The Bajorans of DS9
So last week, Tribbles made an appearance at city hall; this week the Bajorans of Deep Space Nine, a 90s era extension of the original 60s Star Trek series, comes to mind. After watching the original series, we watched all the movies and the series Star Trek: Next Generation and now have embarked on the Deep Space Nine (DS9) series. Deep Space Nine is a space station located near a stable worm hole which the people of the planet Bajor claim to be the Celestial Temple of their Prophets.
For those who are not of the science-fiction spectrum, it is theorized that a worm hole (also called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge) is a passage through space-time which creates shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. The Federation of Planets, who are the good guys, take over DS9 from the Cardassians, the enemy of the Bajoran people. The Cardassians took over the planet Bajor and forced the people into slavery before the Federation saved them. Because the Federation Leader of DS9, Captain Sisko, had a vision while traveling through the wormhole, the Bajorans deemed him their Emissary, a type of religious/political leader who represented their Prophets.
Captain Sisko was not at all comfortable with the title of Emissary, even though this would have given him supreme power and influence over the Bajoran people or, at least, those true believers. He took his role of Emissary with caution and wisdom and humility and never used it to gain political favor. Although he did not necessarily believe in the Bajoran religion, he did discover something spiritual and good in it.
As with all religious institutions, there are false prophets and those who will take advantage of others and their position. A Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn, who is played by Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) is one of them. She makes appearances in many episodes of DS9. She uses her cunning and sickening false sweet demeanor to gain power and become the Kai.
The Bajoran religion mimics many religions of the real world. They have a Pope-like figure called the Kai, Franciscan-like friars who travel and teach, called Vedeks, and they follow the teachings of the Prophets. The Bajorans worship in a temple but instead of sitting in pews they sit on the floor with knees bent underneath like some Buddhism and Shinto.
Some people, in Bajoran religious favor, speak and are spoken to through the Prophets. The early Bajoran religion was very legalistic and placed people into a caste system, much like the early Hindus. When a beloved religious leader came back from the dead, or so it appeared, he assumed the title of Emissary and those outdated and unfair practices were brought back.
The back-to-the-basics Bajorans boycotted the school on Deep Space Nine for teaching about scientific and historical events that did not align with the old Bajoran beliefs. Major Kira Nerys, a former Bajoran freedom fighter and valuable liaison to the Federation, left her position at that time to become an artist which was her predetermined lot in life. She quickly discovered that she had no artistic skills but nonetheless gave up her high-ranking position to appease the new Emissary and his followers. Trouble soon bubbled up when Kai Winn, the sickeningly sweet, secretly goaded a true believer into setting a bomb at the school. This young, innocent, radicalized Bajoran did what the Kai asked of her out of fear and blind loyalty. The bombing attempt was thwarted just in the nick of time but the sly Kai Winn escaped blame and used it to her advantage.
The Emissary, who had been miraculously resurrected, came from another time period. At first, Captain Sisko was relieved to relinquish the title to him. But when he discovered how he endangered the Bajorans and those living on DS9, he found a way to send the old guy packing. Captain Sisko became Emissary Sisko once again this time seeing more clearly the value of his position and thinking maybe the Prophets indeed chose him for a reason, perhaps to be the voice of reason.
So ends another voyage into the future and beyond. It is interesting how writers of science-fiction and fantasy can draw so much from real life and historical events. I believe, in the heart of all religions there are good intentions. They are about love and caring for each other and following an ethical code. But trouble brews when religious leaders stray from ethics and love and follow the path of arrogance and political power.
There are many translations of the Bible but I imagine very few have read it in its original Hebrew and Greek. (Well, I know a guy.) The interpretation of the Bible depends on your religious tradition. Some religious traditions follow strict guidelines for their followers and some take a broader look at it. For some, their beliefs are black and white with no shades of gray. No women in leadership positions. LGTBQ+ are not accepted.
Some, however, are not afraid of digging deep into Biblical history and the origins of the languages used at the time and they discover even more truths and ways to live Godly lives. I see God’s word almost everywhere I look and it reveals an ethical way to live for all God’s creation. And the more I learn about this world, its people and its history, the more alive the stories in the Bible become.
As for this geek, wisdom and inspiration can even be found on a fictional space station named Deep Space Nine.
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