Aliens, Sex and Catholicism

Or, as the Author over there put it: Theology of the Body, Rishathra and the Cyberpope.
Warning: Mr. Wright’s style can be a bit startling until you’re use to it, just keep in mind: if he’s totally outrageous, he’s probably joking.   It also helps if you’ve got a love for classic pulp science fiction and a sense of the absurd.

That said, there are a lot of really good comments, a good portion from a Catholic perspective.  If you do post a comment, know he has total moderation and a family– it  may take a while for them to be approved!

(Rishathra is a made-up word for intercourse with intelligent humanoids that aren’t your own species.)

29 Responses to Aliens, Sex and Catholicism

  • Happens, with science fiction.

    Some people enjoy speculative fiction, some don’t.

  • Foxfire:
    My dad was a storyteller, every night to us, his children, dad made it up as he went along. Dad had The Pirates of the Carribean and Harry Potter beat. God rest his soul.

  • May there be more like him!

  • Foxfier, Foxfier, Foxfier. God love you

  • Somebody’s gotta.

    (….no, I can’t resist a straight line like that.)

  • I was going to post, “What a waste of my time!” Instead I”ll say ” It’s just not my cup of tea.”

  • Well, as a Trekkie I really enjoyed this. Science fiction was a childhood favorite of mine, and this was funny!

  • BTW, it was Larry Niven in his Ringworld series (which also I loved reading and re-reading) who coined the term Rishathra. I don’t think it was ever used on Star Trek. But Vulcan Ambassador Sarek did marry human Amanda Grayson who bore him the son Spock.

  • So, technically speaking, Sarek and Amanda were not interspecie, but intraspecie. One common definition of different species is that they cannot procreate. It therefore would not be Rishathra.

  • Interesting clarification, C. Matt. However, Humans and Vulcans are different species (e.g., the former having iron in its hemoglobin and the latter have copper) whereas Vulcans and Romulans are the same species, but different offshoots or races. So in the case of Human-Vulcan parings, inter-species is appropriate (with the possibility of viable off-spring), but in the case of Vulcan-Romulan, intra-species is likely the accepted term (with still viable off-spring). But I really don’t know. We may have to find a Vulcanologist to ask!

  • Star Trek always struck me as the pinnacle of Enlightenment atheism, which is very common in science fiction. As we understand more and more, we’ll credit fewer and fewer things to God, until religion will die out (according to the narrative). It didn’t make me flee from science fiction, but it did grow tiring.

  • Karl-
    generally a good choice! I figure 95% of EVERYTHING would be a waste of my time, but is at least enjoyable and harmless for others.

    Paul and c Matt-
    I have a LOT of fun with that, since we’ve got at least one cannon example of a quarter-Vulcanoid, and at least one half-Romulan that was made without reproductive “help.” (Random redshirt in TNG who lost his clearance for a Romulan grandfather and AU Tasha Yar’s daughter, the Romulan commander.)

    The really fun thing? ….Ever try to get someone to define “species”? The old definition was that they could make fertile offspring, with some quirks (similar to how we consider tomatoes a vegetable). More recently, the definition is more like “are a different genetic group that reliably makes offspring that look the same.” Which would be fine, but would classify different breeds of cow as different species without the unwritten rule of them being different “enough.”
    I didn’t realize how plastic the definition was until I found out about the arguments about wolves/dogs/coyotes. Turns out that “red wolves” are just mostly-coyote wolves, genetically, and the “coyotes” up north are mostly wolf….

    So part of the definition of “different species” might include “possibly fertile but don’t generally interbreed because of different mating practices or other difficulties.” (Like coyotes usually eating dogs.)

    Obviously, can’t use that for PEOPLE!

  • Pinky-
    I got tired of it, too, until I started playing mind-games– there are bits of religion all over the place, they’re just kind of smashed, and even though the series was designed to reject God, the demands of story keep slipping him back in there.
    (Such as all the half-aliens…. wow, I just realized that from TOS through Voy, every single series had a half alien main character, at least sort of; I thought DS9 didn’t, but Sisko’s mom was a human embodying a wormhole alien, so he counts.)

