Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Background

Religion is Star Trek canon, DNA and of course it is also a very real and very personal human experience.

While much of Star Trek is rather atheist-friendly, I don’t believe that faith will ever, truly, completely leave us. In particular, the Enterprise era is bound to have characters who still practice religion.

In Between Days

Leah Benson

First seen in The Light, Rabbi Benson is the official Starfleet Rabbi. She assists Ethan Shapiro in putting together a short service to commemorate the life of his great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein.

In Bread, she is a part of an official Starfleet set of meetings and banquets where all of the Starfleet chaplains have been brought together as a part of welcoming three new worlds to the nascent Federation – the Caitian home world, Denobula and the Xyrillian home world. Leah is cordial with the Imam, a Buddhist monk and others. Religion is very much alive, and she is a big part of it. While reminiscing with Jonathan Archer, she reports that Ethan would often ask her advice about Karin Bernstein, and she is delighted that they wed.

Yimar

In the alternate timeline in Temper, she is the spiritual leader of her people on both sides of the pond. When the timeline is restored, she is only the High Priestess on the Mirror side.

The role of High Priestess is not too well-defined, but Yimar has the power to summon her fellow Calafans, no matter where they are, and can even telepathically communicate with those in the Mirror Universe, a useful talent for a spiritual leader who, in an alternate timeline, leads her government in exile, too.

Yipran

In Reversal, she seems to be dying, but Yipran, the High Priestess of the Calafan people, is not going down without a fight. In Fortune, she reveals that she understands far more of the universe and its origins (and its eventual fate) than pretty much anyone.

Times of the HG Wells

Kaiwev

In Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, a Calafan temporal agent, Chellewev, has died in the line of duty. It’s up to Kaiwev, the leader of the Calafan unit, to lead prayers at the dedication of Chellewev’s spot on the Temporal Integrity Commission‘s monument to the fallen. Kaiwev is really just pressed into service and is not meant to be a priest.

Milton Walker and Members of the Eligian Order

About half of this order is composed of upstanding men who commit charitable deeds and are true believers. The other half is a front for the Perfectionists, including Walker himself. The legitimate monks are unaware of what is going on under their noses.

Interphases

Jonathan Archer

Because there are no religious leaders on board, Captain Archer is charged with performing that task. This includes everything from officiating at weddings

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders
Not just any old wedding

to eventually giving funerary orations. It’s not much of a stretch to assume that he also presided over christenings and Bar and Bat Mitzvot.

He presides over Malcolm‘s and Jay‘s funerals in The Three of Us and both of theirs, Tripp‘s and Lili‘s in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. About the only religious occasion he does not preside over is Nanette Myers’s conversion to Islam, which is performed by Ramih Azar, in the presence of Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun Hamidi as witnesses.

It is unclear who fills in when Jonathan finally dies, but it is not a stretch to assume that the successor captain would do so. In The Three of Us, that’s Charles Tucker IV; in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, that’s canon character Lorian Cyrus Tucker.

Upshot

Faith abides and, in Bread, for the Mirror Universe and the prime, it’s one of the few things that survives. I believe there is a place for religion in Star Trek, even in the later series, and I am not afraid to show it. Faith of the heart, to me, means all hearts and, by definition, all faiths as well.

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