Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Star Trek's Christian episode (UPDATED)

Stone Pillars of the Earth
Originally uploaded by Rexton
(I couldn't find a good religion-related Star Trek image. However, I did find this photo of a church with Star Trek crests.

Here's a copy of a topic I posted at GCN:

I just saw the last half of the 1968 Star Trek (The Original Series) episode "Bread and Circuses". I was surprised by the overt Christian reference at the end.

[SET-UP: The Enterprise crew visits a planet technologically similar to 20th century Earth, but with a government similar to the Roman Empire. The transcript below is the series' typical final scene in which the cast reflects on the episode's adventure. (Transcript from]

MCCOY: Captain, I see on your report Flavius was killed. I am sorry. I liked that huge sun worshiper.

SPOCK: I wish we could have examined that belief of his more closely. It seems illogical for a sun worshiper to develop a philosophy of total brotherhood. Sun worship is usually a primitive superstition religion.

UHURA: I'm afraid you have it all wrong, Mister Spock, all of you. I've been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion. But he couldn't. Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky. It's the Son of God.

KIRK: Caesar and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading only now.

MCCOY: A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood.

SPOCK: It will replace their imperial Rome, but it will happen in their twentieth century.

KIRK: Wouldn't it be something to watch, to be a part of? To see it happen all over again? Mister Chekov, take us out of orbit. Ahead warp factor one.

CHEKOV: Aye, sir.

The music soars throughout this scene emphasizing how special the realization that this is about the Christ the Son of God. It almost seemed like there should have been an alter call or telephone number at the end.

As a devout Star Trek fan (and Christian), I know I've seen this episode several times previously and vaguely remember seeing this scene. However, watching this scene more carefully now really surprised me for a couple of reasons. First, Star Trek rarely mentions 20th century religion -- in fact in ST:TNG, Picard practically ridicules Earth religions as nothing more than superstitions that are no longer practiced. Secondly, it's so rare today for any commercial TV show to risk offending its advertisers' audience by promoting one religion -- let alone referring to Jesus as the Son of God.

Has anyone else seen this episode?

This is the same episode in which Dr. McCoy jokingly reveals his god complex:

SPOCK: Then the Prime Directive is in full force, Captain?

KIRK: No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet.

MCCOY: No references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilisations.

KIRK: Let's go.

MCCOY: Once, just once, I'd like to be able to land someplace and say, Behold, I am the Archangel Gabriel.

SPOCK: I fail to see the humour in that situation, Doctor.

MCCOY: Naturally. You could hardly claim to be an angel with those pointed ears, Mister Spock. But say you landed someplace with a pitchfork.


(UPDATE: I also fixed some typos and grammar issues in my original post.)


grace said...

haven't seen it...but i'd like to...i'm not a star trek watcher now but i used to watch it after school when i was in jr.high.

i'm so frustrated. i've been trying to update my blog for 3 days and my parents' computer is old and for some unknown reason i can't sign in to my blogger!!! augh!!

Norm! said...

Oh no! I figured you were busy with your move.

Your parents must have a 1960's Star Trek-era computer with the flashing lights and stunted voice. "STAND BY . . . WORKING" :)

The new remastered versions of the original series have been great! They are currently updating all of the special effects for the original series.

grace said...

FINALLY! I found a way to tell my Emma and Sparky story!

I'm going to be on the lookout for that Star Trek episode.