‘There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.…’
I include this here for a couple of reasons. First, purely for nostalgia’s sake (before the Doctor appeared in Australia in 1965 we kids found our chills in The Twilight Zone as well as in The Outer Limits) but also because it raises the issue of control, of ‘big brother’, of where we find help for living in our often difficult times. Now, by ‘big brother’ of course I don’t mean the ‘reality’ television series (now that’s really scary) but the character in George Orwell’s novel, ‘1984’, the guardian of the revolution, ‘watching over’ the citizens of Oceania in a way that was not wholly benign.
Paranoia was growing in the West and it found a cosy spot to stretch out, along with consumerism, its advertised cure, right in our lounge rooms, thriving in the Great Petri Dish; television. Outside, James Bond was joining forces with John Wayne to keep us safe but they were just men after all….
Well, perhaps you get my drift.
Along came the Doctor in his first incarnation, an old man, but he knew his stuff and was competent to deal with whatever threatened his companions. Better still, as a Time Lord, as more than just a man of our time, he revealed the promise of a better future, safer through the knowledge that it would bring.
Powerful, benignly inclined towards us, not big brother, not a soldier, not a policeman, not even a cowboy, certainly not a politician; but a Doctor!
So everything’s OK then.
Except that it wasn’t. Companions died, allies fought great battles and lost, planets, even galaxies were destroyed; all while the Doctor was wrestling with his conscience over the near-extinction of his people until eventually he would be challenged himself by enemies and friends alike.
- In “Journey’s End’, Davros (of the Daleks) taunts the Doctor over the deaths he has caused and all those who have died for him. Believing he has defeated the Doctor, he calls him, “the man who keeps running, never looking back because he dare not… out of shame!” and says, “This is my final victory Doctor; I have shown you… yourself.”
- Rory Williams puts a different though equally damning slant on this. In ‘Vampires of Venice’ he accuses the Doctor saying, ‘You know what’s dangerous about you? It’s not that you make people take risks; it’s that you make them want to impress you. You make it so they don’t want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.’
What’s a helpless earthling to do, then? Is there anyone who can rescue us?
All this came to mind while I was reading Psalm 31 where David, King of Judah wrote;
And I remembered that David’s LORD is the One that we have been brought to by Jesus, our own eternally living Lord, who holds us, the times and seasons of our lives, safe in his hands. Not just a man but ‘the image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation…by whom all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
So that we can say, with him, confidently,
‘Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Psalm 31:5, 8