Well, I must say that I was pretty disappointed with tonight's episode of Dr Who. I was worried about the Slitheens already - who can take an alien seriously if they have eyes like that? I mean - the whole shape! And could you really believe that these guys were cosmic scrap metal merchants! With finger nails like that! Come on!
There had been some interesting tension in the episodes to date what with scary sceances and the end of the world with tree-people (although the exploding human skin thing was rather 'thin' characterisation!) - but the screaming pig alien thing was a bit of a dopey moment. Tonight's slitheen episode from Calcium-based lifeforms being exploded by pickled onions to that stupid chase through Downing Street...sorry, it was a bit too much like slapstick.
I was speaking with Mark Goodacre (see links) last week about this and other things as part of my search for some reviews/theological reflection on the TV Series Second Coming (we decided that there is precious little out there!). We then moved onto sci-fi and spirituality.
Now, some sci-fi has some great spirituality in it - Dune is my favourite with all its Samaritan and Qumran and Arabic allusions; but there is also Arthur C Clarke and all the other great stuff. But there is also a whole host of sci-fi where there seems to be a deathly absence of any form of spirituality or organised religion as such - I mean look at this series of Doctor Who or I Robot or...it's strange that it simply doesn't get a look in at all - where does Christianity and Islam and Hinduism and all that go? I mean I Robot is set in 2037 and there is nothing left within the culture which speaks at all of organised religion. And Star Trek - where is the spirituality there?
I was comparing this to Doug Coupland's futuristic adventure in Girlfriend in a Coma where the spirituality is all over the place. And then, of course, there is the Left Behind Series...!!!
I just wonder what a Gospel according to Dr Who would look like - apparently Damaris already have a study guide at the printers, so no doubt the answer is spinning off the press already. I am not convinced, however, that they will actually get there. It is interesting, isn't it, that Russell Davies has among his list of hits - Second Coming (Chris Eccleston as Steve Baxter) and Doctor Who (Chris Eccleston as Doctor) and Queer as Folk.
Here's the comments I made to Mark:
> Yes. I hear the little rave about Doctor Who. I am also an addict - along
> with 10m others, I hear. My kids love it, which helps! Although a
> theological reflection would be interesting. I was thinking this through
> the episode about the end of the world - there were some interesting
> theological issues about the development of the tree species and the
> interbreeding of humanity and other races. Moreover, the whole concept of
> humanity spending all their time worrying about what might happen rather
> then getting on with life in the event that nothing does happen.
> The thing with all these scifi programmes is that they tend to completely
> erase spirituality. Dr Who has little space for it. Of course, there is
> that wonderful moment in I Robot where the hero's mother is reciting a psalm
> when 'salvation' comes. But that is almost a re-assertion that religion and
> spirituality is non-existent anymore - some thing of the past. Anderson's
> novel - Feed - is another example of a spiritual-less future - or at least
> one where public representation of spirituality is nowhere to be seen. Even
> if the Lord delays - I cannot see that spirituality will not be part of the
> future. In fact, so many of these scifi things end up with a privatised,
> individualist spirituality. Then, of course, there is the other end of the
> spectrum and Doug Coupland who retains the normal elements of postmodern
> exploration but with spirituality at the centre...
> Whatever the issues, sometimes I think it is all so much more real than Tim
> LaHaye's version of the future...