Skip to comments.Rant About Star Trek: Enterprise That Does Probably Not Belong Here
Posted on 03/13/2002 3:13:17 PM PST by ReveBM
Okay, let me first off say that I am a big fan of the newest Star Trek series, Enterprise. I thought that the last series, Voyager, had gotten tired and had too many episodes revolving around the masturbatory holodeck. And, don't even get me started on the series before that, Deep Space 9, with its "angry pissed-off black man in space" theme.
The new Enterprise series has a freshness about it not seen in my opinion since the original series of 1967-69, what with the swashbuckling Captain Kirk. A good slice of the new series' appeal for me is its handsome, rugged, all-American Captain, Jonathan Archer.
One particular episode, though, rubbed me the wrong way. If you've watched the series you may remember the pivotal episode where they visit the "Great Plume of Agasoria", a stellar object that has religious significance for many alien peoples. Smack in the middle of this episode, the alien doctor pointedly asks Captain Archer whether he has a faith (I don't remember the exact wording, he may have used religion or some other wording).
Captain Archer's response: "I try to keep an open mind".
Let's step back a bit and realize that in the Star Trek universe at this point Earth is just emerging from a hard 100+ years of recovering from nuclear war. If there were ever a time for people to turn to God, perhaps it would have been in the aftermath of that holocaust. However, not so for the boys at Star Fleet.
Perhaps in the Star Trek future, people who are religious do not go into space, staying on their farms (as shown in the first episode of the series) or perhaps forming small communities on spacefaring cargo ships (as shown in another episode). However, religious people don't seem to go into Star Fleet, to my knowledge. It's fine and understandable to run across aliens who are committed religiously, particularly the Vulcans, but I have yet in my memory to run across a significant Star Trek character who is committed to Christianity. You might think I'm harping on Christianity in particular, but it's not only a major and still-growing religion in our world today, but it's the dominant religion in the United States, which fields a large portion of visible Star Fleet personnel, perhaps due to the San Francisco location of its training center (or perhaps many other people in the world died during nuclear war)?
Wait, I get it, maybe religious people are somehow screened out during Star Fleet Academy, perhaps for unacceptable views they might have on one or another topic.
Let's also not forget that in the future, at least according to Star Trek, there is no capitalism at some point. The description of how this happens and in what century is vague, but I vividly remember more than one Star Trek Captain saying that in the future they don't use money anymore, just look to expand their "human potential". Thank God for the Ferengi.
Star Trek is written by writers and reflects their view of what the future will be like. They obviously seem to assume that Christianity and capitalism will die out over the generations. This reflects the fondness of liberals in particular to enter our schools and inculcate our young people so that they don't have unacceptable, politically incorrect views among the future generations, whether regarding homosexuality or some other topic.
It would have been extremely refreshing to have had Captain Archer at LEAST say "Yes, I have a faith, but it's very personal to me" and leave it at that.
Whether Christianity could survive the discovery of intelligent life on other planets is a topic for another day. I have read some science fiction suggesting it could. Others may disagree.
Have a nice day!
I like this one too, but it still has too much PC in it.
I noticed that remark too and thought it was quite odd. OTOH, Star Trek has always stayed away from controversial issues like the actual real world religious practices of flesh and blood contemporary people. If Gene Roddenbury was still alive and active in the production of "Enterprise", I don't believe he would have not gone there either.
A generic statement, like what you mentioned, "Yes, I have a faith, but it's very personal to me", would have been appropriate.
How they get from Enterprise to the first (1960s vintage) Star Trek series will perhaps be revealed as the series continues. I for one find it a more-than-refreshing change from the sappy, ultra-liberal followups.
As far as religion goes, there are VERY few good depictions of religion in TV or movie sci-fi. JMS did wonders with religion and religious issues in Babylon 5 and even more in the 13 episodes of the Babylon 5 spinoff "Crusade," whose religious themes are deep and powerful, if not explicitly Christian.
Written sci-fi has better treatment of Christian themes, but not many. First and foremost was Episcopalian Cordwainer Smith, who dealt with many moral and spiritual issues in the short story collection "The Rediscovery of Man." Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz follows an order of Catholic monks through the rise and fall of civilizations in a post-nuclear holocaust world (and provided inspiration for more than one Babylon 5 episode.) Recently, Mary Doria Russell explored what happens when missionary priests meet some unusual aliens in The Sparrow and Children of God. Then there are of course the classic CS Lewis "space trilogy" volumes.
