I’ve always grappled with religion and its role in my life and others around me. I’ve gone from somewhat religious to being Agnostic to Agnostic-Atheist. As far as I am concerned, my own relationship with religion is bitter. I can never have a problem with someone being religious though, that is their prerogative and if they derive some benefits from it then good for them. What is a problem though is when they try to impose and defend this imposition for purely emotional reasons and sometimes financial. But that’s not what i want to write about right now.
I was browsing a bookstore and while browsing through the Fiction and Science Fiction shelves i almost didn’t realize that religious books for some reason intentionally or unintentionally were placed in the Science Fiction section and I found it quite hilarious. Whether purposeful or just some mistake, its a nice subtle jab.
It also got me thinking again about the topic I’ve pondered over many times in life and have seen it explored many times in various media as well : Religion as Science Fiction. What if religion was just a bunch of made up stories from those eras and somehow over the years it morphed into some sort of global fandom which follows different versions of the same story and tries to defend their version as the true one. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Most religious texts and stories are similar if not same. They all say pretty much the same thing with the only difference being that they’re coming from different texts from different eras and different people. Some religions are extinct but their texts and stories survive. The few things that separate religion from any other form of media is that it plays an active role in daily life and many millions of people derive some form of spiritual fulfillment and often believe their gods to exist in some form. Many even consider their religious texts as some sort of a guide to life and consider as their philosophy.
So I guess it won’t be entirely wrong to consider followers of any religion as a fandom of that particular religion. And as is the case with many fandoms of various kind of media, they can get highly destructive and toxic because they consider the media property they follow to be something sacred and not to be messed with because it will ruin the essence of it even though its not their own property. They’re just emotionally and sometimes financially invested in it but are not its owners or creators. Rick & Morty, Jainism, Sherlock, Islam, Game of Thrones, Hinduism. All of them are prime examples of this destructive, toxic behavior by fans and followers. There are many more but these are what I have personally experienced. I guess this is a large topic – Similarities between fandoms and followers of religions. The gist being that its the same type of behavior more or less.
Religion isn’t a problem, its the followers and their own interpretations of everything surrounding it. And often different parts of the world interpret the same texts differently too. This is because there is no consensus on any kind on what text or what interpretation is “right” or even standard. Maybe that’s why it has such a universal appeal, anyone can interpret it as they want. This is a double-edged sword and history has shown how it can hurt too.