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TheKnightOfJests

Do the show writers hate religion?

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In the show whenever we've seen a religious character, they're usually either insane, cruel, cocky, or all three.
In the books there was pretty much always a good and bad example of religious persons for just about all the major religions within ASOIAF

For the red god: Melisandre=bad(mostly)  Thoros=good(mostly)

For the Seven: High Sparrow= somewhat short sighted, while other sparrows have been shown to be mostly decent people.

There are other examples, but it seems that in the show almost all the characters have pretty much shunned any form of religion. This even goes as far as making characters who mention and pray to the gods several times in the books such as Sansa say things in the show like "I don't pray any more". Also the actions of the sparrows in the books were much milder than the show versions. They boarded up the brothels yes, but they didn't go around murdering people like in the show.  The high sparrow's cocky smile to Jaime just seems like the show writers are going a little over board in portraying religious corruption. It seems like they're pressing more of an underlying agenda than actually presenting realism.

What do you all think?

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Huh?  Super confused by your whole premise.  You say in the books theres a good and bad example of each religion...Melisandre and Thoros are both in the show as well.  And honestly I'd argue Melisandre is good as well as Thoros, maybe a little crazy but still good.  

Seems like  your only example is the High Sparrow being a bigger jerk in the shows, not sure how that points to a "underlying agenda" by the show runners to undermine religion...

Anyway it's pretty realistic that the religious ones would be doing the cruel and insane thinks if I'm honest..

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Yes but in the show there seems to be no realism as far as how the religions are portrayed.
Martin based his world off actual history, and regardless of personal beliefs religion played a large part in the medieval world.

As such Martin gives great representation of how religion can corrupt a society, as well as good representation of how religion may have indeed had followers that were good and really helpful to the people.

I suppose "agenda" is a strong word for it, but basically all good  folks who happen to be religious in the books either aren't there in the show, or if they are, they're religious points are never spoken, aside from saying something like "I swear by the old gods and the new", and a few of the main characters in the show right now (save the sparrows, and maybe Melisandre since that spell worked) have all had a line, or an attitude that conveys "I think the gods are useless", "I think the gods aren't real", or "I think the gods are all dicks". Like everyone seems to either be super religious to the point of being fanatics, or having the attitude of an atheist. There doesn't seem to be an in between.

You got me on the Thoros part though... I really just couldn't think of another example for the Red God's religion, and the many faced god's religion still seems too mysterious to actually declare anything about its followers at this point

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The High Sparrow is the most decent character in the show, he is less self interested and stands more for fairness than any other character. I have never interpreted show High Sparrow as cocky, perhaps a little self righteous but mostly humble.

Mel is downright evil in books and show - how anyone can possibly equate burning little girls with a 'good' character is beyond me?

Thoros is a drunk that stumbled upon something magical - neither good nor bad.

People fall for the show's slight of hand, just like with the books. They consider a character good or bad based on how they interact with other characters - ie: I like Dany, so if someone is anti Dany they must be bad. It's never that simple. Even Jon, who tries to act mostly from an honourable place, has shown that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I do agree there is a certain bias towards atheism in the show, however - but this may be part of the story. The story itself is fairly cynical about humanity, verging on misanthropic. I personally think this is eventually going to play out as a kind of antithesis to other fantasy story telling - where magic always fades as humanity rises. I think this story is still trying to say that magic and humans are basically incompatible but humans will fade as magic rises.

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Yes, I was going to make a thread like this.  I thought this was going to about the new Kit Harrington interview.  

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/05/05/game-thrones-jon-snow-changes

It seems that D & D never turn down the chance to turn a character atheist or say religious beliefs are bullshit. I'm atheist but it feels really bizarre in that world where everything supernatural is real.

There's these quotes from Jon in the next episode.  There's Beric saying "There is no other side.  It's just darkness." There's Arya saying "Nothing isn't better or worse than anything.  Nothing is just nothing."  There's Davos being a atheist.   Davos saying fuck the Gods.  Davos saying "I think mothers and fathers made up the gods because they wanted their children to sleep through the night."  Cersei saying Tywin hates the Gods.  Sansa saying she doesn't pray anymore.  Tyrion regarding the gods as a joke by calling them all vicious cunts.  It's pretty annoying how in your face they are about it.  And this is coming from a atheist.

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

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16 minutes ago, Lothar said:

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

Unless that's the point.

Don't forget, GRRM even described this world as, in part, answering the question of what happens after Aragorn starts ruling over Middle Earth? What is his tax policy and so on.

