Chronicles in Ordinary Time 129: Telling our stories

7 Doctors

I just started reading Time And Relative Dimensions In Faith [TARDIF], by Andrew Crome and James McGrath; an academic work that is written to be accessible to those outside academia. For those who aren’t aware, Doctor Who began broadcasting on British television in the early 1960s and has continued until the present. The series has given birth to dozens of novels, audiobooks and graphic novels, as well as the hundreds of television episodes and a few movies; Doctor Who fans span the globe. While I am not a “Whovian,” I am a fan; and have spent a lot of time this year and last, creating my own Doctor Who illustrations. The Doctor has been able to stay on British television for over 50 years by the plot device of enabling The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, to ‘rejuvenate’ every few years; remaining the same person, but displaying a different face, and a different personality after each ‘rejuvenation’. The newest version of The Doctor is female; the first female Doctor in history [although not the first Time Lord to switch genders during rejuvenation] and is over 2,000 years old. The Doctor, and his various Companions [usually human] travel through time and space in the TARDIS, a somewhat broken device that is very much larger on in the inside than it is on the outside. The TARDIS has a camouflage device that broke in the 1960s while camouflaging itself as a British Police Call Box; The Doctor has never bothered to fix it. People walk by the TARDIS all the time and rarely see it.

Some quotations:

Doctor Who: “It’s not just work, it’s your life. And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible. Or, what’s impossible? What’s a fantasy?”
Last Christmas [2015]

Astrid: This Christmas thing? What’s it about?
The Doctor: Long story. I should know. I was there. I got the last room.
Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned [2007]

The Doctor: Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life… an unimportant life… a life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s… what defines a species.
Thin Ice [2017]

The Doctor: You forgot the last time. You remembered the fear and you put it into fairy stories. It’s a human superpower, forgetting. If you remembered how things felt, you’d have stopped having wars. And stopped having babies.
Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night [2014]

While I no longer pore over the news, as I did earlier in the year, I do read news articles for a couple hours every couple of days. Current events are extremely troubling. I’m reminded of another story:

             I will impersonate a man. His name… Alonso Quijana.
A country gentleman, no longer young.
Being retired, he has much time for books.
He studies them from morn till night…
and often through the night till morn again.
And all he reads oppresses him…
fills him with indignation…
at man’s murderous ways towards man.
He ponders the problem… how to make better a world…
Where fraud, deceit, and malice are mingled with
truth and sincerity.

              He broods and broods and broods and broods…
and broods and finally his brains dry up.
He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity…
and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…
to become a knight-errant, and sally forth…
to roam the world in search of adventures…
to right all wrongs, to mount a crusade…
to raise up the weak and those in need.
The Man of La Mancha

My ‘discovery’ of Don Quixote was the first step toward faith. The idea of living for an ideal beyond my own needs and wants. ‘The Doctor’ is another step in that faith journey. The Doctor is a Knight Errant, sallying forth to right wrongs–even though he might protest to the contrary.

Story enables us to see into different worlds, different ideas. Story allows us to experiment with new ways of living our lives. I think this is part of the reason that Jesus so often taught with stories. As we ‘listen’ to a story we automatically ‘see’ the story from a perspective not of our making; we ‘see’ the story from the perspective of the storyteller.

It is when we can see life from another perspective, our opinions about our own lives can change, or we can see where change might be desirable. I’ve been reminded in the last few days that one of the greatest gifts we can give to a person is to consistently listen to them, without being judgmental. We don’t have to agree with someone in order to listen to them; it’s alright to allow someone to think differently than you. Their life experience is different than yours; it’s entirely possible that you would agree with someone you disagree with; if your life had been the same as yours. I believe that one of the keys to effective listening is to try and place myself within the other person’s context; so that I continually ask myself, ‘would I have behaved that way, in their shoes?’ It can be frustrating when we honestly can’t imagine living someone else’s life experiences; the listening does not require that I change myself to think like someone else; I am simply viewing life through the stories they tell me.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.
where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy…
It is in giving that we are given.

St. Francis of Assisi






Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: