Reason, Emotion, and Watching Star Trek during the Pandemic

Sheltering in during the pandemic has left me with more downtime than I’m used to. And watching too much news tends to increase my anxiety level. So, along with writing books and blog articles, I have tried to focus my attention on prudent activities. This includes pursuing my spiritual devotions, spending time with my wife, and reading classic books. But I have also sought some escape time by rewatching some of my favorite movies and television programs.

Growing up, I was a big fan of the original Star Trek series. In high school, I would watch the series in reruns perpetually. I’ve seen the original series movies numerous times. Recently, I rewatched one of my favorite episodes entitled “The Galileo Seven” and it led me to think about human nature and leadership roles.

Reason and Compassion

In the original series, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) regularly receives advice primarily from two confidantes and subordinate officers: science officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and starship physician Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Spock and McCoy are clear counterpoints in personality and in what ultimately drives them in life. Mr. Spock is half human and half Vulcan with a stoic, pensive personality and a relentless devotion to logic. Dr. McCoy, on the other hand, is passionate, cantankerous, and emotional. Both are men of science but they often clash with one another. You might say that Kirk appeals to Spock’s razor sharp mind and to McCoy’s compassionate and developed conscience.

During “The Galileo Seven,” Mr. Spock is in command of a shuttlecraft that lands on a planet populated by hostile creatures. While he carefully and systematically follows the logical path in each decision he makes, he nevertheless encounters great trouble and failure. In the end, faced with what appears to be imminent death for him and his crew, he resorts to a rather desperate act that ultimately leads to their rescue.

In rewatching the episode recently I wondered whether Star Trek creator and screenwriter Gene Roddenberry wasn’t making a philosophical point about human nature and what is needed to be an effective leader. It seems what makes Captain Kirk a capable starship leader is his ability to combine logic and compassion. In effect, Kirk relies upon and balances both Spock’s reason and McCoy’s emotion.

Head and Heart

Good leaders possess strong intellectual qualities and virtues. They are critical thinkers who are learned and committed to the cogent ways of reason. They are also people of moral conscience evidenced by genuine compassion toward others. As a Christian, I desire to be a careful thinker as well as a compassionate feeler. I want to be a man of the head and of the heart. Like my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I want to be driven by both truth and love.

May our political and spiritual leaders—in the midst of the pandemic—be people of both extraordinary head and heart. Human beings who have been created in the image of God stand to benefit greatly from such character traits.

Sometimes entertainment is a way to escape from the stresses of life. But, ironically, I must say that I really enjoy movies and television programs that me think about the deep issues of life.

Reflections: Your Turn 

What kinds of movies and television programs appeal to you? Are you driven more by head or by heart?

  One thought on “Reason, Emotion, and Watching Star Trek during the Pandemic

  1. Carol Snow
    April 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Kenneth. I’d never really noticed Dr. McCoy as compassionate, but I think you’re right.

    While stuck at home, I’ve found a lot of good shows on PBS–among them a show on Ancient Africa–about the Nubians (ancient Kush) and the Ethiopians–both became Christian nations.

    The Nubians were located on the Nile south of Egypt. Several Egyptian pharaohs were Nubians. Their civilization lasted into the 15th cen. (or 1500s I get the two mixed up). Now their major cities are in ruins.

    I knew that the Ethiopians have the ark of the covenant and that their royal line descends from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon. I knew about one of their churches that is carved out of rock and is in the shape of a cross. I didn’t know they had carved out 11 other churches.

    My husband (who worked with the United Nations in Africa) said some group (soviet–mostly Cuba?) tried to attack them to steal the ark, but though they were vastly out-gunned and out-numbered, they withstood the attack.

    According to *Who Was Adam? *(Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross) the Ethiopians and Khosian (Bushmen) test out to be “the oldest human groups and share a common origin.” (p. 133) According to Wiki “Some of the oldest skeletal evidence for anatomically modern humans has been found in Ethiopia.[13] It is widely considered as the region from which modern humans first set out for the Middle East and places beyond.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopia Does this mean that Noah was an Ethiopian?

    What amazes me in comparing these two groups of people is how short-lived the Christian Nubians were but how long-lived the Christian Ethiopians are.

    Nubia contained gold, was on a trade route, and was, like Egypt, at least for a while, a very rich nation. Did they turn from God during their time of ease?

    The Queen of Sheba was probably a wealthy woman. The Ethiopian kings who built the rock churches and commissioned their colorful paintings may have been wealthy too, but today Ethiopia is a poor country. Whatever they have though has lasted through time–a LONG time. What could we learn from them?

    Carol Snow Tulsa, OK

    • April 14, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Carol.

      Ken Samples

  2. April 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    You know, Ken – I am right there with you when it comes to movies: I really enjoy ones that end up making a deep statement about life, humanity, courage, spirituality, etc. Especially when its an exciting or adventurous movie that’s engaging and creates multiple conflicts that may or may not be resolved by the end. There’s a sense of satisfaction that is part of the relaxation and enjoyment of films like that. The course you are featured in had us evaluate the movie ‘Contact’ – that is one good example of what I’m referring to.

    • April 14, 2020 at 7:27 pm

      Appreciate your comments, Jim.

      Stay well.

      Ken Samples

  3. Dan
    April 15, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Big Star Trek fan here, too. I have CBS All Access for that reason.
    Head or Heart: I tend toward a balance, but it may depend on my mood. Most of the time I look on youtube to see who’s Live. Watching Ministry programs like 28:19, or tuning into a Wednesday night sermon/Bible study. Sometimes its a guitar channel for people who play. Also, I have gotten into audio books lately. Shows I watch on TV: MannaFest with Perry Stone, Ancient Aliens, WWE, Live PD, Project Bluebook, The Unexplained with William Shatner, The Neighborhood, Bob Hearts Abishola, Young Sheldon, Zola Levitt Presents
    Stuff on the Web: 28:19, Perry Stone, Bunch of Guitar Channels, i.e. ” InTheBlues,” Dave Ramsey Show, Jimmy Church Radio(Fade To Black; Occassionally, I don’t listen when it gets into far too weird or demonic stuff, which can be often.)

    • April 15, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks, Dan.

      Ken Samples

    • April 16, 2020 at 8:52 am

      Thanks, Mark.

      May the Lord continue to bless your ministry.

      Ken Samples

  4. Tell Right
    May 11, 2020 at 6:50 am

    I often to do heart / head / heart.

    The heart says: someone has a need and God’s love within me compels me to act. But before I act I analyze it from many angles making sure all is as it seems to be. (The software engineer in me thinks I can figure out anything, admittedly with sometimes messing up by trying to be too smart by half.) Then once I decide action should be taken and I figured out the action to take, I unleash the heart again to actually do the act.

    I find that of the times I’ve thought things through relative to the times I haven’t, I have more passion for the act of kindness in the times I’ve thought it through.

    • May 11, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Thanks, TR.

      Ken Samples

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