Doctor Who is, in many ways, an inherently religious show. At least according to Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor himself, who’s played the Doctor longer than anyone else to date (a grand total of 172 episodes across eight seasons). I agree. In fact, I’d argue one of the many, many reasons Doctor Who has been around for nearly sixty years is because it does what religions often do and we, by nature, are drawn to such stories. By this I mean it addresses the fundamental questions of human existence and invites viewers to dialogue with these questions of meaning, purpose, morality, and the like. It offers hope, even when such stories are out of vogue. Most of all, its central catechesis is to be kind. Religions, when they are operating at their best, call us to do the same as they seek to connect us to the Divine and to each other. However, religion doesn’t always operate at its best and this can lead to confusing conflations of our ideas of “good,” “evil,” and “God.” “The Face of Evil,” the fourth serial of Series Fourteen of Classic Doctor Who, brilliantly explores the dangers of conflating the role of religion with the will of God.
Doctor Who, “Can You Hear Me?,” and the Nightmares of (More) Pandemic Teaching
A little over a year ago I wrote a piece reflecting on the seemingly unbearable struggles of pandemic teaching. At the time, I used Tony Stark’s journey through Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame as my frame to help me understand what I was going through and all I was feeling. Writing it was very personal and deeply cathartic. In the end, I survived last year! I didn’t quit! I even managed to find incredible beauty in all the struggle, too. Now I’m a month and a half into a new school year and, well, I thought it would be easier. Yet I find myself pulled down in this dispiriting emotional mire once more. This time Doctor Who offers a more apt lens to frame my experience. Given today is World Mental Health Day – and we’re all struggling in our own ways and we all deserve to be heard and validated in those struggles – sharing this seemed appropriate. When the school year returned, I needed the Doctor. I still do. I think we all do.
Iron Man, Endgame, and the Thanos of Pandemic Teaching
Amidst the sea of emotions pandemic teaching brings, I find myself often thinking of Tony Stark’s character arc through Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. So the other day, to explore these thoughts (and avoid thinking only of school once I was home), I decided to rewatch both films back to back. I realized two things. First, I was very critical of Avengers: Infinity War when it first came out and, while I stand by my critiques of the glaring plot holes throughout, I grant the film works much better when watched with Avengers: Endgame. On its own, it’s disappointing. But as the first half of a six hour movie, it’s far more enjoyable. Second, Tony Stark’s journey is a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now. Or, so as to not universalize my feelings for every teacher everywhere, Tony Stark’s journey serves as a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now for me. Would you like to know what pandemic teaching is like? Well, if you’ve seen Infinity War and Endgame it turns out you already kinda know. Continue reading
Star Wars in the Classroom
Remember a month ago when Hyperspace PodBlast had Hannah and I on to discuss our Star Wars class? I know! It was so fun! Well Charlotte and Caitlin of Skytalkers: A Star Wars Podcast heard the episode and they invited Hannah and I on their show to talk about our class too! Yay! We had so much fun chatting with them and, if you’re in the mood for some great Star Wars banter, you should totally click this link and head on over to Skytalkers to give it a listen. BONUS – you’ll also learn which five people associated with Star Wars (fictional or real, alive or dead) Hannah and I would invite to a dinner party!! Um, what are you still doing here? It’s time to click the link and enjoy the show! Continue reading
Teaching Star Wars 101
I’ll keep this short so you’ll actually click the link. On Monday, Hannah and I were guests on Hyperspace PodBlast (A Star Wars Podcast) to talk about our Star Wars & Contemporary Myth class! For real. How amazing is that?!? We had so much fun with Bryan and Shelby and it was a nerd dream come true. So please (pretty please), click on this link and bounce over to their site so you can hear us all geek out about Star Wars and talk about the nature of our course! Best. Day. Ever :). Continue reading
Unrealistic Career Expectations – Indiana Jones
I love being a teacher; I really do. I consider myself incredibly blessed to be able to do what I do every day – to work where I work, to teach what I teach, and to see my students wrestle with the BIG questions the study of Theology demands of us – if we take it seriously – each and every day. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to leave my job for another (unless I could be a Ghostbuster (and I mean an actual Ghostbuster, with a proton pack, PKE meter, traps, and a cool car like the Ecto-1 NOT one of those lame “ghost hunters” on Discovery or TLC with infrared cameras and a stupid compass)). However, the profession of teaching is often presented (both cinematically and literarily) in…let’s say less than accurate ways. And, while I may dig his hat and love his adventures, there are few worse offenders of this than Indiana Jones. So Indy, let’s see how you misled a young Michael about what his future career would entail. Continue reading
Really, Your Snoke Theory Doesn’t Suck
Last week Jeff wrote a post titled “Your Snoke Theory Doesn’t Suck.” I read it. I appreciated it. I felt it was something that needed to be said. I thought nothing else of it…then the internet exploded. Well, exploded is a strong word but it certainly elicited some surprisingly strong reactions. As I’ve followed some of the Twitter firestorm, it started to bother me. So here we are. I could be grading but my conscience was urging me to write instead. I guess I’ll just be up late finishing those papers! Let me say clearly, whoever you are, wherever you are out there in Star Wars land, I’m reaffirming what Jeff’s already said – really, your Snoke Theory doesn’t suck. Continue reading