If we look at the world of GoTs as something similar to Middle Earth 1000s of years later (the Age of Heroes being the events in LotRs), when the elves have gone into the West (or the Others have gone into the North) and the Hobbits have been destroyed by human expansion or gone underground (like the Children of the Forest) - then I think we can understand the kind of world at play. Humans have risen up and, over eons, fallen into corruption themselves. The Iron Throne is now the centre of this corruption (like the one ring it is the innanimate object that all evil desire is drawn towards).

Human's dismiss the magic because they are corrupt and arrogant and have been long without it - and that is exactly the point. They have replaced magic with desire for the material - the Iron Throne - and their own short sightedness won't let magic in.

If magic does 'win' in this story, I'm sure that humanity won't.

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I dont think they hate religion, but what is important to consider is the role of religion within the narrative. In the medieval period people were not particulary religious as in every peasant read the bible every night and every noble went to mass every sunday.
Religion has a role of an ideological framework within society and that is what is being questioned and explored. High sparrow vs elites is a very realistic interpretation of certain struggles within catholic church. in the mid 20th century there was a thing called liberation theology which was in line with radical emancipatory struggles in south america. Not to mention various heresies within christianity before that fighting for interpretation of religion. not to mention split between chatolic church and orthodox church and protestantism. If you draw a common line it is mostly about who will define the ideology that gave justification for wielding authority, : pope? local bishop? king? local nobles? the people?.
Jon and his brush with oblivion, has another role here. reason why religion is a very effective as ideology is because it gives meaning to suffering in our life by promising salvation in the next. If there is nothing after then it is quite meaningless and what coming back from the dead for jon will do (as indicated in EW) is to break with the concept of meaning, probably leading to a quite nihilist narrative.
 

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BonBon - that's all well and good if GoTs was some kind of historical drama (even fictional) without fantasy elements - but it isn't. The entire saga is framed by fantasy, so either it's there for a reason or it's bad story telling.

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Fantasy is not there for sake of fantasy itself, and frankly it is quite low on fantasy(compared to other fantasy where there are people throwing around fireballs) . As GRRM has quoted someone numerous times: "the only thing worth writing about is a human heart in conflict". Fantasy is just a tool to shape that conflict. Or to manifest certain ideas to advance the story.

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1 hour ago, Lothar said:

Yes, I was going to make a thread like this.  I thought this was going to about the new Kit Harrington interview.  

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/05/05/game-thrones-jon-snow-changes

It seems that D & D never turn down the chance to turn a character atheist or say religious beliefs are bullshit. I'm atheist but it feels really bizarre in that world where everything supernatural is real.

There's these quotes from Jon in the next episode.  There's Beric saying "There is no other side.  It's just darkness." There's Arya saying "Nothing isn't better or worse than anything.  Nothing is just nothing."  There's Davos being a atheist.   Davos saying fuck the Gods.  Davos saying "I think mothers and fathers made up the gods because they wanted their children to sleep through the night."  Cersei saying Tywin hates the Gods.  Sansa saying she doesn't pray anymore.  Tyrion regarding the gods as a joke by calling them all vicious cunts.  It's pretty annoying how in your face they are about it.  And this is coming from a atheist.

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

:agree::cheers: though I'm not an atheist, you sir are a fabulous person

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42 minutes ago, BonBon said:

Fantasy is not there for sake of fantasy itself, and frankly it is quite low on fantasy(compared to other fantasy where there are people throwing around fireballs) . As GRRM has quoted someone numerous times: "the only thing worth writing about is a human heart in conflict". Fantasy is just a tool to shape that conflict. Or to manifest certain ideas to advance the story.

But the human heart can be plotted in conflict with itself in natural fiction - if the author makes a choice to have a setting of unnatural fiction, you would reasonably expect it is relevant to in some way resolving the conflict in the prose.

The understanding I have of the difference between low and high fantasy isn't how unnatural or otherworldly the setting is but the extent of effect the protagonists have on their world. Swords and Sorcery is low fantasy because the characters don't change their world, LotRs is high fantasy because the characters save the world.

It may not be correct to call ASoIaF fantasy - but it is definitely unnatural fiction. Unnatural fiction comes in 3 basic flavors as I understand - horror, where the unnatural element is to be feared, Sci Fi, where the unnatural element is to be understood and fantasy, where the unnatural element is to be marvelled over. ASoIaF would therefore be midway between horror and fantasy, with only tiny Sci FI elements via Qyburn and Tyrion.

