sacrificing jack

16 09 2011

—caution: plot spoilers!—

He who was immortal became mortal, and it was his mortal blood that was sacrificed for the salvation of the world. Following the offering of blood in sacrificial death, there came resurrection. The man in question… J.. J… Jack. Captain Jack.

the trinity?

So Torchwood ended last night. Epic story telling from Russell T. Davies that we got used to in Doctor Who and that has been sadly lacking in the bite-size adventures of Stephen Moffat’s Doctor. Davies’ Doctor looked outwards with big stories about humanity, salvation and the power of sacrifice; Moffatt’s looks inwards to saving the Doctor and his friends from their Boy’s Own adventures.

Back to Torchwood. Yes, this series was nothing compared to Children of Men; disappointingly Americanised, way too long, too many pointless plot deviations, not enough emotional depth and as Gwen herself said, contained nothing extra-terrestrial. But the last 2 episodes were much better. And the ending at least restored some faith in the Big Story.

Big Story is important. Some call it meta-narrative. Story that helps us find our place, our meaning, that tells us about Big Things. This Torchwood ended as many of Russell T. Davies’ Doctor Who stories ended: stories of personal sacrifice, of salvation, of resurrection. This ending particularly had so many echoes of the sacrificial death of Jesus. In fact, you can’t help but chuckle at Russell T Davies use of religious metaphor as the first words Gwen spoke after Jack’s blood saved the world: “Jesus Christ Almighty”. Then Jesus Jack came back to life. Resurrected.

Then there’s Jack’s words spoken to the most unlikely of characters, Bill Pullman‘s creepy paedophile Oswald Danes. Jack, for all his own moral ambiguity, tells Danes, “you’ve made your life so small.” Maybe in this Big Story, that even tries to find redemption for the paradigm of the most hated figure of our time, there’s an encouragement for us to live bigger lives, looking outside of ourselves and the darkness within  to look outwards and upwards, to the author and perfector of all things. In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

What would we sacrifice, and for whom? Because we know real life. That begins before death. A bigger life. That is a real Blessing.


torchwood, but I wouldn’t

22 07 2011

Wish for immortality, that is. Something that unknowingly, and without understanding it, so much of our society longs for. Easy immortality though, to be fair. We wish to be immortal at the best and most able part of our lives. Not to be immortal and be… old. Or… ill. After all, where would L’Oreal be if we didn’t age. 

*Caution – Torchwood plot spoilers!* 

I am a big Torchwood fan. The new series needs to do a lot to satisfy die-hard fans of a quirky Cardiff-based and very British low-budget sci-fi drama, and as the story goes so far, this is good. The basic premise:

Nobody can die. Death is not an option. 

Even those who should be dead are not. Something is keeping people alive despite accidents and illness; even severed limbs still contain life. The planet faces overpopulation within 4 months. Hospitals are full of people who are alive, but in terrible pain. Triage is reversed, there is no ‘golden hour’ for A&E patients during which their lives can be saved. They will not die anyway. Minor injuries are treated first to get them out of the hospital, whilst seriously injured wait.  Just… wait.

The miracle day becomes a terrible day.

jack in a (wooden) box?

With this simple but dramatic change, the tables are turned on attitudes to death. From fearing death, from death being the enemy and to be avoided at all costs, suddenly death is the old friend people desperately want. Our craving for constant youth and for constant life seems ridiculous. In an instant an entire culture in the West designed around real-life death-avoidance finds the ground it stands on disappears.

We who follow Jesus are not afraid of death. We welcome it, in fact. In theory. When we read the book of Revelation, for example, we can see that death is not to be feared; the early church certainly wouldn’t have seen it that way. But it doesn’t swing so far that way that we end up craving death, like so many seem to – the sort of ‘passport to leave this earth and get to heaven’ mis-reading of Scripture. Jesus came to bring life and life in all its fulness – in this life and the one beyond.

gwen will it all end?

So we do not fear death, though we may fear its consequences for those we leave behind.  We welcome death, in it’s right time and place, because we know life is not designed to be immortal. The weariness and loneliness of Dr Who and Captain Jack are windows into the world of those who do not die. Even Jesus died.

Our story is of a life that dies but that does not stay dead. Our story is of resurrection that conquers death and all fear of death. Our Miracle Day is not the day people stopped dying, but the day one man died and was raised to life. Our story is not immortal life but eternal life, that begins here and now whilst we are mortal.

In Torchwood through one life all crave death; in Jesus, through one death we all gain life.
Watch the Torchwood: Miracle Day trailer here…

%d bloggers like this: