Posts Tagged ‘Sisko’


Captain Sisko: You want to know… you *really* want to know what my problem is? I’ll tell you: Las Vegas 1962, that’s my problem. In 1962, black people weren’t very welcome there. Oh sure, they could be performers or janitors, but customers? Never.
Kasidy Yates: Maybe that’s the way it was in the real Vegas, but that is not the way it is at Vic’s. I have never felt uncomfortable there, and neither has Jake.
Captain Sisko: But don’t you see? That’s the lie. In 1962, the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn’t an easy time for our people, and I’m not going to pretend that it was.
Kasidy Yates: Baby – I know that Vic’s isn’t a totally accurate representation of the way things were, but… it isn’t meant to be. It shows us the way things could’ve been – the way they should’ve been.
Captain Sisko: We cannot ignore the truth about the past.
Kasidy Yates: Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is another overlooked gem. It lasted seven seasons and tackled many relevant issues during the 1990’s. If you remember the 90’s there was the challenges of marriage equality (yes it began then); the repercussions of the end of the Cold War; Gulf War I, and the rise of the Serbian-Bosnian war that almost created a draft in Canada, and yes sadly, the Rwandan Genocide, to Albertans being confronted by our Eugenics history of forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities and mental illness, to name but a few historic events. It also began the repercussion of revelation of the church sexual abuse of children within Canada. There was hope, but also healing needed, and evil rooted out.
This is the world that Deep Space Nine premiered into. The first Star Trek not on a space ship exploring, but a Cardassian space station taken over by Bajor and the United Federation of Planets, by a wormhole to another quadrant. Bajor is a former planet that was occupied by the Cardassian, who finally surrendered. Sisko’s journey to lead is about losing his wife in a battle with the Borg. A Borg led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Locutus, ST:TNG Best of Both Worlds), whose ship brings him and his son to the station. A journey where he begins to wrestle with forgiveness and reconciliation with the man who under control of the Borg executed many of his friends, and his beloved.
The meta-narratives of the series looked at movement from resistance to governance; role of spirituality-religion in sustaining through occupation and healing/reconciling after. The Wormhole to the Federation, was the Celestial Temple to the Bajorans, one saw wormhole aliens, the other Prophets of their religion. It was a show that used time travel, and alternate reality shows to challenge perceptions. Commander (then Captain) Benjamin Sisko’s role as leader of the station, but also Emissary of the Celestial Temple (he also punched Q). It explored commerce and the black market, inter-species relationships; eugenics, horrific treatment of persons who are different (those that were augmented that could pass and function in society, and those that cannot). As the series continued, the Dominion War storytelling caused many Trekkies’ to balk because war as part of Star Trek. A bi-sexual Cardassian former assassin, Garak, and his hiding of open affections for Dr. Bashir, and a Ferengi engineer, Rom, that if you watch him, is neuro-a-typical and the life he lives while belonging (Best episode is in Season 7, take me out to the Holo-Suite!).
Yet the war story line allowed for other explorations. Exploitation of any belief system for violent gains. The world of PTSD, what young soldiers go through who go off to war to “prove themselves”, but do not live completely or die, but return injured and the healing process. It also showed what life meant. Through the character of Vic Fontaine, a holosuite program singer, from Las Vegas, Earth 1962. A program that became conscious. A program that helped Ensign Nog (first Ferengi in Starfleet) heal from his PTSD of losing his leg on the front lines.
This is the program Sisko and his new partner are discussing in the opening quote.

Nog: The news just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Captain Sisko: What news?
Colonel Kira: Oh… nothing, sir, we’re, uh, talking about a holosuite program.
Doctor Bashir: Vic Fontaine’s hotel’s just been bought by… gangsters.
Captain Sisko: I see. When do you plan on going back to work?

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

It is a take on an old Star Trek story, Piece of the Action (Original Series), but pays homage to the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s 11 (sorry Clooney Gang, nothing beats the original). As the leadership crew understands this constantly running lounge’s importance to the crew’s mental health, Sisko wrestles with what happens if we forget the past?

