A glimpse of something deeper

The family and I watch very little television together, but somehow we became Doctor Who fans several years back.  The show is the epitome of modern science fiction in the sense of being humanistic and secular in its worldview (which means we occasionally have some discussions about the underlying premises).  But despite all that, we’ve come to enjoy the unpredictable quirkiness.

The fictional Doctor (an ancient alien being with the accumulated knowledge of centuries) often serves as a semi-divine, non-Biblical stand-in for a Supreme Authority in this television universe.  In the most recent episode this role stood out in a very different way, for the briefest of moments.

The Doctor’s companion, facing a grave personal crisis, tries to coerce him into helping her resolve the situation.  She does so through the worst imaginable betrayal of the Doctor’s trust… and goes through with her plan to hurt him when he refuses to do what she asks…

…only to find out he knew all along what she was up to, and had things well in hand.  Defeated, she attempts to leave him, knowing things could never be the same between them.  And that’s when the Doctor calls after her:

“Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make any difference?”

He then clarifies that what she thought was him telling her to ‘go to hell’ was, in fact, a statement of his intent to do just that to fix the situation.

It’s an exceedingly rare thing to hear such a clear, if unintentional, reflection of a Gospel worldview in what passes for entertainment today.  This exchange reminded me of something C.S. Lewis once wrote:  “He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men.”  I doubt any of the writers were conscious of it as they worked on the script, but for that short scene a glimpse of Truth was there for anyone with “ears to hear.”  Mine heard, and I don’t think I’ve ever had quite the same reaction to a single line in a TV show.

That was just an hour’s pastime, however.  The real point is that such sentiment speaks to what God would say to anyone willing to listen.  How much our nation–our world–needs to hear this grace!  “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make any difference?  As I look at the world around me, it’s often difficult to stay encouraged.  Every passing day brings more rejection of God’s authority and His wisdom for life.  Some days I wonder how He can continue to stand our insolence.  Thus every reminder, however faint, that He has a different view of things than our limited perspective is a welcome one.

Just never expected it ten minutes into an episode of a British sci-fi show!

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4 thoughts on “A glimpse of something deeper

  1. What i’m surprised by your last post was what I didn’t hear. Being a fan of the show from the Tom Baker days and now watching it with my Whoian daughter I’ve noticed this same semi-devine characteristic of the primary personal. Adding to what you have already shared, I remember another episode where all of earth’s inhabitants were simultaneously calling out their faith in the Doctor. It was that enormous group effort that ended up saving them. I can’t state enough that although the show has many redeeming qualities this parallel with principal tenets of Christianity is something that disturbs me greatly. Each time it appears I can’t help but think that it is purposeful. In a world that is quick to take a piece of wood and carve it into an idol I find that this show exacerbates the problem.

    I’m sorry to be a wet towel but I find no pleasure in watching hordes of non-Christian fans worshiping their latest idol. Notice that I didn’t lump Christians with them. They are not oblivious to what’s going on.

    • All good points. I was primarily focused on the one exchange in that episode that caught my attention. But note that I pointed out the show itself is both secular-humanist in worldview, and that given that worldview naturally substitutes the primary character as the supreme authority within it’s fictional universe. The idolatrous stand-in function is not lost on me at all. That’s why I said there was a glimpse of Truth for those with ‘ears to hear.’ Sadly, I’d venture that doesn’t include the majority of the show’s fans, for whom the Doctor is a poor stand-in for what their heart really needs.

  2. I too am amazed that God is merciful and gracious to us sinners. Great point to focus on. It’s just crazy on the part of the writer/producer to create a character to have that divine characteristic.

  3. Having just watched the episode in question, I was also stunned by Clara’s early on comment about how none of us deserve anything. Nothing good certainly, but we all are deserving of our Creator’s rejection for how we constantly betray and replace His place in our lives with pale imitation “idols”. He gives us more than we deserve every day when we wake to another chance to serve/accept/love Him. The show is definitely not a C.S. Lewis type bent, and Whovians can tend to be over zealous, but as an enjoyable sci-fi show, our family watches it together and discusses how they miss the mark compared to God’s Word in scripture.

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