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 Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus

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PostSubject: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:53 pm

In an episode of Family Guy entitled 'The Father, The Son and the Holy Fonz' (link to stream included HERE) Peter Griffin establishes a new religion based on a fictional television character. As well as the obvious parallels with Alan's Equus religion the criticism launched at the episode is interesting.
An article (available in full HERE) from a parents pressure group in USA describes the show as taking 'something as personal and meaningful as religion and mock[ing] it in the most superficial and narrow-minded ways for the sake of being outré (extravagant)'.
Similar criticism has been directed towards Equus and Shaffer, with critics suggesting Schaffer simply profanes religion and Christianity so as to shock us and increase his play's notoriety/fame. The article below deals with Shaffer's treatment of religion and how it can be interpreted.

After completing Act One how far do you agree with the criticism and defence of Equus.
Ultimately is Shaffer simply a heretic and a man desperate for fame, or is his analysis of spiritualism and cultism more subtle? Is he criticising Church and spirituality, or is he trying to show the desperation to find a deeper truth?

Support your answer with evidence from the article, your own analysis and some quotation. If you can try to include include elements from the Family Guy episode which also explores the motivation for devotion. Consider Brian's statement that “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do.”

Minimum two reasonable sized paragraphs.
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E Aguilera



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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:21 am

To start im going to analyze the quote that brian says in the episode of Family Guy “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do". We can relate this quote to what happens in Equus. Frank tears apart a picture of god at the start of the novel, but Alan doesnt stop believing in religion. In fact is here where he listens his interior self and starts worshiping the picture of a horse. Here in my opinion Shaffer both criticises and defend what Alan does. First he suggest that many people are looking " for the next voice", but the fact that is Alan the one who decides to worship Equus instead of God suggest that he didnt follow another one but he followed his inner beliefs. This is clearly expressed at the start of the article where it says "Alan substituted Equus for Jesus."

To answer the rest of the question, in my opinion shaffer includes religion as a popular subject to raise the attention of the reader, but doesnt include christianity as a "fame" factor. In fact in my opinion at the start of the novel, he describes the relation between Dora and Alan as a very close and happy one. Their relation is close because of religion, and here shaffer suggest that religion in this case christianity, get people and family together. On the other side he exaggerates the relation between Alan and the horse. At the end of Act One Alan is aroused by the horse. The Relation between Equus and god suggest us the problems that can carry to worship in such degree something. Not neccesarily God. Here Shaffer clearly criticises religion saying that it can cause people to loose their mental health over worshiping something, in this case Equus.
To conclude i think Shaffer at the same time critisises and defend what Religion is. He includes religion as a fame factor but his real purpose is to show the good and the bad of Religion.
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Christian H



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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:11 pm

I can’t say Shaffer is a man desperate for fame, as I don’t know him and nothing from Equus make me think this. But I can say he makes a subtle analysis of spiritualism and cultism, not criticizing the church, but criticizing people’s desperation to find a truth, something to believe in.
Peoples nature is to believe in something, a God that explains things which even science is unable to explain. Alan, as any other people search this, but as his father is atheist and criticizes the Catholic Church, he feels he can’t be catholic, so as the Jesus poster is replaced by a horse one, he replaces the Catholic Church by his own, Equus.
Alan’s religion has a clear parallel with Christianity, with this Shaffer is trying to suggest all religions are similar, being their objective to control society as the media, telling them what to do and in what truth to believe. This is shown in a Family Guy’s episode where Peter creates a new church and immediately he has followers, as Brians says: “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do.” People get use to being told what to do, of being dependent of other people; Shaffer is criticizing people’s lack of autonomy.
I think the fact of including a sex scene in the end of Act 1 isn’t only to draw up attention and create controversy, but to take the parallel with Christianity even further. Alan’s union and passion with his God Equus which it may be seen as a pagan ritual, a blasphemy, may be associated with St. Teresa mystical union with God as it says in the article. This shows Shaffer is trying to suggest people tend to judge things badly only because they aren’t socially accepted and normal, but if Equus would have been a religion socially accepted, Alan could have been seen as a saint.
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kevin



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PostSubject: from kevin   Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:52 pm

After completing act one, it is quite clear that Shaffer wants to create a scandal by dealing with religion in his play. It is evident that church followers would criticize him negatively, as he compares the image of Jesus (the most sacred thing to Christians) to a horse (a common animal). Personally I defend Shaffer because as Brian said in family guy “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do” because people invent religion to be able to deal with their daily issues. Jesus is a human and a horse is an animal, therefore there is absolutely nothing that relates them more to god than any other living thing. Shaffer does not want us to worship a horse, he wants to make us see that treating Jesus as a god is ridiculous and I support him fully in that aspect.

