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May 2011

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Millennials and Religion (also thoughts on technology and religion!)

Essentially, the general trend is that the presence of religion is declining in the daily lives of Millennials. Fewer Millennials are affiliated with a particular religion, and spend less time praying than former generations. Young people are more tolerant of homosexuality, abortion, and general deviations from the norm. Millennials are more skeptical of institutionalized religion and are less likely to interpret the Bible literally than other generations. The statistical article does point out thatreligious zeal could also be a function of age, but the idea is that religion has less influence over young lives than it used to.

Still, the article contends that young people generally still maintain belief in a God and the existence of a Heaven/Hell. I find this interesting because these two beliefs are the basis for the show Supernatural, which draws upon Millennials' religious conceptions in order to entertain and provoke discussion. As a person unaffiliated with any particular religion, my views of religion and Christianity were not really influenced by watching the show. I wonder how I would feel if I were a devout Christian, however. In some ways, Christianity and religion are being manipulated in the show in order to thrill and intrigue. Drawing upon actual religious texts and symbols gives authenticity to the show, making it scarier and more watchable.

What makes Supernatural so appealing to Millennials? As Petersen suggests, "There is a strong sense of contiuity with the past" and a "romanticized understanding of ancient cultures and spiritualities." Essentially, we are drawn to Supernatural because we are simultaneously fascinated and haunted by history. This observation is at odds with Stein's conclusion that decreased religious affiliation in Millennials represents a decline of tradition. She claims that traditional, conservative values are being traded in for indulgence and tolerance. Perhaps we are searching for both history and revolution. I would argue that Supernatural synthesizes these two, which is the main reason why it is so appealing. Supernatural makes God and religious themes accessible, hip, exciting, and multifaceted.

Furthermore, Supernatural transcends religion in that it reaches out to humanity as a whole. It taps into people's irrational fears of inhuman creatures and the unknown. These two things are common themes in horror movies. Think about it. Monsters such as vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc. are scary because they appear human but aren't, which is a scary concept for us. The unknown is also a feature of many movies in the Thriller genre. As Petersen points out, there are so many psychic characters in the media, as we greatly fear the impending future. Psychological thrillers also tap into our fear of the unknown, as many feature serial killers whose minds are inconceivable to most.  Some movies that explore the idea of the unknown: The Sixth Sense, Dejá Vu, etc. I'm not saying these themes are in ALL horror/thriller movies, just most of them.

I noticed that when the demons arrived in Supernatural, the technological devices would mysteriously turn on, which I found to be creepy. Then, I asked myself why I thought that was so creepy. I think it's because technology is something that is created by us and controlled by us and when we don't have power over it, that is scary to us. On another level, Petersen points out that technology is what enables the special effects that give us the chills when a psychic gets her eyes burned out, or whatever.

That's all for now. I have some other things to discuss about The Secret Life, which I have to admit used to be one of my favorite shows (don't judge). But it's late and I'm tired so I'll save that for another time. Good night!