Questioning the Almighty: What does God need with a starship?
OK, so I must confess that I’m a Trekkie from way back. I could quote you lines from many Star Trek episodes and movies but my absolute all time favorite Star Trek scene happens to be from the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In this particular passage the crew has traveled (with much action and many adventures, of course!) to a planet beyond the Great Barrier and the landing party has finally come face to face with what appears to be the Face of God–or at least an Old Testament prophet sort of giant talking head. “God” is in the process of welcoming his “children” and asks that they bring their spaceship just a little closer to the planet when a hand goes up from the back of the group. The ensuing dialogue goes something like this:
Kirk: Excuse me… Excuse me… I just wanted to ask a question. What does God need with a starship?
McCoy: Jim, what are you doing?
Kirk: I’m asking a question.
“God”: Who is this creature?
Kirk: Who am I? Don’t you know? Aren’t you God?
Sybok: He has his doubts.
“God”: You doubt me?
Kirk: I seek proof.
This past Sunday was the second Sunday of Easter and most of us heard again the story of Thomas and Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances recorded in John’s Gospel. Because Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus first appears, he does not believe their witness, saying instead that unless he sees the mark of the nails in Jesus’ hands and puts his hand in his side, he will not believe.
He seeks proof.
Thomas is commonly known as “Doubting Thomas,” though the label is misleading. After all, having found the proof he needed, Thomas was himself a powerful witness and went on to preach the Gospel as far away as Persia and India. He is the patron saint of architects, builders, construction workers, masons, and stonecutters–solid professions all. Proof, perhaps, of the foundation of faith established by his relationship with Jesus, a relationship strong enough to tolerate questions. Said Pope St Gregory the Great of Thomas: “Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed?….In a marvelous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief.”
And what does all this have to do with campus ministry? One of the great offerings we have as the church on campus is to create an environment where it is safe to ask questions. What better place to find a community in which you can wonder, explore, seek proof, “touch and believe”? Today’s college campus in fact seems to be a perfect place to find healing for our “wounds of disbelief” and to build a strong foundation of faith.
As always, thanks for reading. More to come….