    So, my current theory? We only see StarFleet, the highly public stuff– the Church has gone underground. The Vulcan Pope is coming!

  • I always respected Babylon 5 for depicting religion. The creator of the show was an atheist, but he didn’t believe that the instinct toward religion would disappear.

  • Pinky is correct. I loved Babylon 5 especially for its respectful and realistic depiction of religion.

  • Pinky wrote:

    “Star Trek always struck me as the pinnacle of Enlightenment atheism, which is very common in science fiction. As we understand more and more, we’ll credit fewer and fewer things to God, until religion will die out (according to the narrative). It didn’t make me flee from science fiction, but it did grow tiring.”

    He’s 100% right. Capt Picard once told Q that humanity had outgrown its need for gods. That turned me right off.

    But the original Star Trek once had an episode in which the Enterprise visits a world where the Roman Empire never died, and only in its equivalent to the 20th century did news of the “Son” spread. When Enterprise people heard of this religion of the “Son”, they thought it was “Sun” worship (why the Romans weren’t speaking Latin but English isn’t explained because the difference between Filius Dei and Sol Dei is obvious to the ears). At the end, when Uhura explains everything, Kirk says that now the religion of peace and universal brotherhood will overthrow their Caesars. Ignored is the obvious Crucifixion – the Paschal Lamb slain to save sinners. It’s all about social justice and the common good. Typical and disappointing, but expected.

  • He’s 100% right. Capt Picard once told Q that humanity had outgrown its need for gods. That turned me right off.

    That sort of thing is what prodded me to think that religion was suppressed– there are a lot like it, but it’s all slogans without form. Kind of like how there’s “no money” in the future…officially. Went right out the window as soon as you got any distance from total Federation control.
    Kind of like how we’re going in politics these days, with any allusion to religion being scrubbed– even “AD”– with the actual form remaining. A new coat of paint doesn’t change much!

  • Foxfier – That’s a pretty dark interpretation of the Federation – an interstellar army that censors thought. It’s definitely not what the show’s writers had in mind, but it would make for good fanfiction.

  • “That’s a pretty dark interpretation of the Federation – an interstellar army that censors thought. It’s definitely not what the show’s writers had in mind…”

    But that’s essentially the upshot of Picard’s comment to Q that the people in the Federation had outgrown the concept of gods. If you believe in God, then you are old, outmoded, barbaric, uncivilized, etc. The same thing with money – the Federation has outgrown that – we all work for free, each receiving according to his need and giving according to his ability. I remember when Commander Riker explained that to the Ferengi who were the 23rd century outmoded capitalists that Picard derided as Yankee pirates.

    Wait! Didn’t someone say that about receiving according to need and giving according to ability in the 1800s? It’s all Marxism – er, dressed up, techno-fantasy liberalism – in the setting of Sci-Fi.

  • Pinky-
    Not so much censoring and promoting their own, pro-unity theories– it’s a voluntary club, after all. You can’t even apply as a planet unless you’ve got a one-world gov’t.

    I prefer to take an optimistic view and figure 1) it’s easy to travel, so those who disagree with Federation policy or mots world governments just leave, and 2) there are non-Federation planets, entire flotillas of ships, all the normal folks who keep stuff going. Anybody remember Mudd from the original series? Or Worf’s brother?

    Of course, it’s not much of a choice for the folks who are on a boarder with the folks that the Federation are fighting (poorly) with, but the Klingon Empire wouldn’t be very comfortable no matter who their neighbors were!

    Of course, joining the Federation can be pretty dangerous if you’re in the way of peace, as the Marquis figured out when their systems were traded over to Cardassian management. (Can you say “fascists”? They really have replaced religion with The State, and Garak is their roving preacher….)

    Like Paul touches on– it’s liberalism; Marxism that doesn’t actually require that people be forced to work to get stuff. Replicators set that up. It’s just for extra stuff, or things that are outside of The System, that people need credits/money/barter.
    It probably helps that DS9 was the first series I saw when I was old enough to really think about what stuff entailed, and they even had to deal with martial law on Earth. (for good reason, but still) The Federation’s interaction with the Russians–oops, I mean Romulans– especially reminded me of real world liberal reactions. /twee

    I accept only the vague notion of a lot of the Earth/Federation stuff from DS9 in part because some of it contradicts itself and some of it is just really bad writing, but the gist is there.

