“…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17
I had more to say yesterday, but I didn’t want to lose focus on my original theme. The other things I learned while writing yesterday’s “The Problem With Pain,” are a tangent that was touched on toward the end; wonderful truths supporting terrible lies.
Star Trek, of course, is where I’ll start. I grew up on the voyages of the starship Enterprise and the exploits of Kirk and his crew. They always defeated the enemy, except when the enemy was staring back at them from their com consoles, when they were their own enemy.
Let’s first consider “This Side of Paradise,” first aired on March 2, 1967. Here is the synopsis from Wikipedia:
“Despite exposure to fatal radiation, the Federation colony on Omicron Ceti III appears to be thriving. A landing party from the Enterprise investigates, finding the colony’s population to be healthy beyond explanation. Leila Kalomi, an old friend of Mr. Spock, shows the landing party strange flowers that seem to impose a state of pure bliss on all exposed to its spores (even Spock), but at the cost of ambition and self-discipline. Will the Enterprise crew succumb to the effects?”
Everyone is happy, everyone is in better health than when they first arrived, and no one wants to leave. Except Captain Kirk. He eventually saves the day by discovering how to neutralize the spores. He brings everyone back to their “right minds,” including the colonists who were also purged of their spore “infection.”
In a supremely ironic moment, the leader of the colony laments their wasted time living in contentment for all of those years: “What were we doing here? We’ve made no progress at all.”
No progress? After a history of constant warfare on earth and now conflicts with Klingons and Romulans in the galaxy, peace on Omicron Ceti III and good will toward men isn’t progress?
Only the final scene on the bridge before warping off to next week gives a nod to the irony. Kirk explains why it was necessary to get rid of the spores and get on with their lives.
“Maybe we weren’t meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can’t stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums!”
McCoy asks an unusually quiet Spock for his thoughts.
“All I know, doctor, is that for the first time in my life…I was happy.”
I remember thinking that Kirk and crew triumphed again preserving human life in the galaxy. Should we surrender our own agendas in favor of peace and harmony? Isn’t that what God asks of us, offering paradise in return?
In the Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition look at This Side of Paradise, Shatner sets the record straight, and points out the mistake of always assuming aliens are the enemy.
Going back to yesterday’s look at Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, there is a scene where Sybok “treats” Bones and Spock for their inner pain. When Kirk is invited to be healed, he growls back –
“Dammit, Bones! You’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. Those are things that we carry with us. They’re what make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves! I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”
This is an echo of a first season episode, “The Enemy Within.” A transporter accident splits Kirk into two separate selves, a good Kirk and an evil Kirk. Spock and McCoy must find a way to reunite the two parts of their captain before the both die. The good Kirk also discovers that he is rapidly losing his ability to command, because he needs the harder, evil side of himself to be a balanced person.
The argument is very convincing in the drama. We are invited to see evil and sin as good and necessary. Without a counter argument, people can be led astray to believe this sort of pop culture psychology. Remember that Star Trek was exceptionally influential in its original run. Even today newcomers to the world of Star Trek become avid Trekkies.
Do I believe that the writers had evil intentions? I would doubt that they acted maliciously. But this is a world where prayer is banned in schools, Christianity is smothered wherever possible, and people just…don’t…learn the truth of God’s Word and how we were made to be good and perfect.
Many faulty perspectives are propagated in our culture, and not just through Star Trek. What movies, TV shows, and books do you consume that are delivering anti-Christian messages? Have you studied God’s Word enough to filter your entertainment for the truth?