I believe Shaffer knows that he will create a enormous scandal by writing Equus, but I do not want to think that he does this for fame because if that’s the case(which I hope its not), this analysis would be completely useless. This is because I would be criticizing the ideas of a man who might not necessarily share these ideas.

In family guy there is clear desperation to find a deeper truth as people easily change their religion from the worship of the Fonz, to the worship of someone else. I do not believe this is the case in Equus because Allan is extremely close minded towards his faith to a horse, in th same way the catholic Church is to Jesus. This is why I believe that Shaffer is evidently criticizing the Church and spirituality.
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Nighthawk Campero



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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:50 pm

In the family guy chapter there is a clear similarity in the theme of searching for a deity or a religion, much more clearer than in the article. When Peter is put on a similar situation than Alan (there is a conflict between catholisism and atheism in characters near to him) he feels he does not have a religion of his own and builds one out of thin air. This shows us the idea that Shaffer and McFarlane seem to point out and is clearly expressed in Brian's words “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do.” In my opinion Shaffer puts more emphasis on who are the "people like that" and why Alan has chosen to create his own religion, meanwhile Peter shows the summarised version of Alan's struggle.

On the other hand the article seems to refer more to the polemic use of christianity by Shaffer. "Of course our initial reaction is shock – Alan is one massively disturbed bloke. And yes, the first interpretation of what has happened is the profane one.Yet there is reason to admire what Shaffer achieved here." My stance in this matter is that Shaffer wanted to make a very valid point about religion; he does not mock catholism but rather shows a point of view unexplored by the audience. The problem lies in the affection most people have for catholism and how Shaffer touches a very sensible theme. But, to make an omelette you need to brake some eggs, it is impossible to analize this theme without the "profanity" and pissing off some people. What shaffer does is to show us a copy of catholisism based on horses as god. This copy only achieves a shallow level, there is no dogma in this religion nor any deep beliefs, Shaffer seems to criticise new religions for being shallow and only a series of meaningless rituals. Again, this has to do with the theme of people "needing" something to believe in; people do rituals and ceremonies just for the sake of doing them.
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Elisa García



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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:26 am

By finishing reading act one of Equus, I think Shaffer is making a subtle analysis of spiritualism and cultism by analyzing and criticizing people’s way of looking for a religion or beliefs. Like in Family Guy when Brian says “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do” it supports the idea of how people depend always on something to have some base to form their own ideas. But also, on the contrary we can see Alan. Who, although have a very catholic mother and a very atheist father, doesn’t guide for any of them and “makes” his own religion: Equus. So I think what Shaffer is trying to say us is that is inevitable to not look for a source of ideas or beliefs to “copy”, or if not, it’s inevitable to have some of that base (like Alan’s own ideas) for following a path.
The way in which Shaffer compares Equus with Catholic God could be very bad seen. The relation that Alan form with the horses is very differently as the relationship that catholic people makes with Jesus. Even though we can realize in one similarity, the connection that Alan has to the horses and the fact that priests “marry” to God and can’t have any relationship with women. So the way in which Shaffer plants the idea of religion can be bad seen but is right in the fact that people look always for religions desperately and for deeper truths to deal things when bad issues appear.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:57 am

After reading act one of Equus I can agree to a certain degree some of the criticism Shaffer does related to religion, spiritualism and cultism. I think he does in a way use the religion theme as a way of creating interest in people causing shock, because religion is something very important and deep for many people it does create an effect on the audience specially if joined to it there are other themes like sex and other problems in society. But I think Shaffer is not simply a heretic person looking for fame through the commentaries and critics he might seem to do regarding the religious themes present in the play, more than that I think Shaffer has accomplishes in a very good way the idea of the problem many people can face related with the search of religion.
In the video of family guy there is a clear parallel between Peter (in family guy) and Alan in Equus in the fact that both have a sense of emptiness in religion, they don’t agree with the example of religion they have in their family in this case, and because of that both end up creating a new religion that matches in a way their thoughts and feelings about the world and beliefs about it. At the same time that is showing the deep necessity of people in finding something that gives sense and direction to their lives. I think that is what Shaffer through the whole of act one is trying to question and discover, the problem of searching that something or someone that in certain way can explain the unexplainable. In the family guy episode Brian says: “People like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do.” This quote can clearly relate to Equus contrasting Alan’s situation. Both Dora and Frank give very opposing points of view about religion, Alan doesn’t feel represented with any and therefore falls in the desperation of finding the right God for him, and ends up choosing Equus.
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Camello Angustiado Zaror



