Monday, November 3, 2014

Conversations with the Doctor

©Doctor Who/BBC
     This project faces a particular danger. It is an attempt to connect Christianity with Doctor Who, an effort that will have to be guided through two opposite errors. One would be to take it too seriously; we do not want to be accused of lowering something as important as the eternal, the millenia-old religion of Christianity, to compare with something as passing and "popular" as "Doctor Who," as if they are equivalent in the weight of their ideas. It is, after all, a popular television show, fun, sometimes campy, and primarily focused on entertaining. But this can steer us into the other error, which is to not take it seriously at all. Here we might assume that because something is popular and entertaining, it will have nothing serious or compelling to challenge us with. It also reflects that we often forget that the scriptures often speak in simple language, yet communicate significant truths through those deceptively simple stories. We hope to navigate between these two extremes.

     Doctor Who is, at its root, a show that seeks to entertain; but at the same time it gives us characters that struggle not just with Daleks, but with real human trials and challenges. Entertainment is not neutral; its products communicate ideas as much as a philosophy textbook. Those ideas may be interesting or boring, good or bad, but either way they are there. Doctor Who is no exception, and while it entertains it also can challenge or form our own ideas about the way things are. It is telling stories, and stories have a greater capacity to compel our attention and devotion than the most logical proposition. If there is anything fruitful in reflecting on those stories, then it's worth the comparison.

     On this site, we will be promoting the idea that this conversation is worth having. Both to promote the book that will be released this Spring, and to expand and continue that conversation beyond the book, we will be looking at this landmark series through the lens of our common faith. We hope to both enjoy Doctor Who for its value as solid entertainment, and at the same time consider what ideas it promotes & how we might fruitfully engage with and appropriate them. Either way, we're hoping it will be FANTASTIC.

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