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04 December 2015

Spike Jonze' *Her* as a Critique of Protestantism (mild spoilers)

After watching the film Her a while ago, it occurred to me that it could be read as a critique of Protestantism. Catholicism is both historically and today a comparatively materialistic (in the non-pejorative sense of course) religion. Catholicism takes the physical world very seriously as a place in which things can be conduits of the spiritual (e.g. rosaries, Lourdes, holy relics, etc.) and in which "works," or charity, are done. Protestantism was in part a reaction against this sacramentalism, insisting instead on the centrality of ideas, texts, and beliefs (e.g. sola fide). In Her, our protagonist, Theodore, finds the material world messy and complicated so, in his awkwardness, he recedes into a relationship with his computer's operating system, whom he names Samantha. Theodore eventually finds cerebral sex to be wanting, however. For the human being, the material ends up being necessary. Samantha recognizes this and arranges for a human surrogate to stand in as a sex partner for her (albeit with disastrous consequences). The moral seems to be that heady things can never fully replace the fleshy things, that the physical is essential. If the metaphor holds, it seems to claim that Protestantism is lacking.

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