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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:00 am

After completing act one, in a way I agree with both extremes of the interpretation of Shaffer's purpose. We can say that Shaffer uses religion as a media for catching the readers attention as it is a theme of great interest. So we can see that Shaffer is a man deseperate for fame. Eventhough Shaffer is trying to get fame, we can't say that Shaffer doesn't analyse spiritualism and cultism. Alan is the representant of Shaffer's ideas. In Equus, when Alan's father riped apart the Jesus image hanging on the wall and then was replaced by a horse image, represents the idea and the symbolism of changing one God for another. As Brian Griffin said “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do.” So we can say that Shaffer's ideas of religion are that you should follow what you want and what you believe in.

Shaffer's comparison of Alan's religion with Christianity are seen through the comparison of both Gods. He thinks that religion comes from exploring your inner beliefs and that sexualism inside religion is an important fact. This is an important fact because Alan worships his God by doing naked cults and rituals. The finishing quote from the article "Shaffer explores the further consequences of having God within man’s reach" is telling us that when you have the worshiped God within man's reach, any ritual or act can be practiced. So, as said previously, Shaffer explores the idea of sexualism within religion. Shaffer doesn't criticise Church and spirituality, but he does give as his own way of interpreting religion. Shaffer is telling us to look inside our own beliefs and find a deeper truth within this believes.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:15 pm

Shaffer may be interpretated as a man thats is seeking fame ,using controversial elements such as relgion, so it grabs peoples attention to read his play, using religion is a very smart choice, as it catches everyones intrest and everyone can have a different opinion about it.As the article says " as far as he provoke" that he took someting very precious for the people and transformate it into something ridicolous and offensive according to some opinions so its comercial and a lot of people get the intrest in consequence to the controversy it creates.But also Shaffer, for a lot of people, is not in the search for fame. but has a delicate analysis of spititualism and cultism by telling the people that is not wrong to have a diferent relgion, you have to have your own belief.






In a way shaffer is criticising the church with the image of Dora by being very sumisive and the contrast with Frank.Also the religion is shown in the play as being very strict and having many rules to follow, authoritarian in a way by controlling every aspect of peoples life.But what I most truely believe is that Shaffer is searching and desperate to find a deeper truth. and this is interpretated this desperation with the character of Alan.In family guy we see this desperation with the creation of a new church to adapt to his faith of life,and that is what Shaffer promotes to have this ideal, your own beliefs and dont be influentiated by the rest and it doesnt matter if you have your own manner of intrepertating a religion, if it fills the truth and despetation you need to fill
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:04 pm

I think shaffer includes many important aspects of society (maybe taboos) such as religion or sexuality to gain more attention and success. but I think he develops them to such an extent that they gain deepness and become more a tool for criticising society, rather than to gain the attention of it. for example, the whole idea of the substitution of jesus into a horse can be quite offensive, and the irrational worship of Alan can be a reflection of the irrational belief in God of some people.
Also, in the article, it is said that all of the aspects together complement each other. i strongly agree with this statement, believing that every aspect is striclty nessesary for making the whole criticism, gaining atention and making controversy.
I think as well, that Shaffer need to deal with this kind of themes (so polemic) so that he gains atention, and the criticisms made reach more people and more strongly. because i think that what he wants to achieve with the book, is not only shocking people, but also, showing very crudely some aspect that affect everybody, criticising and making people see with other eyes what they see everyday.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:04 am

Firstly ,it is worth to outline Brian`s quote in the episode of Family Guy “people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do". This is clearly associated to the event which happened in Equus. Alan`s father takes away the Alan’s picture of godl, however, this doesn’t make Alan stop believing in his religion. This is an extremely relevant event in the play because is here where he listens begins worshiping Equus.
I think Shaffer portrays religion through polemic and controversy, in order to gain fame, therefore engaging the reader in his play. A clear example of this, and I think it is the most obvious one, is the contrasting relationship between Dora and Frank. The first one is utterly religious, whereas the second one is completely atheist. Shaffer can criticize religion through Dora in the way that Dora seems to be over-controlled by her husband and this gives a sense of religion being powerless.
On the other hand, some people may believe Shaffer’s aim is the analysis of spititualism and cultism. Its your own choice to have your own believes, as Alan has it towards Equus.
Anyway, there are many possible interpretations…
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:52 pm

From Josefa V:

After finishing Act One, we can clearly build an opinion of what Shaffer is trying to say with the religion in Equus. I think Shaffer isn’t willing for fame, or reputation, he is trying to express his opinion of society and the necessity to believe in something or someone.

