Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek Voyager’


Related imageFor many the title may sound quite oxymoronic. Star Trek & Spirituality? Star Trek & religion? Is it not the great humanist journey? Yes and no. It is about a wonderful mosaic, learning to co-exist together (yes there’s still dark times and conflict). It is also about exploration, and chasing the soul centered vocational passion you have as you do not have to worry about life giving necessities. It literally shows how a multi-cultural mosaic honours everyone’s beliefs and heritage, but also how beliefs and customs change through sharing space. Creating courageous and safe space to explore.

It has also been on of those shows for me at each different point of my own spiritual questing if you will. During my PTSD-PNES recovery (still ongoing) it was a Star Trek Deep Space Nine novel I picked up in shaky hands to retrain my brain on reading.

The original Star Trek I fell in love with on CBC watching re-runs, I was allowed after all to be up 1 hour past bed time on the nights it was on so it became must see t.v. I wanted to be a space cowboy ala Kirk in my early elementary school years. I was gobsmacked in Wrath of Khan when Spock gave his life (yes I loved Spock as a character)…my wife says in my middle-age years I can come across more as a Dr. McCoy however lol…it showed you can have fun adventuring, and that there is truly a no-win situation. Though for some in my work a day life, it was more Mr. Scott, the Miracle Worker I have become known as.

The Next Generation took a bit to get in too, but it was a group of folks I clicked with in Junior High School. Data, Geordi and Worf were my favs, what can I say, the philosophical questions raised by Data, Worf seeking ways to connect with his religion with his new enlightenment from being raised in the Federation I felt echoed in my own search for Jesus and God. Geordi, well I loved how his mind worked. No, I have never asked anyone who they would see me as in characters, though my daughter has said Picard because we are both bald and drink tea.

Deep Space Nine was the spiritual quest through the Catechism. It was exploring a society rebuilding, religion and spirituality, literally an outsider (Sisko) merging his own beliefs into Bajoran religion. There was sexual identity diversity (Garak); Odo and Quark with their cops/robbers routine, neuro-diversity shown with Rom, PTSD and mental health was tackled, Worf was back. Sisko punched Q (and yes the online quizzes put me as a Sisko in which Star Trek Captain are you). Ethical questions around medically assisted death, capacity and is spiritual wisdom true knowledge. Also dragged you into discussions around torture, occupation, just war theory, what does it mean to fall away or re-enter your faith in a new way. Eugenics. Addictions. Racism was squarely hit. Truth and Reconciliation. These were all but some of the story lines explored over their seven seasons.

I had a passing dalliance during this time with Enterprise and Voyager. Fast forward though to my healing over the past year.

What was Enterprise? It was the first warp 5 ship leaving our solar system to go out and explore. First steps into a new reality. Not understanding what laid ahead, apprehensive, but willing to take a leap of faith. Captain Archer and his crew became the galaxy’s conscience. Working through xenophobias and paranoia’s between Vulcans and Andorians, discovering what it means to fall victim to pirates. T’Pal and Trip’s love. Dr. Phlox showing that in plurality there is different ways to be family. Each character had their own challenges, fears and goals to move through. Sato being the one developing the universal translator as a linguist, Merryweather having been raised on supply ships breaking with his family tradition to join Starfleet. Reed learning what it means to be with family, as he broke his family’s tradition of Naval service. Captain Archer, with his trusted beagle, Porthos, figuring it out as they go day by day.

A book series and t.v. series that helped me wrestle in my core about what it means to start fresh. Whole new life laid out before with new challenges to overcome.

Also the time I revisited Voyager. Two separate factions pulled 75 years away from our quadrant by the Caretaker. The Maquis (freedom fighters or terrorists depending on your point of view) and Starfleet, now on one ship, one crew, Voyager. What does it mean to be lost with no chance of getting back to familiar?

Just let that question rest. One is going into the unfamiliar, knowing home is close, in Enterprise. Voyager is being lost, heading back, but not knowing if you ever will make it. The journey in the Delta Quadrant of Janeway, Chakotay, Torres, Paris, Kim, Seven, Neelix, Doctor and Tuvok to grieve, to release the old, and journey into the new reality before them.

It is a winding life path.

Each series, and individual show, breaks down a fun adventure, but also some deeper questions if you so wish. In my ministry life I have used the shows and movies multiple times to get groups of all ages to think differently about issues before us.

In my healing journey, the story therapy to has touched upon thinking differently about the journey before me. One day at a time. The good grieving to a new reality.

Want to read more of the Spirituality of Star Trek?

Check out my new book, Soul Ripples, Coming 2019.

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Why? Well why not (and last I checked it was my blog lol). Anyways it is also a way to explore some issues in lifespan development we may not want to touch upon. It relates to a three arc novel (unofficial trilogy) by Kirsten Beyer in the Star Trek: Voyage book series. That being Protectors (2014), Acts of Contrition (2014), and Atonement (2015). I will attempt my best to not reveal any spoilers in the action, as it is quite a fun read through all three books in the adventures of Starship Voyager with Captain Chakotay at the helm, and Vice Admiral Janeway (recently returned from the dead) in charge of the Full Circle Fleet back in the Delta Quadrant.

