TV

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Robotech: The Macross Saga- Pacifism, Loyalty, and Honor

robotech-macross

Robotech was one of the first anime programs to be released in the United States, in 1985. So I’m a little late to the party to finally be watching it, but I always wanted to when I was little, and my wife got me the series for Christmas a year ago. I was surprised by the depth of some of the worldview-level issues that were addressed in the show alongside a story of aliens vs. humans. Here, I will examine some of these worldview issues from the show from a Christian perspective. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Pacifism in the Face of Annihilation

One of the characters who shows up later on in the show is Lynn Kyle, is a pacifist. He believes that the army is repugnant, at best, and harbors a deep detestation for military personnel. Yet the story Robotech tells is one in which an alien race is bent on wiping out humanity. Is pacifism a moral choice in the face of annihilation?

I can’t help but think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer when I think of situations like this. Staying silent in the face of injustice is itself an act. To stand aside and let others defend oneself while there is a whole people bent on xenocide is itself an ethical decision which seems to have moral implications. I would argue those implications show that such inaction is injustice, and this is a theme found throughout Christian theology from around the time of Augustine.

Loyalty and Honor

Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes demonstrate the attributes of loyalty and honor. Rick is constantly loyal in his friendship to Minmei, as well as his loyalty to the other members of his squadron. Lisa’s honorable commitment to Rick and to her crew on board the starship is also worthy of mentioning. Together, they demonstrate virtue.

Christians have long debated what kind of ethical theory best matches up with reality. Virtue ethics is the kind in which one’s character guides behavior. Here, we can see that Rick and Lisa embody a kind of virtue ethic which can serve as a model for remaining loyal and honorable even amidst temptations.

Domestic Abuse and Leaving the Relationship

Minmei’s relationship with Kyle is clearly verbally abusive. Too often, people are counseled to stay in such abusive relationships whether with the hope of “fixing” the abusive partner or due to some sense of necessity to maintain a relationship. Thankfully, Minmei leaves the abusive relationship, though it ultimately does not end with the happiest outcome, she does get herself out of a poor situation.

Theologically, it should be impermissible to counsel someone to stay in an abusive relationship. I recommend this post on the difficulties with a theology that argues for staying in an abusive relationship.

Cultural Conversion

A powerful theme in Robotech is that of cultural conversion. Minmei’s singing ultimately brings some of the Zentraedi onto the side of the humans (whom they call “micronians”). Although at times simplistic, this portrayal resonates with some pretty deep themes. What is it about music which can resonate with us? How might we engage with culture in ways that are impactful? What can we do through music to present a winsome case for Christ?

Christians have debated how conversion relates to culture and whether conversion means an abandonment of one’s own culture. Richard Twiss, for example, writes about this from the perspective of Native Americans who are followers of Christ. The power of culture to persuade is something that I think we must not lose sight of. Whether it is song, dress, or something else, cultural expressions can often be integrated into Christianity and even made sense of by Christianity. If all truth is from God, as seems to be right to affirm, then Christian engagement with the culture is a powerful tool for conversion and discussion.

Conclusion

What? Did I just write a worldview-level post on an anime? You better believe it. I always say that every story has a worldview (a phrase that I got from Brian Godawa, though I don’t know who coined it). Robotech was no different. I recommend watching the series and seeing what kind of worldview questions you find in it. Or, if nothing else, at least you can enjoy the giant robots.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Also see my other looks into television (scroll down for more).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #5-1

firstcontactReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

5.

J.W. – Pretty Much All of It (Star Trek: First Contact, 1996)

It’s difficult to pick a single moment from First Contact, which is my favorite Star Trek film. As a kid I found myself looking up at the sky outside to see if Borg were descending on me that very moment. Watching it now, I enjoy the strong plot and characters.

Mike – Captain Borg (“The Best of Both Worlds, Part I,” TNG, 1990)

Composer Ron Jones uses Alexander Courage’s classic Trek fanfare to ironic and chilling effect as the camera reveals Locutus of Borg, formerly our hero, Jean-Luc Picard. It’s a moment that fires on all cylinders, heralding Trek’s coming-of-age as a modern storytelling force to be reckoned with.

4.

