Star Trek, Tikkun Olam, & Tending a Christian Positive Vision

leonard-mccoy-leonard-bones-mccoy-6347756-500-379This summer I began watching Star Trek. It started as a Netflix nightcap. I’m not nor have I been a Trekkie. Therefore, I humbly request grace from the Trek Nation. To parody Bones, “I’m a theologian not a astrosciencefictionist!”

Over the past couple years I am disheartened as I read the news feeds or watch the summer blockbusters. The movies are dystopian operas of adolescent angst out to purge some empire. The fiction feed reality as the populace arise in violent protest against whatever imperial aggression a various group is targeting. At night then, Star Trek offers sanctuary to explore new worlds of aliens that remind us being humane is supposed to be a human trait.

Star Trek, as I understand it, takes place in the future where society has improved. Basic needs are met for everyone. Earth is united, and the Enterprise’s mission is to seek new lands and cultures for curiosity rather than domination. This is a Edenic society for men and women of any color, creed, nationality, race, religion, and proclivity.

uhura_chekovOf course, when the original series aired it was the antithesis of 1966. The world was embroiled in a cold war (but Chekov was a navigator on the bridge of the Enterprise). It was the time of the National Organization for Women and the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Yet, before there were female astronauts or military officers in the USA, Star Trek’s Chief Communications Officer Uhura was a black woman. President Kennedy had been assassinated a couple years earlier, we were at war in Vietnam and protesters of various kinds marched the US streets.

It was written by Gene Roddenberry, a bomber pilot and police officer, who gave us a world where arguments were solved with words rather than wars. Star Trek gave us something better, a utopia to look towards. It was a reminder we are better than this and should strive to be better than this.

Our current trajectory mirrors the late 60’s/early 70’s with Russian conflicts, American rights under scrutiny, and a bogged down war in Asia. The world needs a new Star Trek conscience. We the church should write the script. The church has this future utopian society to share. I am worried sometimes we read the prophecies and focus less on the desert blooming and more on the destruction looming. Roddenberry said, “Star Trek speaks to some basic human needs: that there is a tomorrow.”

tikkun-olamThere is a Jewish saying called, “Tikkun Olam” translated as “Repairing the World.” From Genesis our first commands are protection and cultivation of the whole planet. Israel was a culture-busting nation. What other nation provides cities of refuge for the accused to have a fair trial for instance? Let us tone down the rhetoric and work to repair the world, to provide a vision of the utopia to be had, where the Joel 2 prophecy of male and female, slave and free, is as obvious in reality as it is on the fictional Enterprise bridge.

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