News and Views: Ben-man, Gnosticism, The Doctor

Ben Affleck as Batman, Kathy Tyers reboots Gnostic notions, “Doctor Who” news, author Brett McCracken’s nonfiction “Gray Matters.”
on Aug 23, 2013 · No comments

From Weird Al Yancovic’s “I’ll Sue Ya” music video

First up: yes, actor/director Ben Affleck has been announced as the next cinematic Batman. He’ll pair up with Henry Cavill as Superman for the Man of Steel sequel, which will feature the “world’s finest” team-up of Batman and Superman leading to a Justice League franchise.

Nobody’s shrugging over this news, not even myself. Joining many, my first reaction was:



However, a Facebook friend (perhaps more wisely) notes:

Well Chris Evans was in Fantastic 4 and that didn’t stop them from casting him as Captain America, so there is precedent there.

Speaking of reboots …

Rebooting Gnostic notions

The Firebird series conclusion released last year.

The Firebird series conclusion released last year.

Firebird and Star Wars novelist Kathy Tyers has on SpecFaith discussed her return to writing. Yet I enjoyed meeting her at Realm Makers, and later writing Defeating Gnostic Notions in Fantasy Fiction. She recounts her early and recent storytelling journeys:

Tyers is no stranger to rewriting her novels. During her 30-year career, she has adapted two of them for Christian markets. But more recently, she says, she is revising even more after God — through the teaching of J.I. Packer and others at Regent College in Vancouver — rebooted her real world.

[…] Tyers is more critical of her other novels that she’s now rewriting. She explains that in One Mind’s Eye,

[W]e find out that a parasitic alien race actually exists on this higher plane of imagery, and there they spend all their time in this inner world, singing and dancing and giving glory to God in their own way. They’re totally unbodied.

I had no idea how Gnostic I had become, as essentially a person coming of age spiritually in North American consensus evangelicalism, until I got to study at Regent College.

Speaking of academic-sounding titles, such as professors, or doctors …

What, where, when, why, ‘Who’

Doctor Who showrunner Steven “Grand Moff” Moffat has been busy:

1. Doctor Who producer teases NZ episode

No, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director, and DW fan Peter Jackson, was not kidding about wanting to bring the show’s filming to New Zealand, direct at least one episode — and get a golden Dalek. (Jackson already has Who memorabilia, including Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy playing Radagast the Brown.) Outgoing Eleventh Doctor actor Matt Smith endorsed this, and Moffat is quoted as saying, “We talked at The Hobbit premiere — he just wants a [D]alek. So we’ll give him a [D]alek and he’ll direct an episode.”

2. Could Peter Capaldi really be the final face of Doctor Who?


Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who‘s series 4 episode “The Fires of Pompeii”

Media hype, of course. The Doctor is now a cash cow and is growing bigger than Apple; any (more) threats of killing him only makes him more powerful. Moffat knows this. Ergo:

At the Ad-Lib event at this year’s Edinburgh TV festival, host Frank Skinner reportedly asked, “Do you acknowledge the convention that The Doctor can only regenerate 12 times?” And Moffat answered simply, “Yes.” But would not go into any detail about how he might circumvent that limitation at the end of Capaldi’s run (if Moffat is even still writing Who then.)

Some wonder if Moffat has reordered the Doctors by introducing John Hurt as a previously unknown Doctor. It’s a perfect loophole chance, for no one ever saw the Eighth Doctor regenerate directly into the Ninth, after all. So will Hurt be the surprise “interim” doctor, between Eighth and Ninth, perhaps the one who chose to destroy his own civilization? Or some future version of the Doctor, perhaps (as classic Who fans would know better than I) the Valeyard? Myself, I’m more inclined to believe Hurt is an eighth-and-a-half Doctor, or real Ninth Doctor.1

3. Moffat’s 12th Doctor Hints

Steven Moffat offers a few intriguing titbits on Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine (#464). Here’s some highlights:

  • Moffat is pretty certain Capaldi will keep his native Scottish accent for the role
  • At the moment, they’ve only discussed Twelve’s costume in the lightest terms

More here. I wonder if David Tennant now wants to know why he couldn’t keep his brogue.

