Gore Vidal’s 1954 dystopian satire Messiah is the story of a religious movement that forms around a charismatic undertaker named John Cave. Cave’s central message is, simply and profoundly, that people should not be afraid of death; not because they could look forward to an afterlife of eternal bliss in paradise, but rather because oblivion … Read moreCavesword: A Nontheistic Religion of Radical Death Acceptance in Gore Vidal’s “Messiah”
The fantasy cultures in George R. R. Martin’s epic Game of Thrones stories have conjured a rich diversity of religious perspectives. The journey of Arya Stark, noblewoman by birth and killer by temperament, leads her to the House of Black and White, which is the temple, headquarters and thanatorium of a cult of priestly assassins … Read moreThe House of Black and White
Although Charles Kingley’s 1863 children’s novel has fallen from favor, his image of the Great Fairy Science – “who is likely to be queen of all the fairies for many a year to come” – might serve as an icon for certain nontheistic practices of magick. It’s a fun coincidence that the word “steam”, proudly … Read moreThe Great Fairy Science (from “The Water Babies” by Charles Kingsley)
Adapted from artist Ivan Bilbin’s 1899 illustration Vasilisa at the Hut of Baba Yaga.
Syrio Forel, First Sword of Braavos (played by actor Miltos Yerolamou) offers an object memento mori ergo carpe diem lesson to Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in this scene from the first season of Game of Thrones.
You can see more of artist Jenny Jinya’s “Loving Reaper” cartoons here – though be aware that few of them end quite this happily.
Director Alfonso Cuaron’s post-Apocalyptic masterpiece Children of Men is set in a nightmarish future United Kingdom about eighteen years after the human fertility rate dropped to zero. As war and existential despair claim most parts of the world, the UK “soldiers on” via a near-totalitarian regime that offers its citizens the option of suicide via … Read moreQuietus: State-Sponsored Suicide in “Children of Men” (2006)
In the climactic scene of Mr. Holmes, the titular detective – aged 93 and very near to the end of his own life – mimics a memorial ritual he had witnessed in Japan to honor the deceased. In the context of this story, the scene has a special poignancy in that it seems to contradict … Read moreSherlock Holmes Honors the Dead (“Mr. Holmes”, 2015)