Sunday, October 16, 2011
Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.
In the Doctor Who episode entitled "The God Complex," The Doctor, Amy, and Rory exit the TARDIS to find themselves in a hotel with outdated décor, bad elevator music coming over the speakers, and corridors that shift when you're not looking. When they look inside various rooms, they find strange things, like people in gorilla costumes, sad clowns, popular-looking girls hurling insults, and the scariest of new Who monsters, the Weeping Angels.
Pretty soon they meet up with a group of other people who also appear to be trapped in the hotel with them, and they learn that it seems to be like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Also, there is a monster roaming the labyrinthine hallways that eventually finds and kills everyone who ends up there. The strange things in the hotel rooms are someone's greatest fear, and there is a room for everyone. The catch is, once you find your room and face your fear, bad things start to happen and eventually, no matter how long you try to hold out, the monster will come and get you. They assume that the monster feeds on fear, and when you find the thing you fear the most, it will cause the monster to come get you, so it's best if you do not find your room in the hotel.
After three out of the four people there are killed by the monster, though, despite everything the Doctor has done to try to protect them, he finally figures it out: the monster doesn't feed on fear, it feeds on faith. When facing whatever scary thing was in their room, they relied on faith to overcome the fear, and that's what attracts the monster. Everyone who has died had faith in one form or another: Rita was Muslim, Joe the gambler believed in luck, and Howie was always trying to convince everyone who would listen that everything was part of one big conspiracy. Things come to a head when Amy finds her room and begins to show signs that the monster will soon be coming for her. The Doctor realizes that to save her and defeat the monster, he had to make her lose her faith, which was represented in her room by her child-self, little Amelia, sitting on her suitcase waiting for her Raggedy Doctor to come back. Ever since that night when she was eight years old, Amy had faith that the Doctor would return, and when he did, through all their adventures, she always had faith that whatever happened, the Doctor would save her, solve all the problems, and make sure everything turned out ok. She had even said as much throughout the episode to whomever would listen.
What a heart-wrenching scene when the Doctor, so gently and tenderly, explained to Amy that he wasn't the all-powerful alien creature that she put all of her trust in. He didn't always save the day, and he had caused death and destruction more often than not. He really was, as he had been telling her all along, a madman with a box, nothing more.
It has been a month since "The God Complex" aired, and it has taken me this long (and a second viewing) to make sense of what was really happening. At first I was trying to puzzle out what it was saying about having faith (or not) and losing faith. I have finally decided, however, that it is about misplaced trust and having faith in the wrong things. Amy placed her trust in the Doctor, and when the Doctor finally recognized this, it took quite an effort for him to convince her otherwise. It was necessary, however, for her to realize that the Doctor wasn't God, no matter how often his "God complex" (as Rita labeled it earlier in the episode) manifests itself.
Fortunately, faith in God is never misplaced trust. When I looked up "faith" in the concordance of my Bible to find a verse with which to preface this post, I noticed something interesting: all of the verses cited as containing the word "faith" used it in the context of humans having faith in God, but more than half of the verses given in the entries for "faithful" and "faithfulness" use those words to describe God and his attitude toward people, not the other way around. To me, that speaks volumes about what we should have faith in: the One whose faith in us never wavers, even when our faith does.