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Future of Trek Discussion of future Trek projects.

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Old October 7 2012, 02:28 AM   #1
Knight Templar
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Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Everyone has talked about character roles in a future Trek production. What about a shipboard chaplain?

Virtually all U.S. Navy ships of any size have either a full time chaplain (or several of them) or on small ships a layperson spiritual adviser trained in handling the spiritual needs of the crew.

And for those of you who would maintain that this would not fit with Treks liberal worldview, I would like to refer to MASH.

MASH was a classic tv show and the liberalism of the shows producers and most of the cast was well known.

Yet almost from the beginning it featured the character of Father Mulcahy who was portrayed almost always in a good and favorable light.
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Old October 7 2012, 03:07 AM   #2
DonIago
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

I think Star Trek has, for better or worse, done anywhere from a somewhat neutral to incredibly bad job of portraying spirituality, and I don't find the idea of Trek dealing with the subject at greater length, especially in the form of a regular character, an encouraging one.

....though it might be interesting to see how that would play off an openly gay main character.
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Old October 7 2012, 04:57 AM   #3
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Having a member of the crew be a chaplain would be great as a the person in the crew who is the Captain's sounding board. Like Kirk and McCoy, Picard and Troi, Janeway and Tuvok.

In one of Diane Duane's novels, the duty of chaplain rotated among qualified crewmembers, in addition to their other duties. On a ship the size of the Enterprise Dee, I could see a full time chaplain, on smaller ships it might be more a part time thing. It would give you someone to talk too instead of the ship's councilor.
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Old October 7 2012, 05:23 AM   #4
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

I think the concept is sound, but I don't think Trek, at least past Trek, could pull it off properly. TNG had a hard enough time trying to write well for a counselor, even with added perks like empathic powers and political royalty to the character. Even DS9 made Ezri more of a counselor-in-title only.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Trek has rarely been character-driven, so there'd be less reason for characters to seek personal advice. It became easier for DS9 and Voyager to have those types of stories, not just because of different writing mindset, but DS9 had a large cast and Voyager depended on the "family" trope (so in a sense, everybody filled the role of counselor/chaplain in certain capacities).

So it's not outside the possibility for future Trek to have a chaplain, but I'd rather that the writers don't have one JUST for the sake of having one. There should be a narrative purpose to it (could you imagine having one aboard during TFF?).

On an semi-unrelated note, after watching seaQuest and Last Resort, I wonder why there's no equivalent to Chiefs of the Boat. Sure, there's O'Brien, but his place outside the chain of command as an enlisted crewman was rarely explored.
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Old October 7 2012, 06:33 AM   #5
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

I'm not a religious person, but wouldn't have a problem with a Chaplain from that point of view.

I do have a couple of questions that would help form a more thorough answer. Firstly, what faith would they be from, seeing as how religious seems to be pretty much dead and buried on Earth in Trek? And secondly, how does one person handle the religious requirements of 150+ member worlds?
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Old October 7 2012, 07:03 AM   #6
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

While many people wouldn't have a problem with it, if it were done carefully and not too heavy handed, others would cry foul about any portrayal of religion in Trek. Trek fans can't even come to a consensus about Bajor and their religion. Portraying human religion on a Federation Starship would likely cause a sun eclipsing outrage.

Bry Sinclair makes some good points as well. How does one person handle the religions of 150 member worlds? It's one thing where a world has just one religion, but what about planets like Earth with multiple religions. How many people do you know that are well versed in multiple religions in addition to the one faith they practice personally. Granted, it's different when it's your job, but it's still a monumental task to take on.

One possibility could be some sort of non-demoninational service that is more about a general belief in faith and spirituality, rather than the worship of any specific God. You take all the benefits of a counselor, but come at it from the point of faith in a higher being of some sort.

Here's a question though. Where does this chaplain fall in the chain of command? Could they serve as an adviser to the CO as Troi did to Picard or are they just another civilian along for the ride...or a third option, an actual billet to be filled by an Academy trained officer or enlisted crewmen.
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Old October 7 2012, 07:23 AM   #7
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Bry_Sinclair wrote: View Post
how does one person handle the religious requirements of 150+ member worlds?
If they are like modern military chaplains, Starfleet chaplains would be trained to serve all religious, faith and spiritual needs. No matter any individual or groups affiliation. And also those with none.

Starfleet chaplains can advise the ship's commanding officer on issues of religion, ethics, morale and morals.

Starfleet chaplains can meet with planetary religious leaders to understand the role of religion as a force for reconciliation and peace.