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1 hour ago, BonBon said:

I dont think they hate religion, but what is important to consider is the role of religion within the narrative. In the medieval period people were not particulary religious as in every peasant read the bible every night and every noble went to mass every sunday.
Religion has a role of an ideological framework within society and that is what is being questioned and explored. High sparrow vs elites is a very realistic interpretation of certain struggles within catholic church. in the mid 20th century there was a thing called liberation theology which was in line with radical emancipatory struggles in south america. Not to mention various heresies within christianity before that fighting for interpretation of religion. not to mention split between chatolic church and orthodox church and protestantism. If you draw a common line it is mostly about who will define the ideology that gave justification for wielding authority, : pope? local bishop? king? local nobles? the people?.
Jon and his brush with oblivion, has another role here. reason why religion is a very effective as ideology is because it gives meaning to suffering in our life by promising salvation in the next. If there is nothing after then it is quite meaningless and what coming back from the dead for jon will do (as indicated in EW) is to break with the concept of meaning, probably leading to a quite nihilist narrative.
 

I didn't get the idea at all that he would become nihilistic...more that he becomes aware that he hadn't been truly living his life, and had been, up to this point, so ready to throw it away for "honor" and "duty" that he was wasting it.

In fact, I think it will be quite the opposite- he will find more meaning in life knowing that he only gets one and he has to make it count.

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-ummester
why? I dont buy this. Book, show and author have all indicated numerous times that this is low fantasy and that it is exploring questions of politics, authority and philosophy. Dany can have dragons or nuclear warheads and dynamic, that drives how she changes and how the world around her is affected by that change, would stay the same. 

8 minutes ago, sj4iy said:

I didn't get the idea at all that he would become nihilistic...more that he becomes aware that he hadn't been truly living his life, and had been, up to this point, so ready to throw it away for "honor" and "duty" that he was wasting it.

In fact, I think it will be quite the opposite- he will find more meaning in life knowing that he only gets one and he has to make it count.

It might be both or one leading to another. Nietzsche when writing about nihilism defines two kinds of nihilism, active and passive nihilsm. Passive when there is no meaning and one feels crushed by the lack of meaning. Active nihilism where the lack of meaning makes one find meaning within one self and not within concepts introduced by society like honor of duty. Or maybe he will be scared and desperate to find meaning and will resort to religion, becoming follower of red god.  

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28 minutes ago, BonBon said:

-ummester
why? I dont buy this. Book, show and author have all indicated numerous times that this is low fantasy and that it is exploring questions of politics, authority and philosophy. Dany can have dragons or nuclear warheads and dynamic, that drives how she changes and how the world around her is affected by that change, would stay the same. 

Why is quite simple - real world elements are automatically more believable than non real world elements. No suspension of disbelief is required to accept that a nuke is bad for humans because Hiroshima happened, some suspension of disbelief will always be required for a dragon because they aren't real.

Audience reaction is determined by tone and part of setting tone includes establishing what level of suspension of disbelief is required. The first book and season determined that it was a universe with ice beings and dragons that was hyper realistic in it's portrayal of humanity - but you still need to go with the whole ice beings and dragons things to get into the story. Nukes just are.

In addition to this, real world elements are bound by the laws of reality. Specifically with ASoIaF dragons - they are Dany's children. She has an emotional connection to them and humans do not have emotional connections to nukes. Why? Because fantasy or unnatural fiction allows the author to ask questions they can't otherwise ask. 'If a person loved a nuke, is it still wrong for them to set it lose on the world?' The question can never be framed that way in natural fiction, so a clever author makes a conscious choice to determine what framing devices are needed for the stories important questions and conflicts - not just make it up as they go along.

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2 hours ago, Lothar said:

Yes, I was going to make a thread like this.  I thought this was going to about the new Kit Harrington interview.  

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/05/05/game-thrones-jon-snow-changes

It seems that D & D never turn down the chance to turn a character atheist or say religious beliefs are bullshit. I'm atheist but it feels really bizarre in that world where everything supernatural is real.

There's these quotes from Jon in the next episode.  There's Beric saying "There is no other side.  It's just darkness." There's Arya saying "Nothing isn't better or worse than anything.  Nothing is just nothing."  There's Davos being a atheist.   Davos saying fuck the Gods.  Davos saying "I think mothers and fathers made up the gods because they wanted their children to sleep through the night."  Cersei saying Tywin hates the Gods.  Sansa saying she doesn't pray anymore.  Tyrion regarding the gods as a joke by calling them all vicious cunts.  It's pretty annoying how in your face they are about it.  And this is coming from a atheist.

