"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side"- Han Solo
The way religion is portrayed in sci-fi is sometimes the worst of straw men. Just a few examples include Good Omens, American Gods, Raised By Wolves, and the entire concept of "The Force" in the Star Wars universe.
These aren't religions. They're crayon sketches of a religion drawn by someone with only a passing knowledge of (or deep experience with) an actual religion. They're pediatric theology canonized into a sci-fi framework meant from the start to highlight a pre-conceived set of flaws.
As geeks, our (valid) enjoyment of the sci fi story unwittingly undermines our potential enjoyment of religion and religious experiences. But, as RELIGIOUS geeks, we now have to overcome this perception of religions being completely illogical, appealing to the small of mind and weak of intellect.
BUT… as IT folks with a strong connection to an organized faith system, we also have the opportunity to point out these flaws and help others see them as such. We don’t need to re-write the Bene Gesseri order any more than we need to make the magic of Harry Potter adhere to the laws of physics. But by engaging our fellow nerds on the subject, we can encourage them to more critically assess the story’s (and therefore their own) pre-conceived notions.
Listen or read the transcript below.
Speaker 1 (00:23): [inaudible] Leon Adato (00:32): Welcome to our podcast, where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate it, we're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways. We make our careers, IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is technically religious. The way religion is often portrayed in Sci-fi can be the worst of straw-men often. It seems like their crayon sketches of religion drawn by someone with very little knowledge of an actual religion. Pediatric theology canonized into sci-fi framework meant from the start to highlight a preconceived set of flaws. Does our enjoyment as geeks and as Sci-Fi aficionados of these stories, unwittingly undermine our potential enjoyment of religion and religious experiences, or as IT folks with strong, with a strong connection to an organized faith system, do we have an opportunity to point out these flaws and help others see them as such and possibly help them build an appreciation of real religion in the process I'm Leon Adato, and I'd like to welcome two new voices to the technically religious Pantheon. First up is Justin Dearing. Justin Dearing (01:40): Hello. Leon Adato (01:41): And next up is Jason Carrier. Jason Carrier (01:43): Great to be here. Leon Adato (01:44): Okay. So as is our want here at technically religious, we're going to start off with some shameless self promotion of guests and, uh, everything that you're doing. Uh, Justin, why don't you start us off, tell us who you are and a little bit about yourself. Justin Dearing (01:57): So I'm Justin during I am a senior consultant at Neudesic, I'm basically a mostly.net developer who, uh, actually liked writing SQL, uh, Zippy1981, I am Zippy1981 on the Twitters, uh, because I am old, not quite as old as Leon, uh, and, uh, I identify as Roman Catholic. New Speaker (02:17): Very Good. Okay. How about you, Jason? Jason Carrier (02:20): Hi, my name is Jason carrier. I'm a product manager at SolarWinds, and also a freelance product consultant. Uh, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. All the other social medias, are pretty worthless personally. Um, on Twitter, I am network_carrier and LinkedIn. You can just look me up by my name, and I would consider myself a self-styled Buddhist. Leon Adato (02:40): Fantastic. All right. And wrapping, circling back. I am Leon Adato. I'm a head geek. Yes, that's actually my job title at Solarwinds, It's not solar or wind because naming things is hard. Apparently you can find me on the Twitters, which I say just to horrify Keith Townsend's daughter, uh, you can find me there @leonadato. You can also find me pontificating on things, both technical and religious @www.adatosystems.com, And I identify as an Orthodox Jew and sometimes my rabbi lets me do so. Um, so I want to dive into this conversation, uh, starting off, you know, from the premise, is, is that really what you think? And what I mean by that is that when I'm watching certain shows and I'm specifically thinking about things like, um, certainly anything by Neil Gaiman, American gods, good omens. I really desperately hope that Neil Gaiman doesn't think that's what we religious people think. You know, as far as what religion is, I just, I, I categorize it all. Or most of it as what I call pediatric theology. What I mean by that is somebody who is a grown-up. They might have an engineering degree. They understand how load bearing walls and weight works and things like that, but their religious education stopped in third grade and therefore they find themselves arguing, "thats