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Old October 15 2012, 04:11 PM   #43
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Location: Ireland.
Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

It's a tricky question. Star Trek is by default depicting a society that in theory is vastly more diverse than our own. It includes the entirety of Earth's population and the populations of multiple alien worlds, any belief systems present are likely far more numerous then we reguarly encounter. MASH was a TV series about American soldiers in Korea. What if it had to take into account the faith of the South Koreans (besides Korean Christians, obviously). And the nearby Japanese? Okay, now how about India.

How about China. How about Iran. How about Somalia. How about Mozambique... and then, inevitably, how about Vulcan, Andoria, Betazed, etc. Star Trek may fall considerably short of the ideal in terms of depiction but that's definitely something it at least notionally has striven for.

chardman wrote: View Post
KT... You saying you wouldn't mind seeing a Star Trek character perform a gay pagan wedding between two characters of totally different species? You honestly want to see totally alien (both strictly fictional, and those extrapolated from a wide variety of actual faiths) treated with exactly the same reverence as Christianity?


I mean is that a rhetorical question because I don't see any way of answering that than 'yes.'

On Star Trek the fictional beliefs of alien races - the mythology of the Klingons, the Bajoran faith in the Prophets, etc. - are treated seriously because that matter to the characters from those traditions, and in fiction a fictional character's fictional faith can matter as much to them as a fictional character's faith in a real world equivalent.

That is kind of exactly what Star Trek is all about. Idic, to invoke a fictional principle belonging to a fiction race. Fictional religion obviously doesn't matter anywhere near as much in the real world but in the context of that fiction, that's another story.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Then again, Serenity had a chaplain . . . and look what happened to him!
And he's not even a real chaplain, just a guy with an attitude. He's welcome on Mal's boat, but not his book! ...sept when it is.

T'Girl wrote: View Post
Controversial matters are good. But it hard to see how a chaplain would in fact be controversial, Star Trek is usually keyed to an American audience, a deliberately generic Christian chaplain who ministers equally to all beliefs would be offensive how?

If the alternative is absolutely nothing? I would say that acceptance would be positive.
Emphasis added.

Star Trek is American by default and that's always going to colour its perception of the future and human culture in general, even ignoring ridiculous moments like Captain Kirk reading the constitution on an alien planet; it's also why basically the only religiously observant human character on Star Trek is a Native American.

...which does suggest for starters that your choices are not 'Christian' or 'atheist' for chaplain religions, even ignoring invented alien faiths and given a narrow American focus. Why not a Muslim chaplain out of Dearborn, Michigan? A Rabbi from the Southeast? A Unitarian Universalist, whatever. Lot of choices they can make here.

It is playing with hot coals, obviously, because if they write a Muslim chaplain - for example - it would then be important to get his religious references and his or her knowledge of the Qur'an and the hadiths all right, and any given moral judgement he makes would be as debated as... any of the moral judgements ever on Star Trek (look around the forums, seriously) but with the added colour of interrogating it from the religious angle, either averring that the chaplain made the choice because of flaws in his or her faith or that their decision was inaccurate in what someone of that religion would do.

On top of that people may find any suggestion that his or her religion's attitudes have changed towards anything to be offensive or whatever. Lot of issues to work with there, lot of ways it could go wrong, and in some senses having a character who is personally religious but not a chaplain is easier because their actions are less likely to be assumed to be representative of their faith (although that's always also a risk).

...and add to this a lot of what one can write for a chaplain can also be written for a counselor. That's a derided job in Trek for various reasons, but I honestly feel that Troi was at her best when she was actually taking patients and trying to help them get through something, and I think it's a role that Star Trek could still use.
'Spock is always right, even when he's wrong. It's the tone of voice, the supernatural reasonability; this is not a man like us; this is a god.'
- Philip K. Dick
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