Dr Who and Religion

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KR Wordgazer
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Dr Who and Religion

Post by KR Wordgazer » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:32 am

In a television series run by atheists and which criticizes religion, the main character in many ways is a religious figure, even a kind of Messiah. Check out this article:

http://www.themarysue.com/doctor-who-theism/

Any thoughts?
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by Metacrock » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:13 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:In a television series run by atheists and which criticizes religion, the main character in many ways is a religious figure, even a kind of Messiah. Check out this article:

http://www.themarysue.com/doctor-who-theism/

Any thoughts?
I love Dr. who but only the first four in 60s and 70s. Tom Baker is my favorite. Peter Davison (number 5) is ok buit not on par with Hartnell,Trouitin.Pertwe, or Baker. I HATE TJHE WELCH PRODUCTION IN THE OUGHTS.
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by KR Wordgazer » Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:07 pm

Ok, but what do you think about the Doctor's similarities to a religious Messiah figure? In whatever version?
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by KR Wordgazer » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:31 am

Sigh. I guess no one else here is a Doctor Who fan. But I would think it might be interesting to talk in general about fictional characters with deity-like characteristics. What other characters fit the bill? What is the allure of such characters, and what are the weaknesses of using them in film or literature?

Any takers?

I can't believe that no one here reads anything but philosophy! :mrgreen:
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by QuantumTroll » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:38 pm

I haven't seen enough Dr. Who to comment on that, but I love messiah stories in fiction. It's "the greatest story ever told", right? ;)

In fact, I recently helped an amateur author with a book that had a messiah theme that started out quite explicit, but by the end I'm not sure it stayed on course. Endings are tricky to get right — if it's predictable then it might be boring, if it's unpredictable then it's meaningless; if it's positive then it's cheesy, if it's negative then it's needlessly grim and dark. The ending of this particular work was some sort of compromise, which was good but not *great*, you know?

So why do I like messiah stories in fiction? Pretty simple, really: The messiah lends itself to great storytelling. You've got a clear protagonist, usually made interesting because (s)he is special in some way. We empathise with the protagonist because (s)he is like us, humble and humbled by an oppressive authority. The scope is epic, involving the fate of entire peoples, nations, even humanity and the battle of good and evil itself. The messiah rises from obscurity, reaches some dramatic climax or cusp, and emerges (more or less) victorious. It's the story of anyman who becomes a hero and ends up a superhero. It's a story we like to read, and it's a story that's easy to make appealing. Perhaps most importantly, it's a story that feels meaningful.

Harry Potter follows this pattern perfectly. Jesus Christ, too, obviously. Moses was messiah. Neo in the Matrix. A number of superheroes have their origins in a story like this.

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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by KR Wordgazer » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:46 pm

A number of superheroes have their origins in a story like this.
Yes-- Clark Kent and Peter Parker, for a couple. :D

Interestingly, I think the Dr. Who stories are less about the Doctor himself than about the people who travel with him, the humans who are, more or less, his "disciples." And that can be interesting too, because one of the weaknesses of the messiah-type story is that he (or she) can become too much of a "Mary Sue" or "Marty Stu," which is fan-fiction's term for a character who is too superhuman, glorious or glamorous for the reader to identify with. The Doctor, being that superhuman, is not generally the protagonist in his stories; they are more about the more limited human characters and the challenges they face in interacting with someone like the Doctor.

The gospel stories are like this too. The reader identifies with the disciples more than with Jesus-- as opposed to Clark Kent or Peter Parker or Harry Potter, who are the main characters of their stories because they can also be Everyman.
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by Metacrock » Mon Jun 29, 2015 4:32 pm

this was an excellent point. Wish I had followed up on it. Gospel message is timeless and transcends culture. :P
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by QuantumTroll » Thu Jul 02, 2015 2:54 am

That's a good point, about the side characters' importance. They're often foils, the light by which the messiah's character is explored. Perhaps this is seen most clearly in Jesus Christ Superstar, of all things. And Dr. Who, of course, although that show also seems to be driven by the central mystery of the Doctor himself.

I've been thinking about the foundation myth, or a foundational myth, in the setting of a fantasy story I wrote a while back. The premise is that God (also called Scribe) creates the world in a way that is consistent with literary logic — if there's a crash of lightning when the phone rings, you can be sure you're about to receive word of someone's death, for example. This God has a church and the church has followers. God always chooses the alternative with most drama and literary poise. The stories surrounding the church's foundation have to be fantastic, and I haven't managed to do more than sketch some basic ideas. They always fall flat and feel... derivative. But you've reminded me that I've forgotten the sidekicks that give life and flesh to the story!

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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by KR Wordgazer » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:31 am

As far as writing is concerned, QT, I found some excellent advice in Dorothy L. Sayers' The Mind of the Maker, where she compares the Trinity to the Author (Father), Story (Son) and Reading (Spirit). She said that in almost all books that get lost or fall apart, there's some problem with the central unities of plot, theme and character. It's a book well worth reading for a writer, even if you're not a Christian or a Trinitarian.
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Re: Dr Who and Religion

Post by QuantumTroll » Fri Jul 03, 2015 5:11 pm

KR Wordgazer wrote:As far as writing is concerned, QT, I found some excellent advice in Dorothy L. Sayers' The Mind of the Maker, where she compares the Trinity to the Author (Father), Story (Son) and Reading (Spirit). She said that in almost all books that get lost or fall apart, there's some problem with the central unities of plot, theme and character. It's a book well worth reading for a writer, even if you're not a Christian or a Trinitarian.
That sounds like a very interesting book, and an illuminating analogy both theologically and creatively.

And now that you've put it in my head, it's going to be verrry difficult for me not to interpret it in "Scribe-world's" theology (although Story and Reading seems to amount to the same thing there, so maybe it's just a Holy Duality?).

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