The Gospel According to Star Trek – The Undiscovered Country

The sixth film in the Star Trek franchise was set within the context of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As East and West came together, seeking to put aside the differences of the past to build a new future founded on trust and openness, the directors asked the question, ‘what would peace look like in a Star Trek universe?’ Often the telling of a story helps us to recognise the struggles and difficulties faced in our own quest for peace.

As might be expected the two civilizations seeking peace are the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets, who have been sworn enemies from the very beginning. Kirk is sent to escort the Klingon Chancellor to earth for peace talks, but he has his own demons for the Klingons murdered his son. Furthermore, there are many powerful voices among the Klingons who are suspicious and seek to derail the peace talks. The chancellor is murdered and Kirk is implicated, with the result that he is sentenced to life imprisonment on a frozen asteroid. However, he escapes and together with Spock and McCoy, uncovers the plot and thwarts the attempt to destroy this new beginning. At the climax of the film, Kirk speaks of the future as an undiscovered country, saying that there are some who fear change, but that must not stop us from moving forward. Kirk has come to realise that peace between nations cannot be destroyed by personal agendas or anxieties. Rather courage and a desire for reconciliation, personal and corporate, are to be the agents of change if we are to journey into the undiscovered country.

In the context of the fall of the Berlin Wall, these were timely words as peoples sought to build a lasting future together after decades of hostility and prejudice. But, on a more personal level they also have a special relevance to all relationships where there has been a breach of trust and hurt. For peace to be established we all need to firstly acknowledge that whilst the past may not be forgotten, it can be forgiven. Secondly, must come the realisation that peace cannot be achieved in a day, for it is but a step into undiscovered country.

In the Christian faith, there is the very real hope of reconciliation, revealed in the giving of God’s one and only Son as a sacrifice of atonement for us all. Yet, it too, is an undiscovered country as it involves us travelling along spiritual paths we have long ignored. Many of us have lived in ignorance if not open hostility towards God, and accepting his offer of peace is not as easy to do as one might think. It involves learning to trust him and to be courageous enough to take that first step into undiscovered country. It is exciting but also for many a little scary, which is why peace is best pursued with a friend. So, let us not fear the future but embrace change and the sure hope of peace that is offered us.

John Harries (School Chaplain)

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB