Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trying my hand at a review: the BBC series Doctor Who

Trying my hand at a review: the BBC series Doctor Who

“…So I’m going to go upstairs and blow it up…and I might well die in the process. But don’t worry about me, no. You go on…go on! Go have your lovely beans on toast. Don’t tell anyone about this because if you do you’ll get them killed. I’m the Doctor by the way. What’s your name?”


“Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”

So it goes with the Doctor, an alien by that simple name who travels the galaxies and universes in the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), his time machine disguised as a ‘50s police box that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The last of his race, the Time Lords, the Doctor finds human friends to carry
on his world and universe saving escapades but always seems to end up alone.

Doctor Who is bigger in the UK than Lost ever has been in the United States—and for much longer too. The Doctor and some of his nemeses such as the Daleks, pepper shaker shaped ruthless creatures with their
signature “Exterminate!” battle cry, are household names, engrained in the UK’s pop culture.

The sci-fi show started in the early 1960s in black and white and quickly caught on, lasting almost 30 years (the Doctor can regenerate when he is mortally wounded, allowing for new Doctors) before being canceled. While the saga continued in merchandise and other such memorabilia, the region eagerly awaited the day when Doctor Who would come back to its Saturday nights. The show was taken up again in 2005 with the 9th Doctor (now number 10) to the glee of Who fans.

The lonely Doctor and his human friends in the TARDIS encounter various crises with the likes of Shakespeare,
Charles Dickens, and other future figures we have yet to meet. The show has an entertaining blend of comedy, suspense, and tragedy—with great special effects.

However, being so much a part of pop culture has a reverse effect—the culture is also part of you. The godless culture of the UK most definitely shows through in the show. Random homosexual characters are not uncommon while religion and Christianity are often treated satirically.

In addition, a show about time travel in a culture dominated by minds such as Richard Dawkins inevitably leads to some interesting episodes. The script writer gets to imagine the beginning of the universe and its end—gets to dream about the potential of the human race and everything that it could become. All of this is obviously not from a Biblical standpoint.

However, apart from these flaws, the show gives plenty of food for thought for critical thinkers out there. The writers weave many interesting story lines and moral decisions into the script. In one disturbing episode, the Doctor meets the Satan and the Beast (imprisoned at the core of a planet that is anchored at the mouth of a black hole…), challenging everything that he has ever believed. A popular nemesis, the robot Cybermen, believe themselves perfected (they’ve eliminated emotions) and attempt to force “conversion” on humanity, “deleting” those who do not comply. In addition, the Doctor often has to make risky decisions that can affect the future or make decisions between one life and another.

As the viewer gets pulled by the decision along with the Doctor, the Christian can give an added dimension. He can look at the decision from our Great “Doctor” (i.e. Physician), Jesus Christ, through a Biblical lens (to a point since the destruction of alien races and parallel universes doesn’t come up often in the Bible). He can also raise the old question of whether there can be right and wrong in a naturalistic universe.

Despite obvious flaws, traveling with the Doctor is always an interesting experience filled with laughter and often sadness. The Doctor, his partners, and his enemies will very likely find fans among sci-fi fanatics and even casual viewers. In addition, those critical thinkers who enjoy analyzing what they watch will also be gratified as they encounter morality, the meaning and purpose of life, and other such questions from a naturalistic viewpoint.

A Lesson from George Street for Wall Street and Main Street

I wrote this a couple of months ago. I think I got a bit wordy, but I hope you like it.

A Lesson from George Street for Wall Street and Main Street

In October, I got the enormous privilege of going out to the North Carolina State Fair and sharing the Gospel. I got to use the wordless book and share my faith with more people than I ever had in my life combined. Through this and a variety of other factors, I have been given a major burden for the lost in America. Our country needs Jesus and the souls of Americans have never been more important to me. I would like to provide some exhortation and encouragement about evangelism from “the man from George Street.”

Some years ago in London, England, at a Baptist church, a service was ending. As the pastor finished his sermon, a man raised his hand in the back and asked if he could tell his testimony. He said that he used to live in Sydney, Australia, and was visiting some relatives there just a few months before this time. He was walking down George Street (apparently main gathering place of the city) when “a strange little white haired man stepped out from a shop doorway, put a pamphlet in my hand and said: ‘Excuse me sir, are you saved? If you die tonight are you going to heaven?’” He was bothered by this question all the way home from Sydney to London and was led to Christ by a pastor there. Everyone in the church applauded this great story.

