Once again, we steel our nerves for the beginning of a new season of Game of Thrones. Death, destruction, and upheaval loom large, as always. But these themes have increasingly felt like a battle between the authors (George R. R. Martin or his HBO adaptors) and the audience, rather than something intrinsic to the world.
This dynamic obscures the relationship that the characters have developed with the horror of their world. The series does show us moments of grief and anger, but it also shows us the religious beliefs that develop in these times of hardship.
Unsurprisingly, apocalyptic beliefs run strong in these conditions. Long-established faiths take on new dimensions, and new religions rise to the fore, promising that the world will be destroyed and rebuilt in their own image. The connection between war-torn lands and fiery prophecy is central to this world.
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The Sparrows have been a pretty big part of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and if there’s one thing I can credit Game of Thrones’s fifth season with, it’s that the show did a semi-decent job of keeping its take on the Sparrows mostly true to their book counterparts. In the books, the Sparrows are a perfect example of people using their religious freedom to abuse and oppress others. This is something that we deal with ourselves in the real world, especially when it comes to equality. Women’s rights are something that many Christian churches have been against for nearly the entire history of Christianity, and this oppression is still alive and well today. The Sparrows and their faith are based on the Catholic Church in the middle ages, and how the Sparrows dehumanize people is pretty indicative of some of our current churches’ backward beliefs.
Trigger warning for rape culture and misogyny after the jump. Also, spoilers for the latest season of Game of Thrones.
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