stupid. You can't fit that many animals in a boat, there would never be able to"...., which is ridiculous. Not just because the question itself is a little bit weird, but also because there are thousands of years of commentary, from, you know, all the way back to the middle ages, where they said just all the birds I know about wouldn't fit on a boat that size, of course, those dimensions don't work. Obviously there's something else we're talking about here. My point being that somebody's, will say real world physical education has proceeded into their adulthood, but their religious education stopped in second grade and never went any further, but they're still trying to argue religion using that understanding. It seems like there's, that's part of what scifi is trying to do. I don't know what you think about it. Jason Carrier (04:52): I was gonna say, I think it's important to start with, uh, the, the differences between what is a religion, what's your worldview and, uh, kind of your, your attitude towards spirituality. Those things are kind of three distinct, um, uh, characteristics. So I would define them, I think it's important for our conversation to go through define those words. Right. And what do we mean by those? So to me, religion is, uh, all that set of, uh, kind of, uh, uh, habits that you go through and, and, you know, the different ceremonies, the, the different, uh, um, holidays that you have, that kind of thing, that's the religion, but then the worldview is, is kind of, how do you think that reality works, you know, uh, is, is there, uh, uh, planets going around the sun or is the sun going around the planets? You know, that kind of thing. That's kind of overall worldview, and then there's also the, the elements of spirituality is how do you think the, the unseen works, you know, is there something working behind the scenes? How does that work? Is it, is it karma? Is it heaven? Is it, hell, is it, you know, what's, what's the paradigm of the unseen that you ascribe to? Leon Adato (05:48): Got it, Justin, any, like what you, what's your take on that? Justin Dearing (05:53): Okay. I think, I think Jason's raising good points, but I think another thing to keep in mind is, you know, some people Who actually are, you know, perfect their religion and do try to be spiritual, also do have these, this pediatric theology, you know, they, they believe it all the animals on the boat, not just because there are fundamentals or wherever they, they just haven't really liked delved deep into it at all. New Speaker (06:13): Right. Justin Dearing (06:13): You know, Leon Adato (06:14): That was. Justin Dearing (06:14): And their religious. Leon Adato (06:14): That was what they learned. And it was good enough for them in the same way that some people stop learning math, when they can balance their checkbook. And some people stop even before that. And think that it's okay just to take what the bank statement says as Gospel truth. So, right. I think that's true. And circling it back to Sci-Fi, I think the challenge with religion as it's portrayed in Sci-Fi and fantasy, is that I think it does a disservice to the consumer, to, to the reader, um, in the sense that first of all, I always think that a richer, more, uh, more detailed world makes for a better story. So when you give religion in your story, short shrift, you are giving the story short shrift in a way. Um, also I think that a lot of scifi and fantasy writers find religion, this, this straw man, religion to be a really good antagonist, but if you start really fleshing out the religion, it stops being as good an antagonist. You know, when you start to understand that there are reasons and, and background and, and underpinnings suddenly it's not this, you know, totalitarian authoritarian regime, instituting the religious will of the, like, you know, that kind of like you can't do that once you recognize that there's a, you know, 4 or 5,000 year history behind it. I don't know. Jason Carrier (07:39): And then the fun part there is which part of the four or 5,000 year history are you going to represent in your, your characterization of the religion? Because that's kind of what they're doing in Sci-fi in a lot of ways is characterizing religions. It's definitely a reductionist view of it, but, uh, I would argue that there's still value necessarily to that reductionist view. Uh, you don't necessarily need a story to be true in order to derive some value from it. You can kind of get the lesson from it and apply that lesson in your present moment to make a better decision. Uh, you know, uh, maybe it's a value judgment of what's good, what's bad, bad that you could draw from star Wars, for example, and, and see, uh, you know, only the Sith deal in absolutes. So, you know, as a, a person in the world, I'm not going to deal in absolutes either. Cause I don't want to be like the Sith brick. That'd be a really simplistic