Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Rapture"

4 stars

Air date: 12/30/1996
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by L.J. Strom
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Before Captain Sisko found B'hala, my path was clear. I knew who my enemies were. But now nothing is certain." — Kai Winn

Nutshell: One of the series' most deftly written shows. Absolutely stellar work concerning complex issues.

"Rapture" is the embodiment of DS9's most respectable and intriguing qualities. Here is an excellent story—easily among the series' very best—with brilliantly realized layers of subtlety and complexity that will reward faithful followers of Deep Space Nine most of all with some of its finest writing. The best way I can sum things up is to say that there is so much resonating substance in this episode that it's almost amazing.

Like last season's "Accession" (a terrific show in its own right but not as great as this one), the writers of DS9 decide to return to the series' true roots—and prove that they still have the ability and desire to do intelligent, probing Bajor stories that believe in mystical spirituality and the unusual and inexplicable.

Beginning as Sisko and Kira admire an ancient iconic Bajoran painting depicting the long-lost ancient city of B'hala, the story quickly sets its tone—one shrouded in mythical larger-than-life aspects from the far past. It's interesting the way Sisko is instantly taken with amazement of B'hala. By the end of the teaser, the captain has scanned the painting into the holosuite computer, in an attempt to use the latest technology to decode a mystery Bajoran archaeologists haven't been able to do for 20,000 years... to find the forever-buried B'hala.

While in the holosuite Sisko is knocked unconscious by a powerful electric shock, and when he comes to he begins to see things in a new light. In one sense this is explainable: Bashir explains that Sisko's neurological system has been overloaded and will be more aware to sensory perception for a few days. Shapes will appear to be more focused and better defined for a while. "Enjoy the show," the doctor tells him with a slight grin (one of many subtle details that the episode gets just right).

But there's much more here. Before long, Sisko begins having powerful visions that encompass time and space, the past and the future. For brief moments he has divine understandings of the universe, and it isn't long before he begins to see the foreshadowings of Bajor's fate.

And it can't be a coincidence that it's about this time that word comes from Starfleet Command that Bajor has been accepted into the Federation—not a lightweight statement considering that this has been the ultimate goal of the series since its first episode. I must admit that it came as quite a surprise to me when that line came. I wasn't expecting it for quite some time—maybe not even until near the very end of the series' run. But as Admiral Whatley (Ernest Perry, Jr), who brings the news, states, Bajor's acceptance into the Federation is just the beginning—now the difficult tasks of integration begin. I couldn't agree more. I'm very glad to see that the writers understand that this goal represents only one leg of the issue, and that Bajor achieving this goal will lead to new issues to deal with.

But "Rapture" does not really choose to deal with this issue just yet. The episode is more about Sisko and his visions, and what happens when he begins having such foreboding, prophetic insight. A big part of the story's success can be attributed to the fact that it uses mysticism as an approach. It's particularly nice to see that the show doesn't pull its punches and try to explain these miracles using the typical sci-fi terms. These visions are visions, no doubt about it. They may be a side effect of Sisko's injury, perhaps, but that doesn't change the fact that they're miraculous gifts that, like existence itself, lie in a realm beyond our comprehension—maybe because we're just not intended to understand.

The spiritual implications alone are a major positive because we're invited to reflect upon them at almost every turn. But another big part of what makes "Rapture" such a brilliant story is the fact that these visions have such startling repercussions—repercussions that prove consistently thought-probing. For instance, Sisko's insight leads him straight to B'hala itself, the underground coordinates of which he locates after a mere few days of staring at a representation of a B'halan obelisk from the holosuite program. The story's execution of this search is absorbing; the episode works up a fascinating sense of wonder for its discovery of the lost city. What's most relevant and astounding here, though, is Sisko's character, who cares deeply about his find and its meaning. Noteworthy is the way this demonstrates how far Sisko's role in Bajoran mythology has come since "Emissary." Here he finally seems comfortable and devoted to taking his role in Bajoran mysticism (opposed to his attempts to distance himself from it in "Accession"), and that's a powerful realization that's worthy of respect and awe—of both Sisko's character and the DS9 writers.

Sisko's discovery of B'hala has a domino effect that leads to several other brilliantly realized character turns. Most notable is the change in Kai Winn's attitudes, which she voices to Kira in two separate, wonderful exchanges. Winn admits to having been wrong about doubting Sisko as the Emissary, for the one who found B'hala must be the one who was sent by the Prophets. This isn't so much a change in heart as it is something that challenges the direction of her beliefs. As she states near the end of the show, things are no longer simple. Her path is no longer clear, and she doesn't know who her enemies are.

This is fascinating stuff because it's such a perfectly truthful example of cause and effect. It's completely warranted, credible, and follows from the past actions of Winn's character—which is wise writing. It's true character evolution, the type of thing that really works while simultaneously being the type of thing that is particularly challenging to pull off. It's something that's bound to be overlooked in this episode, but one of the best examples of faith and direction that the series has displayed.

This new problem is something that Winn doesn't take lightly. Indeed, faith is all that she has, or has ever had. During the Occupation she had the strength and will to continue teaching her beliefs at the price of Cardassian beatings. And unlike those in the Resistance, as she pointedly explains to Kira, she didn't have weapons—all she had was her faith. Kira's response is one of the many sensible subtleties of reality that makes this episode such a winner—she's disquieted with solemn surprise, perhaps understanding Kai Winn for the first time in her life.

Winn has always appeared to be a tad underhanded, ever since "In the Hands of the Prophets." But "Rapture" implicitly explains a lot about Winn and her motives and history, and the results are stellar.

But turning back to Sisko, as he's the real focus of the story, it should be noted that Avery Brooks turns in an interesting, textured performance. After the visions begin appearing, Sisko has a sedate and peaceful aura about him, mostly in the way he speaks. It's indeed spiritual, as if he has briefly seen something—or everything—that has given him an understanding of, as he puts it, the very universe itself. One serene, engaging sequence has the captain literally walking through the promenade telling fortunes to complete strangers.

It isn't long before Sisko becomes obsessed with his new gifts, and the new problem becomes trying to balance his interests in Bajoran mysticism with his Starfleet job. Admiral Whatley is obviously not pleased with Sisko's visions interfering with his duties, but I think there's even more to this conflict than meets the eye. In some ways, I think Whatley is a symbol for Starfleet and their possible dismissal, even fear, of Bajoran faith. (Even if Ernest Perry, Jr. is a tad wooden as Whatley, what he represents is quite effective. Granted, Sisko's problem is an extreme circumstance, but I can't help but be reminded of Eddington's speech on Federation assimilation back in "For the Cause.") If the Federation does represent a sneaky, even if unintentional, assimilation of culture, then Benjamin Sisko represents the true liaison between Bajor and the Federation. Here is a man who can "be a Starfleet officer" yet values and heeds the Bajorans' beliefs at all costs. This is great stuff.

