Tardis Theology #6: In which the Editor reveals the subtle ways of Satan’s Snares

ImageDo you ever get the feeling that something is off?  There’s something not quite right? That things aren’t quite what they should be?

The Doctor gets that feeling in the episode “The Long Game.”  He brings his companions 200,000 years into the future, but something’s wrong.  There’s something behind the scenes, corrupting the time, keeping progress from happening.

As the Doctor investigates, he finds that all the news media are being controlled by a single Editor.  This Editor, when confronted by the Doctor, explains his shadowy method of manipulation:

“Create a climate of fear and it’s easy to keep the borders closed. It’s just a matter of emphasis. The right word in the right broadcast repeated often enough can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote.”

Subtle control.  Secret, in the shadows.  Unseen, unnoticed.  A quiet tyranny playing on the fears of people.  The Editor reveals the depth of the wrongness when he introduces the Doctor to the intelligence behind the scheme, a large, demonic looking alien called the Jagrafess:

‘That thing’, as you put it, is in charge of the human race. For almost a hundred years, mankind has been shaped and guided, his knowledge and ambitions strictly controlled by its broadcast news, edited by my superior, your master and humanity’s guiding light, The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe.

And here is the biblical touchpoint.  The behind the scenes workings of Satan.

Yes Satan.

I know that in our rationalistic, science driven world, it’s something of a joke to talk about Satan.  I know that Satan is the bugaboo of innumerable horror movies, a cinema straw man whose very absurdity makes us disbelieve him.  Yes, I know a Satan-figure shows up in Season 2; we’ll tackle that episode later.

Work with me here.  Let’s look at the Bible.

Consider Satan’s dialogue with Eve.  He didn’t impress her with awesome powers of fire and brimstone.  He simply asked a question, “Did God really say….?”  How does Satan tempt Jesus?  More words:  “If you are….”

A careful word here.  A subtle suggestion there.  It doesn’t take too much, really.  We are so unaware of our thought streams, so inattentive to our minds.  We are so easily manipulated.

Have you ever had the experience of doing something relatively mindless – washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, folding laundry, whatever – and suddenly becoming aware of your thoughts?  “How did my mind get there?” you think, perhaps with a bit of shame because the thoughts were those of resentment, bitterness, anger, worry, or something else negative.  Then you trace back the stream of thoughts and are amazed at how easily you were led astray.

Have you ever tried to sit still and focus on prayer for longer than a few minutes, only to discover how quickly your mind strayed off onto fear, anxiety, or something worse?

Could it not be that there is some malevolent spiritual force that nudges us, tipping our minds away from where we need them focused?  Could it be that Satan actually operates in subtle ways?  A word here, a question there.  This is what CS Lewis explores so masterfully in The Screwtape Letters.

The good news is that Christ is more powerful than the darkness.  Christ, in redeeming us, saves us from the worst effects of this malevolent spiritual force.  And as we grow in relationship with Christ, He teaches us how to be aware of the subtle games of manipulation used by Satan.  He gives us strength to discipline our minds for action.


For Reflection:

Watch:  Doctor Who, Season 1, Episode 7 “The Long Game”

Read:  Matthew 4:1-11, I John 4:1-12

Reflect:

1) What criteria does John give for discerning whether a spirit is from God or not?

2) In what ways did Satan’s challenges to Jesus violate these criteria?

3) Reflect on a time when you became aware of subtle temptation in your mind?

4) Consider your daily thought processes.  How aware are you of your thoughts throughout the day?

5)  In your prayers, how can you bring your thought processes before the Lord.

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7 thoughts on “Tardis Theology #6: In which the Editor reveals the subtle ways of Satan’s Snares

  1. Great post, Russell–an insightful interpretation of this Dr. Who episode. I was nodding in agreement as I read about trains of thought that go astray and prayers that become derailed. For the former I try to get back on track with Philippians 4:8 as soon as I realize my thoughts have strayed. For the latter, I find that praying out loud or at least in a whisper is helpful. I’m still on the learning curve in both matters!

  2. I like that you mention CS Lewis since he was part of the original inspiration for the character of the Doctor. Would love to see the show base an episode on The Screwtape Letters – perhaps give the Master a protege.

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