 The quote "people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do." of Family Guy is saying that society is always waiting for instructions, waiting for the Church, for example, to say to them, go and do that thing. They can’t make own decisions, they need somebody, they can’t take their own decisions. In the case of Equus, Shaffer is showing the other side- the exeption of the society. Alan is tired, or suffocated of all the religion (Catholicism) his mother tried to teach him, but at the same time, of the atheism of his father. He is in the middle of two extremes, and none of them is his decision.

Alan has created his own religion, he goes against the "current" and follows what he believes, what he loves, without being afraid of the opinion of the rest. This is also shown in the episode of Family Guy, Petter creates a religion of something he likes, he goes against his father and follows his beliefs, what he cares about. People follow him because they like difference, not the "normal" things. This is also seen in real life; slowly people are following different "religions" or taking care of alternative things, such as nature, or the famous religion based on science. In Equus, Alan creates his own rituals, he worships a new God, the things he "follows" or does in his own religion, and can be all related to the catholic religion, "Why is Equus in chains? For the sins of the world."

My opinion of the religion in Equus, is that Shaffer is trying to show to us, that we all need to believe in something, some have stronger bonds  to what they believe or think (rituals, etc),  some believe in one God, many Gods, animal or whatever, but we all need to have our own opinion, and the most important,  don’t believe something because everybody does.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:53 pm

From Clemente:

At the end of act one of equus, we can clearly see how Shaffer is exploring the idea of religion through the play. Clearly the author is trying to express himself and his opinion on the fact that people need to believe in something.
In family guy, peter says that people is always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do next. In this case it refers to the church and how people constantly evolve and change their opinions. In Equus, the contrary happens and Alan, in this case, is the one who is tired of catholic church and evolves his own religion, without caring what the rest could say, especially his parents. Again, in family guy, Peter starts his own church against the thoughts of his dad, and expresses himself on his new church. The need for 'diffrerence' drives both of our characters to look into themselves and make the decision to follow their instincts and not what society considers normal. Alan creates his own God aswell as Peter and they both find sucsses, showing how everyone must look inside them and find a meaning, a further purpose, whether its a god, a ritual, or whatever, society always is looking something to believe in, some in religion, others in science.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:55 pm

From Catalina:

I think Shaffer tries to analyze spiritualism and cultism in a more subtle way. Shaffer is not trying to get more fame by inventing (or mocking, as in family guy) a new “kind” of religion. What Shaffer is trying to do is making us think as individuals and deciding by our own which “path” to take. He demonstrates this in Equus with Alan, although Alan has been raised in a family with a Christian mother and an atheist father, he finds his own religion and his own god to believe in. This shows us that what Shaffer is trying to prove is that everyone needs to idolatrize or believe in what they think is right and true.
The “creation” of a new religion can be very shocking for us as spectators, but we don’t have to take it as a mock to other religions, we should take it as a form of expressing individual feelings and new beliefs. People is always saying that it is important to be unique and express your feelings, so some people create their god/s as a form of support in times when no one else understand them. This is what happens with Alan who has two very restrictive parents (specially frank) they won’t let him express properly so Alan finds his own methods in which to liberate so many years of repression.
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PostSubject: Re: Weekly Task Two: Religion in Equus   Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:36 pm

In the family guy episode is important to outline what brian says "people like that are always looking for the next voice to tell them what to do". This is when Peter creates a new religion and surprisingly many people follow it, but when another religion appears all of them go. We can see how this is a critisims to society. Religion is the source of hope that most people use. Alan is a character that it is lost in this world. When he was worshiping God poster, his father tairs it apart, this is when he starts his new religgion, Equus.
Shaffer as well as the family guy creator is trying to show these two characters alan and Peter. Both are pretty missundertood and by creting a new religion they succed in the way of finding something to worship, have faith in and help them go on.
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