More on the gospel and “Star Trek”

January 12, 2011

Leonard Nimoy directing William Shatner and DeForest Kelley in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"

Yes, yes… I know… Insert your jokes about my living up to the stereotypes of Georgia Tech alumni… But being snowed in these past few days—and not losing power (yay!)—has given me a lot of time to watch and reflect on my DVD boxed-set of original-series Star Trek movies. (See my previous post on the subject.)

In my sermon on Sunday, I talked about the importance of remembering—remembering who God is, who we are, what God has done for us. It’s what God implicitly asks the people of Israel to do in Exodus 20:2. It’s what Jesus asks us to do when we partake of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. “On the night in which Jesus gave himself up for us, he took the bread, gave thanks to you, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.'”

What kind of God does this—empties himself, assumes the weakness and frailty of a human being, and suffers death on a cross to reconcile us to himself, out of a love for us that goes beyond comprehension? Remember that. Live your life as a grateful response to what God has done for you.

Remembering plays an important role in the second and third Star Trek movies. On the night (or day) in which Spock gave himself up for the crew of the Enterprise, willingly suffering death by radiation poisoning in order to repair the ship’s warp drive, he mind-melds with McCoy, telling him as he does, “Remember.” We learn from  Star Trek III, of course, that Spock has given McCoy his katra, literally his spirit. And in Star Trek III, McCoy, sharing Spock’s spirit, begins acting like Spock, saying the words of Spock when appropriate, even taking on some of his mannerisms. McCoy is becoming someone new.

Likewise, we Christians, through the “remembering” of the holy meal and the sharing the Spirit of Christ, are transformed over time into a new creation, becoming (we hope) more like our Lord, better able to live up to the standard of Christ-like love.

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to give us his words when we need them: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:12-13).

Not a perfect analogy, I know, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

One more thought on the subject: Kirk saves Spock’s (regenerated) life in Star Trek III, but in doing so, Kirk’s son dies at the hands of the Klingons, and the Enterprise is destroyed. At the end of movie, Sarek, Spock’s father, implicitly asks why he would do this:

Sarek: “I thank you. What you have done…”

Kirk: “What I have done, I had to do.”

Sarek: “But at what cost? Your ship, your son…”

Kirk: “If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.”

Even if it costs him everything else in life, Kirk will not lose his soul. Is this nothing less than the cost of discipleship? I’m not saying I’ve paid that cost… Kirk’s example challenges me. How cheaply would I be willing to sell my soul? How easily do I sell out?

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