The good preacher of Firefly passed away this weekend at the age of 71.
The death of Ron Glass, a veteran of some 50 television shows, follows the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and so many more this year. It seems we lost so many great artists this year, and there is a little less magic in the world.
Glass was most remembered for his depiction of the gentle yet worldly preacher, Shepherd Book, on Firefly, the 2002 cult hit television show that lasted just a season, but which even now is ahead of the times for its easy camaraderie and a unique combination of a sense of freedom, rebellion and family all in one.
In the midst of this family was Shepherd Book, the preacher who had been “out of the world for a spell, like to walk it a while.” He could be awkward at times, like that time he scared the bejeezus out of River. But the preacher also had a mysterious past that was never quite fleshed out, and would float to the surface every now and then, giving us just a hint of the depths the character could have gone to had the show lasted a couple more seasons.
There was the time ship’s mechanic Kaylee, still hurting from a bullet wound, needed to get the engine going and had to rely on Shepherd to fix it for her. “Head of the class,” she said, as Shepherd seemingly knew exactly where the parts were. There was the time he cursed in Chinese upon seeing Mal’s severed – not to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll say – body part. The show’s Chinese was a bit muddy at times, but Glass made this outburst sound thoroughly convincing. There was the time he showed the Alliance his ident card and got an immediate pass, to the shock of his shipmates. Just what did the good preacher do in a previous life, before Serenity, before the faith? We might never know at this point, or his story might live on in fans’ imaginations.
The defining moment of the character – getting my tissues ready – was the time when Shepherd Book set his eyes on Serenity and knew his destiny was with this crew.
“So, uh, how come you don’t care where you’re going?” Kaylee asked.
“’Cause how you get there is the worthier part,” he replied.
So thank you, Ron Glass, for the gentle preacher. Here are some moments of Shepherd Book we will cherish for a long time to come.
The importance of rosemary.
“Don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?”
My kind of preacher. He knew just who belonged in the special hell.