example. You know, Leon Adato (08:23): Don't be like the Sith Bobby. Justin Dearing (08:27): But I want lightning, Leon Adato (08:29): right. Justin Dearing (08:31): Keep my kids in line. Leon Adato (08:32): Right, right. That would definitely okay. First of all, I've seen you do enough home home, uh, you know, home repair videos that you have lightning when you need it, you certainly have enough, um fire power in your garage to do that, but that's a whole other conversation. Um, okay. I, I see what you're saying. I think that the damage, the potential damage is that for people who are consuming, um, fantasy, and Sci-fi where religion is again, poorly represented there, the risk is that they will turn to the real religion in their lives in the world, and they will, they will draw equivalency. They will say the Catholic church is, stupid in the same way that, um, what was that movie with the gun kata? And, uh, it, it was another one of those dystopian movies where the church ran everything and everyone took it their happy pill to, you know, not be angry and stay calm all the time. Jason Carrier (09:38): Oh, with Keanu Reeves, what? Leon Adato (09:40): What? Jason Carrier (09:40): With Keanu Reeves? I don't remember the name of it, but it was Leon Adato (09:42): No, no, it wasn't Keanu it, wasn't Keanu Reeves. I'm trying to remember who even stared in it. But anyway, it's not important. I, if I can find it, I'll put it in the show notes after. Um, but the point is, is that, um, religion was the opiate of the masses. It was that sort of line. And, um, you know, the people who were calm had found a sort of inner strength and, um, it wasn't that it wasn't, that religion was good. It was that religion had been, subverted to become the means of control, and I think that people go in, you know, seeing a story like that, and then, going to church or going to synagogue or whatever, may bristle, especially again, going back to the pediatric theology, if you don't know any more than what you learned in second grade, it's really easy then to see the evil empire, you know, in taking communion or something like that. I mean, you know, like it just, it leads to really bad, um, it leads to really bad sort of mental jumps, which drive people away from a religion where they might find some fulfillment if they had taken the time to maybe learn more. I guess that's, that's really my, my, my concern about it. Jason Carrier (10:54): I can definitely see your point. I think it's two sides to the same coin. There's, there's good things that can happen and there's bad things that can happen. Right. And it's, it's all devil's in the details kind of differences, you know, how well is the story told and when is that parable being applied into what situation? Right. So, so the outcome isn't going to always be good or always be bad, you know, which kind of goes back to the whole only the deal sift deal in absolutes. Right. And it's only gonna, it's, it's gonna really depend on all the variables of your, your situation. Right. Leon Adato (11:21): Got it, I like the ok. Jason Carrier (11:23): the movie that were talking about, I think is equilibrium. Leon Adato (11:25): Yes!! Jason Carrier (11:25): With Christian bale. Leon Adato (11:27): Yes. Jason Carrier (11:27): There we go. Leon Adato (11:28): That's it. Okay. Thank you. Oh, my, my, my Googler on the side. Fantastic. Um, I want to pick up on some of. Jason Carrier (11:36): Google Fu is important. Leon Adato (11:36): that Jason that you mentioned earlier, which was the reductionism. And, and so that takes us to the second sort of major talking point in this, uh, particular episode, which is what I'm calling reductionism on parade, you know, where are there examples where, uh, a religion has been reduced, possibly past its, it's, worth, worthiness? Um, and the two examples that I've got, um, first is Orson Scott Cards, uh, seventh son series. This was a series that he clearly wrote, to try to provide a fantasy structure to, um, Mormonism in the same way. And this is my other example, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is a fantasy structure to, uh, Christianity overall. Um, so the seventh son series has a primary pro you know, protagonist named John Smith. Leon Adato (12:27): And, uh, he is a maker, a seventh son of a seventh son. And all along the, the series, you end up with things like a golden plow head that has self will and wants to plow dirt, but only the right kind of dirt. And you have the foundations of a crystal city that is made out of crystallized water, and you have all sorts of other things. You know, you have these Allan elements of Mormon. I'm going to say mythology. I don't mean it as myth. I mean, it just as the, the underlying structure of the Mormon religion. So you have that, but it does a disservice, I think, to Mormonism overall, um, because it doesn't do a good job of telling the, the story of the