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Star Trek: Voyager

Kathryn Janeway

Kathryn Janeway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Star Trek: Voyager is a spin off from the original Star Trek TV program in which a Federation ship, Voyager, is transported to the distant delta quadrant, far from Earth. The plot centers on the crew’s attempts to return home.

The show ran for seven seasons (1995 to 2001) and contains significant innovations from previous series (Star Trek: The Original SeriesStar Trek: The Next Generation), most notably the woman captain, Kathryn Janeway; the holographic doctor who gained freedom from the holodeck by obtaining a mobile emitter from his future; and Seven of Nine.

Originally a human girl (Annika Hansen), Seven of Nine was transformed into a semi-cybernetic entity when assimilated by the Borg in her childhood. Seven’s humanity is restored when Commander Chakotay stimulates her human memories through a technologically assisted mind-link.

Actress Kate Mulgrew (Left) Stars As (Captain Kathryn Janeway) And Susanna Thompson Stars As (The Borg Queen) In United Paramount Network’s Sci-Fi Television Series ‘Star Trek: Voyager.’ Episode: ‘Unimatrix Zero, Part Two.’

Although Janeway is fully human, the doctor and Seven each try to learn what it’s like to be human through different means. The doctor receives new programming giving him more spatial freedom or, alternately, which allows him to feel human emotion. Seven learns about her human roots through trial and error and is rewired to feel emotion without the usual Borg constraints. This makes for interesting viewing. We learn afresh what it means to be human, vulnerable, and to take risks.

Janeway’s import lies in her character, played by actor Kate Mulgrew. A strong captain, she has moments of doubt where she relies on the counsel of her male Commander Chakotay. When the show first aired, the time was ripe for this inversion of traditional sex-role stereotypes.

Deutsch: Titel der Sci-Fi Serie Star Trek:Raum...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not unlike William Shatner (who plays Captain Kirk in the original series), Mulgrew’s acting is a little wooden here and there. What’s different, however, is that wooden acting was more common on TV in the 1960s than the 1990s. So this might have been one factor preventing Voyager from becoming a full-fledged pop phenomenon like The Original Series and The Next Generation.

By the time the Voyager makes it home, however, Mulgrew puts in a solid performance as her older self who travels back in time to ensure the safety of her crew as they jump through a Borg infested wormhole. In fact, I felt she played her older self far more convincingly than her present self.¹

¹ For some years there were rumors that Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan were at odds on the set. These have recently been confirmed. Apparently Ryan would feel nauseous just thinking about having to do a scene with Mulgrew. See This is surprising because Janeway often plays a concerned “mother” figure to Seven, and does so quite well.




Seven Sins by Hartwig HKD

Seven Sins by Hartwig HKD via Flickr

In early religion, Sin was a Mesopotamian moon god, also called Nanna. His cult was most prominent at the Sumerian cities of Ur and Harran. Bestowing light in the dark, Sin maintained justice through the night hours.

In Catholic theology sin is any thought, speech or action that transgresses the law of God, where one chooses to enact personal will that conflicts with God will. St. Augustine is often quoted by Catholic writers:

Something said, done or desired that is contrary to the eternal law.¹

The Catholic Church breaks the idea of sin up into several categories, the most important being:

The general idea of sin is widespread but understood differently among world religions. There are three main emphases:

Saint Augustin et Sainte Monique

Saint Augustin et Sainte Monique (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, believers in God concerned with ethical action are faced with a dizzying array of prescriptions on how to do the right thing and avoid sin. When all is said and done, it seems the most sensible approach to living right and avoiding sin is to follow one’s own conscience, lived experience and personal reflection.

