We first meet Rose Tyler’s father Pete in an Eccleston episode entitled “Father’s Day” (one of my favourites!). Rose has convinced the Doctor to allow her to travel back in time to meet Pete, who died when Rose was a baby. To the Doctor’s dismay Rose “accidentally” prevents Pete from dying at the appointed time and place, which causes a great wound in time and threatens the whole universe. “There’s a man alive in the world who wasn’t alive before. An ordinary man: that’s the most important thing in creation. The whole world’s different because he’s alive!” says the Doctor. Alien “Reapers” arrive and attempt to heal the wound by consuming people, including the Doctor. Only one man remains who can save the day, a man so useless in this world and in Jackie’s eyes: Peter Alan Tyler. Once he understands what his daughter has done, Pete throws himself in front of the car that should have killed him. And all is right in the world.
Yet despite his death, Pete Tyler appears again, alive and well, during Tennant’s reign! In a parallel universe a “parallel Pete” has been walking a rather different path. There he has become rich through his entrepreneurial genius, which in “our world” was completely unrecognised. Pete is married to the parallel version of Jackie and Rose is their beloved . . . dog! At Jackie’s 40th birthday Pete witnesses the first wave of the Cybermen assault. Though we suspect he has been working for Cyberman chief, John Lumic, Pete reveals he is in fact a mole secretly broadcasting information about Lumic’s dealings on an encrypted channel. With Rose at his side (that is, the human Rose from our world, not the dog) he agrees to infiltrate the Cyber-factory and is horrified to discover that his Jackie has been converted to a Cyberman.
In the series finale, “Doomsday”, Pete travels to the Doctor’s universe to help defeat the Cybermen, again. During the encounter he meets “our” Jackie, and though logic says they don’t know each other at all, they are drawn together. She chooses to go with him to his parallel world. Although Rose does not choose to go she becomes trapped there after parallel dad rescues her from falling into the breach. She is safe and sound in another universe, yet sorrowfully apart from her beloved Doctor. (Where’s the tissues?)
Now I’m sorry for the long recap; I just think the concept of parallel worlds is brilliant! While yes, certainly, the concept only belongs to the realm of science fiction, how cool to imagine that a similar world to ours, with a different version of each of us, could be playing out in another dimension simultaneously. Would we be a better version of ourself in that world (like Pete Tyler) or worse?
The more I think about it I can’t help but see here a ‘parallel’ with our Christian life. We Christians have a foot in two worlds! We are citizens of both this world and of heaven, and in some ways we are living parallel lives right now. Consider the following:
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven . . . For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.” (Philippians 3:20)
Although we didn’t arrive here via a big blue box we are aliens in this world. And we feel like we are aliens because a different Spirit lives in us. Although we live in this world, our hearts revolve around Jesus Christ, his purposes and desires. We feel out of place here below because the treasure of this world cannot satisfy us. This is not our home.
Maybe from God’s perspective our world is the “parallel” one, where each of us struggle with sin, imperfection and each other, while at the same we actually reside with Him in heaven, wrapped up in Christ, our true home.
This is not a theological argument at all, so please don’t shout me down. I am just supposing, and suggesting, that we need to take our current place as citizens of heaven a bit more realistically! We are living parallel lives. We are in Christ, with Him in glory, already. There we live, the best sinless, redeemed, perfected version of ourself. Might we aim to live out this life with much more of the character of our parallel best self, perfected in Christ.
” . . . those He called, he also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:30