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

Just because a character says bad things about the Gods does not mean they are Atheist.  I know many texts of faith

On Tywinn, you left out Cersei full statement of " He believes in them, he just did not like them".  Cersei is asserting Tywinn believes in the Gods so Tywinn is not an Atheist.

Beric is really stating what Melissandre has even at her devout of the other side and is the same as what Kit's interview. I do not see these as a Atheist statements.  Not all religions need a after life.

You seem to be stating you must have love for the Gods to have faith or belief in them and I do not agree with them.  The Gods just need your faith in them not your love.

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58 minutes ago, TheKitttenGuard said:

Just because a character says bad things about the Gods does not mean they are Atheist.  I know many texts of faith

On Tywinn, you left out Cersei full statement of " He believes in them, he just did not like them".  Cersei is asserting Tywinn believes in the Gods so Tywinn is not an Atheist.

Beric is really stating what Melissandre has even at her devout of the other side and is the same as what Kit's interview. I do not see these as a Atheist statements.  Not all religions need a after life.

You seem to be stating you must have love for the Gods to have faith or belief in them and I do not agree with them.  The Gods just need your faith in them not your love.

Yes but the only characters in the show who seem to love the gods are the fanatics..... none of the regular characters seem to

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26 minutes ago, TheKnightOfJests said:

Yes but the only characters in the show who seem to love the gods are the fanatics..... none of the regular characters seem to

 

 Sansa was doing a prayer circle during the Blackwater and she was in the God's wood.  She also was caring for the Crypts in Winterfell which does have ceremonial elements.

The statement that Sansa gave to Tyrion about not praying has a lot context going on that I do not see it as the denouncement you are stating it is.

Catelyn had a strong faith on the show.  I do not recall questioning the Gods in an existential manner. 

 

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Not even slightly. Many characters are religious and it has no baring on whether they are good or bad or stupid or clever. Ned believed in the old gods, there are many characters who believed in the Seven or the Old gods and it made very little difference to who they are. 

Even if they did portray everyone who believed in a religion as crazy or a fantatic.. would that be so far from reality? ^_^

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From somewhat athestic point of view, it's the peoples' faith that makes gods and religions. It's not necessary to love them as even if you pray at gods or curse at them, you have faith in them nonetheless. That's how even satan worshippers are christians. They just detest the christian god but they don't deny as if they denied, their own satan-worshipping would become rather pointless unless their Satan was some unchristian version (like LaVey's). The best-known Satan ish an angel fallen from grace and cast down by the god, after all.

One might think GoT and ASoIaF are anti-religious but that's not exactly the case, in Kitty's opinion. This world's relation with religions ish more complicated. 

The Faith of the Seven ish portrayed as well-organized religion, but quite incapable of showing gods' power in otherwise unexplainable ways, just by good and bad deeds of men and women following the seven-pointed star. Stannis has described it quite well:

" In King's Landing, the High Septon would prattle at me of how all justice and goodness flowed from the Seven, but all I ever saw of either was made by men."

It's a small wonder how there's many characters who have lost their faith in the power of the Seven as a result of the Seven not answering to their prayers. This discontent has been widely shown as most of the characters in the series are children of the Seven since it's the main religion of Westeros. Like some have already said, Tywin did believe in the Seven but he didn't like them due to their mischievous nature.
The Faith of the Seven ish essentially men teaching words written by long-gone septons who wrote down of their faith in "The Seven-Pointed Star". In many ways, FotS ish like ASoIaF-version of catholic christianity, with trinity of one god replaced with seven-in-one god (and shown from somewhat criticizing point of view).

Meanwhile, Lord of Light's religion ish capable of miracles but usually at a cost considered demonic by other religions due to red priests' use of blood magic. We've this far seen 2 followers of R'hllor resurrecting dead (which consumes part of the resurrected person's soul as price) and none can probably forget Melisandre's shadowbinder skills. And visions R'hllor shows in flames aren't just illusions, we've seen ("daggers in the dark...").
So ultimately the religion of Lord of Light ish portrayed as a grey yet powerful religion, despite the religion's inner duality of black and white.

The old gods-religion ish difficult to describe as either good or evil as it's mysterious one. We've read about how men have worshipped the old gods by carving faces on weirwood trees, faces of both positive and negative emotions and how greenseers can see the world through them but we're yet to see more about those gods. But Kitty's impression this far ish that's it's mainly a good religion though Children of the Forest might have done some bad deeds in its name during their defense against the invasion of first men.

The religion of the Drowned God ish kind of simplified seafarer's version of the old scandinavian religions with the Ironborn warriors going to feast in the watery halls of the Drowned God (Valhalla) when they die.

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