J.W. – “KHAAAAN!!” (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982)

It appears all is lost for Kirk and gang as Kirk yells his rival’s name bitterly into his communicator. In reality, Kirk has once again cheated the system, and it is this revelation that made the movie, to my younger self, utterly compelling. It remains captivating to this day.

Mike – The Kobyashi Maru Scenario (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982)

Viewers who dreamed of attending Starfleet Academy vicariously got their wish watching Saavik learn that “how we deal with death is… as important as how we deal with life.” (It’s also a brilliant fake-out, “killing off” Spock so fans lowered their guard before the movie lowered the real boom later.)

3.

J.W. – Klingon Jesus Appears (“Rightful Heir,” TNG, 1993)

Worf goes to find himself but ends up finding the long-awaited Kahless has returned. Not only that, but Kahless specifically calls him back to an enlivened faith. Kahless turns out to be a clone, and the episode remains thought-provoking and intense throughout.

Mike – “The Meld” (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979)

Jerry Goldsmith’s lush score accompanies some of Trek’s most beautiful special effects as Decker, Ilia and V’Ger achieve transcendence. One of the franchise’s highest concept moments, dramatizing a yearning to “join with the Creator” that we Christians believe God perfectly fulfilled by coming to us (not vice versa) in Christ.

2.

J.W. – Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (“Darmok,” TNG, 1991)

Although it seems obvious a species that can only communicate through metaphor would have problems building spaceships, this episode poignantly portrays the struggles to communicate cross-culturally while serving up some choice quotes. Not watching this is like Shaka when the walls fell.

Mike – The Phoenix Takes Flight (Star Trek: First Contact, 1997)

The movie makes up for Zefram Cochrane’s earlier, cringeworthy name check of the franchise by showing us humanity’s first warp-powered spaceflight, accompanied by the strains of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” It’s thrilling and inspiring, and a heck of a lot of fun—as Star Trek’s future, at its best, always is.

1.

J.W. – Picard Lives a Second Life (“The Inner Light,” TNG, 1992)

Picard lives an entire lifetime’s memories in just a few short minutes “real time.” Coming to, he realizes it was all the memories of a lost civilization, and the episode ends with him playing a flute from the lost world alone in his cabin. It’s absurdly beautiful.

Mike – Stealing the Enterprise (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, 1984)
The heist is perhaps out of character for our heroes and the franchise, but friendship is at stake. Horner’s scoring is masterful, the cast’s acting is tops, and Kirk’s determination to go even when warned he’ll “never sit in the captain’s chair again” reminds us what really matters in life.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #10-6

emissaryReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

10.

J.W. – Worf is Shunned (“Sins of the Father,” TNG, 1990)

One of the most poignant scenes in TNG is the Klingon High Council all turning their backs on a lonely Worf in the middle of a circle. It’s a radically unfair moment that contrasts Worf’s true honor with the subterfuge of his rivals.

Mike – “What does God need with a starship?” (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, 1989)

Yes, really. Kirk shows us the importance of iconoclasm—challenging false gods—with this wonderful question. He may not believe in God, but he at least knows enough to “test the spirits” (1 John 4.1). Not every claimant of our ultimate trust, obedience and worship is deserving. Discernment is demanded.

9.

J.W. – Dealing with a Violent Past (“Duet,” DS9, 1993)

The Cardassian/Bajor conflict was apparent all through DS9 and certainly parts of TNG as well, but here it comes into true focus in beautiful ways rarely explored on Star Trek. It remains one of the better episodes of Star Trek across all series.

Mike – “I won’t kill you!” (“Arena,” TOS, 1967)

Kirk relies on his intelligence, ingenuity and mercy to survive, refusing to kill the Gorn he earlier wanted to destroy. He proves to the Metrons’ satisfaction (but not Spock’s) that humanity is “a most promising species.” One of the classic series’ most iconic and memorable hours, and deservedly so.

8.

J.W. – Invading Fleet “Can’t Stand It” (Star Trek: Beyond, 2016)

The latest Trek movie has all kinds of fun moments, but the self-referential humor of blowing away an invading fleet with music that hearkens back to the first reboot film tops them all. Tune into a modern classic to fight baddies.