Chief O’Brien: Robbing casinos isn’t part of any Starfleet job description I’ve ever read.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 ”Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

A Jack In The Box program has allowed gangsters to take over, and change the program, the only way that technically can be found is to reboot. Reboot erases Vic back to factory settings. What makes a person? Is it flesh and blood? Or the sum of our experiences?
The other way? Beat the intruders.
They fail to beat the intruders, gangsters shoot Vic. He dies in the program, he vanishes completely.
What an option. Now the question asked is, is Vic a person? Does he deserve a chance to continue to live and thrive even if the outside world sees him as only a hologram?
Are we cursed to not be able to move from our past history?
Can we move beyond, reconcile, and if we do, and present it as anything less than it was, are we forgetting?
What about critical thought?
Same as the balance of spirituality-science throughout the series. The balance of subtlety of belonging for each of the characters and their stories. It is a series I encourage one to watch, and reflect on. It makes a great discussion night for different episodes over meals for all ages. I have used episodes with youth to tackle tough topics such as dying with dignity, belief systems, war, and belonging.
And ask yourself in your journey what this statement means:

“Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.”

-Kasidy Yates

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is one of those shows. Moving aside from what you believe about the controversy around it appearing as Babylon 5 (uber-geeks like me get it) or the Avery Brooks could not have a shaved head for a few seasons out of fear fans would see him only as Hawk (Spenser for Hire). It is a show that should be contemplated during Holy Week (and Lent) or really can be used to create a youth group exploration of faith/religion/spirituality/ethics across labels.

How did this happen? trials-and-tribble-ations-07

It is set on a space station that was once used as a key of an occupying species (Cardassians) over an entire planet and species (Bajoran). When the occupation ends, the Federation comes in to aid the Bajorans in rebuilding, claiming the symbol of occupation and re-igniting it as one of hope. There is an intricate religious system on Bajor that sustained the resistance, it is based around the Roman Catholic catechism is you watch closely, but is quite universal. A wormhole opens to a new quadrant, it is seen by believers as a Celestial Temple, with the “wormhole aliens/shape shifters” that exist within seen as Prophets. The Bajoran religion grew out of pantheistic roots to the belief in the tangible Prophets and Pa Wraith demons that were active before the occupation, and are active again. ds93

Commander Benjamin Sisko’s first contact with the Prophets brings him to the intersection of Star Fleet Prime Directive and those he is aiding’s religious beliefs as Sisko becomes The Emissary.

That is enough of an ethical discourse. Throughout though the show looks at race relations; in one episode of time travel it looks at the battle for equality within 20th century America. There is another when as Emissary, Sisko is left on the cusp of death, and his son, Jake, must wrestle through the ethical challenges of medically assisted death outside and inclusive of the ethical foundations he knows as a Federation citizen and the role/beliefs his father had been developing around his life as Emissary.

What is using God’s name in vein? For too long we have said its using God’s name as a swear, this is pure bullocks… it is using God’s name to justify your actions that are wrong (contrary to Love) or it is using God’s name/blessings in your life for your own personal gain instead of just being in awe of the love that has come.
This confirmation lesson was brought to you by the letter L for Love like Jesus, and the number 19 (cause 12 close men, and 7 close women=19, Jesus original inner circle).

-Facebook thought circa 2010

 

There is also the touch on genetic (eugenic) engineering, with Dr. Bashir and the illegal enhancements his parents put him through. But also the quandary that because he could “pass” he was allowed a life. While those that could not were institutionalized. A great allegory to the debate/historic throwback/current existence of persons with disabilities.

The underlying story of transformation of the Ferengi Family and Rules of Acquisition in Quark, Rom and Nog as they become more involved with the Federation. The guard of the “other” being let down. But the tiny ripple effect as the curve ball of the misogynistic capitalist species becomes shook to its core when their Mother decides she should wear clothes, and… make her own money.ds9

Worf coming to grips with being a father, and that his son, needs to be affirmed for who he is, not chase who his father thinks he should be to save his life during the Dominion War.

