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Thread: Fiction and Religion

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    Fiction and Religion

    How far can you take admiring a fictional tradition or religion? I was scrolling through the wikipedia Religions list, and under the category "Phony/parody religions" came Jedi, next to "the church of the flying spaghetti monster".

    Personally, I feel like I qdmire the Jedi faith, and some of its philosophy and practice, so to have it bluntly called "Phony" before my eyes was... uncomfortable. And i have long since meditated on the Titan faith, the holy light, and the Elemental lords of the Warcraft universe, as well as the worship of the Nine Divines from the Elder Scrolls universe.

    Is it... Wrong? Unmotivated? "Phony? To believe in, pray to, meditate on, or even worship beings depicted by humans in popular culture? I'm thinking, it's not like these entities are new. The Elemental lords are a personification of the elements, common in modern paganism, and for an example Talos is also very simular to some ancient religious entities.

    So what are peoples thoughts on the matter? Am i "phony", or can i dare to take these thoughts seriously? Is there an aspect of the situation i'm not considering?

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    This convo has come up quite a few times around here, with varying opinions...

    IMO, it depends on your intent. How serious are you? If you are sincere, hang what everyone else thinks.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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  3. #3
    Copper Member Aeran's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    I don't know. It's true that the names and appearances are often, in a lot of ways, just clothing, a way of making things easier to relate to.

    The problem is that fictionalized versions of metaphysical concepts tend to be incredibly stripped down and bastardized - which is fine when it's just entertainment, but when you try and take it seriously and make it apply to your own life, it could be a serious problem. Very rarely to these fictional ideas 100% correlate to their real world equivalent, which could run you into trouble.

    For example, take The Force from Star Wars, which is quite obviously based on various Eastern philosophical concepts - The Tao and Chi being the major ones. The problem is that, while calling either one of these things 'the force' might help you understand them, they are not both the same thing (as 'the force' is) but are very different, though related, concepts (which is why they have 2 terms to refer to them, and not one), and trying to treat them as the same thing (as eachother, or as 'the force') will be an ultimately futile exercise in confusion if you are trying to work with these concepts/forces in the traditional manner. And trying to work with them in the fictional manner, instead, would also be futile - no practice depicted in the star wars media is ever going to allow you to work with Chi (especially not in the manner depicted), because ultimately, although inspired by real concepts and practices, Star Wars is a fiction and George Lucas is not a martial artists or a monk or an internal energy master.

    The best thing to do would be to research the real world concepts and practices which inspired these fictional versions, and look into those. You can never be a Jedi, because Jedi are only fiction, but if what you want is to practice meditation and combative skills, to learn to feel the universal life force and channel it, to work towards becoming enlightened and connecting to the universe around you, you can absolutely do that through pursuing buddhism and taoism, martial arts, kung fu, chi kung and nei kung, etc.

    Likewise, If you find the mythology of the Warcraft setting inspiring, then research paganism and druidism, shamanism, hermetic magic, norse & greek mythology, etc. The real world equivalents are absolutely out there, and you can make them a part of your life if you put the effort in, but allowing yourself to become too caught up in their fictional depictions, instead of letting that lead you to their reality, will only keep you trapped in a fantasy.
    Last edited by Aeran; 26 Feb 2014 at 06:25.

  4. #4
    PF Ordo Hereticus MaskedOne's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    Quote Originally Posted by Aikadon View Post
    How far can you take admiring a fictional tradition or religion? I was scrolling through the wikipedia Religions list, and under the category "Phony/parody religions" came Jedi, next to "the church of the flying spaghetti monster".

    Personally, I feel like I qdmire the Jedi faith, and some of its philosophy and practice, so to have it bluntly called "Phony" before my eyes was... uncomfortable. And i have long since meditated on the Titan faith, the holy light, and the Elemental lords of the Warcraft universe, as well as the worship of the Nine Divines from the Elder Scrolls universe.

    Is it... Wrong? Unmotivated? "Phony? To believe in, pray to, meditate on, or even worship beings depicted by humans in popular culture? I'm thinking, it's not like these entities are new. The Elemental lords are a personification of the elements, common in modern paganism, and for an example Talos is also very simular to some ancient religious entities.

    So what are peoples thoughts on the matter? Am i "phony", or can i dare to take these thoughts seriously? Is there an aspect of the situation i'm not considering?
    If it makes you a better, happier person and does not interfere with my ability to acquire pizza, I don't care what you worship. I may disagree with you but I'll probably do that regardless. I disagree with enough people who don't base religion off fiction. Now if your fictional religion gets between me and my pizza, we're gonna have problems.
    "It is not simply enough to know the light…a Jedi must feel the tension between the two sides of the Force…in himself and in the universe."
    ―Thon

    "When to the Force you truly give yourself, all you do expresses the truth of who you are,"

    Yoda

    Yoda told stories, and ate, and cried, and laughed: and the Padawans saw that life itself was a lightsaber in his hands; even in the face of treachery and death and hopes gone cold, he burned like a candle in the darkness. Like a star shining in the black eternity of space.

