Bones / Christianity / Television / Theology

Matters of Heart and Head: Dr. Temperance (Bones) Brennan


In the Fox primetime crime drama Bones Dr. Temperance Brennan has been a stalwart of reason and science pitted against the emotionally driven pseudo-religious FBI agent Seeley Booth. There is a back and forth between the two characters throughout the series and this is seen rather clearly once their feelings for each other are made manifest in their daughter Christine and they become a monogamous couple. Their relationship has its ups and downs and recent episodes of Bones have shown that Bones’ staunch position of reason and science over faith and emotion is not so immovable.


———-That should go without saying, but I thought I’d add it———-

The episode for Monday February 4 (8.14 “The Doll in the Derby”) not only included a dialog where Agent Booth gives an excellent summary of the theology behind the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, but is also ends with Bones talking with Cam about Booth’s faith and how he puts it in action using 1 Corinthians 13 correctly (“charity” in the sense of divine love; how we are called to treat and love all people, not just those we are sexually attracted to). The most recent episode from Monday February 11 (8.15 “The Shot in the Dark”) Bones has to deal with the conflict the entire series, or at least the relationship between Booth and Bones, has been building to: The Heart vs. The Head. Faith vs. Reason. Science vs. God.

After having a fight about Bones’ reluctance to “be spontaneous” and go on a trip to a cabin in the woods with Booth and their daughter Christine, Bones returns to the lab to work and avoid Booth. While there, she is shot (with a bullet from frozen blood, which is unimportant for this blog but freaking awesome nonetheless). Booth finds her and she is brought to the hospital in time for them to save her after her heart stops beating for 2 minutes; Bones is legally and physically dead for 2 minutes. During those two minutes (and a couple of other times when her heart stops again) she finds herself in her old house with her mother, Christine Brennan whom Bones’ hasn’t seen since she was 15 years old. During the course of their conversation in which Bones insists that she is hallucinating because of chemical processes that happen in the brain during trauma, we learn that the last thing Bones did to her mother was slap her hand away in the midst of a fight over a boy – that night Christine ran away and, presumably, died before any reconciliation could happen.


Although Bones considers the entire thing a dream or hallucination, she plays along with “her mother” and engages in conversation about her current life and how much she regrets her last conversation with her mother. During the conversation, we find out the reason for Bones’ personality: her mother’s advice was to stop following her heart and to use her brain (which Bones’ initially rejects and slaps away her mom). At the end of the episode right before leaving Bones, Christine tells her daughter that it is time for her to start listening to her heart because it is no longer about surviving (using your head to survive your mother leaving you) but about living a full life.

Of course, to throw Bones “for a loop” her mother tells her to tell her father that she always knew the first gift he gave her was stolen. When Bones does this, her father says that no one ever knew that and is rather baffled. Here we have it: Bones has something resembling empirical evidence of the existence of an afterlife, the existence of an immortal soul! She admits to Booth that this all had to have been real: she really experienced an in between near death experience in which her mother guided her.

The show has been a struggle of the heart and the head but now we find the real answer: it isn’t EITHER OR, it is BOTH AND! Blessed John Paul II said “Science can purify religion from error and superstition, and religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” This saying is exemplified in this last episode of Bones. I am really excited about the direction the show has been heading and I have a lot of hope for Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth and their relationship, their growing faith, and their life together.

I cannot wait for the next episode!

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