Thursday, May 21, 2009

Star Trek and Hell

No, I didn't think the new Star Trek was Hell. Actually, I thought it was really great and I intend to see it again soon.

No, what got me thinking of Hell was Eric Bana's character, Nero.

Nero's world is destroyed, and he is sucked through time to the past as a result of the tragedy that engulfed his world. (Yeah, it sounds dumb. It's a sci-fi flick -- what can I say? Well, one thing, I suppose: the time-travel shtick didn't bother me nearly as much as it otherwise would have because the casting and directing were so damn good they overcame a lame storyline and a terrible script.) He nurses his resentment for 25 years aboard a space mining vessel, then completely destroys the home world of the man who failed to save his planet from destruction. He's close to destroying Earth before his plan is thwarted and he's killed.

The parts that reminded me of Hell were Nero's stated motivation for destroying worlds and his response to an offer of mercy when his plan is thwarted and his life in jeopardy.

Midway through the film, Nero says that he destroys worlds so that everyone in the universe will share his pain. Hatred and bitterness have consumed him, and he has become their evangelist. This is the attitude of Hell: "If I can't have happiness, no one else can have it either."

But the part that really got me was at the end of the film. His plan thwarted, his spaceship's defenses and weapons disabled, Nero stands at the mercy of the crew of the Enterprise and Captain Kirk. As Nero's ship is being sucked into a black hole created by a truly lame plot device, Kirk offers to save Nero and beam him aboard the Enterprise. Nero responds that he would rather endure the most painful death and see his world destroyed 10,000 times before accepting Kirk's mercy. Kirk obliges him by obliterating his craft as it's sucked into the black hole a terrible script created.

Nero's response reminded me of C.S. Lewis's description of Hell as a place that is locked on the inside, filled with the remains of souls so committed to themselves that they refuse to be saved if salvation requires them to reach out to anyone at anytime.

His response is also terribly instructive, because one day God will do as Kirk did. He will let all those who've refused to accept His help be sucked into the abyss created by their own rebellion. As Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, there are only two groups of people in the world: those who say to God, "Thy will be done" and those to whom God says "Thy will be done."

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