Mike – Spock Melds with the Horta (“The Devil in the Dark,” TOS, 1967)

In a day when science fiction on TV often meant scary monsters (as in TOS’ own first-aired episode), Trek challenged the idea that the unknown, the alien, the “other” must, by definition, be the enemy. Innovative costuming and Nimoy’s empathetic acting sell the series’ most memorable moment of first contact.

7.

J.W. – We Learn What’s Important (“Family,” TNG, 1990)

Picard must try to reconcile with his brother back home in France as viewers get not only a tantalizing look at life on Earth in the future, but also an education in what’s important. Hint: it’s the episode title.

Mike – Benny Russell Dreams (“Far Beyond the Stars,” DS9, 1998)

Trek’s most direct assault on racial bigotry remains too timely in 2016. Sisko, in a Prophet-induced vision, learns the dangers of being black in 1950s America. It’s also one of the franchise’s most stirring affirmations of hope’s power: “You can pulp a story, but you cannot destroy an idea!”

6.

J.W. – That’s How You Premiere a Series (“Emissary” DS9, 1993)

“Emissary” was a rare moment for me- a pilot episode of a Star Trek series that was genuinely amazing. Sisko’s backstory was intriguing, all the other characters gave hints of potential, and the tension was ratcheted up with the discovery of a wormhole.

Mike – Tasha’s Farewell (“Skin of Evil,” TNG, 1987)

While Trek’s theology of immortality (living on in others’ memories) offers less hope than the Gospel, Tasha’s memorial shows the power of ritual and the necessity of community when coping with grief. Ron Jones’ score sings with heartbreak but also, as if by grace, healing. Season one’s most beautiful moments.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #15-11

star-trek-ivReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

15.

J.W. – Ro Chooses Sides (“Preemptive Strike,” TNG, 1994)

Ro Laren had been in and out of TNG for several episodes, and her Bajoran roots linked her plot with what was happening on DS9. Here, we see her go from favored protégé of Picard to betraying his trust to follow what she feels is the greater good.

Mike – Worf’s Bedside Manner (“Disaster,” TNG, 1991)

Pressed into medical service after catastrophe strikes the Enterprise (as it does), Worf makes ready to set a crewman’s broken leg with this blunt assessment: “This will hurt. Prepare yourself.” Afterward, he praises his patient: “You bore that well.” A pitch-perfect note of character-based comedy, at which mature TNG excelled.

14.

J.W. – Finally Home (“Endgame,” Voyager, 2001)

Though we may not get as much of the story as we’d like, fans finally got to see the return of Voyager to, approximately, home. The whole premise of the show was based on the culmination of this event, and the payoff is emotionally captivating.

Mike – “Hello, computer!” (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986)

It’s hard to pick a favorite funny scene in a film full of them, but Scotty’s (admittedly unrealistic) ignorance of a 1980s computer—”The keyboard; how quaint”—is always a contender. The scene is also the template for Spock Prime’s “invention” of transwarp beaming for Scotty in Star Trek (2009).

13.

J.W. – Blue Shirt? Kill me now! (“Tapestry,” TNG, 1993)

Picard must relive moments of his life that he would like to change as Q guides him to the realization that those choices made him who he was. The best part: when he ends up a blue shirt, he immediately demands death instead of continuing as a lowly science officer.

Mike – Khan Revealed (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982)

Ricardo Montalban’s performance as an older, crazier Khan so riveted me, I memorized much of it, including this scene. Montalban swings from nostalgic bitterness (“On Earth… 200 years ago…”) to unbridled outrage (“This is Ceti Alpha Five!”) All memories of Mr. Roark evaporate; here is the Trek films’ greatest villain.

12.

J.W. – “Would you mind stopping that noise?” (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986)

Kirk asks a punk on the bus to turn off his boombox; in response, the punk turns it up. So Spock shuts him down and the bus applauds. This is one of the most memorable moments in all of Star Trek, in my opinion.

Mike – U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, Revealed (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986)

A cathartic moment that restores order to the recently chaotic Trek universe. The unveiling of the new Enterprise, to the strains of Alexander Courage’s fanfare, is arguably the franchise’s first overt acknowledgment that (as Roddenberry’s own, unused lyrics to the old theme say), this “star trek will go on forever.”

11.

