Today I’d like to answer a question sent in my Justin Diehl, who is another one of the podcasters participating in the DDP challenge. Justin started podcasting in 2010 and has had several podcasts. His DDP contributions appear at hiddennode.com.
So here is Justin’s question:
In response to your request for questions, I’m curious… what is your opinion of the appearance of religion and pious figures in fiction, extending this question to media such as TV shows, movies, or video games and comics.
I remember one of my favorite appearances of religious figures in fiction comes from the show Babylon 5. In the episode, the station is playing host to various species showing off their religious beliefs and spiritual aspects. Each species seems to have a strong single religion, but when Earth is presented they show scores of individuals from many faiths. I always liked that moment because it felt interesting to me to show the diversity of our world and how much religion has helped forge us as a culture.
I’m not the type to normally be an audience member of your show but it has been a pleasure having you as a part of DDoP this year. Thanks for taking part.
Well, Justin thanks so much for listening. It’s really great to have you join the Lifespring family for at least the DDP. I hope you’ll stick around even after the challenge is over. It’s been a fun, and yes, a challenging endeavor. I’ve enjoyed listening to the various shows and getting acquainted with the various folks through their shows.
So, as for your question. What’s my opinion of the appearance of religion and pious figures in fiction, including books, TV shows, movies or video games and comics.
Well, we are spiritual beings. We’re not just flesh and blood. The book of Genesis says that God made man in His image. I looked up the original Hebrew word for image. There are about 13 different Hebrew words that are rendered as image or images in English. The specific word used in Genesis 1:26 and 27 where it says that God created man in His image is tselem. This word has a few different meanings, but I believe the closest meaning in this context is “a representative figure”.
Stay with me.
In the NT book of John, chapter 4, verse 24 it says, “God is spirit…”
So, putting the verses in Genesis together with this verse in John, we can conclude that God made us spiritual beings.
Also, one of God’s attributes is that of creator. He created you, me…the universe and everything in it. I believe He gave us that attribute as well. Of course, He can create something out of nothing just by speaking it into existence. We use his building blocks to make our creations, but humans have been creating almost since God created the first of us.
And what we create is a reflection of who we are in one way or another.
Therefore, it is not at all surprising that religious or spiritual figures would show up in the art that we create, whether it be painting, sculpture, music, literature, TV shows, movies, video games or comics.
I must admit that I am not a big consumer of fiction writing. I stay pretty busy creating media for my church and my podcasts in addition to my work as a voiceover guy, the family business that my wife and I run, and also trying to be an involved husband, dad and grandpa. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze much more in.
But I do love most of the Star Trek franchises, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings (sort of) and that type of thing. Also, it probably isn’t surprising that I’m a big fan of the C.S. Lewis “Chronicles of Narnia” series of books, which are allegories of the Christian faith.
I never did get into Babylon 5, so I didn’t see the episode you referred to, Justin, but it sounds like it correctly portrayed Earth’s spiritual diversity. Yes, there are many religions around the globe, and all but one are man trying to reach God. Christianity is different, in that God has done all the work to reach man.
Other religions try to get people to a point where they are good enough to either reach God, or Nirvana, or one-ness with the Universe or whatever.
Christianity says that man is broken. We can’t be good enough. It isn’t in us to attain perfection. Try as we might, we fail. But God *is* perfect, and He is the standard by which we are measured. And since He is our creator, He knows all about our problem of imperfection, which came about because He gave us the power of choice. He wanted us to choose to be with Him and love Him as He loves us. After all, if there is no choice, there is no love, right?
So with the power of choice, there is the power to make wrong choices. And that is what happened, and that is when our brokenness was introduced.
But because God loves his creation, He made a way for our brokenness to be forever done away with. When Jesus, who is 100% man and 100% God, walked the earth, He lived a perfect life, which made Him qualified to become the sacrifice that would bring spiritual healing to anyone who chooses to accept it. This is God reaching out to man to bring man to himself. The exact opposite of every other man-made religion.
The true Christian life is not religion, it it relationship with a loving God.
So Justin, that’s my opinion on the appearance of religious figures in all the various forms of fiction. It’s to be expected, because our creations reflect who we are, just as we are a reflection of who God is.
Thanks so much for asking.