God, Christ, and “The Zygon Inversion”

GCaTZIPicI’m old enough to be your Messiah.” – the Doctor

Doctor Who is pretty much the last place you might expect to find a Christian message. It’s a show about aliens produced for a long time by a gay man in a country where the media often seems to go out of its way to make any sort of religion out as deluded idiocy.

Yet, while watching last weekend’s episode, “The Zygon Inversion”, I was struck by how much Christ imagery there was in it.

You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you. You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole new bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who’ll end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they’re prepared to forgive. Why don’t you break the cycle?” – the Doctor

As I was watching this, with my new cynical hat brought on by a semester of “Introduction to Worldviews”, I was thinking, “In the atheistic worldview espoused by Doctor Who, what reason, ultimately, would there be which could convince someone to turn the other cheek and not retaliate?”

It’s all very well to say – and, indeed, the Humanists do say – that we should live decent, moral lives. But what is a decent and moral life? What are morals? Modernist and postmodernist thought supposes that morals are dictated by traditions passed onto us by our ancestors and our community, and by our own emotions and the emotions of those around us.

If someone believes in evolution, then he has no reason to do this, to think about others. After all, evolution is all about the survival of the fittest. Living in community is a good idea for one’s own personal success as a being, but the belief system of evolution necessarily means that the “fitter” being can, justifiably, do anything in order to ensure his own survival. Evolutionist government have committed terrible atrocities, because, after all, why should we waste resources on “less fit” members of our community, like disabled people or those of “less evolved” races?

People today like to think that humans are inherently good and can live “good” and kind lives entirely of their own volition, and yet the most basic facts of their belief system mean that such a thing is impossible. Compassion for weaker and sicker beings is contrary to evolution. In a word with a fear of overpopulation, wouldn’t fighting and killing off some of the competition to your own survival be considered a good thing?

All this ran through my mind quite quickly as the Doctor was ranting, along with the inevitable parallels to Judeo-Christian teaching. Here are just a few of many examples, any of which might be used to replace the Doctor’s speech about cruelty.

“Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalm 34:14 (NKJV)

“Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” – Matthew 5:39 (NKJV)

“Repay no-one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17,21 (NKJV)

What is it that you actually want?” – the Doctor

War.” – Bonnie

Ah. And when this war is over, when you have the homeland, free from humans, what do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? […] Well? Oh, you don’t actually know, do you? Because, just like every other tantrumming child in history, Bonnie, you don’t actually know what you want.” – the Doctor

What is sin but a tantrumming child rebelling against God’s guidance?

You think they’ll let me go after what I’ve done?” – Bonnie

You’re all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgiveable.’ Well, here’s the unforeseeable; I forgive you. After all you’ve done, I forgive you.” – the Doctor

This was the real “oh!” moment. If I ever preached another sermon (not planning to), I’d try to work this clip in as an illustration. Once we’re made aware of our sin, and we realise just how horrible we really are, we know that we don’t deserve forgiveness and we can’t expect forgiveness.

And yet, like the Doctor in this scene, God forgives us anyway. That’s the unforeseeable, to echo the line, that after all we’ve done, God forgives us.

You don’t understand. You will never understand.” – Bonnie

I don’t understand? Are you kidding? Me? Of course I understand!” – the Doctor

The Doctor goes on here to rant about the Time War, showing that he has experienced the same – he’s experienced worse – and he really does understand Bonnie’s position.

And isn’t that Jesus? He was God – He is God – and he didn’t have to come down and live as a human! He already had everything:

“[…] Jesus Christ, who, being in the form of God […] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man…” – Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV)

So Jesus has experienced what we have experienced. He’s lived life as a human. He was born, He had a childhood, He learnt a trade. He’s had the human experience, so He can understand our position and where we’re coming from.

But then Jesus has done something we didn’t do, so we don’t have to; He actually died – in fact, was sacrificed – to make up for what we’ve done. The Doctor, in the episode, shares his experience and its consequences to stop Bonnie from having to go through the same; Jesus was a step ahead and went through our consequences for us.