    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

    "But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else..."

    John Rowlands, The Grey King by Susan Cooper

    "You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve", said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; be content."

    Aslan, Prince Caspian by CS Lewis



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    Lord Contrarian Denarius's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    Quote Originally Posted by Aeran View Post
    no practice depicted in the star wars media is ever going to allow you to work with Chi (especially not in the manner depicted), because ultimately, although inspired by real concepts and practices, Star Wars is a fiction and George Lucas is not a martial artists or a monk or an internal energy master.
    You are basically repeating yourself here. The Force isn't chi, it's the Force. You could just as easily say that no amount of learning about chi will help you master the Force. Though, how you would know either of those things I can only guess.

    Also, how do you know that the Force isn't real or that whenever anyone uses chi they aren't utilizing midichlorians.

    Just because something is "fictional" doesn't mean it's wrong or not real. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    Trust is knowing someone or something well enough to have a good idea of their motivations and character, for good or for ill. People often say trust when they mean faith.

  6. #6
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    Quote Originally Posted by Denarius View Post

    Just because something is "fictional" doesn't mean it's wrong or not real. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    There are many of us on the forum (as Thal suggests) who have had this discussion several times. Some of us actually worship false, or fictional gods. I give reverence to Namaah from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, and even have her words tattooed to me*. It's no different than my undying obsession with Artemis, whom I share a heart and mind, and now a tattoo with, and it's no different than my shrine to Ganesh, who is Lord of Obstacles, and guides me through troubled times.

    Whatever you believe in, whatever FEELS real to you, is real. But that's a whole 'nother discussion.

    *I say 'give reverence' fulling realizing that she's not real, and not because she's fictional, but because she's deity, because all gods were fictional at one point, and I don't believe in any supernatural being as a real and tangible item. But that doesn't mean we can't revere them, worship them, or honour their values, speak to them, etc. It just means I realize that when I speak to a god, I'm speaking to the universe, and it's my own head and heart that are answering.
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

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    Copper Member Aeran's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    You are basically repeating yourself here. The Force isn't chi, it's the Force. You could just as easily say that no amount of learning about chi will help you master the Force. Though, how you would know either of those things I can only guess.

    Also, how do you know that the Force isn't real or that whenever anyone uses chi they aren't utilizing midichlorians.
    Well the fact that it was invented by the same guy who came up with Jar Jar Binks kinda tipped me off I'd happily reconsider by stance if I ever ran into someone who could use 'the force' in the way portrayed in the movies and who managed to do so through the methods and philosophy described in the movies, but so far I haven't. There are a lot of chi kung masters out there, but no Jedi that I know of.

    Just because something is "fictional" doesn't mean it's wrong or not real. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    I'm not sure I understand what point you're trying to make here. The force is a fictional interpretation of a real world phenomenon (or concept, if you prefer) invented for the purposes of the Star Wars movies. The real world concept it is based on exists, but The Force as depicted in the Star Wars movies (which is similar to Chi, but has quite a few key differences) does not, on account of having been invented for a movie instead of being an understanding of a natural force reached through thousands of years of study and practice.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    Quote Originally Posted by Aikadon View Post
    So what are peoples thoughts on the matter? Am i "phony", or can i dare to take these thoughts seriously? Is there an aspect of the situation i'm not considering?
    IMHO - all religions are stories we tell ourselves, then, frequently, forget they are stories.

    If religions can be stories, stories can be religions (if A=B then B=A).

    “What we do in dreams we also do when we are awake: we invent and fabricate the person with whom we associate -- and immediately forget we have done so.” F. N.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

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    Lord Contrarian Denarius's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    Quote Originally Posted by Aeran View Post
    I'm not sure I understand what point you're trying to make here. The force is a fictional interpretation of a real world phenomenon (or concept, if you prefer) invented for the purposes of the Star Wars movies. The real world concept it is based on exists, but The Force as depicted in the Star Wars movies (which is similar to Chi, but has quite a few key differences) does not, on account of having been invented for a movie instead of being an understanding of a natural force reached through thousands of years of study and practice.
    See, here's the thing. Chi and the Force are both ideas about how something might work. They can both be right, they can both be wrong, or one can be right and one can be wrong.

    A lucky guess can be just as good, or better, than a reasoned answer. Rookies can beat masters, you see that all the time in martial arts.
    Trust is knowing someone or something well enough to have a good idea of their motivations and character, for good or for ill. People often say trust when they mean faith.

  10. #10
    Grey Warden Rowanwood's Avatar
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    Re: Fiction and Religion

    As a pantheist, I think you should use whatever mythology that speaks to you to be able to live a fulfilling life. If that's the myth of the Force instead of the Holy Trinity? What's the difference? To me, its the same thing; a metaphor for bettering yourself and how you live. I don't see anything phony about it.

    That being said, I'd be careful who you share this with, because most people don't think about religious like that. Many people are very concrete and literal about deities and will probably not take you very seriously if you claim to be a Jedi.

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