Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Romans 3: Vince Lombardi, and a conversation between a Romulan and a Vulcan

Romans 3: Vince Lombardi, and a conversation between a Romulan and a Vulcan

Back in the sixties, during the heyday of the civil rights movement, someone asked Willie Davis, an African-American starring for the Green Bay Packers, if legendary coach Vince Lombardi treated the black and white players equally.

“Sure he treats us equally,” Davis laughed. “He treats us all like dogs.”

Halfway through Romans chapter three, that is pretty much where Paul has assigned both Jew and Gentile. Both “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” Both have seen God’s light, and shut their eyes. Like a good drill instructor, he's torn 'em down to build 'em up: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known.” All who believe are made righteous by faith.

And then Paul says something Really Important. The prophets hint at it. Jesus mentions it. Paul makes it crystal clear. This new teaching is for Everyone. Jew. Gentile. If you are breathing and have opposable thumbs, Jesus is for you. This is the world’s first truly Universal Religion. Until now, gods were not very transportable. At best, someone from Them might join Us.

But God, through Paul, Roman citizen and devout Jew, has made Them no better than Us, and Us no better than Them. “Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles, too?” From now on, the Kingdom is officially We.

The Romulans of Star Trek were patterned after Romans: proud, grasping, superior, contemptuous, with last names that ended in “us”. Leonard Nimoy, a Jew, drew on his heritage to play Spock as an intellectual outsider torn by loyalties to two cultures. The split-finger “live long and prosper” sign so universally beloved by nerds was conceived by Nimoy, who as a child saw a rabbi use it during the High Holy Days, spelling with his hands the holy and unutterable name of God.  Like Jews and Gentiles, Vulcans and Romulans were once the same people. Spock, like Paul, seeks reunification.  I picture a Romulan/Vulcan conversation about Spock going something like this:

Romulan: “Ho, Vulcan elitist! What is this I hear about your fellow Vulcan Spock blaspheming against the gods of the Great Romulan Empire?”

Vulcan: “Greetings, my imperialist cousin of an emotion-soiled planet. It is I who must, alas, ask you: why is this same Spock aligning himself with your intellectually-weak bloodline, except to pollute mine?”

Romulan: “Spock says both Vulcan and Romulus face a threat that will destroy us both.  He says that unless we take immediate action, everyone on all planets will become One with the Borg. What defeatist rubbish! Mighty Romulus shall prevail forever! Still….it is rumored that we have lost outposts. Perhaps Spock has some intelligence.”

“Vulcan: “It is not logical to assume that so intellectually superior a planet as Vulcan could fall to the Borg. And yet…. logic would suggest prudent inquiry.”

Together, they search for Spock.

No comments:

Post a Comment