seventh son. And it also doesn't do a good job of telling the story Mormonism. And that takes me the other example I have, which is a language in the order of which I have affectionately or, or, um, uh, in an annoyed voice called Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, um, blunt force Catholic trauma, because it's just this, like, you know, you're reading the story and all of a sudden, you're, you know, there's this mace coming from off the side that bashes you over the head, whang!! Look at, you know, Aslan is Jesus! Whang!!. Look, it's Mary! Whang. He died on the cross! Whang!! Like, you know, it's like I get it, I get it. And it ends up being a really bad story, fantasy story. And really, I feel not a particularly wonderful introduction to, you know, Christian ideals. I don't know. I, you know, I, I may not be the best judge of it though. Justin Dearing (13:59): I, I mean, I, I will say I had a roommate in college who, whose, uh, father was a director of religious education in the Catholic church. And he was, uh, he, he did not, um, he, he, he did not stick with Catholicism and he very much agreed with your assessment. And I would say even like, I, I do agree that it is very, uh, heavy handed, um, Christianity, but it is a children's book. And like, part of that is like, when I read Tolkien as a kid, I kind of knew there was some kind of like Christian algri in there, but, you know, I think it was more obvious, um, you know, with, and I guess maybe from it, it was meant to be childlike and pediatric because, um, you know, there, there was a tweet, I think that the best summarize it, you know, we're, you know, CS Lewis would be like, Oh, and now the, the Norse, you know, the Norse god of war and, and, and Santa Claus are gonna join the battle and Tolkien, it's like, here's this ax, it's 2000 years old. I'm gonna tell you the entire history of um and were just going to, That's just the axe he has, you know, Leon Adato (14:56): Right Oh, oh, is the ax, is the, is the ax Protestantism? No, it's, it's an ax. It's right. I actually, you know, having read, um, Tolkien, you know, Hobbit and Lord of the rings and things like that multiple times, I, I know that Tolkien had a religious point of view, I, I don't feel it. I certainly don't feel it as aggressively as Lion the Witch and the wardrobe and you're right. It is a children's story. So I, I, can't always, that's the reverse of pediatric theology where you come to a children's story and you say, well, that's ridiculous. The, you know, the gingerbread man could never walk. I mean, he's made of gingerbread. Where would his sinews be where it is? Okay. You're overthinking it Leon and you're really, really overthinking it. So, you know, there's that too. But, um, I, I didn't get the religious overlay in Tolkien as sir, as much as I get in, in certainly other things. Um, okay. So what are some other examples of, you know, reductionism and you know, why or why not? Jason Carrier (15:58): So, uh, one of the, one of the ones that I would look at is, uh, in Game of Thrones, for example, they, they kind of have in the, the, the old school world, that's their a sort of a, a parallel to the pagan religions of, of earth, and then in their new, uh, religion, that that's the more predominant in the, uh, kind of series where they're talking about, uh, the mother and the father, and, you know, uh, kind of, uh, those sort of, uh, uh, tropes, uh, sort of speak more to a Christian, uh, mythos a little bit, uh, and the the play between those two, I thought it was pretty well woven into the story, uh, sort of how the, the, the older folks, uh, would, would remember kind of the old gods that were more based on trees and, you know, fairies and that kind of thing, uh, paralleling the Paragon, uh, the, the, uh, pagan religions, and then the newer ones were kind of looking more like the, the Christian type, uh, Deities. Leon Adato (16:48): Got it. So before we go to the other side of reductionism, you know, where we think that Sci-Fi stories have, and fantasy stories have gotten it right, I want to take a stop. Jason, when we were prepping for this, you said something really interesting, about sometimes, what I'm calling the void can fill the void, meaning space and Sci-Fi and fantasy, the void, you know, can fill a void, the lack of religion in people's lives. And I wanted you to sort of expand on that for a minute. Jason Carrier (17:16): Sure. So, uh, particularly in, in, uh, America, I want to say it's like 30%, 35% right in there. Folks don't even go to church. They don't have any sort of, uh, religious view. So that's not to say that they're agnostic or atheist, but in a lot of cases, they just don't have an opinion. You know, it's not something that they consider. So, uh, seeing a way to, I think there's value in, in Sci-Fi in, in how, uh, religious philosophy is sort of characterized in there, for the uninformed, because