Trompler Foundation Archives

Battlestar Galactica: Roslin and Religion

Last updated:  Sun 12 Mar 2006, 23h22 PST

A lot of things have undoubtedly happened over the fast-forwarded year, and the Cylon occupation has up-ended everyone’s plans.  We’re due for a major exposition of the Cylon perspective(s) and plot development (and if we don’t get it, I will revolt).  Nevertheless, I think the injunction to respect the integrity of the characters as well as a duty to the milieu they have created will require the writers to devote some time to fleshing out the nature of Colonial religion in general and Laura Roslin’s experience of it in particular.

Roslin’s faith has waxed and waned over the series, with varying degrees of justification.  She accedes to Adama’s useful myth of Earth as a political strategem, but she places no credence herself. Then, when her drug-induced visions refuse to be dismissed, she seeks and eventually accepts the counseling of the priestess Elosha.  Her belief in the Pythian Prophecy drives her to subvert Adama’s authority and precipitates a constitutional (Cartesian?) crisis.  As her health declines and the fleet tears itself apart, Roslin lets doubt creep back in, but she cannot reject the political advantage of being considered a messiah, no matter how distasteful she finds it.  Once Adama recovers and relents from his absolutist position, Roslin finds it less distasteful to use her religious cred to marginalize Zarek.  Roslin’s religious stature has nothing to offer in dealing with the threat posed by Cain and the Pegasus, and so it is forgotten.

I find it fascinating/irritating that Roslin’s faith (or lack thereof) seems to have been so little impacted by her recovery from terminal cancer.  We are given to believe that Roslin’s response to her drug-induced visions is her first adult exploration of religious belief.  Furthermore, her terminal condition was a singularly convincing signifier of her Prophetic status.  Finally, Roslin’s perception of Baltar as the agent of both the holocaust and her recovery simply has to add a divine/diabolical aspect to her opposition to Baltar.  Yet Roslin is reluctant to wear her faith on her sleeve.  She bristles at placating the fundamentalists over the abortion issue, yet rejects the ethical safe harbor offered by Adama.  She panders but fails to exact any concommitant support.

As she spends her year in the political wilderness, watching the Baltar Administration criminally neglect the safety of humanity, Roslin will have ample opportunity to ponder the consequences her religious inconstancy.  When Starbuck takes to the hills and the civilians are looking for both a cover and inspiration for the incipient Resistance, I have little doubt as to the most plausible path for Roslin to transform herself into Stands With A .45 Automatic.

Dream scene:  Roslin and Caprica-Six debating theology, Baltar as moderator (no booze allowed).

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Copyright © 2006 by Eric Scharf.  All rights reserved.