christian themes in Science Fiction

Kathryn Jean Lopez pointed yesterday to this interesting City Journal article about religious themes in science fiction movies.

here is a small excerpt, but go read the rest, especially if you like science fiction at all.

What did happen? Not to Shmi, whose curious reproductive history the Star Wars movies also never bothered to explain, but to the Star Wars movies themselves—whose earlier trilogy mostly avoided biblical inspiration but whose more recent installments shifted so sharply toward Christianity? More generally, why has mainstream sci-fi and fantasy as a whole become so religious? One reason may be the religious revival that the United States and much of the world have been undergoing since the 1970s. This “revenge of God,” in French scholar Gilles Kepel’s phrase, has seemingly begun to be felt even in secular Hollywood.

But another reason surely lies in geopolitics. During the sixties and seventies, popular American science fiction looked to the stars and saw a Cold War there. Consider Star Trek, the franchise that, as a TV show from 1966 to 1969 and later as a series of movies, chronicled the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew of the USS—“United Starship”—Enterprise, representatives of a democratic United Federation of Planets that held an uneasy truce with the warlike, autocratic Klingon Empire. The real-world parallels were unmistakable. “Of course Star Trek was about the Cold War,” critic Paul Cantor recently observed. “The United Federation of Planets was the United States and its free-world allies, the Klingons were the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc.”

The original Star Wars films were similarly political at heart. Like Star Trek, they portrayed a universe caught between two great rivals, one free and democratic, the other hierarchical and autocratic. Not for nothing did the first film use “evil Galactic Empire” to describe Darth Vader’s dominion. (One wonders whether Ronald Reagan drew his famous excoriation from Lucas’s hit.)

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