it sort of helps to give them, uh, some level of exposure there. Uh, and I know that's a different perspective than the one that you're coming. And I think that the, the important thing to recognize there is the perspective that you're coming from is a well-educated, uh, Jewish person, right? So someone who really understands the ins and outs of that faith, uh, relative to, uh, uh, the uninitiated, you know, so that uninitiated person, um, can really get a lot of value from the parable nature of the Sci-Fi that's or of the religion that's represented in. Sci-Fi Leon Adato (18:14): Got it. So that would speak more to like the spirituality of that you were talking about earlier that, that Sci-Fi, I'm, I'm using air quotes here, Sci-Fi quote, unquote, religion, but the, the philosophy of it could fill in terms of a, a more, a set of morals or the idea that you, you should have a set of morals. You should have a set of ways to determine difficult ethical questions. You should think about these things beyond their immediate. It that's what I'm hearing. Jason Carrier (18:45): Yeah. So, so essentially the, the Sci-Fi can drive them to think through those problems, whereas maybe they wouldn't have before. So considering those moral paradoxes and, uh, coming up with their own sense of morality off the example that they're seeing in the screen or book. Justin Dearing (19:00): Yeah. And I think if, if, if you, whatever were rejected Christianity or whatever, and you were, you were not given a framework when that what you could, you could be a good person because of what, because of the failing of the religion that brought you up, or you just, weren't brought up with one and you end up watch star Trek, and then you decide to become a youth minister, a transhumanist, you know, you sit there and, you know, you could go really deep into kind of some of the underpinning philosophies and, and, you know, there, there are some values, there are things I don't agree with, but there's a solid, uh, you know, philosophical and spiritual thing there for you to go out Leon Adato (19:35): In the absence of anything else. It certainly, I think can serve a purpose. Uh, Jason, I didn't mean to cut you off. Jason Carrier (19:41): Oh I was just going to say, uh, captain Picard is a good leader, whether you believe the Klingons are real or not. Leon Adato (19:47): Okay. Fair. And, and I have been known to use the question of whether uh, Darth Vader truly repented, or not as part of a, uh, Jewish context, uh, conversation. It was more whether or not Darth Vader performed, what would be Halachically or Jewish in the Jewish religious structure, whether he really performed, um, true repentance or not based on that structure. So we're still back to the structure, dogmatic, you know, thing, and whether or not the Sci-Fi character could have done it. So it certainly does serve a purpose. At the same time. I do want to call out a particular risk, um, in using Sci-Fi science fiction as a filler for a religious, um, philosophy or a religious framework. And that's the science part. Uh, one of, one of the great rabbis of this era rabbi Jonathan sacks, um, who recently passed away and he was the chief rabbi of England. Um, he had a book called a great partnership, and it was a treatise, on why science and religion both need to work together. It was against the idea that science and religion are contradictory in any way. And some of the thoughts that he brought up that I thought are relevant here is first of all, science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean, and you know, that they serve two different purposes, but then he went and said, here's the problem, when you treat impersonal phenomena, meaning science, as if they're persons, you end up with myth, light comes from the sun God, rain comes from the sky God, and so on. And, but when you treat persons impersonally, when you treat people like they're things, as if they were objects, the result is dehumanization. You categorize people by color, class, creed, and you treat them differently because of that. And so they work together and the risk, I think, in using science fiction as your basis for a religious, moral or ethical point of view is that the science is going to out, The science of the science fiction is going to outweigh the philosophy, religion, and again, that putting together that interpersonal piece of it. Um, and you're going to end up with a, a poor substitute. I don't know if you have any thoughts about that. Jason Carrier (22:16): Yeah. I could definitely see your point and I wouldn't disagree that that would happen in some cases. I just think that there's uh, both cases that are represented. Um, obviously if somebody were looking at a Sci-Fi and taking that as, as their source of absolute truth and thinking that, um, that was really a true definition of reality. I think that would be a very different thing