Where We Have Gone Before
Star Trek Into and Out of Darkness
Keywords:implicit religion, science fiction, Star Trek, Secular Humanism, 9/11 response
AbstractStar Trek functions as a religion though its universe is explicitly humanistic and secular. Star Trek Into Darkness offers an interpretation of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the creators may not have intended the film as a religious text, it offers an analysis of what happened, a set of responses, pointing to a path forward, incorporating those events into the Star Trek (and ultimately our own) universe. I will offer a close reading of Star Trek Into Darkness that explores the negotiation of what it means to be human and our place in the post- 9/11 world. My thesis is that the film can be read as implicitly religious in two senses. First, it offers a vision of what is human in the face of questions of terrorism and pre-emptive strikes, duty and honor, life and death. Second, it offers viewers a reflection on possible responses to 9/11 and the aftermath, pointing forward. It is a secular homily on being human in the past, present, and future.
Alexander, David. 1991. “Philosophy Sphere—Humanist Interview with Gene Roddenberry.” PhilosophySphere.com. http://web.archive.org/web/20070621142925/http://www.philosophysphere.com/humanist.html.
Bailey, Edward. 1998. “‘Implicit Religion’: What Might That Be?” Implicit Religion 1: 9–22.
Barr, Maureen S. 2011. “Fantastic Language/Political Reporting The Postcolonial Science Fiction Illocutionary Force Is with Us.” In The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction, edited by Masood Ashraf Raja, Jason W. Ellis and Swaralipi Nandi, 118–210. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy 31. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
Chidester, David. 2005. Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Csicsery-Ronay, Jr, Istvan. 2009. “Empire.” In The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint, 362–372. Reprint edition. London; New York: Routledge.
———. 2011. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Delany, Samuel R. 2009. The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Edited by Matthew Cheney. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Hemmingson, Michael. 2009. Star Trek: A Post-Structural Critique of the Original Series. San Bernardino, CA.: Borgo Press.
Jameson, Fredric. 2007. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. London: Verso.
Jindra, Michael. 2005. “It’s about Faith in Our Future: Star Trek Fandom as Cultural Religion.” In Religion and Popular Culture in America, edited by Bruce David Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan, Revised Edition, 159–173. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Martin-Albo, Angel Mateos-Aparicio. 2011. “The Frontier Myth and Racial Politics.” In The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction, edited by Masood Ashraf Raja, Jason W. Ellis, and Swaralipi Nandi, 188–210. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy 31. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
McVeigh, Stephen. 2010. “The Kirk Doctrine: The Care and Repair of Archetypal Heroic Leadership in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek.” In Star Trek as Myth: Essays on Symbol and Archetype at the Final Frontier, edited by Matthew Wilhelm Kapell, 197–212. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
Porter, Jennifer. 2009. “Implicit Religion in Popular Culture: The Religious Dimensions of Fan Communities.” Implicit Religion 12 (3): 271–280.