Love—in all its forms. From Garrick’s (Cardassian tailor/Obsidian order trained killer) fawning love of afar from Bashir. To Worf and Dax (a Trill, with many lifetimes lived), to Kira (a Bajoran survivor) and her love for Odo (a shapeshifter alien) and his love for her. To the argument of what is life, with Vic the hologram becoming sentient. To Sisko working through the grief of losing his wife at Wolf 359 (when Picard was a Borg), and finding love a new. To the unlikely friendship of Nog and Jake that shows being best friends can transcend any barriers. To the Orb journey and did Kira’s mother love Gul Dukat (the lead Cardassian of the occupation?)

The Dominion War story arc that creates the ethical debate of war, invasion, how far will you go, what are ethics in war, blindly following an ideology, why the young are first drafted, fear, death, loss, grief, how allies are chosen…but also the role religion and belief play in the outplay…also in the increasing rise of the story line through their final season to the conclusion that was the ultimate story of redemption, where the answer of the whole occupation of, where were the Prophets? Is finally answered.

If you have seen the series, you may seen the bread crumbs I have laid out. If you have not, I do not want to provide spoilers, but it is well worth exploring. At the least for great writing, characters and science fiction. At most, it is a useful tool for discourse, exploration and growth.

For the show truly challenges the answer to the question:

Who is My neighbour?

Is truly universal…

(Star Trek Deep Space Nine, available for purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray, borrow from a public library, or stream on Netflix)


Liturgically I am informed we are in the week of Joy in the journey to the creche. It is also the moment of the Winter Solstice, where we encroach on the shortest/darkest day of the year, after which light begins to grow once more. In each of the cultural-religious celebrations at this time of year it is about light and new life from the darkness.

Which is the struggle in joy.  Hope well, a few weeks back I wrestled with that. Peace-faith, though broken have wrestled through because of the story of a peasant girl. Now we enter joy in the gifts of the season. Perhaps the burden of 2017 finally reached the straw that broke my back. We are taught in seminary to look to prayer and the “Word” to find solace and answers.

And yes even some pablum like answers repeated as mantras of “God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” Or “God gives you only that He can trust you can handle” or better chestnuts around suffering and being blessed twice fold after (bastardized out of the ancient story of Job).

Discernment for me goes deeper, and that is the challenge this Advent. For Joy is the story of the shepherds—the least of society, one step from the cast outs being the first told of the joy to come into the world:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

-Luke 2:8-20 (English Standard Version)

spong

A story over 2000 years old. Yet one that still rings with justice-political truth today. I knew this on Sunday in the Christmas Pageant at our church that re-told it with a Canadian twist. The movements of political oppression that caused movement, and economic injustices that lead to poverty. The parts my children and I played as the ranchers, a strong work force the backbone of an economy that can so easily be forgotten. My son through his adaptive technology being able to speak lines, my daughter over the course of her acting and caroling in the week finding her strong assertive voice to project what she knew to be true.

A hint of the inclusion the story echoed us to, 2000 years on should not be a “what a great time” but should simply be normative.

To struggling through brain fog for 4 days as I attempt to put words as the brain glitches, and tears flow. Pain released. Not joy. As Norad reminds us today, 3 days until sleigh launch. Yet is there joy? A hard thing to find even when getting to experience the season through the heart of children.

Then a simple image struck me as a television show ended. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season 5, Episode 26 “Call to Arms” in which after 5 years and with the threat of invasion by the Dominion imminent, Sisko and the Federation must leave the station back in the hands of the Cardassians. The consummate villain, Gul Dukat (one who believes he is doing what is right—think a Herod, A Pilate, A Caiaphas if you are into Biblical allegory) stands amongst the technological carnage left behind and finds one thing left behind. A message from Sisko (who is also the Bajorans Emissary) to Dukat and the invaders stripping a galaxy of joy: His baseball.

joy

Dukat’s last words to Weyoun as he holds the baseball “A message, he will be back”.
I sit here a bit teary wanting the year 2017 in my rear-view mirror for something normalized if not better in 2018. On the Solstice, the darkness consumes, but rationally I know the light begins to grow again. It is what joy can be found in the now for life will be back.

We can so easily get in a rut of just seeing the negative or locking into our own paradigms. This week of Advent calls us to look outwards and inwards to what brings true Joy to your soul, community and world? #advent2017