than, uh, looking at it, analyzing it, thinking it through and trying to find where they could draw value from it, but I really liked the point that you made about, uh, science and religion needing to work together. That's actually one of the things that drew me to Buddhism in the first place was that, uh, when science has a better understanding of something Buddhism adjusts, it doesn't, uh, portray itself as the purveyor absolute truth. Um, which was something that really, really appealed to me. Leon Adato (23:01): Got it. Justin Dearing (23:01): Yeah and and, I'll say, you know, as, as a Catholic, you know, uh, you know, people like to talk about Galileo and, you know, I, I won't get into the politics of, of then, but it was basically more of a reject state. They, they just said, you know, hold off on teaching that until we figure some stuff out. But, you know, nowadays there, the Catholic church has a, uh, uh, a big telescope in, in, uh, I think Arizona it's called loose, the Lucifer telescope, um, run by the Leon Adato (23:27): Wait, wait, it's called the what?? Justin Dearing (23:27): Yes Lucifer. Yes it's called Lucifer, yes. Leon Adato (23:27): I presume not after the Marvel and TV show character, but instead Jason Carrier (23:40): Jesuits have a sense of humor. Yes. Leon Adato (23:44): Yes. Justin Dearing (23:44): But, uh, yeah. Uh, but the, you know, and they, they, they do that and they say, you know, um, you know, they talk about how, you know, you know, Christmas probably, uh, Jesus, wasn't probably born on the 25th. We probably weren't in March because of, of, of the, the, the, the sheep were probably giving birth. That's why they were laying in the field and, and, and what happened, you know? And, and we, you know, there, there is, um, yeah, we, we, I think most modern, you know, uh, at least my religion, you know, we, we, we do try to, you know, take science into account, uh, there, and I think, I think other religions too, and I, I think, um, you know, if that, you know, some, some, some, some shows do get that right. I think maybe like the assigned it. Right. Leon Adato (24:21): And that takes us. So that takes us into the next, the next section, which is which stories do we think, um, really get it right. And I'm going to, I'm going to start off. I've got a couple of things that I think really did well, first of all, not a lot of people, um, now know about Catherine Kerr's Deryni series Deryni, spelled D E R Y N I, and it'll be in the show notes. She did a really good job of, of portraying, uh, a medieval or sort of slightly post pre Renaissance, uh, Catholicism to, and putting it in a con, in a fantasy context. So it really, really, really is Catholicism it's really, as Christianity it's, they're not trying to make it some fake something else that, you know, and, but it exists in parallel with, um, you know, her fantasy construct. And she does a really good job of talking about how a religious sensibility informs the users of we'll call it magic. It's not, but whatever, um, and how it informs the world. So that's the first one. I also actually liked the spirituality of ma uh, Madeleine L'Engle, um, wrinkle in time series. I thought she got, even though there were no specific re, you know, what we would call traditional or structured religious elements in there, she really gave a sense of the scope of the universe. And, um, Jason, to your point, how the unseen works behind the scenes, she gave a sense that there is larger forces and larger ideals at play. And the last one, a lot of people say, well, there's no like Orthodox Jewish, you know, fantasy stories. There was one that I know of, it's called the red magician by Lisa Goldstein. And it takes place in a Hungarian village. It takes place in a Orthodox Jewish Hungarian village, and Judaism doesn't figure into the story at all. They, the characters just all happened to be Orthodox. Um, and the last one is actually a comic book it's called how America got her sword, which builds itself as just another story about a 12 year old troll fighting, uh, Orthodox Jewish girl. So it's, it's just, again, it takes place in an Orthodox context where the Orthodox Judaism, doesn't, it isn't a pivotal element. It just is present as another aspect of the world-building that the writers do. So those are ones that, that do well. And again, I think they did it well because the religion wasn't the pivotal element of it. It was simply a fact of facet that informs the lives of the characters as they go along for better or for worse, but informs their lives. So what else do you have to add to my list? Justin Dearing (26:57): Um, I'll, I'll say, yeah, to two examples. Uh, so basically what I would like to call the two space station series of, of the 90's, Babylon five and deep space 9. So, uh, um, jam JMS, uh, hu. And Ronald D Moore, I think they're, they're both atheists. I think JMS, you know, basically said, you know, I'm