Monday, January 24, 2005

The Gospel According to Star Trek

One of my favorite books as a junior high-schooler was The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert Short, and though I think he's gone way off the deep end in his universalist beliefs, he did a great job of using Charles Schulz's immortal characters to illuminate everlasting Scripture for my young mind.

Most of my other favorite junior high reads had Star Trek in the title.

So it's no real surprise that from time to time I find a nugget of universal truth buried in the interstellar quagmire of rampant humanism that is Trek.

One instance popped into my mind today as I read Greg Taylor's blog review of Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialog by Edward Fudge and Robert A. Peterson. Though I haven't read the work, Greg's review is so comprehensive that you feel you've got the major gist by the time you've read it! (And he cites Seinfeld, which is almost always a good thing.)

What came to mind as I read it was a scene from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, where Admiral Kirk is trying to wrangle permission from his commander, Admiral Morrow, to return to the newly-created Genesis planet to retrieve Spock's body (and hopefully his katra, or soul) at his father's request.

(Okay, if you don't follow Trek, this is probably already too bizarre for you to pursue.)


Morrow shakes his head, "Honestly, I never understood Vulcan mysticism ..."

But Kirk sees through his reluctance: "You don't have to believe," he interrupts. "I'm not even sure that I believe."

The nugget of truth?

Not understanding something is often our excuse for not believing it.

The trouble is, if we wait until we understand everything eternal in this life ... we'll never believe.

Whether it's the theodicy of tsunamis, fatal car accidents, everlasting punishment, or some mystic process by which life can be returned to a lifeless body, we're not likely to grasp it as a prerequisite to believing.

It's not that God doesn't want us to reach, and wonder, and ask - just as Job did; as Fudge and Peterson and all the rest of us do. Quite the opposite!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) | "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." (I Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 105:4)

6 comments:

David U said...

Great blog today, Keith! I felt that you wrote that for me personally, because I needed to hear it that much. It was a tremendous blessing. Thanks!
DU

Keith Brenton said...

Thanks, David ... I guess another nugget of truth in that scene is that things can be true whether we believe them or not. (Can't imagine a Vulcan basing a belief on anything that wasn't rooted in fact!)

Then there's the depth of Kirk's dedication to his friend a little later in that scene, when he asserts that Spock's soul is his responsibility "...as surely as if it were my very own."

Whew! I'm not up to going there right now.

Fajita said...

I knew there was something good about Star Trek. Great nugget. I think that not understanding something should be cause to learn of it. Now, I didn't say believe it, I said learn of it. Too many fear that knowledge equals belief. It is our responsibility as humans to discern.

Too often ours is a "Gospel According to Spies Like," wherein Dan Akroyd says, "We mock what we do not understand."

DJG said...

One of my favorite Star Trek lines is ?The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one?. However, I get hung up wanting to know everything. I know God that your ways are not my ways, but surely you should enlighten ME! I need to know, I am looking hard!

True faith believes when I don?t understand, when I don?t know, when it does not even make good sense and sometimes I am even going to doubt. Thanks for the reminder.

Serena Voss said...

Donna,

That is one of my favorite lines, too. In fact, when I taught sophomore and senior English, we did a unit on Tale of Two Cities and we watched Star Trek II. One of the essays I gave was to compare/contrast the two philosophies: Utilitarianism - "the needs of the many...." vs (and I forget the name of it)"the needs of the one....."

Great post, Keith!

Serena Voss said...

Oh, yes, I remember: Utilitarianism vs Epicurianism.