What do you hope for a Jackson episode, for regeneration(s), and for the Twelfth Doctor?

Speaking of media discernment …

The case for more cultured Christians

cover_graymattersThese issues have recently come up on SpecFaith (surely they always will), from questions about Biblical speculation to the Harry Potter / magic issue I just won’t shut up about.

La Shawn Barber points to what looks like a perfect book-length treatment of Gray Matters:

We are to avoid fornicating and practicing sorcery, but what about watching movies that depict fornication or sorcery? We can extrapolate from what God does forbid, of course, but scriptural silence on a particular issue isn’t license to do it or to shun it. In some matters, we can think beyond black and white.

“Christians have a hard time with nuance,” Brett McCracken writes in Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty (Baker Books, 2013). “Gray areas are not our strong suit. It’s way easier to just say yes or no to things, rather than ‘well, maybe, depending. …’” Complicated questions might require more than simple responses to avoid Christian legalism on the one hand (shunning all secular music, movies, and television, for example) and libertinism on the other (getting drunk, cursing, and embracing “anything goes”).

Have a news item I didn’t address? Let us know.

  1. This would make Christopher Eccleston the Tenth, David Tennant the Eleventh, Matt Smith the Twelfth, and Peter Capaldi the 13th and “final” Doctor. The name ordinals are rarely if ever echoed in the series, but only by fans and promos as I recall.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. dmdutcher says:

    I may be in the minority, but he can’t be much worse than Christian Bale. In two out of the three Dark Knight movies, he’s upstaged by his own villains and is so growly that he’s ridiculous.

    The gnostic thing doesn’t seem that much of a problem. It’s not just a matter of worshipping in spirit and in truth or having unbodied characters in a novel; you need to really believe physical matter is evil, make God a demiurge and Jesus the guy rebelling against him, and generally promote secret, cultic knowledge over the open Word. Pretty much the only Gnostic fantasy I’ve seen is the Matrix movies, and they are almost a textbook case of those beliefs in fiction.

  2. Izzy says:

    “(Jackson already has Who memorabilia, including Eighth Doctor Sylvester McCoy playing Radagast the Brown.)”

    Just a heads up. Sylvester McCoy played the Seventh Doctor. Eight was Paul McGann. 😉

  3. It wouldn’t surprise me that Moffatt intentionally left out a Doctor…the man’s evil genius knows no bounds. I also could see the Valeyard as being the one who brought destruction on the Time Lords, and not one of the Doctor’s regular regenerations.

  4. But… but…. Tennant’s name goes so well with number Ten…..

    Also, I’m so excited to see Eleven (?) regenerate into Twelve (?) ….. I don’t know if I could take this shift – it would just be *wrong*. >_< 😀

    As for the new Superman/Batman movie – the team at Blimey Cow sum up my feelings there:

    …..And I loved "One Mind's Eye," so I'm really excited to see how much better it will be – after all, the Firebird books were good the first time through, and fabulous in their re-written state. 😀 So I know Kathy will only improve on her original story. 😀

    • Tennant’s name goes so well with number Ten…..

      Yes, it does. That alone is enough reason to keep the order the same. But the best reason is that it would only make the whole “Doctor Who” ‘verse even more confusing to reorder all the Doctors’ incarnations’ ordinals like that.

  5. Marion says:


    I just heard Brett McCracken last week on Christian Radio promoting his new book. The gray area is an area that needs to be explored more in evangelical Christianity. I plan to get a copy and review it on my blog.


  6. What? Nobody complaining that they didn’t cast a woman as Batman?

  7. Galadriel says:

    I’m actually really excited about Capaldi, though I’m not at all looking forward to Smith’s departure. With an older actor, the character can explore new directions and hopefully downplay the romantic angle (except with River. He and River can make kissyfaces all they want)

What do you think?