We are lifelong aficionados of Star Trek and were introducing two of our friends to the joys of this science-fiction series. In order to do this, we have been reliving previous Star Trek films, not only from the current ‘prequels’ but from the original series. As I watched Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country again (the last film featuring the cast of the original TV series), I was struck by the number of literary allusions in that film, including, of course, the title.
The title is a quote from a very famous speech in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, the famous ‘To be or not to be’ speech which goes on to say:
“But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will…” (Shakespeare, ‘Hamlet’, Act III, Sc i)
In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet is talking about death; in the Star Trek film, this phrase is used to represent the future and all that lies ahead (including a future where Klingons and humans can co-exist in peace.) But the phrase itself, ‘the undiscovered country’, struck a chord with me because of my musings about Abraham, who was called by God to set forth on a journey ‘to the land I will show you’ (Gen 12:1). Hebrews 11:8 says ‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.’ There is a sense of adventure and uncertainty involved in this kind of journey, which Star Trek perhaps best captures through its oft-repeated mantra (including the hotly debated split infinitive!):
‘Space: The final frontier
These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise.
Its 5 year mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life and new civilisations
To boldly go where no man has gone before.’ (quoted at the start of each TV episode of Star Trek)
As we continue our own journey of faith, let’s step forth boldly in the confidence that God is with us. We have no reason to fear and dread this journey (even the ‘undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns’, for Jesus has, by His death, navigated that journey too and is able to free all those who have been held in slavery because of their fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). We have plenty of new discoveries to make in God!