“Just tell me the Bible story. I know it sounds simple enough, but it’s amazing how complicated this can get. Honestly, I don’t need gimmicks, flash, fluff. If I want entertainment I’ll ask my parents to take me to the movies. I don’t need a Vacation Bible School that “takes me on an Amazon expedition” or involves surfing, camping or clowns. And please, don’t let some random B-rate Bible cartoon video do it for you. I want you to tell me the Bible story. You. Me. The Bible. That’s it.”
Star Trek and Dr. Who
Having written about Parables and Fairy Tales and the importance they play in defining the universality of the human condition for every particular human–and hence why they are awesome. I feel you are ready for the truth.
Star Trek and Dr. Who are Parables
Not only are they like most science fiction which discusses how the human race will interact with and respond to technological changes in the future (which is a little different than fantasy which explores humanity-exactly-as-it-is-except-there-happens-to-be-magic)…but these are characters whose stories are literally written and re-written from different perspective…
I mean at the end of Season 6 (yes I’m on netflix so I’m behind a season) when time has stopped, a villain offhandedly remarks that Rory is “the one who won’t die” which is so true, (WARNING: SPOILERS, Skip to next paragraph if you care) because Amy and Rory go through 5 different versions of reality to that date, and the timestream so that he is alive again.
Anyway, Dr. Who has similar scenarios played out over and over again with different versions of the main characters–the Doctor and his companion, (or more recently companions). Even building its own mythology (Daleks, MetalMen, Weeping Angels–to encounter again, and again). The goal is the same, humanity is the same, in lots of cases the situations are the same (there is a storyline I call the Space Movie storyline, where everyone dies from something they shouldn’t have touched in the middle of space–this one gets used a lot for the obvious reason that Dr. Who is a first and foremost a Space Adventure).
But we keep watching it, because these are the stories worth repeating again and again!
Similarly, Star Trek has a crew of People stuck wherever they are (usually not at a Space Station) trying to reach home. They have encounters with similar types of beings (Kling-Ons, Vulcans, Robots, and random encounters with unknown species including the ever-lovable Tribbles.) As the characters encounter “the other” they learn to define humanity or even better “lifeforms” in a broader perspective….Even though its filled with tropes like the redshirts 🙂
Each story is a piece of the human experience, and each series can retell a similar plotline with its own set of characters to give us slightly different perspectives. What is maybe the best part is that both series unashamedly state that they are looking into the human condition–there is always a character in Star Trek who is exploring what it means to be human (Data, Seven of Nine, Odo) and Dr. Who is constantly observing and remarking (happy crying, how wonderfully human of you) about it. Thus through the eyes of the other, and the reactions of different characters to different situations allows us to learn more about ourselves!
Thus the tellings,
and the retellings
and the Fun!
That’s why we like Dr. Who, and Star Trek, and Parables, and Fairy Tales
Tower of Babel: A Parenting Parable
One Sunday Morning I was preaching on the Tower of Babel.
That morning Franklin, my 4 year old, really wanted the flashlight. We had the flashlight on the top of a bureau so the children wouldn’t turn it on and leave it on without our knowledge.
I told Franklin to wait for me to brush my hair–and then I would be able to get him the flashlight.
I come out of the bathroom and find Franklin halfway up the stairs with a stool/chair that is bigger than he is…
I took away the stool and started to laugh….”You thought it was easier to carry a stool all the way up the stairs and to climb on it and get the flashlight…that would be easier for me than waiting”
Isn’t this the story of Babel? Its easier to build a tower to God than to wait for God’s action. Isn’t this why we try to do everything for ourselves? We talk among ourselves, agree among ourselves and work for ourselves forgetting the all knowing, all caring perspective of God…that’s why God separates us out–not because we work together, but because if we do no more than preach to the choir.
If we do not have variety, we do not have the richness of God. So God separated us, God gave us more perspectives so we could see the fullness of the human condition–so we could hear the same story over and over again in different languages
Ex: Cinderella: French: Cendrillon, ou La petite Pantoufle de Verre, Italian: Cenerentola, German: Aschenputtel, Vietnamese version Tấm Cám, Korean version, too, named “Kongjwi and Patjwi
These versions give us meaning so that the nuances change, the characters differ, and the vastness and depth of God and his love, the meaning of the human condition can be peeked at 🙂
So–Can we do it, can we wait for God? Can we take in all the nuances of humanity and still accept each other as God’s children, or do we need to climb the stairs with a stool, do we need to depend on ourselves to reach God, or can we depend on God to reach us…
New International Version (NIV)
The Tower of Babel
11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Parables are Godly Fairy Tales
Don’t take this the wrong way. But if Fairy Tales compile to give us an understanding (picture/idea/grasp) of the human condition. Then parables give us a God’s eye view of the human condition. Noting not only life as it is, but also, at the same time, life’s potentials…[think Prodigal Son]
Compiled together, the parables–The Mustard Seed, The Widow’s Mite, The Lost Sheep, The Seven Bridesmaids.
Reading these stories over and over provide windows to the self–clarifying the relationships in our lives. It plants the seeds of knowledge, it gives us the broad scope of life, while allowing us to fill in the details of our own lives.
This is why I read fairy tales theologically, parables practically and reread as much as possible….