London, 1941. The Blitz. Britain’s darkest and finest hour.
A dramatic setting for one of the finer pieces of television storytelling. This two part series has received accolades from fans and critics, consistently ranking in the top 10 episodes of all time. It also won the 2006 Hugo award for short form dramatic presentation. It is both frightening and funny, action packed and thoughtful. Christopher Eccleston enjoys some of his finest moments as the Doctor.
Early in the tale, the Doctor meets Nancy, a courageous street urchin who watches over all the other orphans wandering the streets of London, keeping them safe and making sure they get food. The Doctor quickly discerns that Nancy knows secrets about the eerie alien-affected child that prowls the streets of London. Nancy takes the Doctor to the barricaded hospital where he can learn more. She then says she has to go to get some more food for the street children.
The Doctor looks at this strong young woman and reflects on how mighty things come in small packages:
“Amazing…. 1941. Right now, not very far from here, the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it. Nothing. Until one tiny damp little island says ‘No. No, not here.’ [Chuckles] A mouse in front of a lion. You’re amazing, the lot of you….”
It’s a beautiful line. Nancy, the underdog urchin, becomes emblematic of the fighting spirit of England, alone against all odds. The Doctor concludes his speech, saying, “Off you go then, do what you’ve got to do. Save the world”
This reminds me of how God seems to delight in using that which is small to accomplish great things. We see it in the Mosaic Law:
“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
The might of Israel is not founded in their size or resources, but in the overwhelming love of the Lord for them.
This delight in using the small and unregarded becomes a pattern in scripture. Jesus doesn’t choose the powerful and the wealthy to be a part of his inner circle: he chooses fishermen, rabble rousers, and outcasts. Paul comments on how the early Christian communities were not made up of the wise and influential:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (I Corinthians 1:26-29)
Many times it is the weak who have the clearest view of God’s might. It is often the poor who have the richest understanding of God’s goodness. And the outcasts are at times the ones who experience the closest, most intimate relationship with the living God.
Watch: Doctor Who, Season 1, Episode 9 “The Empty Child”
Read: Matthew 20:20-28, I Corinthians 1:18-31
1) Compare Jesus’ instruction about “being first” with what is often portrayed in media. What differences do you see.
2) How does Jesus’ humility teach you to about respecting others in humble position? How does it teach you to grow in humility?
3) In what ways do you see the wisdom of the world being made foolish by God?
4) Jesus is our wisdom. How does that truth shape how we assess others? How does it shape how we assess what happens to us? How does it shape what we choose to do?
3 thoughts on “Tardis Theology #8 – In Which The Doctor Reflects On The Might Of The Small”
I love this! Thankyou xo…..it’s a big “take that!” to everyone who has told me I will never have any impact on the world because I’m (currently) “little”.
Thanks so much. Don’t let anyone discount you based off of your size or status! God shaped you and has gifted you to make an impact. Best Wishes!
The best episode from the first season of Nu Who. (Blessed to be a Geek)