In other words, it's out there, but you really have to look.
And it pisses me off that no one is showing reruns of DS9.
Considering Roddenberry's secularistic impulses, however, it's not surprising.
"Classic" Trek did indeed have references to Christianity - perhaps it was necessary to be successful in the still-conservative network TV of the 1960's. By the time of Next Generation (which I actually regard as probably the best overall of all the series), however, it's as if Christianity - and virtually every other major human religion - is vacuumed out of human society. There's plenty of Bajoran religion, Betazed religion, Klingon religion, Vulcan religion, little green fuzzy religion - you name it. But by the 80's, Roddenberry and Berman had made a conscious decision not to allow any real world religion to penetrate the Trek universe. Instead, religious issues with dealt with through the prism of fictional alien faiths.
One episode that sticks in my head - and sticks in my craw - was the DS9 episode were Kaiko faced a Bajoran boycott of her class over her insistence on teaching about the scientific aspects of the wormhole, which ran contrary to the tenets of the Bajoran traditional belief of its origin as the home of the Founders (especially remarkable considering that the show actually concedes they exist). The show was clearly a thinly-veiled commentary on the teaching of evolution in public schools - and with a predictable angle.
The remark by Archer noted above thus caught me by surprise. I guess I was so pleased to see at least ANY reference to a human faith that I muted my usual disgust for this perennial annoyance of the Trek universe.
I don't see why Berman & Co. seem to be so afraid to allow human faiths to have some kind of presence in their universe. While Roddenberry may have had some firm belief that humans of the 22-24th centuries would "outgrow" religion, it's fairly obvious that it's unbelievable that many humans wouldn't take faith with them to the stars - any more than they do so today when they go to work or pilot planes or man ships or go to war in Afghanistan.
In other words, it's one respect in which Trek has remained consistently unbelievable.
So far I've surprisingly pleased with "Enterprise" as well - it is leaps and bounds better than the moribund "Voyager" and generally more interesting than the premise-limiting DS9. Hopefully we'll see more of this issue addressed as the series unfolds.
"Where no daycare center has gone before."
That's why I like the Enterprise E far more than the old "D."
No room for kids.
It also appears there isn't a chair next to the captain's for the "ship's counselor."
It's very easy to find PC messages and left-wing slants in any form of entertainment; movies, TV, music, books, without expressly looking to see if you can find it.
Along with Enterprise, some of my favorite shows are -
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - demons, monsters, witches, a major character is a lesbian, uncomplimentary religious references
Angel - same as Buffy
NYPD Blue - nudity, language, PC storylines
Friends - co-habitation, gay references, sex references, sleeping around
I could keep going. Now, could I stop watching these shows because there are things I don't agree with, sure. But I enjoy a well-written show with a good storyline, which the first 3 are, and Friends is funny as hell. The point is, if we tune out and turn off every single reference we find semi-objectionable, we'd never find any time to wind down and relax.
My advice, if you like Enterprise, watch it, enjoy it, and stop worrying about this reference or that reference. We all have to take a break from the fight sometime.
Then Voyager came out, and introduced the first Black Vulcan... whoomp ... the entire rationale for having Vulcan's be a monothlistic society just came crashing down. With multiple races, each with diffent views, a planet as Vulcan would not have evolved as it did. They lost me... I don't care if you make the Captain a black, bi-sexual, or a black heterosexual, or make the entire crew ethnicaly diverse. But, when you inject diversity into a culture that developed soley due to a lack of diversity, they killed the series in my mind.
Secondly, it's interesting to remember the world that Rodenberry came out of. I guess he started writing in the 40s and 50s, and I'm sure that the idea of religion slowly dying out over time was widespread at that time. If anything, it's the resurgence of faith (and the conservative movement a la Reagan) at least among some quarters in recent decades which is something which polite, mainstream liberals would not have predicted. I have recently heard some people compare Bush to Harry Truman. What normal, mainstream liberal American would have predicted that we would have a plain-speaking Texan as president in 2002?
Another thing which was big to predict in those days was "one world government", like a super United Nations, which has also obviously not happened.
I wanted to short out her components...
Maybe it would have been interesting if he said he was a Muslim?
I don't mean to sound like a fan-boy. JMS, however, is a helluva fine writer.
Do you have satellite (I have Dish Network) with superchannels? It's on nightly on a Chicago superstation (KWGN?) I'll check my listing tonight when I go home and let you know via FReepmail tomorrow.