Star Trek Theology

Ok, so here are my thoughts on my first day of class.

First of all, I feel like I'm more in touch with postmodernism and the emerging church than anyone else in the class (besides, maybe, the professor, Gary Zustiak)! I was really hoping for some good, in depth discussion on how to do ministry in the emerging culture, but so far it's been more or less helping those in the class to understand postmodernism.

Second, I get the feeling that everyone in the class is much more conservative than I am. This is weird to me because in the Presbytery of Cincinnati I feel like I'm way more conservative/evangelical than almost everyone else. But here, I feel like they'd think I was a flaming liberal!

Third, I'm realizing that I really do have a postmodern/emerging culture mindset. Half the time, other students would be trying to figure out what the professor was talking about when he'd talk about something of the postmodern worldview, while I'd be thinking (regarding the postmodern idea that had just been mentioned), "Well, yeah. That's exactly how I feel." For instance, Zustiak said that postmoderns believe that in order to know absolute truth (or to at least get closer to it) you have to involve as many worldviews as possible. So, to best understand a passage of scripture, you'd want a Caucasian, an African American, someone from India, someone from Kenya, and someone from Japan. Then they all discuss it and then you might be closer to understanding the truth of the passage. I think that's true. I think that everyone sees something of the truth in Scripture, but no one person sees all the truth of Scripture. So when we bring our thoughts together, God uses that to reveal himself more to us.

My favorite part of the class today, however, involved a discussion of Star Trek vs. Star Trek: The Next Generation as an illustration between the difference between modernism and postmodernism. Here are the differences:

1) The Mission
Star Trek: "To boldly go where no man has gone before," representing the rugged man going out to conquer.
TNG: "To boldly go where no one has gone before," signifying a much more inclusive worldview.

2) The Purpose
Star Trek: When a new race or civilization was discovered, the expectation was that they would join the Federation, just as the modern mindset was one of imperialism.
TNG: When a new civilization was discovered, the Enterprise's goal was simply to learn from them.

3) The Crew
Star Trek: The original crew was primarily human, except for Spock.
TNG: The crew was made up of races from many worlds, including an android.

4) The Hero
Star Trek: Always Captain Kirk, the tough-guy leader.
TNG: Anyone could be the hero--whoever that particular episode focused on.

5) The Ideal Man
Star Trek: Mr. Spock, the half-human who had divested himself of all emotion, which was ultimately the highest form of humanity.
TNG: Data, the android who had no emotions, but longed for emotion because it is emotions that make us truly human.

6) The New Crew Member
TNG: The new crew member was the ship's counselor, Deanna Troi, who used her intuition and ability to sense emotions to bring peace to the Enterprise and the quadrant.

7) God
Star Trek: There was no God.
TNG: Q was the God-figure--a god who is all-powerful, only shows up when he feels like it, does what he wants without concern for others, is capricious, unpredictable, fickle, and just sort of annoying.

I'm no Trekkie (sorry... Trekker), but it was me and another guy who were primarily involved in this discussion. Pretty fun!

So, tomorrow I'm back at 8:00 a.m. I'll let you know how it goes.


steve-o said...

Markus, welcome to my people of whom I am a flaming liberal. So as for you being a Presbyterian, well, I'd say prepare for a duplex in heaven instead of a mansion.

Hopefully, despite a bunch of people catching up, you'll be able to interject some good thoughts.

I'll be by on Thursday for lunch. Catch you then!

DGH said...

Man I love the Trek suff! And I am sure there are many more examples of what has changed from the past and contonues to today and show the effect of culture in the US and probably the world.

I agree with the assesment of how important community is to reading scripture...but I think that in a normal person's mind (i.e. non-christian) that they would not only want people of different ethnic orgins, but people of different faiths to be involved...so to find truth (not really allowing for it to be absolute in any way) those reading the Bible would need to be those who disagree with it, and follow multiple faiths.... I have found many "post-Christians" (grew up or had some involvement in church and then after a little reseach that discredits Christianity they do not claim it as thier fait anymore) tell me they have become budhist or a mix between Budha and Christ. That cracks me up...but oh well!

Russell Smith said...

The trek vs next generation comparison was originally done by Stanley Grenz in his primer on postmodernism about 15 years ago. What might be even more telling is Star Trek vs Voyager and Deep Space 9 (darker series, more uncertainty, more cosmic/spiritual undertones).

Markus Watson said...

Yeah, Zustiak did have a reference to Grenz in his notes. I think you're right about a comparison to DS9. As far as Voyager goes, I'd rather that series had never existed!

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