A favorite show in our house is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A teenage girl kicking vampire butt while dealing with the everyday horrors of high school and eternal questions of good versus evil, of sin and salvation - it doesn't get any better. It's like Scooby Doo written by Harlan Ellison.
And a while ago I found this great quote from Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon, on the question: "What do you have against being a Christian?"
Joss Whedon: "I don't actually have anything against anybody, unless their belief precludes everybody else's. I am an atheist and an absurdist and have been for many, many years. I've actually taken a huge amount of flak for that. People who have faith tend to think that people who don't don't have a belief system and they don't care if they make fun of them. It's actually very difficult: Atheists are as a group not really recognized by the American public as people to be taken seriously."
Gomonkeygo: I'm interrupting here because the above struck me as very true. A while ago I met with a young friend who was deeply confused and upset. She was trying to become involved as a volunteer in our community, but found the process frustrating. Why? Because every community group she approached was religious-based or run and didn't care that she wanted to contribute and help - they were only interested in talking about Christianity and religion with her. She was ready to give up.
Well, we talked for a while and I convinced her to give it another try, suggesting a few organizations that I thought would be more interested in help than holiness. She did try again. And she did find something, but the journey was made unnecessarily difficult for her because of her status as a non-believer. She felt ostracized, even discriminated against. I've had the same problem, felt the same way, and I'm sure there are millions like us out there but we are usually too timid to raise our voices for fear of backlash.
Back to Joss Whedon: "This does not mean that I rail against religion; however the meaning of life and the meaning of what we do with our lives is something that is extremely important to me. I have included characters from many different religions, particularly in Firefly, but also in the other shows as well, because I'm interested in the concept. I think faith is an extraordinary thing. I'd like to have some, but I don't and that's just how that works.... There's one other thing I would mention, which is from Angel actually: One of the few times I really got to sort of say exactly what I think about the world was in the second season of Angel, episode 16 ['Epiphany'] when he'd gone all dark, because he does that, and that he was getting better, and he basically decided -- he'd been told: 'The world is meaningless, nothing matters.' And he said: 'Well then, this is my statement: Nothing matters, so [the] only thing that matters is what we do.' Which is what I believe: I believe the only reality is how we treat each other. The morality comes from the absense of any grander scheme, not from the presense of any grander scheme.... So the answer is: 'Nothing, unless you've got something against me.'"