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Old October 7 2012, 08:37 AM   #8
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

As I'm not especially familiar with the concept of a chaplain, I have to wonder how atheists tend to feel about them.
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Old October 7 2012, 09:27 AM   #9
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

With the many religions of our Earth (not counting alien words from the series), I really don't think a chaplain is a good idea. The federation is built upon diversity, and it is built on science, and the religious views are left for the characters on a personal level (Chakotay, Kira, Tuvok and so on) and that is good so. A general religion chaplain would not work, and anything else, like a particular religion chaplain would only spark debate, and would be unfair, also introducing some controversial element in a Star Trek series. I really think Star Trek handled religions correctly and as Gene would have wanted until this moment, and I don't feel the need of a chaplain at this point or ever, especially some Earth based religion chaplain, because in that moment they would compromise the integrity of a Star Trek show. Star Trek was never about religion, especially Earth religions and I never ever want to read on forums discussion about contradictory dogmas, like why a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran or any other religion chaplain said that or about his views/help on a story and so on ... It would really really annoy me a chaplain as main character.
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Old October 7 2012, 09:53 AM   #10
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

The future portrayed in Star Trek (at least in the Federation) seems to have pretty much moved beyond religion. While not it's precisely universally atheist, there's not a lot of need for a chaplain on a Starship that already has a counselor.
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Old October 7 2012, 02:58 PM   #11
Knight Templar
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

What about an alien chaplain who was cross trained to serve for all faiths?

And it is more than possible you could have Federation members who refused to serve in Starfleet unless they had some kind of chaplain aboard ship.

As for what Roddenberry wanted? Who cares? He's dead.

As for controversy? This when people want an openly gay character on a Trek series?
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Old October 7 2012, 03:44 PM   #12
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Ah I see where you are going with this a gay alien Chaplain -lots of story possibilities there.
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Old October 7 2012, 04:43 PM   #13
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

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?
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Old October 7 2012, 05:09 PM   #14
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

DonIago wrote: View Post
As I'm not especially familiar with the concept of a chaplain, I have to wonder how atheists tend to feel about them.
I'm not familiar with them either, hence my questions earlier. I would think that so long as they don't try to preach to those who have no belief system, then there wouldn't be any issues. I know that people get a lot of good out of their religion, just please don't come knocking on my door telling me about it and trying to get me to sign up

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
The future portrayed in Star Trek (at least in the Federation) seems to have pretty much moved beyond religion. While not it's precisely universally atheist, there's not a lot of need for a chaplain on a Starship that already has a counselor.
A lot of what Chaplains do seems to be covered by Counsellors, just without the religious aspect, though I think they would be trained to help people during crisis of faith--for those that still follow religious teachings.

Knight Templar wrote: View Post
What about an alien chaplain who was cross trained to serve for all faiths?
An alien character wouldn't bother me, it would be interesting to explore some truely alien concepts of faith and belief. Whoever had the job would have to be well-read and knowledgable about all faiths, or at least be damn good at doing quick research.

Knight Templar wrote: View Post
And it is more than possible you could have Federation members who refused to serve in Starfleet unless they had some kind of chaplain aboard ship.
That is a possibility, in which case a specialist in that field may need to be assigned. Likewise there are bound to be worlds that have no concept of religion, so they would see such a role as unnecessary, which could be good for some banter and bickering (the new Spock-McCoy).

Knight Templar wrote: View Post
As for controversy? This when people want an openly gay character on a Trek series?
Not looking to open a can of worms here, so I'll just say this: Is having a gay character in the next series is still controversial?
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Old October 7 2012, 05:46 PM   #15
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Taken from Wikipedia
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, lay representative of a world view attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel. Though originally the word "chaplain" referred to representatives of the Christian faith,[1] it is now applied to men and women of other religions or philosophical traditions–such as in the case of the humanist chaplains serving with military forces in the Netherlands and Belgium.
I find the idea of a chaplain on a modern day warship ironic. Since most religions at the root of their teachings are peaceful. Its often man's interpretation of the scriptures that leads to war. So why have a person of faith serving on a ship that potentially could bring the deaths of a lot of people? It's definitely not in the ideal of spiritual peace and harmony.

For this reason I think it would be interesting to have a Chaplain who was a non believer in any religion but open minded. Trained to respect and help individuals contemplate their own beliefs. I think a Chaplain with his own strong faith guiding others who worship wormhole aliens and idols etc would have conflicts with his own beliefs too much to be an objective advisor. I think a counsellor is more fitting for this job- assuming they didnt have their own strong faith.
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