It's no doubt, then, why Sisko allows his obsession with his visions to escalate to the point of threatening his life. He sees something disturbing in the future: a horde of locusts hovering over the rebuilt B'hala on Bajor before leaving to fly to Cardassia. But what does it mean? He's not sure, but Bashir may not be able to let him find out. The electro-neural activity in Sisko's brain is all wrong, and Bashir needs to perform a crucial operation or Sisko could die. Sisko refuses. The changes in his brain would likely cause his visions to stop, and that's something he can't allow until he understands the meaning of the locusts.

This is where the family scene enters the picture. With the return of Kasidy Yates (who has completed her six-month prison term for helping the Maquis in the aforementioned "For the Cause"), Sisko would be leaving behind two loved ones if he traded his life for these visions. Is it worth it to sacrifice himself? Jake sure doesn't thinks so, nor does Kasidy. Understandably, they suddenly find themselves looking at a man they thought they knew everything about with a sense of total incomprehension. But there's a bigger question here: What if risking your life would put the understanding of the entire universe in your hand? That's a pretty tough argument. It's a credit to the writers that they came up with something so audacious yet so human.

Speaking of tough arguments, there's also an intelligent scene in ops where Worf argues on Kira's side for faith against a reluctant Dax and O'Brien. "Since when did you believe in the Prophets?" Dax asks him. "What I believe in," he answers, "is faith." "That's not much to bet his life on," Dax says. "You're wrong. It's everything," Kira responds with a distinct aura of certainty. The subtle complexity of the acting in this argument is interesting. And by commenting on the plot, the characters not participating in it are put to a very reasonable use.

Eventually, with the surprise help of Winn and a Bajoran Orb, Sisko realizes that the swarm of "locusts" will destroy Bajor if it joins the Federation now. "It's too soon!" Sisko desperately tells the Bajoran ministers. The vote to join the Federation is later defeated by the Bajoran chamber of ministers based on their faith in the Emissary. Sisko collapses unconscious and near death.

Jake, as the closest relative on the station, allows Bashir to override Sisko's ultimatum that he not operate and "take away" Sisko's visions. It's an inevitable step that Sisko loses his gifts, but putting the choice in the hands of Jake because he needs his father is a dramatic point—further proving that life-in-jeopardy plots are best when having character choices and meaning within them.

All around, "Rapture" is one of the most complex and multi-dimensioned episodes of any Star Trek that I can remember. It's riveting and adds up to a lot. I'm also interested by the allusion to the coming war with the Dominion. (Could the "locusts" perhaps have been a Dominion strike, with Bajor being the first Federation casualty? Interesting... but never mind that now.)

The closing scene—where Kasidy reminds Sisko that although he has given up something important, he has also held on to something important—is a little schmaltzy in execution, but it works fine in context nonetheless. After all, a little schmaltz can be warranted considering such a unique and wonderful outing.

"Rapture" is about as perfect an episode as I could hope for.

Previous episode: The Ascent
Next episode: The Darkness and the Light

◄ Season Index

295 comments on this review

Blue
Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Meh, this episode was OK, but it still suffers from classic Trekkian overplaying of everything. Sisko on the promenade telling fortunes was just cringe-worthy, as was the general treatment of his sudden I-CAN-SEE-EVERYTHING state. I liked that Kai Winn's becoming a deeper character, but this seemed like too radical a departure from the woman who sent murderers after people she didn't like. If they wanted her arc to really to go that way, they should have spent more time developing it; this was much, much too fast.
Damien
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I agree with the review, it's certainly one of the best, complex and intelligently written Trek episodes out there.

I was reminded of a CE3K scene as Sisko was playing with his food and saw meaning in the arrangement of his vegetables! :)
Jay
Sun, Aug 30, 2009, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
Why was Kai Winn there at the signing rather than the First Minister of Bajor (still Shakaar at this point in time I think)? That was a glaring plot hole.
Nic
Sun, Mar 7, 2010, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
I honestly don't know whether I liked this one or not. On the one hand it was very powerful, but on the other there were just to many coincidences for me to take any of it seriously. Yes, Shakaar should have been there. Yes, Sisko has his communicator on wrong. Yes, there should have been more people from the Federation CIVILIAN government. Yes, Penny Johnson's performance was a little off... but what's important is the big picture. I guess I'll have to see this one again.
Lee
Mon, May 10, 2010, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
New uniforms in this episode. They suit DS9 (ha ha) a lot better than the old ones. I think they get a mention at the beginning of the episode, but otherwise I'm always a little surprised by how underplayed the transition is. The Starfleet uniform is so ubiquitous, it just seems odd that this didn't get a little more discussion.
Jay
Sun, Nov 21, 2010, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Well the "real" reason the uniforms changed here is that it was the first episode to air after the new uniforms got their opening reveal with the theatrical release of First Contact. The episode wasn't exactly going to say "Hey, we can wear these now because Picard and Co. got to inaugurate them."
Elliott
Mon, Dec 27, 2010, 3:54am (UTC -5)
Can someone PLEASE explain to me how granting credence to the ridiculous is automatically virtuous? Bashir's duty is to relieve Sisko of duty until his "visions" cease. Plain and simple. But no, this is DS9 where nonsense is treated like literary gold. As I said before, season 5 is truly the place in which the crap this series sowed from the beginning erupted to the surface and stunk up the alpha (and gamma) quadrant.

"Miraculous gift"? i'm sorry it's one thing to talk about spirituality and how the commonality of the Bajorans' religion helped them survive the Occupation, but this stupid crap is beyond acceptable in a Trek--why aren't Jesus and Mohammed hanging out in the wormhole too? Just shoot me, please.
jon
Thu, Jan 27, 2011, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
What treating religous people with respect is a bad thing Trek's about tolerance is odd given it's attidude towards religion and people who believe in religion. Allright name the time and the place and i'll do it want do you want single bullet straight to the head? drive by? you name and i'll be happy to do the deed
Elliott
Sat, Jan 29, 2011, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
First of all, I shouldn't grant you even the slightest attention by responding since, unless I misread that, you just threatened to shoot me in the head for being intolerant...

not cool.

Second, tolerance of peoples' differences in WHO they are is not the same as WHAT they think. Obviously one should always be open to new ideas and never harm someone simply for being different, but the idea is that human beings have evolved beyond their use for religion. If the Bajorans want into the Federation they had better evolve beyond it too. If not, then more power to them.
Polt
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
I've got to disagree with you on this episode. It found it boring, overacted, predicable and trite. And when he playing with his food, Richard Dreyfuss' mashed potatos in Close Encounters was running through my head.

How could Bashir NOT relieve him of duty until he was back in perfet health? How could the admirla not relieve him of duty due to the "hallucinations"?

Bajoran spirituality is an interesting concept, but Sisko always having 'visions' and such and no one who's NOT into the Bajoran religion even raising an eyebrow over it. I mean, I'm not Catholic, so I don't follow all his pronouncements. Why do Starfleet personnel, who don't follow the Prophets, cow-tow to the Emmissary?

