Thursday, October 16, 2014

Star Trek DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach"

Season 7a -- Season 7b

DS9 once again explores aspects of things that Trek does not usually address, and likely never would have under Roddenberry and his Secular Humanist message: faith.

This episode is about the legendary Klingon warrior Kor. (The first Klingon ever shown on Star Trek, back in the days of Kirk and co.) He is friends with Work, and asks for help obtaining some role in the current war. It turns out that General Martok has been denying him any active commission due to a past slight Kor had committed against him. Worf assigns Kor to his ship, but is quickly embarrassed when Kor is incapable of performing well. Kor redeems himself in the end, finishing his career (and life) in a sacrificial effort that saves the other Klingon ships.

It is the typical “hero worship vs. real, flawed individual” story. J.K. Rowling may have done the best job communicating this reality in the seventh volume of Harry Potter, where Dumbledore’s past is revealed.

This sort of challenge is ever-present for people of faith who rely on ancient texts and stories for truth in daily life. The Bible is consistently under attack from people questioning the validity of the stories, the veracity of the characters, and the legendary events that defy our human logic and experience. While the Bible is constantly accumulating evidence that supports its claims, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to have total “scientific” certainty regarding all the events and people it relates.

All that is irrelevant, however, because the message of the Bible is ultimately not about cold, clinical history or science. It is about faith. In the opening of “Once More Unto the Breach” Worf expresses this concept concisely when he ends a debate between O’Brien and Bashir regarding the legend of Davy Crockett. In matters of faith, you either believe the things you can’t know for certain, or the message does not matter.

This story goes on to support Worf’s position, but the conundrum remains for people of faith. How do people claim to be Christians and then pick and choose the portions of the Bible that they are willing to embrace? Consistence of faith demands an “all or nothing” approach to Scripture. That does not preclude faith seeking understanding, but it is hard for faith to justify rejecting portions of Scripture that are unappealing or hard to swallow.

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