Wednesday, 11 February 2009


For my dissertation I have taken Mal’s crisis of faith, juxtaposed it with several different biblical images and written it out in the form of a myth which reflects its setting at the start (genesis) of the very first episode.

From the light of certainty into the dark night of the soul[1]

In the beginning darkness covered the valley of the shadow of death. And light shone in the darkness – the light of gunfire – and in the light stood the man and the woman. Side by side they fought, united with others in their battle for disunion and independence.[2] Nothing was impossible for this man, he felt full of the Spirit of God. He wore the symbol of his faith close to his heart. God was on his side; God would not let him down.

And the man stood in the darkness and proclaimed victory. He was oblivious to the scene of chaos and destruction all around him. He knew that even if he fell the angels would catch him. He kissed the symbol of his faith … and in that kiss experienced betrayal.

The woman brought the word to him: ‘Our orders are to surrender. No one is coming to save us.’

The war was lost and so was the man.

The look in his eyes said it all.

‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’

After long days and nights of further suffering he walked away from that valley – though some say that he never really left. He returned, for a brief time to the ranch where he was brought up and to the church community where the seeds of his faith had been planted and nurtured. And his return stirred up something in those he met. They did not know what to say to him, but his brokenness spilt out through the only part of the Bible that made any sense. He told his own story through Naomi’s words:
Call me no longer, Malcolm (which means ‘follower of St Columba’)
Call me Mal (which is Latin for ‘bad’)
For the Almighty has dealt with me badly.
I went away full
But the Lord has brought me back empty;
Why call me Malcolm,
When the Lord has dealt harshly with me,
And the Almighty has brought calamity upon me.[3]

In his rage he cried out to God: ‘How could you let the Alliance win?
I put my trust in you; I was doing the impossible for you! You abandoned me!’

Then he turned to the congregation and said: ‘How could you have so deceived yourselves and deceived me into believing that there was a God who loves and cares for us? Well I aim to make sure no one else makes that mistake. See, I cried out to God for help and he didn’t come. I listened for his voice and the silence was deafening. Now I gotta go on living in a ’Verse that’s going to be very different from the one I fought for. And only one thing is certain in this new life – there is no God – we live and die alone.’

[1] Based on Genesis 1-3; Job 30-31; Psalms 22; 23 and 91:11-12 ; Matthew 4:6; 26:49 and 27:46; Luke 1:37.
[2] A line inspired by a description of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia: ‘It is an army of remarkable unity, fighting for disunion.’ Shaara, Killer Angels pp.xxv-xxvi.
[3] Based on Ruth 1:19-21.
Meaning of the name Malcolm taken from accessed 31 January 2009. River points out in The Train Job (Whedon, Firefly Episode 1.2) that Mal means bad. There is no evidence in Firefly that his name changed at this point. ‘Mal’ seems to be his preferred name, he is usually only called ‘Malcolm’ on official records.

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