Besides these, Sisko once again overacted. And did anyone NOT see it coming that his 'visions' would result in pronouncements that would keep Bajor out of the Federation?

Not a bad episode, just one that bored me. By that's just my opinion.
Polt
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Oh this is what I get for not proofreading.

I should have said since I'm not Catholic, I don't follow all the Pope's pronouncements.

As well as the misspellings. Sorry.
Weiss
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Great episodes, captivating. reminds me of the TNG episode with Barclay turning into a superbeing, except this one had more consquence and had more development of character. It is good they only did a few of these mystical episodes, because the revelations are so powerful when they do occur (similar to Coming of Shadows in Babylon 5, Mollari's dream...it will end in fire!)

--
just because you dont follow the pope, does not mean he does not have policital influence and that his pronouncements cant affect the public policy that affects your life (eg. war, peace, abortion, etc, governments base their decisions on plurality and constituents. If enough constituents have a shared belief that translates to votes and can affect a course of action and policy. regardless of positive or negative, liked disliked, or if you agree with that belief.)

So yeah, I think Sisko role as Emissary is important to the people of Bajor, and Starfleet doesnt have much choice in accepting/rejecting his pronouncements.

Now, I would question, why the Federation would allow him to command DS9 since it seems like a huge conflict of interest. But then again Picard was the arbiter of succession for the Klingon Empire (I think handed down from the dying words of the previous arbiter), and starfleet allowed that role to continue! and removing their Emissary from command would not be a sign of trust between a would be member.

--
why would Bajor have to give up religion to join the Federation. I thought Picard had mentioned that Earth had moved beyond religion. Dont recall him saying the federation explicity requires members to not practice religion, or it being a condition for membership?
Flask
Mon, May 9, 2011, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Yeah, what Polt said. I just don't see the appeal of "Rapture", which has too many darn holes in it to ascribe this kind of 4-star accolades. Two additional comments:
1. Brooks' overacting nearly kills the episode all by itself. In at least three instances I felt like I was watching Third Season "Plato's Stepchildren" Kirk. "You're half crazy because...!"
2. Bajorans have been hunting the famed Lost City for 10000 years. Sisko finds it in three days. OK, I might, repeat MIGHT buy that. But the whole monolith image-reflection bit? Whether or not the Cardassians stole the artifact, are you telling me that a spacefaring planet's best scientists never thought of that in 10000 years of analysis???
Aaron B.
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
This is when Winn became interesting. On most shows, it's a given that the evil, ambitious religious leader is not a believer at all, but only mouths the cant to hold power and milk the followers. But Winn truly does believe in the prophets and the Bajoran faith. Sure, she'll be back to scheming and grasping for power in no time, but always within that context of trying to follow the prophets (until she rejects them, which a non-believer couldn't do). Her interpretation of what the prophets want, of course, but still. That makes her much deeper and less of a caricature than she appeared to be early in the show.
Nic
Wed, Oct 12, 2011, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Wow, I can't believe what I wrote above. This episode is now one of my favorites, definitely in the top 10 of the series. I credit DS9, and this episode in particular, with making me more sympathetic and understanding to people who have strong faith (I still consider myself an agnostic borderline atheist). It's not perfect (see above comments) but it does so many great things that I find it hard to understand that a fan of the series could dislike it so much:

-It adresses one of the earliest goals of the series: getting Bajor into the Federation.
-Winn finally becomes a three-dimensional character (too bad it didn't stick)
-It hints at events that would occur throughout the rest of the season
TDexter
Tue, Nov 1, 2011, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
I'm an atheist but the comments above are proof positive of the fact that being an atheist does not come with a free Ph.D. and complementary membership in Mensa.

The Federation wants Bajor. Bajor is deeply culturally religious. The Bajorans think of Captain Sisko as the emissary of their prophets.

Therefore, on the day of Bajor's acceptance into the Federation, the last thing the Federation wants to do is insult their culture. Therefore, they can't relieve Captain Sisko of duty. They can't do anything with Captain Sisko if they don't want to upset the Bajorans. QED.

This is also why Sisko gets to keep his job at the end.

Even the most generic understanding of politics should make this obvious. No need to be soapboxing about atheism.
Rachael
Sun, Nov 20, 2011, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, I think it's at best an inference and at worst personal projection to suggest that the Federation and humanity are atheist and/or utterly without religion. The only legitimate source for that I can think of are some silly throwaway comments from Picard in early TNG, which was still being overseen personally by the atheist Roddenberry and which therefore smack far more of Roddenberry's personal wishful thinking than reality. The fact that Trek never chose to explore any non-Bajoran main characters' spiritual beliefs implies more that that show a) isn't about religion and b) didn't want to open a can of worms that could end up offending a bunch of people than it does to any sort of official interpretation that you have to be a card carrying atheist to join the utopia that is the Federation. Besides, if renouncing your culture and religion and becoming another bland drone was part and parcel of joining the Federation, I have a feeling Bajor would not even consider joining. And yet they are, so clearly the Federation is not as anti-religion as you want it to be.

I cannot for the life of me understand why so many atheists are so incapable of accepting that there will always be people who choose to have faith. If the Federation is even remotely the "tolerant" place we're told it is, it has a place for religion, or else Eddington really is right in "For the Cause" - they're worse than the Borg.
Elliott
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 12:48am (UTC -5)
@Rachael :

For the record, my boyfriend is a devout Orthodox Christian, and his father is a priest. I have no problem accepting people of faith either philosophically or personally.

This show did not do a very good job of portraying religious people as particularly enlightened or redeeming. The Bajorans' religion is farcical; who needs faith when your gods destroy entire fleets before your eyes?

Regarding the nature of the Federation, Picard makes clear the nature of the Federation and religion in "Who Watches the Watchers" and episode from season 3, which is of course also the season of "BOBW," which few people will deny all but defines the TNG era Star Trek universe.

In that episode, it is made clear that being without religion is seen as an inevitable and necessary step in a culture's evolution--concurrent in fact with the discovery of warp drive. That may be a totally arbitrary and perhaps even slightly bigoted view, I'll grant, but it's established lore.

Even in our own age, which is hardly atheist, if a world leader or military leader were making command decisions based on "visions," he would be relieved of duty, regardless of what the visions might mean to him personally. The show had multiple opportunities to show how a religious belief might affect a person internally, where it really counts, in the person of Kira, but instead chose to make the series' gods corporeal wormhole aliens and Changelings. By doing so, all the power and mystery of real myth is circumvented and turned into something taudry and banal.