an aithi, you know, I'm an atheist, but I religion exists. And, you know, from like, I think episode two, like it was like all the species had to give to talk about their dominant religion and, and the, uh, and the, the, uh, earth did if he had them shake hands with the Orthodox rabbi in the Greek Orthodox and rabbi in the Catholic, I mean, the Greek Orthodox priest and the Protestant minister and the, the, the African whatever. Um, yeah. And it built onto the idea of like, uh, the human being, the people that brought diversity together. And, and that's how they went and, you know, uh, defeated, defeated the shadows, um, you know, it, you know, down, down, down or whatever. So I thought that was, you know, he did a lot of, uh, stuff that was, you know, he had a group of, of Catholic, uh, or they seem to, you know, Catholic brothers come on. And they, it seemed to be like how a monk shorter would, would evolve, um, where they had, you know, a certain mission. And, and they, they kind of, uh, you know, worked in a very Franciscan way of, of, of, uh, being, you know, they, they, they, they, they, they did work in exchange for lodging and things like that. Um, and I think, yeah, uh, deep space 9, I think, I, I think the, the whole wormhole, like the idea of exploring the idea of, well, what if we thought were gods, will there be people in, you know, they're, they just exist outside of time, uh, in, in this, in this wormhole. And then we have this kind of doubting Thomas, you know, guy who becomes their, their, their Emissary. And I think that, that, you know, dealt with it well, though, they're, they're, they're Pope uh, you know, they're, they're, they're, Pope being like she was upset that she never had her, uh, uh, divine, like experience, you know, she was upset like that. And she was also, you know, really evil, um, not, not, not because she didn't have, but, you know, she, she was, you know, they, they, I think they, if they dealt with, you know, uh, I think they, they dealt with stuff very well. You know, there was one episode where, uh, Kiko was the teacher. Um, and she was teaching about like, uh, basically, um, like, I guess she was teaching her like the earth go around the sun or whatever. And they're saying, we don't believe that because of, you know, the prophets taught us this, or what have you. And they had that actual debate between fundamentalists and, and non fundamentalists there. Leon Adato (29:08): Got it. Justin Dearing (29:10): Okay. So I I've got, I mean, I guess I can have several star Wars rants, but I have one in the religious aspect of, so did, did anyone have any idea that, that Jedi was supposed to be celibate until like halfway through episode two? Like if they, Leon Adato (29:22): Yeah no. Justin Dearing (29:22): If they like not even George Lucas, like, I think he was like writing the script and, but, um, and I think that was like, like one of the things, like, it's hard to, you know, talk about like, uh, you know, categorizing, um, the, the celibate or the Jedi as like a monk shorter or whatever, is it realistic or not realistic may, maybe a lot of it was like Buddhist. And you might have more to say in that, that Jason, if you have a thing it's like, um, you know, there's big thing about the celibacy, you know, if you're going to become a priest in the Catholic church, you know, there's, there's a lot of preparation talking about celibate, celicaby, Leon Adato (29:54): They don't just spring it on you. Like the day, the day before you take your vows, I was like, Oh, and by the way, Justin Dearing (30:00): And the last Bishop on earth living in the swamp would not forget to mention that to you. No, no. We were, luke went and had a family and, you know, the old Canon, you know? Leon Adato (30:10): Yeah. I got from, from the, okay. So, so fair warning. I, um, did see Phantom menace in the theater, and then I refuse to see anything else of the prequels. I actually frequently will not admit that they even existed. Um, so just take that for what it's worth. Uh, I did try to watch the, uh, second one. Yeah. I tried to watch the second one on mute while I was running on a treadmill without subtitles, and I still found it unwatchable. So that's just my own diatribe against the prequels. But my point being is that I got the sense of not being connected, that, that sort of almost Buddhist sense of not being attached to no thing, but I did. Right. Like, I didn't get the same sense that that meant celibacy. It just meant you, you have to make sure that you are ready, you are mature enough not to feel ownership or attachment to another person as much as to your, you know, lightsaber or your Starship or your Wookie or whatever. Um, yeah, I mean, the clone Wars does, you know, he's supposed to, like, they were afraid if he can become too attached to it. Uh, you know, Padawan, and, and, you know, you're going to be too attached to R2 and