A couple of weeks later, the pastor of that church was in Australia to do some meetings there. A woman came up to him after one of the meetings and asked for counseling. Wanting to establish her spiritual standing, he asked if she was saved. It turns out, she had a very similar testimony: meeting a little white haired man on George Street in Sydney and being greatly affected by the simple question, “If you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

Over the next three years of the pastor’s worldwide travels, the pastor heard several other stories of this little man. In England, at one event he found four pastors who had met the man around 30 years before on George Street and been saved. In the Caribbean, the pastor met three more who had come to Christ because of the same man and the same question. In Atlanta, he met a military chaplain who had been in the navy, stopped in Sydney, gotten drunk, gotten on the wrong bus, landed on George Street, came to Christ, and was now in charge of 1000 chaplains who were actively leading people to Christ. In India, he met a former Hindu who had been in Sydney and met the man and was now part of an organization that was seeing hundreds of thousands of people coming to Christ in India.

The pastor then went to Sydney himself and inquired of a little white haired man who used to hand out pamphlets on George Street and a pastor there gave him the man’s address. Mr. Jenner, the little white haired man, was now very frail. Mr. Jenner cried as he heard the stories of those who had come to know Christ through his ministry and were now being used of God (as later calculated, it was suspected that Mr. Jenner had directly or indirectly affected over 145,000 people for Christ).

Before Christ, our pastor was told, Mr. Jenner had led a horrible life. He was led to Christ by a superior while on an Australian warship and had purposed to God to tell 10 people every day of the good news of Christ. For 40 years, Mr. Jenner did this. He had never heard of one person coming to Christ before this day. Mr. Jenner died two weeks later (Smethurst).

As I have grown older and become more informed, I have taken notice of the moral state of America. The recent election even more has shown me the enormous severity of this state. America is a sinking ship morally. Christians are asleep and sinking with the ship. We are in a battle of ideas. Apologist Josh McDowell noted a study that said that “In 2002, 91 percent of our born again church kids said there is no absolute truth” (qtd en. Pounds). If we don’t wake up, we and the rest of the country will go down with the ship.

As the election was going on, I found myself convicted that I was caring more about how a person voted than what their eternal destiny was. Only Jesus can change America. Only Jesus can change people’s hearts and bring the country back to God.

What can we learn from the man on George Street? God used Mr. Jenner in a mighty way. All he did was go out on a street and ask 10 people a simple question every day. We are commanded to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. It is a commandment to spread the good news and it is our reasonable service. The point here is that we must do something, especially in this day and age.

Yes, it is nerve wracking. It must also be taken note of that many of us aren’t ready in season and out of season to give an answer for the hope within. However, we can and must start somewhere. It starts with prayer. Pray for the country. Pray for your city. Pray for your family and friends—and name them by name. We read that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

As evangelistic babies, while learning to talk (pray), we can begin to crawl, then walk, then run. Continuing in prayer, we can start by telling our friends—or strangers if you are more comfortable. Mr. Jenner’s message wasn’t anything special, but it was used by God. If we don’t push our limits, we can’t grow. Going back to the baby analogy, if a baby doesn’t begin to do those things, something is wrong. It is the same with us.

Take heart, laborers. We can also be encouraged by Mr. Jenner. Isaiah 55:11 says that the word of God will not return void. Mr. Jenner told the Gospel for 40 years and never heard of any fruit from his labor until two weeks before his death. The rest of that verse says, “But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

If you are reading this, chances are that you are in America. Perhaps this is the generation that was placed here “for such a time as this.” The laborers are indeed few. The one thing we all can do is pray. Where has God placed you in your city or town? What could be your area of influence? God help us all to be as dedicated as the man from George Street. America needs Jesus now more than ever. If we simply obey Him, you never know what He will do.

Works Cited

Pounds, Wil. “Absolute Truth.” 2006. Abide in Christ. 10 November 2008 .

Smethurst, Dave. “The Man from George Street.” 10 November 2008 .