One further note about this episode; if the prophets really do care about Bajor enough to keep it out of the coming Dominion War AND have the power to vanish entire fleets of starships on a whim, what kind of sadistic creatures are these to allow the war to happen in the first place? Again, if the Bajoran religion had been something which actually embodied the nature of the mystical and required actual faith, this would have been a non-issue, but the show, rather, chose to shove down our throats the idea that because in this particular contrived context, the religion turned out to be "right" (whatever that's worth), all religion is somehow "right." This is childish, and it seems like a reason to criticise a show written with such a blatant agenda. But instead, this posturing is praised by those who think themselves post-modern progressive in their "tolerance" of religion.
Rob
Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 10:06am (UTC -5)
To Elliot: It wiuld be more accurate to describe the prophets as indifferent to the lives of non-Bajorans - not sadism or malice. The only reason the Prophets took direct action in the war was at the behest of 'The Sisko' who is very much ' of Bajor'.
It's also not just indifference, but a difference in understanding. Before the Emmissary, they had no concept of linear time, or more importantly, death. The end of life in the Alpha Quandrant is, for the Prophets, a non-issue, except as it touches Bajor.
For there to be malicious intent in the actions or inactions of the Prophets, they would have had to understand what lfe and death meant.

I suppose you could argue that, as non-temporal beings, the Prophets, once they understood the lessons that Sisko taught them, would have ALWAYS understood those lessons, and retroactively should have gone back and prevented all pain, suffering, and death in the universe since the dawn f time, but that's going a bit too far, and makes my head hurt to contemplate :)
Elliott
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Rob :

But, if the Prophets care about preserving life only "as it touches Bajor", they must understand what life and death are. If they want the Bajorans to remain alive as a species, they must understand what kind of species the Bajorans are--that is to say, hardly distinguishable from humans or Cardassians. They actively choose to favour the Bajorans, even going so far as to prevent genocide, ONLY to save them, not anyone else. This means they only care about the "linear" species which worships them as Gods and Ben Sisko. This, to me, is incredibly egotistical and malicious.
Brian H
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
"Rapture" and "In the Pale Moonlight" are my personal favorites of the series. Listen to Jammer, he knows what he is talking about. Excellent reviews as always.
Justin
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, so the Prophets' otherwise choice of non-interference = sadism? That doesn't quite tally with your vaunted "Roddenberrian" ideal, does it.

@Brian H, I completely agree. "In The Pale Moonlight" and "Rapture" are in my top 10 favorite episodes of DS9. The others in no particular order are:

"Far Beyond The Stars"
"The Visitor"
"Hard Time"
"Duet"
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
"The Siege Of AR-558."
"...Nor The Battle To The Strong"
"Rocks And Shoals"
Elliott
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Justin :

You prove my point exactly--the Prophets DO interfere on very specific occasions to purposefully favour the Bajorans--although, not to prevent the Occupation; maybe they felt the Bajorans needed to learn a hard lesson, those benevolent gods...

The prophets needed a Prime Directive. Hell, that could have been a major arc in the show beginning the first time they meet Sisko--the Prophets learning, as did the Q, what humanity has to offer through the Roddenberrian filtre. But that was not to be; the Prophets are capricious and self-serving thugs.
Mario
Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
I really really could not disagree more. Zero stars from me for this religious propaganda fantasy episode.
Justin
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
First the easy one. Mario, this is a made up religion we're talking about. Yes, I know what you're going to say - all religions are made up, but that's beside the point. This isn't Judaism or Islam or Catholicism. Sure, parallels can be drawn, but no one's insidiously couching the scripts with the teachings of Moses or Mohammed. Or Cathol.

Elliott, one of the things that survived the founding of The Federation is Freedom of Religion. Bajor is an aligned planet, so they at least pre-qualify for Federation membership. And probably for a line of credit from the Bank of Bolius, but I digress. Their religious fervor (not to mention the fact that Sisko is a religious figure) makes them a bit dodgy, but hey, welcome to the Federation. Live and let live, right? Besides - Wormhole.

Now, while I think your labeling The Prophets as "sadistic thugs" is more than a bit extreme, your point that they could use a Prime Directive of their own has merit. But they don't, and that's part of what makes them so interesting. Besides, maybe Prophet Sisko is teaching them about the Prime Directive right at this very mo- never mind, they exist outside of our perception of space-time, but you get my meaning...
Elliott
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
@ Justin :

The show preöccupied itself with questions of faith about beings whose existence was unquestionable--it was a false argument. But putting in lines like Kira's "you don't understand it, you just have it" or whatever she said, bear the appearance of deep and controversial thought. If the series had bothered to ask whether the Bajoran gods were trustworthy or not, whether including them in the Federation (which would be implicit in annexing the wormhole) were wise, I would say kudos to the argument. The only character to voice something resembling this was Dukat in the 7th season by which point he'd become an uncomplicated cartoon villain.

The writers were clearly confused about what these prophets really were and chose to simply let that confusion permeate the show and pass it off as noble ambiguity, but this is dishonest writing.

The prophets are gods who can perform magic...but they are also transdimensional aliens...

The prophets are non-corporeal but they live "inside" the celestial temple...

The Federation does not acknowledge the divinity of these creatures, but doesn't classify them scientifically or instruct Sisko, who has regular contact with them, to study them scientifically...

Stupid, horrendous in fact, though it was in execution, TOS has an episode designed specifically to establish that the Federation is not a space-dwelling hippie commune ("The Way to Eden"). "Live in Let Live" is not a philosophy I've heard a character espouse on Trek (a good character anyway)--it's more like "Live to Make Life Better--Everyone's Life, not just Your Own."
Justin
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott, by "false argument" I take it that you mean the concept of the Bajoran faith is unworthy of being taken seriously because the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets' existence is unquestionable. I would argue that Jesus' existence is also unquestionable. It's the NATURE of his existence that the Christian faith is built upon. Likewise with the fictional Bajoran Prophets. A believer sees them as Prophets, while a non-believer sees them as Wormhole Aliens. A believer sees Jesus as divine, while a non-believer sees him as merely a man. Only a fool believes he never existed at all (not that you fall into that category).

The question of The Prophets' trustworthiness is a valid point, though, and it definitely should have been explored more by the writers. Like with many great shows, it's a thread that was left incomplete. But while such an exploration would probably divide the lines of Faith vs. Science a little more neatly, it would also add nuance and still leave the question of the nature of the Prophets' existence open to interpretation.

Fine, change "Live and Let Live" to a more apt "Live For the Betterment of All." It still doesn't alter my opinion.
Elliott
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
@Justin :

I do mean to say that the concept of Bajoran faith is unworthy of being taken seriously; it's not merely a question of the aliens' existence, but what they can do and what it means. The Bajorans "believe" that the prophets guide and protect Bajor in return for being worshiped. This is not a belief, this is a fact. The nature of that protection is something I, for one, find repugnant, but it does not call into question issues of faith that have anything to do with real religion. In Sci-fi, one has the opportunity (and frequently the responsibility) to allegorise. Fake science is frequently a substitue for real or potentially real science as should be fake religions.

