Joss Whedon's Theology

A weekend marathon of Buffy reminded me of the following: Joss Whedon's theology as expressed in that show and Angel has always seemed to me perfectly compatible with mainstream Christianity or Judaism. There is evil, of course, but it always loses. Evil is never permanently done away with, but that doesn't constitute a reason to stop fighting it. Victory may come at a cost, but no so great of one as to not want to win. But, most of all, evil always makes a mistake: there's always a flaw in the plan, something that cannot be anticipated. So far, so standard for genre.

The interesting thing is The Powers That Be: they're never wrong. Their plans always work. In those rare instances that they decide to act, their actions are effective and crush whatever the evil of the week has planned. The only question their behavior ever raises is why they don't intervene more. Evil, in this scheme, believes itself to have control over the world, but this belief is illusory.

Some of this is just storytelling: the deus ex machina is a venerable narrative device, and the point of having heroes is that they win. But The Powers That Be tend to slot in at moments which aren't purely narrative: "Amends" in season 3 being the most prominent, but also to affirm that characters have a purpose that is to be fulfilled, even if that purpose is unclear to them. All of which is perfectly compatible with a theistic view of the world.

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