they're, they're, they're, they're definitely, uh, like what that there. And I, I guess in that regard, it's a good thing. I just, I just, like, I felt like there was a lot of interest distantly for me to formerly judge, um, star Wars, because it's, it's so inconsistent where I can say, you know, right. Leon Adato (31:49): I mean, Again, Sci-Fi story to Jason's point. Like there are parts that work and parts that don't work and, you know, yeah. Um, okay. I think, uh, we have talked to this one, not quite to death, but, but good enough for one episode, um, lightning round final words, any final thoughts or ideas? Um, Justin, I'll let you lead this one off. Justin Dearing (32:09): Okay. Sure. Uh, you know, I think this, this was a great conversation. I, I, I, I think, uh, thank you, Jason, for giving the, the, the Buddhist perspective. Uh, and, and I think, uh, you know, I think, yeah, I, I, I will echo your points about the creation, the creation, myths stories. Those are good. And, and that was probably the least tough, tough read part of the, the similar news. You know, it's kind of a very academic and tough reader as a Tolkien fan, you know, it's the hardest one of them all to read, you know? Leon Adato (32:39): Got it. Okay, Jason. Jason Carrier (32:42): Yeah. So I would love to talk about the concept of a helpful way of thinking. Uh, it's something that I took from DaVinci code books, uh, Dan, Dan Brown books, uh, there was a Buddhist character in the book that talked about a helpful way of thinking. Now she's a very scientific minded person, right? So she she's very much about, you know, physics and reality. And, uh, it doesn't care much for, uh, you know, winging angels, that type of thing. But she really liked the concept of, if you could look at, uh, Christianity and, and see something that was very helpful to you, uh, even if you don't think of it as literal truth, it can still be extremely helpful and impactful in your life. Uh, I applied the same thing to, you know, star Wars and as I'm watching, you know, religions in, in Sci-Fi, um, a lot of times they can give you a different perspective on a truth, even if it's not speaking to like an absolute truth, that's a pattern that can be a helpful way of thinking in your life. Leon Adato (33:32): Got it. So, uh, you know, you're not talking about actually recreating the Jedi religion. You're just saying that this thing that they do, even though it's a, from a fantasy environment is, is useful and applicable to our real world experiences. Jason Carrier (33:47): Exactly. Looking at it allegorically instead of literally. Leon Adato (33:50): All right. So I want to wrap it up in a completely different, uh, aspect I've already waxed, uh, annoyed on the whole star Wars universe thing. My final thought is that there's a, a certain moment in the TV series, Firefly, where river gets a hold of, um, books, uh, Booker book, Justin Dearing (34:09): separate books. Leon Adato (34:10): Yeah. He, his Bible and reorders it and says, you know, it was completely out of order. So I put it in the right order. And of course, you know, he's like, you completely ruined, it you messed it up! And she's like, but it was wrong. It was in the wrong, you know, the references and whatever. And I just want to wrap that character. I want to wrap river in a big hug, and I want to bring her into like a Yeshiva. And I want to show her the Talmud and say, here, go. Off you go, because that's the kind of mind the one that says, well, but your reference points, you know, that this came before that, and that comes before this. And if you did this and this and this, that, that is exactly the mindset of a good Yeshiva Bucher of a good learner. Somebody who is able to take information that is often presented out of order or in a different context and say, but wait a minute, you said this other thing, 4 books ago. What about that? That is exactly the kind of mind. And I just, that one moment, and of course books, you know, reaction of horror and you don't get religion and I'm thinking, no, no, no, she does. She does. She's perfect for it. You just need to, you know, and that didn't happen. So that would be my, that would be my change, my head Canon change to the Firefly universe. Uh, plus the fact that wash never died. That would also be my change. So, uh, all right. Well, I appreciate, uh, both of you taking some time out of your busy lives to talk today, and I hope that you won't be strangers on technically religious in the future. Justin Dearing (35:41): Thank you for inviting me. Thank you. Jason Carrier (35:44): Great. Thanks Leon. I really appreciate you having me. This has been a lot of fun. Leon Adato (35:47): Thanks for making time for us this week, to hear more of technically religious visit our website, technically religious.com, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media.
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