The writers chose simply not to disclose information about the prophets, but failing to disclose something doesn't make it "interesting" or mysterious, just poorly characterised.
Snitch
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:12am (UTC -5)
I liked the episode, since it addressed the problems family have with deciding what to do in a medical emergency. Star Trek and religion is always, they want the Cake and eat it, are the worm beings Supernatural and want to be worshiped or not. They never make up their mind, so their take on religion is always a cop out, its not really shown divine powers but they do not dare to say its all science. Voyager had the same problem.
3 stars from me
Drachasor
Wed, May 30, 2012, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with those that say Bajoran Faith is really not examined that well in this episode. The Orbs of the Prophets actually have powers that can be verified. They have prophecies that are pretty straightforward and come true. Their "gods" are beings that actually exist and seem to show concern for Bajor (though that's perhaps a bit of a retcon compared to how they were at first). They also seem to have taken a liking to Sisko as numerous witnesses can confirm.

What episodes like this never really think about is whether Bajoran Faith is always the same as the faiths of other religions. Bajoran Faith CAN be more like trusting a friend than other religions that have no evidence for the existence of their deities.

Starfleet is often forced to act in a rather bizarre way here. Starfleet officers have met beings with power far beyond the Prophets like Q. Yet somehow Starfleet's official stance is to act like the Wormhole Aliens have no relationship to Bajor or Sisko, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, we see Dax and O'Brian have apparent shock that people believe in the Prophets, we they know dang well they exist and do interfere.

I find Worf's comments to be a little bit out of character here, though perhaps that's just part of how he uses "faith", which isn't a very clear word. Worf seems like the sort of person who'd talk about strength of will or character, and might see what Sisko was going through as a some sort of test. Afterall, Klingon culture is replete with these sorts of painful and sometimes near-fatal tests. On the other hand, Klingon beliefs hold that they killed their gods and he's seen a number of fake gods while serving on the Enterprise. I could see him being against listening to the visions.

This of course gets to a very significant question that is undiscussed by anyone in this episode. Does it make sense to trust the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets? Given the nature of the visions, it seems pretty clear they are involved. Why doesn't the Admiral or anyone else question whether they should trust the source of these visions? Surely the Wormhole Aliens [WAs] have their own agenda? Does it necessarily line up with Bajor? The WAs claim it does, but that doesn't mean they aren't lying about that and other things. Perhaps the WAs are a force working against the Federation -- they don't seem to have a problem (at this point in the show), letting the Dominion come through the wormhole and muck up the Alpha Quadrant. If you claim the WAs aren't connected enough to the normal flow of time to be judged this way, then that casts doubt on the validity of following those visions as well.

An interesting fact about the show that people often don't consider is this. When you look at the series as a whole, it certainly doesn't seem like the Prophets consider themselves divine and they seem rather oblivious to worship. The implications of this on Bajoran society is never carefully considered.

Elliott brings up a good point here as well. Why didn't the Federation ever consider having the Prophets join? The Federation certainly has a lot of strange and bizarre races that are part of it. The Medusans from the original show are energy beings that drive people insane who view them -- they are members. There are other beings from the original show and TNG with other strange powers equally as bizarre. The WAs wouldn't really be out of place, and there's no particular reason why they couldn't join. Heck, it might have been interesting to explore the idea that they already consider themselves members (and how Starfleet deals with that), given their temporal troubles.

A really thorough examining of the WAs would also have made a great counter-point to the Dominion, where the Changelings are likewise considered divine. The WAs are benevolent, but out of touch, whereas the Changelings are domineering and favor micromanagement. Both have people that worship them (whether these "gods" are really aware of it or care is another matter).

That said, I think this episode is very entertaining. I'd still give it 3/4 Stars. It would have been better if they didn't dumb down the situation into a simple blind faith vs. non-belief when the actual situation is much more complex.
Cindi
Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Man, do I agree with the review here. Another fantastic take on religion, with all the complexity and subtlety we're used to from DS9.

Although I also think Brooks' acting awkwardness and directing averageness almost kills the episode. But the script is so strong it's manageable. If Sisko were played by Patrick Stewart and the episode directed by David Livingstone (who did a stellar job on "Visitor"), this would be right up there with Inner Light.
Hegemon
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 10:06am (UTC -5)
This episode is another of many that highlight why DS9 is simply not "real" Trek. Im not talking about whether its well written or acted or anything like that but it betrays some of the core principles that Star Trek is built around.

Roddenberry was himself a secular humanist and his vision of the future and therefore Star Trek was a world where humanity had accepted this worldview. He made this clear to the shows writers. Brandon Braga has said that Gene made it clear that not a single human being believes in anything supernatural.

It's OK if you dont like that but if you think religion and supernatural belief's are a natural fit for Star Trek than you're under some false impressions of the nature of Trek.
Josh
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Roddenberry's vision is not the last word on what Star Trek is about or ever was about. It's not as if the writers followed his directive either. For that matter, there's ample evidence in TOS and the movies that Kirk and co. weren't atheists. Roddenberry's vision also includes the Vulcan "katra" and a vast array of omnipotent beings who behave like the gods of the Ancient World.

Plus, in "Data's Day", Data makes mention of the passing of the "Hindu festival of lights". Are we supposed to think that non-humans were celebrating it?

As for the episode, it's always been a favourite of mine. But then I like stories with mythic aspects that aren't written to confirm with an arbitrary Trek mythos or "vision".
Sam
Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Everybody get over the Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks comparison. There is none. There is a reason why Deep Space Nine is the most critically acclaimed Star Trek series of them all. It's because the writers were inspired by Avery's performance. To think that Patrick Stewart is so brilliant because of "Inner Light" is ludicrous. Scott Bakula was an wooden and empty captain. William Shatner was a wise-cracking pretty fly-boy. Patrick Stewart was decent enough but was boring and Kate Mulgrew was average but spunky, while Avery was commanding with his deep baritone voice, was tender as a father and sociable with his fellow officers. When he reprimanded you, you froze but he was also flexible as when he quietly helped O'brien help Tosk or when he provided Kira a runabout to rescue a Bajoran prisoner. He was a brilliant engineer (was part of the team that designed the Defiant at the Utopia Planitea Yards), was a master strategist (taking command of an entire armada of Starfleet vessels). He was a deeply religious man (the Emissary). You think an average actor would have been given such a character profile? Hardly. Again, Deep Space Nine was the most expensive and most acclaimed series of them all and this was due to not only the excellent production values, writing, cast ensemble but ultimately the strength of Avery Brooks commanding portrayal of Captain Benjamin Sisko, the Emissary.
David
Tue, Dec 25, 2012, 6:08am (UTC -5)
Not touching Sam's post.

But to Hegemon, I'd say DS9 seems pretty consistent with that rule. All of the human characters don't express either way if they're religious or not, those sorts of concepts all come from Bajorans in the episode and, obliquely, from Worf.

Also as has been pointed out, while the Bajorans couch it all in "religious" terms, Starfleet sees it as non-linear aliens living inside a womrhole, so it doesn't seem like it would be very complicated for them.

Now, whether the Federation accepts religious members is an interesting question posed further up. I'd say when that candidate has access to a stable wormhole, the Federation would let them in regardless.

