For this week’s Monday Media Meltdown, we start out with a trivia question: What do all of the above characters have in common?
The answer, which is obvious to Brit sci-fi lovers, is the title of this post—they have all been “traveling with the Doctor.”
For the unintiated, “the Doctor” refers to Doctor Who, the much-beloved BBC sci-fi series. The Doctor is always galavanting about saving the world and picking up various companions in tow, as the above pictures attest.
So, our next question is: How could you tell if someone had been traveling with the Doctor?
This question came to me one evening while I watched the famed “Five Doctors” episode along with “The Unquiet Dead” episode of the 2005 season, giving me six doctors and a whole slew of companions in one evening. As I was in my mini Who marathon, I asked myself: If you would travel with the Doctor, what would characterize your life?
First, it would be a life of adventure. Life is never boring for long around the Doctor. There are always new experiences, new places, and exciting events. In fact, he usually isn’t happy unless something is going on. In “The Unquiet Dead” episode he & Rose are walking down a quiet street when screams & mayhem erupt in the distance. With a smile on his face the Doctor announces, “That’s more like it!”
Second, it would be a life of battling against evil. The Doctor isn’t a vigilante looking to pick a fight, but he will not walk away when people need to be saved. He has laid his life on the line or even given it up to save others in nearly every episode. The people who travel with him both know it, expect it, and join him in it. In “The Unquiet Dead” the Doctor & Rose are facing imminent death at the hands of some evil aliens (as usual!), and she faces him and says, “We’re going out fighting?” He nods his head, she grasps his hand, and asks the single word, “Together?”
Which brings us to the third aspect of traveling with the Doctor, enriching relationship. Yes, his interpersonal skills need some work, but in the end his companions stick around not for the adventure or even the battle, but because of their relationship with him. He makes no apology that to travel with him can be dangerous, but he also revels in its excitement and there is something in him that wants to share the journey. In the same episode, after the Doctor describes the wonders of traveling through space & time, Rose impishly adds, “Better with two!”
These three marks of traveling with the Doctor, adventure, battle, and relationship, are profound and archetypal human needs for all of us (those of you who are John Eldredge fans may recognize them from his writings). They are part of the wide and enduring appeal of the series, and they are always present within the stories.
Which brings us to the third hypothetical question (hypothethical since the Doctor isn’t real): What if someone said, “Yes, I’ve traveled a long time with the Doctor, I know him well, but never had an adventure, never battled against evil, and never really struck up a relationship.”? I would be likely to respond, “If you’ve never experienced any of that, you’ve never really traveled with the Doctor.”
Which brings me to the point of this extended metaphor: If I consider myself a Christian, if I say I am traveling with Christ, then I am not in the company of a time-lord, but with the Lord of Time, not some fanciful fiction but with the ultimate reality, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
If I’m truly a follower of Christ, staying close by Him, shouldn’t my life be marked by adventure every day as I serve and love and teach and minister in His name? Shouldn’t my life be marked by battling against evil, whether social injustice or people bound by sin or sickness? Shouldn’t my life be marked by life-transforming relationship, both with Christ and with my brothers and sisters in Christ?
But how many people who name the name of Christ can truthfully say they are living a life of adventure, of battle, of transforming relationships? Too few, I’m afraid. How about you?