All Scripture quotes from the New King James Version. All Doctor Who quotes from “The Zygon Inversion”, Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 6.

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(My) Top Ten Doctor Who Couples

Well, I’ve got a massive backlog of pictures to put up, but the blog-photo-uploader is being tricky so I’ve decided to ignore that for the moment and talk about something else. It might have been slightly prompted by the TARDIS onesie, massive Day of the Doctor poster, and 3 Who-themed coffee mugs (Dalek, TARDIS, and Weeping Angel) my sister recently received for her birthday.

Anyway, I’m going to tell you all about my Top Ten Who Couples. There are a couple of lists of Who Couples out there (http://www.hypable.com/2014/02/12/love-is-in-the-air-on-doctor-who/ and http://www.buddytv.com/slideshows/doctor-who/ranking-the-18-best-romances-of-the-new-doctor-who-55860.aspx, for example), but there are quite a few I don’t agree with and some of my favourites (mostly Old Who) that simply aren’t there. So here’s my version of it, in chronological order:

1 – Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright

IanBarbaraRealPoliceBox1

The first ever couple in Doctor Who, Ian and Barbara were the Doctor’s first (abducted) companions, they were Susan’s teachers in the 1960s and travelled in the TARDIS for the first two seasons before leaving to get married.

2 – Jamie McCrimmon & Victoria Waterfield

Unlike Ian and Barbara, these two were never officially a couple, although it’s generally accepted among the fan-fiction community that they should have been and were. Jamie, a Jacobite and Highlander, first met the First Doctor, Ben and Polly in the 4th Season and continued to travel with the Doctor right up until “The War Games” (when the Time Lords wiped his memory and sent him back to Culloden), plus a hypothetical sixth season to explain his appearances in later specials. Victoria, an orphan from the Victorian times was rescued by Jamie from the Daleks and travelled with the Doctor until she chose to settle with foster parents in the 1960s.

3 – Jo Grant & Clifford Jones

Jo Grant was a UNIT-provided companion of the Third Doctor, and hopelessly clumsy. She eventually leaves the Doctor to start a new life in Wales with hippy/professor Clifford Jones after the invasion of the giant maggots. I’ve mostly got them in here because of Santiago, their grandson, who appears in the Sarah Jane Adventures and even rides in the TARDIS, making them one of only a handful of grandparent/grandchild companions – Wilf and Donna being the only other aside from Susan and the Doctor himself.
4 – Sarah Jane Smith & Harry Sullivan
Like Jamie and Victoria, these two aren’t an official couple – and in fact, Sarah Jane even tried to marry someone else in the Sarah Jane Adventures. But really, who can watch any of the Sarah/Harry/Four episodes without being convinced that there’s something going on with Sarah and Harry (even if it is just a one-sided crush on Harry’s part)?

Sarah Jane even considers “Harry” as a name for her son (Luke).

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart Doctor Who animated GIF

I wonder what happened to Harry?

5 – Leela & Andred

Leela is a human from a primitive community descended from crashed spacefarers, and Andred is a Time Lord cop on Gallifrey. How did they end up together? It did rather seem to come out of nowhere as the Doctor was trying to leave, but it does sort of work.
6 – “John Smith” & Joan Redfern
It’s a bit of a sudden jump from the 4th to the 10th Doctors, but I can’t really think of any good couple in between except maybe Nyssa and Adric (but I think I’ve put enough imaginary couples in the list so far).

The Doctor has to turn himself into a human in order to escape the Family of Blood who are pursuing him. His genes are changed and his memory wiped and replaced with one of a human childhood. He becomes a teacher at a public boarding school in about 1910 (“public” here being the English word for “private”), where he meets Joan Redfern, the school nurse and the woman whose heart he eventually breaks when he becomes the Doctor again.

An imaginary future for John Smith and Joan Redfern.

