Anyone who cares to really know me knows that I am more than a Star Trek “fan;” I’m a little bit of a nerd/geek when it comes to the entire collection, beginning back in 1966. Out of all of the characters, I always seemed to gravitate toward the Vulcans, a people from the planet Vulcan (of course). Of the many Vulcans that the series produced, Mr. Spock (played at the time by Leonard Nimoy) was my favorite. Mr. Spock helped me find Jesus.
During a difficult season in my young life I experienced a lot of emotion, about which I did not know what to do. Out of some personal pain, confusion, fear, and unwanted anger, I was in a rather bad place, feeling very emotional and out of control. Having been somewhat raised in the church, I understood some aspects of my faith, but was honestly too young to live it out.
But there was Mr. Spock. He was there, in my home, consistently, week after week, coming up with solutions to life’s problems. I became intrigued by his faith, his mannerisms, and especially the way he worded his logical philosophy of life. Probably best known for his distorted hand and the words, “Live long and prosper,” I studied Mr. Spock and I learned from him. And the more I learned from him, the more my own difficulties became more understandable in my mind. In fact, my own hunger for theology came out of Star Trek. Spock was so disciplined (a personal and cultural discipline of self-control, a very biblical concept) and so unflappable. If I was going to make it through that part of my life I believed I needed all of that…and more.
At first I simply began imitating Mr. Spock. I never pretended I was him, but I began to imitate his attitudes and mannerisms. It helped me deal with people and emotions that I didn’t want to deal with at the time. I learned patience and self-control and how to not let other people’s negativity and toxicity affect me as much as it otherwise could have. Imitation became practicing ideals and principles of Vulcan religion/philosophy, all the while I was noticing an amazing comparison to Judeo-Christian ethics and religion. What the God of the Bible had to offer, the God of Judaism and Christianity, became a life preserver for a drowning little soul. Little did I know there was a reason for that.
“If I was going to make it through that part of my life I believed I needed all of that…and more.”
Those who know me, whether now or since childhood, now understand why I’ve never been any good at humor and why I’m comfortable being a bit “stoic.” I worked so hard at a real version of Vulcan philosophy as a kid. I wasn’t and am not a prude — just trying to be disciplined. Controlling emotion is hard work.
All of the things I have learned over the years from Mr. Spock helped me cling to God through that time, and I still see elements of that learning lived out in my life today. The God of the universe is my rock, my refuge, and my comfort, in part because of a Vulcan science officer named Spock.
What I learned as I grew older is that the characteristics of the Vulcans were developed out of Ancient Hebrew/Jewish tradition, from which Leonard Nimoy came as a boy. The hand gesture comes from a Jewish blessing by a priest, according to Nimoy. Other Vulcan characteristics come from Stoic philosophy.
What made the difference for me? What was it about Spock’s tutelage that helped put my Christian faith together for me? It all came together with one Vulcan phrase that is the most biblical of anything I’ve ever heard when it comes to man’s salvation: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” I still get choked up when I say (or even type) those words. That was the very decision that Jesus made before he was crucified; not with those words, but it was the conclusion he came to. It was that decision, that understanding, that took him from a place of bodily resistance, “Father…let this cup pass from me…” to a place of obedience, “Yet not my will, but thine be done…” He realized that man was hopeless without an atoning sacrifice and he knew no one else was qualified for the job. That made all the difference in the world to me when I understood that.
Even now, having made a decision for Christ some 33 years ago, I find myself trying to understand life from a different perspective — a Christian perspective, certainly, but looking at life from more of a philosophical stance at the same time I view life from a theological one. I’m still learning to be focused on love, being tolerant about the right things and intolerant of the wrong things; I’ve learned how to be like the tree — firm but flexible. I study with my focus on the Word of God with an eye to the cross and Jesus specifically. I don’t think it is coincidental that I have spent my entire adult life attempting to help others find their path too.
As silly as it may seem, I’m thankful for that difficult time in my life; that I was able to connect to God in what I believe was a very unique way. I’m thankful that I have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to help me with every part of my life and I’m thankful for a TV series that was taken off the air after only 3 seasons, only to become one of the largest media franchises in entertainment history. All I can wish for you on your journey is Shalom! In Vulcan, that is, “Live long and prosper…Peace and long life…”