However, many seem unable to grow into mature adults and prefer to defer to some perceived authority, distant or near, for guidance on how to live.²

This arguably schoolboy or schoolgirl approach to ethics may afford psychological comfort. After all, when you let some organized leader or group tell you what to do, you gain a ready-made personal identity and sense of community (even if the latter is, perhaps, largely imaginary). But for those willing and able to embrace the degree of freedom and responsibility required to make up one’s own mind, off-the-rack ethics just isn’t an option. Prefabricated ethics often seem immature, hypocritical, and arguably fall short of our true human potential.²

¹ St. Augustine, Con. Faust 22.27 cited in Catholic Bible Dictionary, ed. Scott Hahn, 2009, p. 850.

² Many Christians use the word Sin with pretty clear connotations. But the original Hebrew and Greek terms (that actually occur in the earliest versions of the Bible) are not quite so simple). See Greek and Hebrew words for Sin.

³ See comments on this complex issue.

Related Posts » Adam, Calvinism, Contemplation, Donatism, Eden, Fasting, Felix culpa, Jainism, Jesus Christ, Madonna, Milton (John), Virgin Mary


Social Darwinism

Holding paw: Kia storm =(^.^)= PetoMarmitta & friends / Chiara

Holding paw: Kia storm =(^.^)= PetoMarmitta & friends / Chiara

Social Darwinism, often attributed to Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), is body of thought which claims that human social groups evolve according to Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution—in short, society is the outcome of Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest.”

The first use of the phrase “social Darwinism” was in Joseph Fisher’s 1877 article on The History of Landholding in Ireland which was published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.[11] Fisher was commenting on how a system for borrowing livestock which had been called “tenure” had led to the false impression that the early Irish had already evolved or developed land tenure;[16]  …Despite the fact that social Darwinism bears Charles Darwin’s name, it is also linked today with others, notably Herbert Spencer, Thomas Malthus, and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics.¹

For some, Social Darwinism has an upside. Critics of heavy-handed government intervention believe that, if left alone in a free enterprise system, society will flourish. This is often called the laissez-faire attitude. As an ideology, laissez-faire has deep roots not just in Europe but also in the United States and in (Confucian) China.

English: "A Venerable Orang-outang",...

“A Venerable Orang-outang”, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, the idea of social darwinism arguably has a dark element which is lacking in mere laissez-faire.  And the idea of social darwinism has been criticized from several angles. Detractors say that social darwinism

  • assumes the validity of Darwinian theory
  • grafts ideas about biological organisms, animals and the physical environment onto human beings and the social environment
  • ignores theological ideas about providence, intervention, revelation, infused knowledge, blessings, grace and intercession
  • may be used by elitist, supremacist, racist or brutish groups to try to rationalize unjust or even tyrannical social conditions and practices

As we see in the above image, Darwin himself did not escape a fair amount of criticism in his day. His own views about social darwinism are somewhat ambiguous. Apparently he at times seems against, other times in support of the idea.

Scholars debate the extent to which the various social Darwinist ideologies reflect Charles Darwin‘s own views on human social and economic issues. His writings have passages that can be interpreted as opposing aggressive individualism, while other passages appear to promote it.[8] Some scholars argue that Darwin’s view gradually changed and came to incorporate views from the leading social interpreters of his theory such as Herbert Spencer.[9] But Spencer’s Lamarckian evolutionary ideas about society were published before Darwin first published his theory, and both promoted their own conceptions of moral values. Spencer supported laissez-faire capitalism on the basis of his Lamarckian belief that struggle for survival spurred self-improvement which could be inherited.²

Regardless of his ambiguity to social darwinism, Darwin’s theory of evolution clearly hit a major nerve among the public, as evident in this remarkable series of caricatures.

First published in Fun, Nov 1872. Original cap...

First published in Fun, Nov 1872. Original caption: That Troubles Our Monkey Again – female descendant of Marine Ascidian: “Darwin, say what you like about man; but I wish you would leave my emotions alone”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even today, some Christian fundamentalist groups distribute flyers and post web pages with the message, “Don’t let Darwin make a monkey out of you!

¹ Abridged from

² Ibid.

Related » Sociology, Sociobiology

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