Monday, May 9, 2011

Why the World Needs Christian Writers

It is no Sherwood we're up against. THIS is our world. It's dark, and it revels in its darkness. "Men loved darkness instead of light, for their deeds were evil."

Many of my readers know how much I enjoy the British television show Doctor Who. I like it for many reasons, but mostly because I love the main character--The Doctor. He's rather Robin Hood-esque, flying around the universe and through time in his TARDIS, defending the weak. Though there are dark moments when he gets depressed (he's the last of his race, and sees a lot of his human friends come and go), he always manages to keep going, to keep living for the wonder of the world. His optimism and courage always balances the darkness of alien invasions and death, and you can always trust him to get through whatever is happening.

In a recent episode I watched, The Waters of Mars, we lost the Doctor. He snapped. He decided, because he was the only person left who knew the laws of time, that he could make the laws of time. An episode that already had a frightening villain and a situation where you have been told, by the Doctor himself, that you cannot win, went even further into despair and darkness. Even as the Doctor is convincing himself that he is now all-powerful, you can see how he's unraveling who he is, who the audience loves. And there's nothing left.

Now, I know that this is an "interesting" development for the Doctor, maybe even a "necessary" step for his character as he still fights and recovers from the war that destroyed his people. But. I have thought before that this show kind of places the Doctor in the void where God would be, if it were not for the premise of beliefs that there is no God. In this episode, he is the most powerful and the most frightening he's ever been. There's no real place for redemption--the Doctor is the most powerful entity we have--so the episode ends only with emptiness.

I've known for a long time that the main writer of this show, Russell Davies, is an atheist. I know that. And I've found it ironic. The thing that atheists deny, God, ultimately destroys the base for any absolute right or absolute wrong. Yet the Doctor (usually) stands for right. Even in this episode, what he does is seen as wrong. As Adelaide says, "I don't care who you are, the Time Lord victorious is wrong."

I thought there was no wrong?

Even with that, this episode laid bare the darkness, the despair, the utter hopelessness of a worldview with no God. Even when we only have "laws of time" to break, breaking them is devastating. When the viewer lost the Doctor, the puppet of "rightness" that usually MUST be kept intact to even keep people watching, the whole worldview was exposed.

I have always been decently careful with this show, because of its tendencies towards the secular and the politically correct, as well as its highly-addictive nature. Now I think it will be hard to watch it the same way ever again.

And it will be hard to write without remembering this episode. THIS is the show I love, with one of the best characters I have ever seen. THIS is the show which is almost in a way a light IN the darkness of other TV shows...and yet it's a phony light, with no real base, crushed on a whim by the writer. I've noticed the search before, beneath the silly aliens and goofy plotlines, the search for Truth. For Right. For God.

Davies, I think, showed his soul in this episode, whether he believes it or not. Struggling, gasping, drowning in its own "logic" and "cleverness," ready to collapse as soon as you decide you have the right to BE God. Like the Doctor, you're only going to destroy yourself. You aren't up against Time--but you're ignoring something even greater.

There are so many people killing themselves and not even realizing it. The Doctor doesn't realize it until its too late. His death, the death of this incarnation of him, is coming. And, suddenly, he goes from feeling all-powerful to being scared, I think, for the first time ever, running into his TARDIS to hide.

This world needs us.


We can't just leave it like this. These people, these people who think they're God, who think they've outsmarted everything, who think they can call their own shots, because who's keeping track...these people are dying. There's going to be no TARDIS to hide in.

THEY need us. The all-powerful, the all-clever, the Doctors of the world. They have nothing. And they need to know that, before it is too late.


Anonymous said...

There is a lot of good stuff here. I agree that the Waters of Mars is the Doctor's darkest moment. However, his brightest moment comes at the end of The End of Time. Have you seen that episode? What do you think?

Nairam said...

No, I have not. I've heard a lot about it from my friends because of this post though (:P), and will see it soon!

ZNZ said...

Mmmm. I see what you're saying here, and you make some good points. But. I don't think it's necessarily bad for a character to have dark moments like this. I think that such things make for a character that's more real to me, and if they make it through I admire and respect them even more. Characters that never do wrong bore me. And if he's doing something terrible that's presented as terrible - frankly, I don't see the problem. Does that make sense?

Nairam said...

Yes. And to some extent, I DO agree with you. (My favourite characters are the ones that make mistakes.) I'll have to clarify this post. As always, thinking about this episode has been a process for me, and I posted this mid-process. So it's causing a lot of confusion.

Besides that, I have recently heard that End of Time connect a lot to this one consequences-wise, which I didn't realize. I was treating it as a stand-alone, which DW specials tend to be. It'll change a bit if it's just the prologue to the end.

There are two things I think at this point: 1) Though perhaps a necessary development for the Doctor, I think it DOES show the emptiness I talk about, even with that. 2) Also, I do think that this episode was too dark as a whole. Some darkness is necessary for believability, but some things go to far. In my opinion, this episode went too far.

Katie Oostman said...

I loved Water for Mars because of that break. Because to me, it shouted the The Doctor isn't God. That there has to be something bigger. Someone who made the laws of time. Someone who is even more powerful than a 'time lord'. That was a glorious moment for me (as I cried about the doctor's break and despair).

I think you are dead right and this post is an encouragement to me. Sometimes I feel like I can never write like the other successful secular writers. No. I know I never can. But neither could Lewis or Tolkien.

<3 Inky

Nairam said...

That is a GREAT point. Leave it to you to figure that out.

Kevin said...

hey. that was a good post.

and you have a cool blog!

(i found your blog on OYAN)

ZNZ said...

I've given you an award!

{Tomorrow Song} said...

Ah. This is stuff I need to be reminded of sometimes. Stumbled upon this post (again) and yeah. I don't have the words to say. It's encouraging.

"THEY need us. The all-powerful, the all-clever, the Doctors of the world. They have nothing. And they need to know that, before it is too late."


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