Also regarding the episode, the revelation in Season 7 that Sisko is part-Prophet makes his ability to see the future here quite interesting. I suppose it depends on if their non-linear nature comes purely down to knowledge, or if it's an inherent part of them that was passed down in some fashion.
Josh
Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
I just noticed tonight a nice little touch during the scene in Quark's celebrating Bajor's pending Federation membership. Dax and Worf are drinking from glasses with little Federation seals on them - a nice detail to be sure.

Avery Brooks provides an interesting performance. Most of the time Sisko is fairly down-to-earth but here he always seems a bit eccentric-unhinged by his visions. It's almost a subtle touch, but he modulates his voice and mannerisms in such a way that in just about every scene he seems noticeably different.

I've been doing a season five rewatch and it holds up very well so far!
William B
Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: why Bashir didn't relieve Sisko of duty

It's true that there are political reasons, but there a much simpler explanation for why *Bashir* didn't relieve Sisko of duty in this episode. Hint: it's revealed in "In Purgatory's Shadow." :)

(I kid -- that doesn't change the substance of the discussion in any major way.)
Corey
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Just want to echo agreement with Jammer's rating for this episode. Star Trek has always been a commentary about the human condition. Religion has been, and is, part of the human condition, and most likely will be for a very long time, and this episode touched on the issues well. Jammer already covered why this is a good episode, so 4 stars here.
Kotas
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
The Bajoran religion is not interesting to me.

2/10
eastwest101
Thu, Nov 21, 2013, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
While I agree with most of Jammers reviews - I found this episode very very dull, lumbering and pedestrian effort. Brookes performance was as wooden and scenery chewing as ever, and I found myself actually bored.

A bit of a tiresome new age unfocussed bother to watch.... only one star from me - for the development of Kai Winn and the good scene with Worf, Kira, Dax and O'Brien in Ops
Ric
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
How an episode like that can be rated fours starts out of four, is beyond me. Of course I read the entire Jammer's review, as I always do. In fact I've been reading the site for a while, but this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. And why? It is simple.

In this episode, we see Sisko having visions about the future. There is not even sufficient technobabble thrown on the table to try explain how Sisko is supposed to have those spiritual visions of the future. In this episode, Star Trek starts getting a Star Wars flavor that it shouldn't have ever get.

Not that I despise religions, or even think that humans are all necessarily atheistic or even agnostic in the Roddenberrian future (although most humans certainly are, considering the tips given in past Trek). This is not the point. The points are: 1) how can someone have such visions of the future without a good rationale explanation in the Trek world; 2) how can a Starfleet Officer make judgements and huge calls as Sisko made here, based on those visions, without being released of duty either before that (by Bashir, as Elliot mentioned above) or after (as deserved punishment) those decisions.

This is not a merely odd episode. Those were not merely awkward decisions in a Trek universe. Those wer huge plot changing decisions in a hugely plot chaging episode, once it delayed the entrance of Bajor in the Federation of Planets.

I can see many good things in the episode regarding the writing, the character development, even some acting moments, etc. But how can those things surpass the atrocity that the plot injures Trek with, is just beyond any coherent reasoning I can find. Sorry guys, I liked the structure of the episode, but a huge plot change caused my unexplained religious visions of the future in a Star Wars way? No, sorry.

2.5 or 3 stars to the episode structure and writting. 1 star to the plot. On average, 1.5 to episode as a whole.
Grumpy
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Ric: "There is not even sufficient technobabble thrown on the table to try explain how Sisko is supposed to have those spiritual visions of the future."

(babble babble) wormhole aliens (babble babble) non-linear (babble babble).

You don't have to like the show's reliance on magical, godlike entities, but you must admit they explain a lot. So anytime you see something like that, a Prophet did it.
Elliott
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy: Um, so because they happened to have mentioned "non-linear" prophets, that makes any action they take defensible? So if in the 1st season of Voyager, Harry Kim invented a self-powering shuttle replicator, no one would criticise the incredible supply they seemed to have? Just having an explanation, no matter how stupid, is sufficient?
Ric
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy I see your point and I am glad you came with this. But what amuses me is that not even the babble-babble wormhole, babble-babble non-linear card was effectively used in this episode. In fact, they sort of took it as granted that we would just recall and rely on those babbles.

Or in other words, in this episode authors seem convinced that, as @Elliott has just said, anything written for the show that does not immediately fit into the fictional reality of Trek by default, will be automatically accounted for by a magictechnobabble that is not even present neither in this episode, nor in any recent episodes. This is just too lazy and too easy an approach to, saying the least, be praised as an outstanding episode.

In the same tone, regarding the magical godlike entities, I agree with you that at this point it is an explanation. But it is not certainly an elaborate one. It is not only a matter of taste. I dislike other things in this and other Star Trek shows, as it is normal regarding any show. But here we are talking about something that is very contradictory to the Trek reality so far: magic-like technobabble. It does fit, into the reality proposed by Star Wars, to have such a thing as the Force. It does not fit in the reality we've been presented in Trek to have magic god-like creatures without careful explanation. Take, for instance, Q in the TNG show. Of course he had godlike powers as we think of gods, but in every Q episode we were exposed clearly and coherently to how he has been messing things around and how humans reacted coherently to that. In the current DS9 episode, this is not the same. We are exposed to Sisko having an electric shock when playing with ancient religious pieces, then Sisko just starts seeing the future and making decisions solely based on that, without the natural consequences.

If the idea was to do with Sisko similar something similar to what happens to Pickard in “All the good things…”, it clearly didn't work the same. And why? We just have to compare how both episodes were built and explained. In the TNG one, the causes for Pickard seeing the future were made very clear and had rationale; the reaction of Starfleet and even the Enterprise officers to Pickard traveling his mind through time was very credible: distrust and consternation; and the decision to alter events based on a knowledge of the future was made by Picard after a good deal of philosophical dilemma. Nothing like those things came even close to happening in this DS9 episode.
Ric
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
Btw, do not get my whole thing wrong. I really like DS9 in general and its provocative sort of anti-Roddenberrian ideal world. But starting to rely on such things as magical-because-nonlinear-things, as an excuse to do any plot change they desire without the limits of credibility, is just something that cannot be praised as a gold medal episode. Instead of as an at least flawed one, even if having its qualities.
Elliott
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Ugh. Every time I watch this episode I find something new to hate--did anyone else catch that line from Worf? He essentially says (and Kira backs him up) that supernatural faith in ANYTHING is simply, automatically good, no matter what. Does anyone else say, "I don't see the evidence for that." or "Could you be more specific?" or preferably "That's fucking stupid." Nope. All we get is Dax and O'Brien saying, "gee I hope that's true for Sisko's sake." I have seen more cogent religious debate on the 700 Club. How anyone can call this writing "deft" must, in my view, be so anxious to see Star Trek apologise for its atheistic origins as to miss the gross contrivances which piece this episode together.
Elliott
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Ugh. Every time I watch this episode I find something new to hate--did anyone else catch that line from Worf? He essentially says (and Kira backs him up) that supernatural faith in ANYTHING is simply, automatically good, no matter what. Does anyone else say, "I don't see the evidence for that." or "Could you be more specific?" or preferably "That's fucking stupid." Nope. All we get is Dax and O'Brien saying, "gee I hope that's true for Sisko's sake." I have seen more cogent religious debate on the 700 Club. How anyone can call this writing "deft" must, in my view, be so anxious to see Star Trek apologise for its atheistic origins as to miss the gross contrivances which piece this episode together.
Jack
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Don't even try to figure it out, Elliott. In Accession, Odo calls Kira out on the "Sisko's the emissary, now suddenly Akorem is" nonsense, and she retorts this gibberish:

"That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary."

