Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Doctor is my Co-Pilot

"Another Doctor Who post," you may ask?  Apologies to anyone who doesn't watch the show, but thinking about that itinerant time traveler has been taking me to some strange places lately.  It's also gearing me up for an accelerated pace of blogging, coming up in a few weeks, but more on that in a bit.

The idea that I seem to be encountering at every turn is: Doctor Who as a Religion.  More specifically, the concept of the Doctor as Savior.

Artist: Mandie Manzano
Okay, yes... blasphemy on the one hand, nerdy obsession on the other.  I see the silliness.  In my defense, I can point to many others who are talking about it... in videos... in books... academic conferences... and even stage plays.  It's no crazier, I'd contend, than other sci-fi inspired bouts of religious creativity.  Brits have cornered the market on Jediism.  Here in the States we have, um, another religion founded by a sci-fi author... which I shouldn't really mention by name, since I don't want Jerry McGuire, Vinnie Barbarino, and their lawyers rappelling down from the rooftops.

But with the Doctor we have a singular, chimerical, personal savior.  His character was summed up wonderfully by long-time Who screenwriter Terrence Dicks:
"He is still impulsive, idealistic, ready to risk his life for a worthy cause. He still hates tyranny and oppression and anything that is anti-life. He never gives in and he never gives up, however overwhelming the odds against him. The Doctor believes in good and fights evil. Though often caught up in violent situations, he is a man of peace. He is never cruel or cowardly. In fact, to put it simply, the Doctor is a hero. These days there aren't so many of them around."
I tell you, with some trepidation, that what brought this home to me is Christmas. I know I've said before that I walk a somewhat solitary spiritual path, but I still love Christmas.  The good cheer need not have any sectarian limits, I like to think.  I also adore all the phantastical myth-making around the persona of Santa (see past Rankin-Bass musings here and here).  However, the one aspect that always seemed kind of closed off to me, due to my lack of some specific literal beliefs, is the wonder of the nativity.

A week or so ago, "O Holy Night" was playing on the radio (Nat King Cole's classic rendition) and for some reason my mind went to the Doctor.  Coming back again and again to save us petty humans, because he thinks we're just so cool.  Sometimes being brought back from the brink of inhumanity by his all-too-fallible human companions. And, once, being summoned back into life by humanity's collective yearning for salvation (in "Last of the Time Lords"). 

It only lasted a moment, but the nativity never meant more to me.

So where do I go with these thoughts of a fictional alien traveler in persona Christi?  I'm not yet sure.  In the short term, I've set myself a mini-challenge to post on the Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are 12 incarnations (more or less) of the Doctor, after all.  My weird disposition for the occult also urges me to somehow fold in the 12 signs of the zodiac, too.  I'm planning to start short daily posts on Christmas Eve, and go through the season up to Epiphany.  Being that it passes through the new year, I'll also try to mix in some resolutions, too.  Is it relevant at all to GAMES (the nominal pursuit of this blog)?  I have no idea, but I'll at least try to keep that in mind.



  1. It will be interesting to see where this train of thought takes you. Certainly there are direct parallels between fiction that demonstrates a compelling ethic and Religious mythic structure. In fact, they are often indistinguishable.

    1. This has been my thinking, too, good sir. Although, it's also true that my train of thought has been down a few dead-end sidings over the years. We'll see. :-)

  2. Replies
    1. I'm also excited that I'll be only two posts in when the Christmas special airs. Will I have to make alterations mid-course?

  3. I think once they brought back Dr Who that they changed the essential tenor of the character. The newer versions have been more narcissistic, darker, more willing to cause harm and use non peaceful solution which you can argue would be much less salubrious for constructing a religious archetype.

    1. Hmm... this one can be argued both ways, I think. Several of the older incarnations were handy with guns and comfortable with the association with UNIT, but Tennant and Smith both were quite averse to anything militaristic.

      Darker, maybe... what with the whole "Time War" arc that Russell Davies came up with (and Stephen Moffat kind of brought to an interesting close last month). I haven't yet watched Eccleston, but they say he conveyed a kind of PTSD subtext that made sense. More narcissistic? I don't know if I see that.

      I do think that a religous archetype should be balanced, too. There's a time for non-peaceful solutions... see Ecclesiastes 3:3 perhaps?

  4. Cyg, I've never watched Dr. Who. Terrence Dicks' words, however, have stirred my heart. I can't promise to start watching any of the series *but* I am very much looking forward to your posts on the topic. Interested, too, to see how you weave in the Zodiac.

    1. Thanks! I'm still figuring out the details... and figuring out how much I'll have time to write myself, versus the alternative of quotations aplenty! :-)