May 16, 2011

Room for the Holy Spirit

I've previously noted what could be taken as covert Mormon references and/or jokes in Bones. Kate recently pointed out another one, "The Death of the Queen Bee" (season 5, episode 17).

The episode takes place at Brennan's class reunion. She and Booth are dancing together. She'd like to dance closer, but he's still struggling with his feelings for her, so he takes a step back and says, "Just keeping room for the Holy Spirit, that's all."

Okay, Catholics attending parochial school probably hear the same thing, a testament to the universality of a conservative religious upbringing. Booth, to be sure, is a cafeteria Catholic, but he eats what's on his plate, and his character is written and acted that way.

Kate thinks there might be two writers riffing off each other. Either way, this confirms my belief that an objectively conservative writer will more accurately capture the essence of quite different religious ideologies than all the touchy, freely "diversity" activists.

This comprehension is also demonstrated in how Brennan's rigid empiricism is evenly matched by Booth's apologetic rationalism. This requires an understanding of how the conservative mind interacts with the modern world, rather than the typical straw men.

Mormonism doesn't reject empiricism or even evolution out of hand, and so has the potential for producing C.S. Lewis-type apologists (like my father with a Ph.D. from Caltech). Whatever their religion background, the writers on Bones often skillfully bridge that divide.

The most recent episode, "The Truth in the Myth" (season 6, episode 18), essentially reframes the main argument of The Silver Chair, without Brennan sacrificing her scientific integrity or Booth giving up on faith. It would have made C.S. Lewis proud.

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# posted by OpenID beneaththetangles
Strangely enough, if I'd seen the episode, I would've thought about my Baptist background, particularly with respect to conservative Southern Baptist ideas about dancing and other social activities (Baylor University, for instance, forbade dancing until the mid-90s). That quote is also one I heard occasionally growing up.
5/16/2011 11:58 AM

# posted by Anonymous Mojo
I have to agree with beneaththetangles. If you grow up in a heavily evangelical area, you hear "Holy Spirit," but not so much "Holy Ghost." In our culture, you hear "THE Spirit," which does not translate to evangelicalism.

Also, Mormons dance. Evangelicals don't. I would think it difficult for a Mormon (or at least one from the Jello Belt) writer to accurately write a character's reluctamce to dance when he has spiritual/religious reasons for not dancing.

What you quoted sounded entirely evangelical to me, and remember, CS Lewis was one and he didn't think much of Mormons. At all.
5/16/2011 2:49 PM

# posted by Blogger Joe
While Mormons might have had the ability to produce reasonably rational [popular] apologists, it didn't and that time is quickly passing if it hasn't already.
5/16/2011 3:28 PM

# posted by Blogger Eugene
The scene isn't about dancing or not dancing. Everybody's dancing. Booth says this because he doesn't want to dance close. (I've clarified this a bit more.)

Although "Leave room for the Holy Spirit" is more popular than "Leave room for the Holy Ghost," both are in wide usage. Here is an example of the latter. (Also note that "leave" is heavily preferred to "keep," which is used in the Bones episode.)

That Mormons (over)identify with C.S. Lewis (who didn't identify with them) is exactly my point.

I blame FARMS for stampeding off on the wild goose chase that is "BOM archeology." Although I cannot fault them too much, for this was the one "safe" avenue of theological exploration left them, the one area where they could insert their views into the mainstream of Mormon intellectual thought.
5/16/2011 4:07 PM

# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
I understand Eugene's point to be that an insider understanding of how religious people think/function within their own cultures produces better/more accurate television than anyone trying to mimic what religious people say from an outsider point of view. Although the whole "translation" exchange seems entirely Mormon to me, if it isn't, I recognize it (like the "Holy Spirit" quote) due to my religious background. (The truly cool thing is that the writers don't explain the terms they use; they just produce them. This makes the writing better than if they DID explain the terms.)

C.S. Lewis was entirely Anglican. In the interests of accuracy, I did a little extra Wikipedia research on evangelicalism (which is a complicated topic), and . . . he was entirely Anglican although he would refer to himself as a Christianized pagan. (He made a few off-hand negative allusions to Mormons but in general he paid almost no attention to Mormons or any other sects.)

What's interesting about his posthumous popularity, however, is his current importance to both evangelicals and to Mormons. Not to mention the occasional biography that claims C.S. Lewis was intending to become a Catholic towards the end of his life (only he died first). (Also not to mention how his character has morphed, not only amongst Christians but in Hollywood.)

The Christian apologetics Lewis wrote touched a transcendent nerve. So many people claim him because what he saw/believed touched so many people just a bit.

And he understood and used the language of belief.
5/17/2011 10:32 AM

# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
To add bizarreness to bizarreness, the link I included referring to Lewis' Christianized paganism is not wholly positive about Christianized paganism. In fact, the author includes a warning against Lewis' "truths" (while quoting a few things out of context). Although I don't agree with the author's conclusions, I do admire the internal honesty that led to complying the quotes.

Speaking of quotes out of context, the final quote is cut short: "[Joy] has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian. I cannot, indeed, complain, like Wordsworth, that the visionary gleam has passed away . . . But I now know that the experience . . . was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer."

Also, the website's author's selection of quotes implies that Lewis lost his faith by exposure to the occult, etc. But Lewis himself states that he lost interest in organized religion before he ever went to school. Based on the biographies I've read, I would surmise that C.S. Lewis's conversion (which I would argue did include a "real testimony") could never have occurred until he had explored all possibilities.

BUT both this website and my response to it indicate how "open" to interpretation C.S. Lewis has become!
5/17/2011 11:11 AM