There are some ethical questions that arise within the series, it would not be Star Trek without it.

In no particular order we have to deal with Admiral Paris’ widow challenging Tom Paris (first officer of Voyager) and B’ellana Torres (Voyager Chief Engineer) for custody of their child, siting them as unfit to be parents. It is a balance of battle between family dynamics, hurt, fear of the unknown, grief reactions, and what family believes is best for a child.

Follow that with the parallel that there is a plague attacking Federation worlds, and a mysterious wing of Starfleet Medical has “recruited” or “captured” the non-Borg ala Axum and Seven of Nine to mine them for a cure. Raising the question of medical ethics, and what price is life to be saved? How much of one’s own humanity– ethics– morals can one let slip away to achieve a goal, and what exactly is the goal of the medical facility? Is it to treat a plague or create a weapon?

The challenge of going from crisis to crisis.

What is love? As Chakotay and Janeway continue growing their relationship.

What is the definition of family? What does it mean to support family? How far would you go to save a family member?

In the midst of all that, Mrs. Janeway (Katherine’s mother) makes a comment that I believe is very astute for us in this day and age, as we journey through Lent to reflect upon. She points out that Janeway was educated not in the streamed schools for Starfleet academy, even though her parents knew that was her destiny. Their goal was to give her as broad an education as possible through the public system so that she could be exposed to many interests, activities and knowledge.

Stop and reflect on that. As our public education system continues to move to more specialized schools. As parents have over programmed children that during the Polar Vortex in Calgary recently parents were freakin’ out on Facebook because they had already done all these activities with their kids and had no idea what to do next. Before a child leaves elementary school we want them to know their future.

Then we sit and wonder why the rise in anxiety and mental health issues within children. We have to read experts saying to allow kids to be bored. The rise of social media and the ability for anyone to publish an opinion that others will quote as fact. Algorithms that eventually keep you in an echo chamber online. We have a history and knowledge of humanity at our finger tips, but are unable to process because learning is no longer an endeavour to simply learn, and critically think.

What if we paused and realized there is time for specialization of expertise later in life. That as one ages and grows a passion for learning and hobbies needs to be nurtured and developed. How to fill boredness with creativity and interests is not done through scheduling and programming, it is done through being present in life and connecting with a child, with another human being.

As the mentors of the present generation, we need to allow growth and understanding, exploration and learning. It is about discovery. It is about passion. It is about knowing who your child is, but being a rounded person able to human, means not just streamlining to specific interests for “job prospects” but to become a fully enriched human being with a passion for life long learning.

What else happens when you have that innate curiousity cultivated?

You are able to think outside yourself, your own self-interest and selfishness. As such you are able to have empathy, compassion and love for others. The question then is changed from, how does this effect you…to a better one as to how this creates a loving community (world ) of belonging for all?

A courageous safe space.

 

 


“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

-Gospel of Luke 15: 4-5 (New International Version)

What is the role of a Shepherd? Brother Jesus shared how the Holy Mystery was with creation through parables, that is story. The imagery was for the time, and in the instance of the shepherd a lost sheep was lost revenue, and if the flock was not owned by the shepherd then punishment to come. The image of the Shepherd retrieving the lost sheep with it draped around his neck is seen as one of love, but truly it is a lamb that has been hobbled by the Shepherd’s staff so it can’t walk and re-learns to be with the flock.This parable has been used to create sheeple within pews, that is, it has created a sense of fear for the lost sheep has been cast as one who has descended into “sin” or “evil” and needs to be forcefully converted back.

A flip side of the coin for the parable is the way it was used in Star Trek Voyager’s Season 6 episode “Good Shepherd”.  Captain Janeway has three members of her crew brought to her attention that have not come into who they are truly meant to be: Mortimer an engineer who would rather be lost in centuries solved physic debates than achieve his own greatness, Celes who cannot even chase her passion because she has convinced herself she is incompetent, and Billy, who has created a wall of hypochondria to protect himself.

Yes, each thing may be seen as a barrier, or just laziness. But the story also illustrates the overcoming and naming of Gremlins by each crew member. The Gremlin, or saboteur, what others may suggest is a Shadow or soul sludge is that which protects us but also keeps us frozen in our here and now. We cannot move forward. It is the heart of the Good Shepherd story, not violence or forceful compliance. It is the journey of discovery for all involved.

First off, the Shepherd discovers the one(s) that has fallen between the cracks, that has let Gremlins take over. The conversation and actions open up to remove the Gremlin.

Secondly, the Sheep must be willing to identify and name the Gremlin, thank the Gremlin for the care it has provided, but still release it to oblivion.

Finally, if not, then the outcome of the Parable is the ultimate fear and that is loss of the Lamb to the wolf.

What it comes down to though for the journey of life is the answer to a simple question deep within our own souls:

Do you trust you to be you?

