Religion on Screen: Red Dwarf 1 (and the Dalai Lama)

This morning I was watching Red Dwarf, Series 1, Episode 4 – “Waiting for God” (thanks Lindsey!) and there were some epic references to ‘religion’, and I suddenly thought that so many of my favourite TV shows/films etc. do have an awful lot to say about religion – maybe that’s why I like them so much, eh?

So, from now on I am going to attempt to share those moments with you as and when I discover them. I don’t intend to provide a compilation of pro- or anti-religious television moments (although, I guess that most of them might end being anti-religious, given that most of them will be comedy references), but just a compilation of some of the more ‘deep’ thought present in some of my favourite programmes.

Thanks to http://www.ladyofthecake.com/rdscripts/ for providing the scripts for this one. Please feel free to share your own favourite moments… I’m always looking for new material!

Firstly, Lister’s critique of the ‘point’ behind asking “The Big Questions”:

“RIMMER: Lister, don’t you ever stop and wonder: why are we here? What’s the grand purpose?

LISTER: Why does it have to be such a big deal? Why can’t it be like, like, human beings are a planetary disease? Like the Earth’s got German measles or facial herpes, right? And that’s why all of the other planets give us such a wide berth. It’s like, “Oh, don’t go near Earth! It’s got human beings on it, they’re contagious!”

RIMMER: So you’re saying, Lister, you’re an intergalactic, pus-filled cold sore! At last, Lister, we agree on something.

LISTER: What do you believe in, then? Do you believe in God?

RIMMER: God? Certainly not! What a preposterous thought! I believe in aliens, Lister.

LISTER: Oh, right, fine.  Something sensible at last.”

The following section comes from the part of the episode where Holly is revealing to Lister the extent to which the Cats (evolved from his own pet cat, and now personified by the Red Dwarf character “Cat”) revere Lister as “God” and have taken on his own life-ambitions as their vision of paradise:

HOLLY: “`Yea, even individual sachets of mustard.  And those who serve shall have hats of great majesty, yea, though they be made of coloured cardboard and have humorous arrows through the top.'”

LISTER: Does it say what happened to the rest of the Cats?

HOLLY: Holy wars.  There were thousands of years of fighting, Dave, between the two factions.

LISTER: What two factions?

HOLLY: Well, the ones who believed the hats should be red, and the ones who believed the hats should be blue.

LISTER: Do you mean they had a war over whether the doughnut diner hats were red or blue?

HOLLY: Yeah.  Most of them were killed fighting about that.  It’s daft really, innit?

LISTER: You’re not kidding.  They were supposed to be green.

And later on, when Lister his bemoaning his position as the God of the Cats:

RIMMER: You’ve just come here to rub my nose in it.  I could have been God, you know, given a different start in life, given the lucky showbiz break you had.

LISTER: I don’t want to be a god.  That’s the point.

RIMMER: Oh, vomitisation!  I don’t believe it!  “I’m God, but it’s a bit of a drag, actually?” Come on!

LISTER: I’m not a god!  I’ve just been … misquoted.

[…] RIMMER: Well, that would look spectacular, wouldn’t it, Lister?  God returns in all his splendour, and says, “Sorry, it’s all been a total cock-up!”

Excellent stuff!

To close, just in case I don’t get a chance to write another post before Christmas, I just wanted to finish with the following quotation from the Dalai Lama’s twitter feed this morning:

“It is clear that feelings of love, affection, closeness and compassion bring happiness.”

Talk about stating the obvious?

Merry Christmas everyone!


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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

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