Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Theism and popular culture

So I just finished watching an episode of Glee, which I watch with my fiance, but I also enjoy; sarcastic humour has always appealed to me, and I am a sucker for show tunes. However tonight's episode focused on "spirituality." What I (and the shows writers) mean by spirituality, is monotheism.

I'd be naive to say I did not see this coming, in fact I "called it" soon after I read the program description. No, I was not surprised, but still, a slight disappointment did creep out as I watched the episode. For a show that is considerably tolerant with its treatment of minorities and acutely culturally aware (if in a tongue and cheek manner), their treatment of "spirituality" was decidedly homogeneous. The prevailing message of the episode was that "everyone believes in something"; do you hear that atheists, apparently even you believe in "something". Just in case you were wondering, that "something"? Turns out it is the god of monotheism.

The writers were very careful to limit their use of "religion", and so instead they peppered the episode with "spirituality". They were not so careful with the object of spirituality, God. Of course they come at the topic from different religious perspectives: Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism. "Three different religions, so someones prayers had to reach God." Yes, lets all marvel at the lovely interfaith work of people who, while members of different religions, all still manage to worship God. Hooray for inclusiveness! "Spirituality" then, is simply how people learn to express their love and devotion to the god of monotheism, with or without a religious filter. So you're not Jewish, or you're not a Protestant, well you can still believe in God; how lucky you are! It was never stated in the episode itself, but the idea that, "You don't believe in God? Well, He believes in you!" was certainly there in spirit.

So when I constantly talk about the overt cultural dominance of monotheism in every facet of discussion on the subject of religion? When I sigh and wish there was a little more diversity in the discussion of theism? That I get excited when someone who isn't a polytheist, includes polytheism in a discussion of theology? This illustrates why.


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