1. Travis Perry says:

    Thoughtful article, thank you.

    I think the Doctor is supposed to represent an idealized humanity (though he’s an alien), not both God and man in hypostatic union, but a human being plussed up to the max, where he is, as you stated, in effect a god. He is in effect a super hero, albeit a British one, so his powers are no so much physical and don’t prevent him from being relatively ordinary in appearance.

    Note though that the ancient Pagans also portrayed their gods as essentially being human in rivalries, interests, and desires. Just plussed up and powerful humans. We create gods in our own image…whereas the Almighty of the Bible is quite different from us.

  2. Audie says:

    The messianic aspect of Doctor Who, very strongly shown in the end of the one season where the entire planet is essentially praying to him as he transforms from Dobby the Elf into David Tennant, is one of the more annoying aspects of the show.

    • Yes, and all the more so because it’s so completely unnecessary to the premise of the show. Most of Classic Who never deified the Doctor, in fact quite the opposite: he was repeatedly shown to be not only entirely fallible but not at all impressive or imposing to his enemies, much less a legendary figure whose reputation would tempt them to either terror or worship. Most of the people he either helped or fought against had no idea who the Doctor was or what to make of him, and were apt to grossly underestimate him more often than not. Even with the Seventh Doctor, who started out silly and gradually turned into a darkly mysterious figure with hints of a buried past, his legendary status was tied to Gallifrey and the possibility that he might be the regeneration of some ancient Time Lord hero, not something that would impress anyone who didn’t know about the Time Lords.

      So much as I’ve enjoyed a lot of the new series, every time a character gives some over-the-top speech about the Doctor being “…like fire and ice and rage. … like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe,” I want to stick my finger down my throat. Because that is pure “I grew up watching DOCTOR WHO and loved it, therefore the Doctor is a GOD” fanboy nonsense and has nothing to do with what made either the Doctor or his adventures compelling in the first place.

      • Julie D says:

        The ‘Lonely God’ title was really played up near the end of Davies’ era (season four and specials), but Moffat loved playing with it and ultimately, explicitly subverting it with Twelve’s declaration in the season eight finale.

        “Thank you! I am not a good man! I am not a bad man. I am not a hero. And I’m definitely not a president. And no, I’m not an officer. Do you know what I am? I am an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver. Just passing through, helping out, learning”

  3. The thing is, though, stories are about humans and victories tend to arise from human triumph over adversity in a story. If God or a stand-in for Him came and saved the day, the reader/viewer would feel cheated, like they got sprung with a Deus ex Machina when they were expected the brave character they became attached to to save his/herself based on all the clues of his/her bravery they’d received up to now.

    Granted, Christ is the universe’s greatest Deus ex Machina…but if (forgive me) we analyze it from a purely narrative perspective, His sacrifice is well set-up by His life, teachings, and sacrificial death, so it feels satisfying to the reader (of course Christ is infinitely more valuable than narrative satisfaction, but just for the sake of argument here). It’s a tricky balance in Christian fiction and one I think about as a writer…faith is rescue, but how do you portray rescue without making your character look like an idiot that needs to be saved by an unlikely deus ex machina?

    Disclaimer: I am not personally familiar with Doctor Who beyond the first 6 episodes of the reboot. Just making general comments about the nature of stories.

What do you think?