J.W. – Data is a Person (“The Measure of a Man,” TNG, 1989)

Riker must try to demonstrate Data is not a person, and does so by taking an arm off… he thinks. But Picard’s case comes out on top and Data is demonstrated to be a person with all the rights that entails. It’s a suspenseful, heartwarming moment early in TNG.

Mike – “This is 13 years ago…” (“The Menagerie,” TOS, 1966)

Gene Roddenberry faced the unenviable “no-win scenario” of needing to air the show’s unsold, radically different first pilot episode in order to fill out TOS’ first season. His solution was elegant, enveloping it in a frame story that instantly gave the Trek universe a “pre-history” and Spock a richer backstory.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #20-16

Last BattlefieldReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

 

20.

J.W. – Odo Can Turn Into ANYTHING (DS9)

Okay, it might not quite be true to say that Odo can turn into anything, but close enough. Throughout the course of DS9 fans see Odo shapeshift into all kinds of strange things, from vases to a combadge. The combination of ability and campiness makes Odo an intriguing character.

Mike – Spelled Out in Black and White (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” TOS, 1969)

When I was younger, I dismissed classic Trek’s most overt criticism of racial prejudice as “about as subtle as a sledgehammer.” Now, sadly, I’m not so sure white Americans don’t need as many blunt reminders about the dangers and sheer stupidity of racial prejudice and intolerance as we can get.

19.

J.W. – Tribbles (“The Trouble with Tribbles,” TOS, 1967)

There’s a reason everybody remembers this episode. It may not be the greatest piece of film shot for Star Trek—far from it—but it got nominated for a Hugo award and is some of the most straightforward fun I’ve had watching an episode of Star Trek.

Mike – Fizzbin (“A Piece of the Action,” TOS, 1968)

Kirk’s knack for fast thinking and fast-talking his way out of tough spots has never been on more hilarious display. His impromptu “rules” aren’t internally consistent even as he makes them up, which only adds to the fun. Shatner’s clearly having a good time, and viewers do, too.

18.

J.W. – Learning How to Mourn (“Dark Page,” TNG, 1993)

Lwaxana Troi, one of my least favorite characters, is given an astonishingly sympathetic role as one suffering mental trauma from the loss of a child. As a viewer, you learn that sometimes, there is little you can do to help but weep with those who mourn.

Mike – “Don’t Destroy the One Named Kirk (“Balance of Terror,” TOS, 1966)

McCoy encourages a self-doubting Kirk by putting him in his cosmic place: “In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us.”

17.

J.W. – Eugenics = Bad (“The Masterpiece Society,” TNG, 1992)

Star Trek is sometimes at its best when introducing ethical questions, and “The Masterpiece Society” asks many. In particular, what price are we willing to pay for alleged perfection? It’s an ethical quandary that takes center stage in this thought-provoking episode.

Mike – Ambassador Kollos (“Is There in Truth No Beauty?,” TOS, 1968)

The semi-corporeal alien deemed too hideous to behold is one of classic Trek’s most truly “science fictional” aliens—and Dr. Miranda Jones’ impassioned challenge of conventional wisdom (“Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear, or too beautiful to bear?”) is an eloquent plea for embracing diversity. IDIC!

16.

J.W. – The Power of Religion (“Accession,” DS9, 1996)

Though it could be faulted for portraying a somewhat pragmatist view of religion, “Accession” also shows at several points that faith is something that goes beyond simplistic stereotypes and into deeper aspects of personhood. It’s a moving episode that sees Sisko reinstalled as Emissary.

Mike – “The Klingon Battle” (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979)

Another standout musical moment from Goldsmith. The insistent clacks of his heavily percussive Klingon theme underscore the doomed aliens’ encounter with V’Ger, “voiced” by the wonderful “blaster beam.” Spectacular new Klingon ships, a high-tech Federation space station, and an immediately gripping threat to Earth, all in a few minutes’ time.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #25-21

qpidReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

25.

J.W. – Trek is back to TV… kind of (Star Trek: Discovery Announced, 2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxba2WjlN90

Finding out that Star Trek was returning in series form was massive news for Star Trek fans. It’s always been the format Trek has excelled in, and I know that the announcement of a new series was one of the best moments I’ve had with Star Trek.

Mike – “Is that classical music?” (Star Trek Beyond, 2016)

The perfect fusion of “nuTrek” and old: Instead of firing phasers or photon torpedoes, our heroes unexpectedly use music as a weapon against Krall’s “bees”—and the song of choice? The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” a callback to the 2009 film. (We all like the beats and the shouting, Jaylah!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeGHr9l-o1E

24.

J.W. – Data is an A-Bomb (“Thine Own Self,” TNG, 1994)

Data shows up at in a village with no memory of who he is, or that he’s carrying a container full of radiation poisoning. When the camera pans onto that case with the radiation warnings on it, it is one of the more chilling moments in TNG.

Mike – The Tragedy of Red Squad (“Valiant,” DS9, 1998)

One of Trek’s most haunting examinations of war and its costs. Jake and Nog’s friendship is tested past the breaking point aboard a Starfleet vessel crewed by cadets who want to become (depending on who you ask) heroes or martyrs. A powerful, not preachy morality tale in Trek’s finest tradition.

23.

J.W. – Seven of Nine is Revealed (“Scorpion, Part 2,” VOY, 1997)

The Borg are perhaps the most feared of all Star Trek villains, and for good reason. Here, however, viewers are introduced to a character who would later become a seeming paradox: a sympathetic, rehabilitated (?) Borg.

Mike – Tribbles Keep Fallin’ On Kirk’s Head (“Trial and Tribble-ations,” DS9, 1996)

An overrated TOS episode is redeemed with witty scripting and ingenious, seamless editing just in time for Trek’s 30th birthday. We learn those fuzzballs kept raining down on Kirk because, off camera, time-traveling Sisko and Dax were tossing them aside in order to find a bomb!

22.

J.W. – Data is Impersonal (“In Theory,” TNG, 1991)

Data experiments with humanity, but it turns out that much of his work is just that—experimentation. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, his utterly bleak—and apparently inhuman—reaction is to delete the program routine he wrote to date her.

Mike –  Captain Proton to the Rescue!!! (“Bride of Chaotica,” VOY, 1999)

Buck Rogers and zap guns are an often overlooked part of Trek’s DNA, but not here! The pulp sci-fi tradition is on full, garish black-and-white display as Tom Paris’ B-movie holodeck program goes terribly—and hysterically—wrong. The “Voyager” cast always shone when set free to unleash their comedic chops.

21.

J.W. – I turned on the wrong channel (“Qpid,” TNG, 1991)

A rollicking good time in this episode of TNG, wherein Q attempts to give Picard a love interest by transporting him and select crew members to Sherwood Forest. If you start this episode in the middle, you’d be confused about what you’re watching.

Mike – “Why are they banging their heads?” (“Little Green Men,” DS9, 1995)
Arguably the funniest of Trek’s many trips to the past, wherein we learn that none other than Ferengi crashed in Roswell in 1947. “I’d always heard primitive hew-mons lacked intelligence,” Quark observes, “but I had no idea they were this stupid!” Out of the mouths of extraterrestrials.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation “Rightful Heir” – Faith in the Future

The Klingon Jesus. I'm serious.

The Klingon Jesus. I’m serious.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of my favorite TV shows. I have been watching through the series with my wife, Beth. One episode we watched recently, “Rightful Heir,” had some clear worldview-level implications. There will be SPOILERS for the episode in what follows. A plot summary can be found here.

Defining Faith

Data and Worf have a couple conversations about faith that are worth commenting on. The definition of faith that is provided in the episode is interesting and seems to be that faith is belief in something that is not necessarily confirmed by empirical data. Worf states that Kahless “is not an empirical matter… it is a matter of ‘faith.'”

Data is particularly curious about this and asks Worf how he can determine whether Kahless is the “real” one or not in the absence of empirical data. Data goes on to describe his own experience that he was told he was merely a machine, but he realized that he had to trust in his own capacity to go beyond his programming. So, he says, “I chose to believe… that I was a person… that I had the potential to be more than a collection of circuits and subprocesses… I made a leap of faith.”

What is interesting about Data’s position is that it is effectively confirmed earlier in the series, “The Measure of a Man” (see my post on the worldview issues therein) in which Data is confirmed to be a “person.” Thus, the faith that is described here is ultimately vindicated.

