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Do as Buffy did, says author


by Rachel Harden

FANS of the popular American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer are being encouraged to learn moral and spiritual lessons from it.

A new book, What Would Buffy Do? The vampire slayer as spiritual guide*, published in the UK this month, describes the heroine as "a spiritual teacher with valuable spiritual lessons to impart".

The author, Jana Riess, says that values portrayed on the show "can help people fight their own battles".

The book has been criticised, however, by the Revd Graham Taylor, the Church of England priest whose first novel Shadowmancer, a children’s parable of the battle between good and evil, became an unexpected bestseller.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Taylor said that the problem with the Buffy series was that it "portrayed a glamorous anti-monotheistic world-view which is damaging to the beliefs of those religions".

Mr Taylor, whose second book, Wormwood, was published last month, said that the idea of spiritualising the programme "should be forcibly rejected" .

The series, with a cult following on both sides of the Atlantic, stars a mini-skirted high-school vampire-slayer, Buffy, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar (above), who "saves the world a lot". With friends, she fights supernatural evil in Sunnydale, California. The series ran for seven seasons from 1997 until last year. Repeats are still regularly shown.

Ms Riess, who says she "saved the world as a Brownie", describes the show as "a classic medieval morality play — only with skimpier clothes, wittier dialogue and cutting-edge alternative music".

The Buffy series deals with "vampires, demons, paganism"; and the characters make no reference to God. Yet Ms Riess uses her book to argue that in fact it offers "powerful depictions of core spiritual values at work in the lives of the major characters".

The author says that Buffy does not take the world-view of any one religion, "but understands the real purpose of religion", which, she says, is community.

The main part of the book is divided into three sections: "Personal Spirituality", "Companions on the Journey", and "Saving the World".

*Jossey Bass, £9.99; 0-7879-6922-2

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