husband, the mechanic, the doctor, the sick, the abused…'
  • Book's response to Kaylee's perceptive comment (made during their first encounter) - Kaylee: 'how come you don't care where you're going?' Book: 'Cause how you get there is the worthier part.'
  • The way in which, if we want to be truly missional, we need to make an effort to really pay attention to those around us - to be as observant and as interested in others as Kaylee is - as was demonstrated in the conversation quoted above.
  • Also based on that conversation is the question: ' How open are we to people who are on a journey to a non-specified destination? '
  • The importance of the table fellowship that the characters share.
  • A comparison of Joss Whedon's storytelling technique with the way in which we do, or don't, engage with the stories of the characters that we come across in the Bible.

Some great ideas there. The first and last points make me want to imaginatively explore/juxtapose Gospel stories and Firefly storylines - i.e. putting Firefly characters into Biblical stories and seeing how they react - and vice versa, introducing Biblical characters to the crew of Serenity.

There are four of these study guides online so far - I'll comment each of them over the next few days.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Here's the introduction to Shepherd Book's character from

' He is a priest, older and a little wiser than the rest of the crew. It is unclear if Book is on a mission to spread the word of God throughout the universe or on a personal “walk-a-bout.” He’s found God, but he still needs to find himself.'


I was very interested to read B. E. Wheatley's blog entry 'WWSBD - What Would Shepherd Book Do'.

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’.

Friday, 27 June 2008


In the episode 'Objects in Space', the bounty hunter, Early, who seems to have information about Shepherd Book's background, tells Simon 'That ain't a Shepherd'.

What are we supposed to make of that comment?

I recently read 'Bread and Wine' by Ignazio Silone. Set in the 1930's this book tells the story of Pietro Spina, an anti-Fascist revolutionary who goes into hiding by disguising himself as a priest. Pietro (or Don Paolo as he becomes) is taken aback by the way in which he is treated once he adopts the identity of a 'man of God' e.g. the questions people ask him, the confessions made to him, the way that they expect him to act and the way that his presence in the community is viewed as a good omen. Although he puts up a great deal of resistance, and keeps making the excuse that he is not authorised to serve in this diocese, he is drawn into acting in certain ways because of the garments that he is wearing/the role that he has assumed.

Did a similar thing happened to Shepherd Book? Did he assume the identity of a Shepherd in order to hide from his enemies/a particular situation/himself - and in doing so did he actually (over time) become a Shepherd?

Or is it just that he doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a priest and therefore, in the eyes of Early, can't possibly be one? That prompts the question - how are contemporary 'Shepherds' breaking the mould?