Meditation: Doctor Who and the Darklets

By: Guest
November 13, 2010


Today’s guest post is from Tacy Holliday, a High Priest in the Community of Christ with a penchant for finding unusual sources for illustrating Scripture. Doctor Who fans will understand the pun in the title.

For those of you who are not familiar with the iconic British television show, Doctor Who, the lead character is the last survivor of a species called the Time Lords. I started watching the show to spend time with my dad, but it turns out that this show teaches me things about God.

As a Time Lord, the Doctor is very powerful, and he travels through time and space, often with a human companion, helping people (human and non-human). He does have a special place in his heart for humans because, when humans are at their best, they can be so amazing. So, most episodes he is saving our planet from one threat or another. Time Lords can regenerate their bodies (with new combinations of DNA and new personality quirks) a dozen times, and the Doctor has already “died” 10 times in his missions. Because he has seen so much cruelty and destruction, he is tremendously tender and compassionate.

In an episode aired (on BBC America in the USA) last season, the Doctor is traveling with two friends to the not too distant future. He arrives at a remote drilling station. It turns out that there are intelligent reptile-like creatures living deep underground who perceive the drilling as an attack on their civilization.  They are sending warriors up to the surface of earth to seek revenge by wiping out humans and conquering earth. As the warriors are very close to reaching the surface, the Doctor has gathered the few townspeople at the church. He instructs them to start gathering certain items that he’ll be using to defend against the attack. One of the ladies brings a number of weapons. The Doctor instructs her to put the weapons back. He will not use those to defend the attack as he doesn’t want to escalate the situation. He’s not opposed to using force, but he likes to use cleverness to preserve all life if there is any way to do so. In another exchange, a little boy asks the Doctor if he has seen monsters before, and if he is afraid of them. The Doctor smiles at the boy and says “I’m not afraid of monsters. They’re afraid of me.”

Later in the episode, the Doctor has captured one of the reptile creatures. He goes to what would be used as an interrogation room, and he asks her what her name is. He then takes off her scary-looking mask and tells her that she’s a beautiful creature. He says how impressed he is with the technology that her society has developed, but that—sorry—he can’t let them destroy humans. After all, humans are such a spectacular race.

He must leave the creature with the townspeople because he has to go into the earth to negotiate for the release of a few people who were captured—prisoner exchange. He leaves the townspeople with strict instructions. Not only is it in their best interest to take care of the creature—that’s their bargaining chip—but also that no one has to die today. This situation calls for them to act out of the very best of who they are so that disaster can be avoided.

Doctor Who acts compassionately towards the underground creatures. He saves the humans. He calls them to be the very best of who they are because that is always, always, always what is needed most.  As it says in the Book of Luke:

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.”

I believe that we are called to be fireflies, not moths. We are not supposed to isolate ourselves from darkness and keep trying to break into the light, like moths do when they keep flying into a light. We are supposed to carry the light of Christ into the darkness. We are called to light the night. We are called to remember that Christ is not afraid of monsters; they are afraid of him. Christ is not concerned about storms on the path. They obey him. There is no place where we can be outside of God’s grace and providence. There is no place too dark, not to be transformed by the light.

______________________
Tacy Holliday normally blogs at In Our Maker’s Image.

Doctor Who sketch is used with permission of Graeme Reid.

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11 Responses to Meditation: Doctor Who and the Darklets

  1. Jared on November 13, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    Fun and enjoyable read with a great summary.

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  2. Troth Everyman on November 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    “I believe that we are called to be fireflies, not moths. We are not supposed to isolate ourselves from darkness and keep trying to break into the light, like moths do when they keep flying into a light. We are supposed to carry the light of Christ into the darkness.”

    Beautiful metaphor. Living in the mid-west with lots of fireflies (and not to far from the Church of Christ headquarters) this post resonates.

    Often I think we bring the “light” or the “spirit” back into church for those who have become overly engrossed in rules and regulations as proof of righteousness.

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  3. Tacy Holliday on November 13, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Thanks for your replies, Jared & Troth Everyman–

    I like the idea of bringing light back into church. That’s a twist I hadn’t thought of when I wrote this, but could very much apply.

    “Proof of Right” or the Holiness Tradition as it is sometimes called reminds me of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. They get a bad rep in the Bible, but were often well-intentioned. Jesus taught that grace was often more in line with God than purity…or that what came out of our mouths was more likely to make us unclean than what we ate.

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  4. FireTag on November 13, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Ironically, the episode is playing on rerun on BBC America right now.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    I had someone preach Dr. Who to me today. What an interesting confluence.

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  6. Mike S on November 13, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    I remember watching Dr. Who in the 80′s. This is a great post.

    I also like the idea of being in the world, of interacting with those around us, or trying to be light. I also think there is light in those all around us that we can see too.

    Thanks.

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  7. AdamF on November 14, 2010 at 5:42 AM

    Thanks for doing this post! I really like the metaphor.

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  8. Tacy Holliday on November 14, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Ethesis–

    I’m a psychologist by training, so am intrigued by the Dr. Who synchronicity that you mentioned. What was it that was preached about Dr. Who?

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  9. Tacy Holliday on November 14, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Mike–If you have a chance to check out the new episodes of Dr. Who, they are terrific. I have found so many connections to theology and discipleship through watching them. You also said, “I also think there is light in those all around us that we can see too.” Excellent point. Dr. Who shows the importance of that too…such as seeing the goodness and potential in the Creature. That reminds me of the biblical stories where Jesus sticks up for the marginalized.

    At some point in the not too distant future I’ll be doing a post here about being a female high priest. One of the distinguishing factors of the ministry of high priest (as well as all melchezidek priesthood) is the ministry of vision…being able to see with spiritual eyes and to help others learn to see with their spiritual eyes too. A big part of that ministry is to help other people see the light in others and in themselves–the spark of God in all things, perhaps. Anyway, maybe I’ll have a chance to explore that more in that future post.

    FireTag and Adam F–Thanks for posting your comments and for reading.

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  10. Jake on November 16, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    It’s enjoyable to see someone mingling Dr. Who with scripture. As a fan, I’m fascinated by the morality of Dr. Who–both the show and the character. I’ve always appreciated how he isn’t quick to kill (though he kills plenty). I like his social inclusiveness, including the acceptance of homosexuality and bi-sexuality. And it’s interesting to see the amount of faith that is often placed in him, notwithstanding his gigantic ego and fallibility. One episode he comes across as a Mother Theresa type. The next episode he comes across as the vengeful, death-delivering god of the Old Testament. It’s delightfully nuanced characterization (perhaps why I find it more enjoyable than many of the didactic stories that show up in scripture). But, as you suggest, it all adds up to a character whose attitude is quite compatible with Luke 8:16. Ultimately optimistic.

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  11. TH on November 17, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Jake:

    Doctor Who does present an interesting view of morality that is beautiful, surprising, and often complex.

    The scriptures point to the Divine as also being surprising and complex, like you mentioned with regard to the OT vs. some of the NT stories.

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