 


If you are involved in the medical or scientific world there is always a question that must resonate with your work. How much of our knowledge has come from unethical practices? Human experimentation with thinks like Milgram’s prison experiment, or Nazi experiments on those the Third Reich viewed as deficient- persons with disabilities, LGBTTQ2+, mentally ill, multiple births (twins, triplets, etc, as it gave the experimenter a control subject).

This is the ethical dillema Star Trek: Voyager explored in their Season 5 episode, “Nothing Human“. A hazardous first contact as an errand of mercy creates a unique and dual life threatening situation. Rescuing a species they cannot understand the language of, that is injured, flies its vessels through secretions. The cytoplasmic life form in a panic to save its life in sick bay it attaches itself to Lt. B’Elanna Torres, integrating itself into her system. The Doctor is stumped on how to separate them. Working with Ensign Kim, he creates another emergency holograph medical officer, this one an expert in exo-biology, a Dr. Crell Moset. A Cardassian. Torres refuses treatment by this hologram as he is Cardassian, Ensign Tobin, a Bajoran when he realizes who it is points out that this man was not a hero saving lives during the occupation as Cardassia had celebrated the doctor. Rather, he performed torturous experiments on those he saw as deficient to save those he saw as worthy within the occupied.

The Doctor as chief medical office is left to decide to move forward with the live saving surgery for both B’Elanna and the new alien, or to follow through on B’Elanna’s wished and both will die?

What do you do with the information? The source is unethical, but it is needed in the now? Do you delete it and try to figure it out from scratch? Or do you build on what came through horrendous events so the deaths were not in vain?

That is the quandary the Doctor and Captain Janeway were left to move forward.

How would you decide? and why?


Some Sundays even when one is healthy they cannot pull it together to get to church with the family. It can even be harder after a night of neuro-events, that left your own son checking on you to make sure “Daddy was still alive”. This was the night that I had come through, and was not well rested when I awoke. But needed to fill up the spirit over my cheerios and cuppa, which led me to accept a challenge from a friend. Re-look at JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.

See, the challenge is, I am not a huge fan of Star Trek XI-XIII. I understand a series rebooting, new generation, new ideas. Yet I was one of the Trekkies’ pulling for a Worf led Enterprise movie; or a Riker/Troi USS Titan or a DS9 or Voyager…or even and Enterprise series movie…if there was to be something new what about looking at Enterprise C or B? Or another ship completely in the Star Trek Universe. Why re-cast iconic characters (and yes I realize this happens with James Bond, Conan, Batman, The Doctor, etc.). But this was the original cast being, well, re-cast. It is also a bit of Trekkie cognitive dissonance because I may not be completely infatuated with the new movies Boldly Going, but have enjoyed the re-cast in the IDW comic series. Soooo….

So addled brained, lethargic and somewhat hypothermic I settled in to be filled.

I am part of an endangered species.

-Spock (2009)

The death of Romulus leading a time travel narrative, a nod to Remus’ demise in Star Trek: Nemesis. Nero seeking vengeance for loss of his family, and destroying Vulcan. The act of travelling back creating an alternate reality where not everything is the same (and Vulcan is destroyed by an act of Zealot-Terrorism). New imaginings of each character.

Yet core precepts remain the same.

You are now, and will always be my friend… I am emotionally compromised, I lost my people, you need to get others to see.

-Spock (TOS in 2009).

Scotty talking about beaming Admiral Archers dog into somewhere when trying transwarp teleporting. Elder (Other-reality) Spock doing a tongue-in-cheek nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by giving Scotty a formula he would invent to move along a problem-solving plot point.

Kirk’s beating of the Kobayashi Maru (the no-win situation) a test designed by this reality’s Spock who chose Starfleet realizing he would never fit within Vulcan world fully. Playing out a more human side to the child of both world’s that followed Spock throughout the original.

Bones sharing his venture outwards to space, due to a loss of his family.

The ultimate no-win scenario to beat the drive of vengeance as Vulcan is in ruins, only 10,000 survivors and Nero has set his sights of Earth. The travel back in time to destroy the Federation (A Star Trek: First Contact nod), and red matter if it was the 1980’s you could hear the word “Genesis” ringing…life from lifelessness, lifelessness from life.

But it raises an allegorical point. Vulcan was the epicentre of where the Federation was birthed. A zealot not tied to any group officially lost something and took revenge by blowing up Vulcan (are you seeing terrorist parallels in our world?)…and how easy it would be to move to escalation instead of focusing on the need for a measured response while continuing to build relations. Even by bringing out a darker tone, as the story is being birthed in the world of uncertainty (more precarious than I would say the Cold War world, and post-Cold War world that birthed the original shows and spin-offs)…but still trying to bring hope to the front.

How is hope brought forward?

Through guidance of the elders to the core values of each character. That even if it appears everything may be different, choices can still be made to create a community of belonging.

The question the movie raises is whether Kirk and company this time will let the inclusion principles of the Federation win out, or succumb to the darkness being spread by Nero?

Are you Spock or Nero? Or Spock? Each decision creates a point in time of change.

What is your choice?