  • In my defense, I’m not thinking this stuff up on the fly, nor do I set for hours watching the show– I’ve been “working” on a fanfic about this for roughly a decade. It’s what I do when I’m doing something that requires attention but not thought. (biggest problem: I can’t make a story-arc to save my life, and when I do write scenes down it’s usually 90% dialog and some repetitive actions. My scene descriptions are best left unconsidered.)

  • Michael Eddington’s, a leader of the maquis, speech in which he presented a rather damning view of the Federation:

    “Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We’ve never harmed you. And yet we’re constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands, and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we’ve left the Federation, and that’s the one thing you can’t accept. Nobody leaves Paradise, everyone should want to be in the Federation! Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You’re only sending them replicators because one day, they can take their rightful place on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways, you’re even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You’re more insidious, you assimilate people – and they don’t even know it.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRxPjJ8VlyE

    Gene Roddenberry was of course a liberal and he had the usual liberal view that Man could ultimately create a terrestrial paradise. Conservatives, and Christians, understand this is the sheerest hubris. For Roddenberry the Federation was perfect. Imperfection came from outside of the Federation. Once Roddenberry died Deep Space Nine and Voyager were able to explore storylines where the Federation was shown as less than perfect and filled with fallible humans.

  • Foxfier – No need to defend yourself. It’s interesting. I take it that you see the Federation as something like the Alliance on Firefly?

  • Michael Eddington’s speech could well apply to liberal America.

  • Actually, now you’ve got me thinking about it. Weren’t there earlier hints that the Federation liked power a bit too much, like maybe on TNG and the second movie, where they co-opted scientific discoveries?

  • Donald-
    thank you! I fried my speakers yesterday– the magic smoke came out while the girls and I were listening to the radio online and cleaning house– so I can’t really look up any videos for stuff, even if I had the patience to set and watch them. I’m going largely off of memory…although I suppose I could go get the wedding gift my in-laws gave us and actually LOOK at the DVDs!

    I spent a lot of time thinking about the Federation and Marquis when I was writing a character in a play-by-email sim, too– it was set on a Cardassian space station, post-Dominion War, and my character was a Cardassian. (Only ones I could work up a lot of sympathy for, too– former POW to the Federation, which is not a bad gig, especially if you’re injured.) Figuring out how to make the characters make sense as a young teen probably warped my thinking permanently.

    Pinky-
    usually, if I defend myself on that sort of thing, I feel a bit guilty about the amount of implied time and effort. Since I feel guilty about swatting a fly on up, I end up explaining a lot! Just assume I have a smile on my face. :^)

    As for Firefly, I haven’t really watched it as closely as Star Trek, but I see it as a good version of the Alliance as I understand it. Not perfect, any more than the Alliance was pure evil, but a sort of extrapolation of our gov’t if it was controlled by folks who thought the way that a lot of Fleeters talk. Much more into soft power, too, with a few individual exceptions for abuse of power.

    They do stuff For Your Own Good. That’s a thing that’s pretty easy to pervert.
    There was even that two-part episode where evil parisite aliens realized this and tried to take over… either SF or the Federation, can’t remember.

    One of the things that keeps the Federation as basically good guys is the way that they have a lot of rules that are way too broad to be good (You can’t mess with pre-contact civilizations.) where violations are ignored if you do the right thing. (Like when they saved a planet’s population from a supernova sun; pretty sure that was the second ep where Worf’s brother showed up.) Reminds me of the US military being responsible for refusing unlawful orders…when you do refuse an order, it’d dang well better be upheld.

    Sure, they have Bureaucratitus, but what system-spanning organization wouldn’t? It’s not like politics will die out.

    They just happen to have this little…twitch… where nothing related to religion is allowed out… a perfectly understandable extrapolation from the current drive to remove religion from the public square. And what’s more public than StarFleet?

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