Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes
The original Star Trek series’ penultimate episode (“All Our Yesterdays”) had a compelling plot about how the residents of a planet chose to save themselves from impending doom from when their star would go nova. There were disks within a library enabling travel through a machine to any point in the planet’s past. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, the show’s leading trio of protagonists, inadvertently got sent back into two different epochs of the planet’s history. Fortunately for the three, their bodies had not been “prepared” for living in the past. Thus, they could return. No sooner were they able to return to the library that the librarian, Atok, leaped into the machine just in time to be spared the planet’s destruction. Kirk signaled the ship to transport himself, the science officer, and the doctor to theEnterprise. In the remastered version, the star explodes, and you see the planet they had been on being dissolved as the ship moves away and the end credits begin to roll.
“All Our Yesterdays” is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes. It is a favorite since I wonder what it might be like to live within our planet’s past. If I could pick up with my life in the 1950s, would I do it? Before watching a program about the CIA’s overthrow of a legitimate Guatemalan government in the 1950s to help an American banana company, I might have said, “yes.” It turns out that my idealized slice of Americana had a moldy underside. I had seen other signs of this, of course. However, I still clung to the idea that the 1950s HAD to be better than today. The politicians of the 1950s were just as “swampy” as they are today, though. The only difference was how the press chose to cover them. And even if there were the “June and Ward Cleavers” of America, vis-à-vis Leave It to Beaver, there were likewise the Rosa Parkses having to sit at the back of the bus and drink from separate water fountains because of skin color. As Solomon reminds us, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1.9 NASB1995). That truth means that there truly was no ideal time for fallen humanity, despite our desire for there to be so.
Psychology suggests we indulge in nostalgia more often when we are depressed than happy. We use nostalgia like medicine to treat our sadness. However, like the “wrong” flu shot, e.g., Type A vaccine for a Type B outbreak, it may not rectify the problem but make it more bearable. Since nostalgia does not “solve” our problems, it is incredible that it becomes a panacea for some. Such cannot be said of the Apostle Paul, though. The Apostle Paul was not one to indulge nostalgia even when reflecting on his past (Philippians3.2-11). He considered his past achievements under Judaism as rubbish (8). Paul told us to strive to live in the future of a better tomorrow instead (Philippians 3.12-14). Paul said that his “today” belonged to the church’s work (Philippians 1.21-26). And Paul encouraged us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1).
It may be that all our yesterdays may seem sweeter to us but may we ever “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.14 NASB1995).