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Torchwood – the impact of story July 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Entertainment, Media.
Tags: , , , ,

torchwoodI have just finished catching up with Torchwood this week – a highle enjoyable series for sci-fi fans. It was fascinating to see some really interesting issues being raised through the programme. In many ways this is how issues are raised in contemporary society

Some particular issues were

1. Live forever – Capt. Jack Harkness can’t die and comes back to life. In the end this ability means that he sees hundreds of lifetimes and in the end he can’t cope with what he sees

2. Worth – when requested to give up 10% of the world’s children, the UK chooses its 10% by taking the bottom 10% schools from the league tables. So do we think that children who are more academic are worth more than those who don’t achieve in this way. Even if we don’t think that do we treat them differently?

3. Sacrifice – the government have to choose between sacrificing millions of children or the whole human race. Jack has to choose between the death of his own grandson and the death of the children. It seems that one being sacrificed for the manyis a theme in contemporary story. Of course we have the ultimate example of that in the death of Jesus

But these themes (and others including friendship, family etc) are raised in these stories. How do we help young people develop the tools to think critically about these issues and engage biblically? If we don’t then they will remain passive consumers of the entertainment industry and their lives will be shaped by those many stories



1. Sarah B - July 14, 2009

When the minister was proposing that the ‘bottom 10%’ should be given, two things sprang to mind – the quote on the Statue of Liberty, which says something like ‘give me your poor and your hungry and your destitute’ AND Jesus saying something like ‘come to me all who are hungry, tired, worn out, weighed down and I will give you rest’.

Those 10% are important, and the way they are treated is perhaps one of the greatest indictments of so-called civilized societies today. Perhaps if we really are trying to relect the love, grace and mercy of God in our own lives, we need to take a long hard look at decisions made in our name; and then stand up, shout out and challenge them…

2. Ruth Thomas - July 14, 2009

I’ve never seen the programme, but in the hypothetical siituation of needing to choose 10% of the nation’s children to be sacrificed, how would you choose? The Romans did something similar when they felt the need to punish a mutinous legion: it was called decimation and involved drawing lots, with one in ten lots indicating that the soldier who drew it was to be stoned to death. Hmm, lovely. Is “leaving it to chance” any fairer than a measure of academic ability? Would it be any better to choose the 10% with the worst sporting record, or least attractive faces, or (to get closer to reality) those living in the poorest countries? Thankfully we rarely have to make such an active decision — we can simply accept the current set of injustices…

Sarah B - July 24, 2009

Of course there is no fair way to pick any 10%…any system we came up with would reflect our culture, values and prejudices, and therefore a different 10% would be picked by any group making that kind of decision.
Fortunately, this situation was hypothetical, but things like healthcare rationing – since we don’t have infinite resources – are made using similar criteria everyday of the week. This is why the media bangs on about ‘postcode lotteries’, as different health authorities use different criteria to decide how to spend their budgets. This means anyone who falls into their ‘10%’ will find it unfair if the authority next door do offer treatment.

I would say our inability to find universally acceptable criteria for making these kinds of decisions also shows why judgement is better left in the hands of God. Court officers (Judges, Magistrates, Juries) are bound by structured decision making in Courts of Law, but when it comes to ultimate judgement, how dare any of us think we have te knowledge and wisdom to even comment, let alone decide someone else’s eternal destiny?…

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