...and then that's it. The episode acts as if Kira was struck a mortal, logical blow to Odo's whole question, when she did nothing of the kind.
Dusty
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
This one was really heavy. Heavy, illogical, and weird. I don't dislike it exactly; I just thought it was overdone. Sisko wouldn't go from grounded authority figure to starry-eyed prophet just because he had a few visions. The writers should have been less out front with the religious stuff and offered a stronger secular/scientific perspective--i.e. Sisko's obsession + aftereffects of the power surge cause him to have hallucinations. I'm not against Bajor and its religion being a factor, but stuff like this is too heavy-handed and you can't expect a sci-fi audience to buy it.

Still, it was compelling, though I agree more with O'Brien and Dax than Worf and Kira--who remains an awesome character, even with her head in the clouds.
Vylora
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Seems episodes such as these are a major point of contention for quite a few people. I stand by my belief that when a show enjoys the ability to touch on many aspects in life, then there's no reason not to.

I'm glad Star Trek didn't barricade itself into the "since religion is not a major issue for the Federation then let's just say there's no other species where it is". Now not only does that free the writers to delve into another aspect of life with a sci-fi bent. But they even took it a little further with the involvement of it while being careful not to let it overshadow things. It's not always perfect but then nothing is. Look at ST:V. That was a horrible convoluted mess on almost every level.

I'm not going to really get into the specifics of the above comments, though. I have my own reasons why I like this episode. There's a few lines of dialogue that are a bit out of place and could have been better given more thoughtful rewrite. However, the direction and acting were reliable as ever. The purposeful foreshadowing and overall cohesiveness was admirable.

In my opinion, great stuff but not among the best. 3.5 stars.
Matt
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Funnily enough the uniform change led me to believe that the whole episode wasn't "real".
I first noticed the difference after he was shocked and was talking to bashir, which seemed to me a designation of the difference between reality and wherever the event were happening in. Very confusing.
Yanks
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:04am (UTC -5)
"It's because the writers were inspired by Avery's performance."

.... wow ....

"I found this episode very very dull, lumbering and pedestrian effort. Brookes performance was as wooden and scenery chewing as ever, and I found myself actually bored."

Agree whole-heartedly.

Unbelievable that Sisko wasn't temporarily relieved by Bashir or the frellin ADMIRAL that was there.

Character building for Winn? lol ... really? Kira BEAT her previously because Kira has always believed Sisko was the Emissary.

Only after Sisko's actions follow the scriptures does she come to Kira with this:

"WINN: But it is what you think. Those of you who were in the Resistance, you're all the same. You think you're the only ones who fought the Cardassians, that you saved Bajor singlehandedly. Perhaps you forget, Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets. I was in a Cardassian prison camp for five years and I can remember each and every beating I suffered. And while you had your weapons to protect you, all I had was my faith and my courage. Walk with the Prophets, child. I know I will."

She's just trying to justify herself to Kira. She suffered more, blah, blah...

This is kin of like the "friendship" that Dukat envisions is present with him and Sisko.

No character development her at all for Winn, she hasn't changed at all. She HAD to admit she was wrong, that's the only reason she did it.

1 star because Sisko keeps Bajor out of the Federation so I guess he IS "for Bajor". The only reason I watched this one is because I'm grading all the episodes.
KanarWithDamar
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -5)
It's been a long time since Sam posted but you must be smoking some bajoran weed if you thing Brooks is a better actor than Stewart. Maybe you've seen his other film work or something. I haven't. But in ds9 his voice sounds creepy. Sometimes when he's talking to Cassidy he'll almost whisper and sound like a crazy person. Or out of nowhere he'll read his lines like he's in a Shakespeare play. Go back and watch that ep rocks and shoals. Great ep but when they are debating killing the jem hadar he says something like "if it's them or us there is NO CHOICE. He rolls his tongue and sounds so funny you can see colm meaney trying to hold back a laugh.

As for the characters Sisko is the worst captain. What did it is him being fooled by the wormhole aliens into believing they are Gods. Both Kirk and Picard have run into powerful beings who portray themselves as God and sometimes to planets they look over. But Kirk and Picard are never fooled by them. I mean Sisko had to teach the aliens about linear time. The same linear time the bajorans live in. Picard and Kirk would never have been dumb enough to be fooled to
the point of risking their son's life and the life of their crew to allow the aliens to battle it out on their ship. And they definitely wouldn't have abandoned they family and starfleet to join the aliens. Sisko had some great qualities in the early seasons but once the aliens got him to follow them he turns into a trajic figure who also decides to throw away many of his morals for either what he sees as the greater good or for whatever the aliens need him to do. Wow. That was a lot of typing. I will say that quark is a great character though.
$G
Wed, Sep 10, 2014, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
@ Jack:

"Odo calls Kira out on the "Sisko's the emissary, now suddenly Akorem is" nonsense, and she retorts this gibberish:

'That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.'

...and then that's it. The episode acts as if Kira was struck a mortal, logical blow to Odo's whole question, when she did nothing of the kind."

Not sure this comment will be seen by anyone who's already posted in this thread, but:

Kira's justifications are cringe-worthy to adamant non-believers (like myself), but I'm not sure the episode *necessarily* sides with her, just like I don't think other episodes side with her on issues of terrorism (i.e., "The Darkness and the Light"). Though I admit the exchange you mention leaves a lot to be desired - a lot of “Accession” is undercooked to begin with. There needed to be more there.

"Rapture", however, is much better - if only because the episode is written and shot to feel more like a milestone than as a freelanced one-off. "Rapture" could have easily been a procedural of Sisko figuring out B'hala, but it included the Bajor-Federation plot, Winn's soul searching, the return of Kasidy, proclamations for the series' future, AND it put Jake in a rough spot.

B'hala itself is fascinating - adding scope and historical weight to the Bajoran setting we're already familiar with. Sisko seeing the fabric of the universe is provocative as well, a great twist because it's been simmering so long. It's the first time Sisko-as-Emissary is given cosmic heft. The stakes have risen and we're careening towards revelations we didn't know were coming. Until now, the Emissary story has been largely political at times and not-unlike other convening-with-deities episodes at others. Here, Sisko is temporarily granted clairvoyance which is plausible given what we already know about the Prophets and Bajoran mysticism and which is alluring because Sisko is unable to maintain it. Sisko finally throwing his hat in with the Prophets feels earned as well, and the various reactions of the crew are a nice look at how different viewpoints interpret “revelations” like this.

