Amazingly for people of my generation, it is now 50 years since Gene Roddenberry first brought Star Trek to our TV screens and many of us were hooked pretty quickly on the exploits of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest as they journeyed into ‘space, the final frontier’. This summer the 13th film in the franchise was released, alongside the various television series the original has given birth to.
What is the appeal of this brand? Is it the futuristic technology of the Starship Enterprise? I don’t think so. Is it the iconic characters – courageous Captain Kirk and his emotionally controlled, logical first officer, Spock? Their dialogue and their interplay with the cynical, yet compassionate, Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy is amusing, but I don’t think the characters are the key either. The gravity that holds the fans in orbit around the Star Trek franchise is something deeper. It is voiced by Spock in a desperate moment as he lies injured. In response to Kirk’s question ‘What shall we do now?’, Spock says, ‘We will do what we have always done, Jim; we will find hope in an impossible situation.’
Hope is the key and core value of Star Trek. Hope that we can and will better ourselves and rise above our limitations and moral failings. Hope that working together we can and will achieve far greater things than we have ever done – ‘boldly going where no one has gone before’. Played out in this fantasy genre is a deep longing for a better world, a better humanity and a belief that it can be. That hope and unquenchable optimism in the face of overwhelming odds is what inspires and attracts us.
Most of us at some time face difficult if not impossible situations, and we need that kind of inspiration and hope. And the good news is that there is a better hope than even
Hollywood can offer. There is someone who has already gone ‘where no one has gone before’. He faced overwhelming odds and went through death into resurrection and eternal life. Hope and faith in Jesus are not part of a fantasy; they are based on a unique life in history – so special that the world reset the year count. In an uncertain and scared universe, whatever situation we are in, we can turn our eyes to Jesus and have hope, both that God is with us in our life today and that there is hope for ourselves and our world tomorrow, with adventure and exploration to be had, in the certainty that God will still be with us.
With love and prayers
Russell J Furley-Smith