Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where was God in Serenity Valley?


Where was God at Serenity Valley?

If there's a God, why did my mother die so young? Why did my father leave? Why did I lose my job?

In the first episode of Firefly, we see Mal and Zoe at the Battle of Serenity Valley, for which their later ship is named.

Mal's thought seems to be that God - the Christian God - is clearly behind his troops. God wants them to win this battle. God wants them to win the war. If there is a God, He must want what I want, because what I want is good and right. If God doesn't want what I want, then He can't possibly exist.


Mal tells one of his soldiers, "We are just too pretty for God to let us die." He calls the air support his "angels".

And then...

And then... the air support doesn't come. The soldiers are left to be captured or killed. Mal's wants are left behind in that valley with his men, his equipment, and his faith.

When he looks up from his foxhole, he seems to be looking into the abyss. He is seeing God's absence, because a real God couldn't allow that to happen. Or perhaps he is seeing God's failure - the lack of action of a very real God that doesn't care.


Another episode, providentially called "The Message", shares an old saying: "When you can't run, you crawl. When you can't crawl, you find someone to carry you." Mal never followed his own advice. He never let anyone carry him. He buried his faith out in Serenity Valley with his plans, and equipment, and men. His plans. His battle. His legs to carry him and no other's.

Where was God in Serenity Valley? He was right there, with Mal. He was with the soldiers, with the living and the dying and the dead. He was there not to overcome the Alliance but to overcome the world. He was there not to bring Mal's soldiers out of trouble but through it.

In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom wrote of her experiences in a Nazi concentration camp that "when you've been to Calvary, even Ravensbruck can look trivial." Why is that? It is not because we stop caring for human suffering. It is not because God doesn't care. It is quite the opposite - that God has gone deeper into darkness than any concentration camp prisoner or embattled solider. God did not say you will not have troubles, but that "I have overcome the world."

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