The definition itself–something that is outside of empirical evidence–is interesting as much for what it reveals as for what it does not. It reveals that the concept of faith here is something that is presumably in something non-physical (for it is outside of empirical evidence), but it also implicitly reveals that there can be some kind of non-physical realm, even in the Star Trek universe. Faith is not denigrated, nor is it endorsed wholeheartedly. Instead, it is something that people–even Data–have. It is a facet of a complete person.

Kahless and Jesus

Kahless is effectively the Klingon’s parallel of Jesus. Ron Moore, the teleplay writer for the episode, said of the episode:

It was intriguing to me because of the religious stuff… What would happen if you could bring Jesus back? What would it do to the faith of his followers? What’s true and what’s not, what’s authentic and what’s not? …They [the Klingons] worship [Kahless] in a literal sense. So what would bringing him back do to his people?

The quote can be found in Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, a most excellent book for the Star Trek fan (like me).

Rick Berman, a writer/producer for TNG also noted the religious parallels in the episode:

Rick Berman recalled, “I had a lot of fights with Ron about this. The character of Kahless and the backstory and the dialogue of Kahless were all a little bit too on the nose Christ-like for me. We had a lot of long debates and eventually it was modified by Ron in a way that I think made it much better. I think he not only solved my problems but made the [episode] better. Kevin Conway’s performance is great and it’s a wonderful episode.” (quoted here)

There are many parallels between Kahless and Jesus, but it is what is missing that is perhaps even more intriguing. Kahless is effectively just the epitome of Klingon values. His promise to return is a promise to reinstate those values. Yet Jesus Christ is not merely an example or a lawgiver. Instead, Jesus is the Incarnate God–king of the universe. Jesus sacrificed himself for us, and this isn’t just a general statement but applies to each individual. It is for my sin that Jesus died. There is no true parallel found in a figure like Kahless who is, however admirable, merely a moral example.

The Questions

The episode, as noted in the quotes from those involved with it above, does bring up some serious questions. What would happen if we could bring Jesus back? As one of the Klingons note, who is to say the cloning was not the way by which Kahless was meant to return? Thankfully, this will remain a complete hypothetical, because we will never have genetic material from Christ from which a clone could be made.

On a deeper level, a clone is not the original thing that is cloned, but a copy. There is a true difference here. Even though Kahless received some of the memory patterns from the original, he was not the same person. Similarly, a cloned person is not the same as that from which he or she is cloned. Any different experience shapes people, and so they would not be the same person. Simply appealing to the law of identity is another way to point this out. If Kahless is not the original, then by no means could we fairly say that this clone is identical with the original. Similar? Yes. Intriguing? Certainly. Faith-shattering? No.

Conclusion

“Rightful Heir” is an interesting episode that raises a few questions for Christians to ponder. Yet, upon thinking about it in depth, it turns out that the self-examination the episode calls for is largely surface-level. Kahless is not a true parallel for Jesus, and the question of cloning and return is answered through the concept of identity. I’d love to read your thoughts on this episode in the comments. Don’t forget to look for the worldview behind anything you read or watch!

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Television– read my other posts on TV and worldview (scroll down for more).

The photo in this episode was a screenshot capture of the episode. I claim no rights to it and use it under fair use.

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Downton Abbey: The Final Season Episodes 8 and 9 – a Christian Perspective

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode of the final season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. I will be doing them two at a time to make space for my series on “The Expanse.” There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

Episode 8

Self-giving love is something that has been evidenced throughout this season of Downton Abbey, largely in the person of Phyllis Baxter. Here, she manages to save the life of Thomas Barrow because she senses something in him that suggests he will attempt suicide–something that has been somewhat anticipated all season.

Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions, as we see throughout the Bible in narratives, wisdom, and letters. Lady Mary’s jealousy of Lady Edith’s happiness led, once again, to her visiting ruination upon that happiness. The rebuke that Tom  Branson brought to Mary was well-deserved and it also shows something that we are not always comfortable with in our own lives–the need to confront sin. As the next episode shows, such a rebuke brought about change in behavior. This is a kind of demonstration of a Christian theme that is very Lutheran as well–the use of the Law to bring about change of behavior. By rebuking Mary’s self-serving attitude and calling her to better living, Branson was acting rightly.