7 – Mickey Smith & Martha Jones

image

File:Martha & Mickey.jpg

Here’s the ultimate couple you never even thought of until it hit you in the face for about ten seconds and you wondered how it had never occurred to you before. Mickey first appeared as Rose’s pathetic boyfriend in the reboot but really comes into his own before leaving to fight Cybermen in a parallel universe. Martha is a medical student who travelled with the Doctor when he was still pining after Rose and ended up saving the world in the Year That Never Was. After Davros is defeated in the Season 4 finale, Mickey decides to stay in our universe and is seen wandering into the distance with Jack and Martha, now a qualified doctor and an employee of UNIT.

Although “Martha’s on her honeymoon” in Torchwood: Children of Earth, we all assume it’s with Tom Milligan her last known fiancé. But when the 10th Doctor is dying and visiting everyone, Mickey and Martha are fighting aliens together, and the bombshell is dropped that they’re married! Now we’re just waiting for the spin-off series. How does “Smith and Jones: Freelance Alien Hunters” sound?

8 – Amelia Pond & Rory Williams

Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. Photo: BBC/Adrian Rogers

This might be one of the most complicated yet consistent and longrunning relationship on Doctor Who yet. Actually, their relationship isn’t all that complicated: Amy and Rory grew up together in Leadworth, best friends. As a child, Rory had a crush on Amy, who was obsessed with her “raggedy man”, the Doctor, who she had met when she was seven. Then the Doctor returns the night before their wedding, and things get complicated.

Then they marry, and travel some more, and their daughter Melody is born…

9 – The Doctor & River Song

… Who turns out to be River Song, the Doctor’s wife!

River, Amy, and Rory

A family picnic: River with her parents, Amy and Rory.

River tells Amy and Rory who she is in A Good Man goes to War

River breaks the news to her parents while standing over her own (Gallifreyan) cradle.

Doctor/River - 5x13 - The Big Bang - the-doctor-and-river-song Screencap

Now, here is a complicated relationship. You see, River’s a time-traveller, too (among other things: despite having two human parents, she was conceived while the TARDIS was in flight and is part Time Lord. She can even regenerate) and they don’t meet in the right order. In fact, the first time we met River (with the 10th Doctor and Donna), she died. And also knew everything about the Doctor. The first time she met the Doctor, she was in her 2nd regeneration and was Amy and Rory’s best friend, although they had no idea who she was and she’d grown up with them. Then she killed him (which was fair enough, given that she’d been stolen as a baby and programmed as the Doctor’s psychopathic killer), and he married her.
The Doctor and River in the Library.
10 – Toshiko Sato & Owen Harper
Naoko Mori and Burn Gorman in TORCHWOOD - Series 2 | ©2008 BBC
Okay, so Tosh and Owen aren’t really a Doctor Who couple but a Torchwood one, although Tosh did appear in Doctor Who (remember that doctor who had the space pig back in the 9th Doctor episode? Yes, that was Tosh, filling in for Owen, who was hungover…).

Tosh is a tech genius and former terrorist (only because they had her mother) who was rescued from a UNIT cell by Jack Harkness. Owen’s fiancée was killed by an alien parasite in her brain, and he’s known at Torchwood as being both drunk and incredibly surly and rude. That doesn’t stop Tosh’s hopeless crush on him, even after his (un)death… Although, in different circumstances, it might be Owen who has the hopeless crush…

Bringing her gifts…

And then they died (properly, again, in Owen’s case). And it was sad, and totally not fair.

(And one extra) 11 – Wilfred Mott and Minnie the Menace

Bernard Cribbins alongside David Tennant in 'Doctor Who'

Wilf is Donna’s grandfather, and a companion in his own right by the time “The End of Time” comes around. He and the Doctor have a special relationship – they’re much more equals than he ever is with any of his other companions. After years of being nothing but supportive of Donna travelling with the Doctor, he eventually organises a crack band of old folks into the most amazing Doctor-search-team you’ll ever see.

Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) and June Whitfield (Minnie Hooper) in Doctor Who's The End of Time

And that’s where Minnie comes in. Tell me you can see those two as an item?

Here are a couple of fun pictures: Bernard Cribbins in 2150 in the 1966 Peter Cushing movie “Dalek: Invasion Earth”.