Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No weird thing, but some comments on Reaper and Cupid


Jewish date: 27 Nisan 5769.

Today’s holidays: Day 12 of the ‘Omer, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today’s quasi-holidays: Husband Appreciation Day, Kindergarten Day.

Worthy causes of the day: “Accountability for Torture”, “Stop Discriminatory Sentencing”, “The Human Face of Climate Change”, “Taxpayer Proxy”, and “Stand With Dr. Dean”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Lack of freedom of religion: “Committee to Follow up Quran Desecration Case”. Note the vigilantism in response to an alleged offense; freedom of religion violations are not just the province of governments.
  2. I know, I am getting bad about keeping up with commenting on depictions of religion on TV (thank you, Richard Dawkins, for writing a book which is so profoundly wrong), so right now I will write just a few comments on Reaper and Cupid.

    Reaper, which I was introduced to only recently despite it now being in its second season, is something of a mixture of the old Faust legend, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the fairy tale “ Rumpelstiltskin”. The premise is that slacker Sam Oliver has to hunt down souls escaped from Hell for the Devil because Sam’s parents sold his soul to Satan. Unlike Buffy, the only one of Sam’s sidekicks who is competent and moral is his girlfriend, and his superhuman powers are very poorly developed, so the overall tone is rather goofy. Theologically it is even worse off than the Faust legend taken literally, since there is the whole question of whether a soul can really be considered property made worse when the soul belongs to another person. There are also questions of how the whole punishment system of Hell works, what its purpose is, and how souls can escape Hell which have still been left largely murky. Satan is rather enigmatic, too; it is not clear if he is working against God or for God. Some of these questions are inherent in traditional Christian ideas, and I hope the writers explore them more.

    Cupid is a remake of a show that was on TV 11 years ago. The premise is that someone in modern America believes that he really is the Roman love god Cupid and that he has been exiled from Olympus for neglecting his job. His only hope of returning, he believes, is to match up 100 couples which feel true love. “Cupid” also denies that there is any truth to the story of Cupid and Psyche. This premise naturally gives “Cupid” a series of 100 goals to accomplish as a way of moving the plot along, not to mention 100 headaches for the psychologist in charge of keeping him out of trouble. So far the theology has not gone any deeper or further than I have mentioned, and it is not clear whether “Cupid” is really a Roman god or merely delusional. Intuition suggests other alleged deities may make an appearance at some point to help keep the plot from becoming formulaic.
Today’s news and commentary:
There is no weird thing today due to Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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