Episode 9

Loyalty is something that often grows with us, and Barrow’s loyalty to Downton at last comes to the forefront in this final episode. His own bitterness and cruelty got him to a point in which he felt no return, but ultimately the kindness of some saved his life. It is a wonderful story of redemption to see Barrow taking on the duties of Butler to close out the series. There were times in the series I felt nothing good could come of Barrow, but that is just what we are as sinners: grace is something that breaks through and without deserving it, God lifts us from our sin. Barrow’s story of redemption is a powerful reminder of the concept of grace.

Forgiveness is another theme that has played throughout the series, and the first steps towards broader understanding and forgiveness were taken by Lady Mary and Lady Edith. Edith (at last!) has happiness, and that is at least partly due to Mary’s intervention. Mary took Branson’s rebuke to heart and made efforts to change the outcomes of her pettiness. There is little that can be said kindly about Mary, but her own story shows one in which the proud are humbled.

Downton Abbey is finished. It has brought us tales of sorrow, of joy, and of grace. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey as much as I have.

More!

I know there is a ton more to discuss, and in this post we can feel free to talk about the whole series. I’d love to read your thoughts. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the episodes, and what worldview-level issues you saw them raise, in the comments below.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Downton Abbey: The Final Season Episode 7 – A Christian Perspective

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode of the final season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. I will be doing them two at a time to make space for my series on “The Expanse.” There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

Episode 7

It is easy to get caught in the trap of demanding perfection from other human beings–despite knowing we can never meet the same standard ourselves. Lady Mary seems to have this kind of demand in her relationships: she wants perfection, and she is rarely able to forgive or see past people’s faults. The question is: will she be able to do this both in regards to herself (by allowing herself to come to terms with some of her own past) and others (particularly Edith). I am concerned with how Lady Mary has been reacting to her suspicions about Lady Edith and Marigold. Will she ever demonstrate anything towards Edith other than a kind of sniping attitude that they have each perpetuated throughout the series?

There was an intriguing point made about Mr. Mason. Daisy has been concerned about sharing him and the love he has for her. But it was stated here that love is not something finite, rather it is something infinite. It is not a zero-sum game in which as love for one person increases, it must decrease for another. Instead, love can keep increasing in an ever-flowing stream. This is a beautiful way to state it, and one that points to the reality of God, who is love. The love of God is abundant, and we need not fear that it will fade away from us.

Finally, not so related to worldview, but can someone explain to me why a man is spying on Mrs. Patmore? He looked like a private detective or something, but there seems to be no possible reason why anyone would ever be spying on Mrs. Patmore. She has no connection to anything I can think of that would make her a person of interest. Any ideas? Don’t spoil if you’ve already seen the next one!

More!

Be sure to let me know what you thought of the episodes, and what worldview-level issues you saw them raise, in the comments below.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Downton Abbey: The Final Season Episodes 5 and 6 – A Christian Perspective

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode of the final season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. I will be doing them two at a time to make space for my series on “The Expanse.” There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

Episode 5

Mr. Mason moved into his new place, and the whole drama surrounding this shows a kind of balance of justice and pragmatism by those involved. He was effectively stripped of his place because a new owner came in and gave him the boot–despite his being tied to the land for so long. This raises many questions about justice, a sense of place, and the balance of all of these concerns. It was good to see it ending well for him, so far.

Episode 6

Trust is something that can be lost, and it is hard to gain. A Christian perspective, I would argue, entails a kind of believing the best of others until proven otherwise. After all, isn’t that how we would like to be treated ourselves? Thomas Barrow has given others many reasons to lose their trust in him. Now that he is reaping the rewards of his own incessant sowing of discontent, he has fully come to realize just how hard it is to regain that trust. In his character, so far, we see in a way the state that all of us have been in or will be in–a state in which we must confront the fact that we have sinned, fallen short of expectations, and cannot earn our way back. Baxter has continued to be an example of grace shown to Barrow in his situation, but his own recalcitrance on accepting her grace shows, perhaps, how far he has fallen. The question is: Will he be able to come back?

Finally, we are left wondering about the relationship of Lady Edith and Lady Mary. When will they ever come to terms? Is it possible that they will? Again we see the impact of broken trust on a relationship. I’m hopeful that grace can make its appearance here as well.

More!

Be sure to let me know what you thought of the episodes, and what worldview-level issues you saw them raise, in the comments below.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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