Jake's decision to go through with the surgery, urged by Bashir, is well done. Here, rationalism wins out, despite what some posters are calling propaganda. If Winn had her way, Sisko probably would have died even though she and Kira both thought the Prophets were watching over him (which is the case, yes, but not a certainty that they'd prevent him from dying). Winn's ugly comment about Jake being selfish is damning for her character, and actually strikes a balance between giving the Bajoran religion credence (the Prophets do exist) while also still illustrating the flaws of faith (assuming the Prophets are benevolent without evidence).

For handling all these elements, I think "Rapture" is a standout episode of the series. It used to be one of my favourites, but re-watching it again reveals that it isn't perfect:

-Admiral Whatley, never seen before, has no gravitas. Admirals usually don't have much presence on this show, but in this case they really needed one. In fact, DS9 probably should have had a go-to admiral character to be Sisko's contact at Starfleet by this point. I know they eventually get one, but Sisko's mission being a political one he really needed a higher-up to put a face on the Federation Council. Someone that already has a rapport with Sisko; someone whose presence in the flesh indicates a big deal. Instead, Whatley comes off as relatively weak, especially his weak-ass reprimand of Sisko for botching the induction. That scene should have been fiery, at the very LEAST.

-Sisko bursting in on the delegations and his "locusts!" line. A little bit... too dramatic. The Bajorans aren't signing their souls away, so stopping them minutes from putting pen to paper seems a bit forced. I would have liked to see a scene with Sisko speaking with Winn and Shakaar (whose absence is another flaw) and having THEM make the decision without any fireworks.

-Sisko walking down the promenade making pronouncements to people. This show usually lays it on a bit too thick at some point in every episode, but here it seems especially silly. He tells that one Bajoran, "You don't belong here. Go home." The extra just nods and walks off screen. Okay...?

Other than these quibbles, "Rapture" is stand out. Jammer compared episodes like "The Sword of Kahless" to Indiana Jones, but *this* is the episode that exudes that Jones-like wonder in the weight of myth for me. It's not my favourite hour of DS9 anymore, but it's still quality and its influence is a cornerstone of the series. 3 1/2 stars by Jammer's system.

---

One more thing I want to mention, because a lot of people are hung up on the R-word:

Tolerating the beliefs of others does not mean one shares those beliefs. The Federation wanting Bajor is a mark in their favour – but full-on assimilation, including Bajorans giving up their religion, is not the goal, despite what characters like Quark, Garak, or Eddington say. The show pokes some holes in the Federation's facade but still shows that it is ultimately a force of good in the Alpha Quadrant.

Assuming the show DIDN'T depict the factual existence of the Prophets, the Federation would still be in the right to want Bajor to join up. If you're looking for where the line should be drawn on accepting counter-philosophies, “Accession” is it. The Federation will rightly tolerate benign beliefs, but will absolutely not help oversee a caste-based society or any philosophy that arbitrarily limits the freedoms of its citizens. The cultural relativism ends there as far as the Feds are concerned. As it is, the Bajorans have their faith and harm no one in the process (outside of some instances of extremist violence, but which isn't shown to be a basic tenet of the faith) – one either accepts them or casts them out. Exclusion requires significant justification, and I don't think there's adequate justification for denouncing the Bajorans.

For an indictment of the ugly side of dogma and belief, there's the Dominion. Its followers murder and suicide for their gods, believing only because they've been bred to. The Dominion doesn't keep to itself. It doesn't care if you believe in the Founders because the imperial religion of the Dominion espouses no philosophy and enriches no one's life and doesn't seek to. Joining them and following their rules is enough for them – the belief part is only there to get the imperial ball rolling so others can be dragged into the fold. The show makes no bones about the evil of the Founders and the damage done to the races under their control. The Bajoran religion, on the other hand, has its own problems which are depicted fairly sensibly. Why have two concepts act as foils to one another only to subject them both to ridicule and exclusion?
Charles
Sun, Dec 14, 2014, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Interesting that Jammer put 4 stars to this episode, because personally that's the episode where DS9 started to piss me off personally, talking about religion and gods like it's a real thing, and crossing from "star trek" to supernatural bullshit. I'd give it 0 stars.
Charles
Sun, Dec 14, 2014, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
PS: Agree 100% with everything KanarWithDamar says in their comment. Sisko is the worst Captain for these reasons (and actually more, but regarding this episode and the whole Bajoran religion thing this is enough). That's the episode when he starts to believe in himself as the emissary, which if I had been the Federation, would have been reason enough to cut him as a captain to DS9. Of course, DS9 is a TV show, and the character was written that way (and we're supposed to admire him for it), so the fault lies entirely with the writers of DS9.
Del_Duio
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
"that's the episode where DS9 started to piss me off personally, talking about religion and gods like it's a real thing, and crossing from "star trek" to supernatural bullshit."

Yeah but the prophets / wormhole aliens ARE real in the DS9 universe. Many characters on the show have had run-ins with them or more. They aren't some intangible thing, otherwise you would have made a good point.
dlpb
Sat, Dec 27, 2014, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
You are totally missing the point, Del. The reason people believe in Jesus, or Allah, or other deities is because they are NOT tangible. They are not believed to be merely another species, but a great maker. If people found out tomorrow that Jesus was actually an alien from a distant planet, Christianity would be dead in the water.

The Bajorans have accepted, by and large, that their prophets are in fact aliens. So what makes them different to the Klingons? Oh, yeah, they can "see the future". No. It's also accepted in Trek's universe that this is not a special event. Q, for example, is far more god-like than the wormhole aliens, but they aren't worshipping him. The whole idea of the wormhole aliens as gods is absolutely idiotic.

This episode is entertaining, but has some very annoying parts, like all this religion mumbo jumbo badly written. But it is not helped by the disastrous acting of Avery Brooks.
Robert
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 6:53am (UTC -5)
Ok, but but if Jesus is real he likely is another species. If an intelligent entity exists out there that is God it's not going to be human.

Zeus was the most powerful of the Greek gods but some priests served temples of much lesser Gods. Should they have only devoted their worship to the most powerful ones?

If we met God tomorrow and he was a Q and he could prove her created our planet and that he shepherds our souls into an afterlife you REALLY think nobody would worship him?

Now I'm not saying Bajorans go to the wormhole when they die (because I have no flipping clue), but their Gods clearly send them orbs while Q does jack for them.
dlpb
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
That isn't what I said at all, and nor is what the writers of DS9 are saying. They have shown that Kira and her people KNOW that the "gods" are aliens in the wormhole. Aliens just like any other, with the added ability to perceive time differently (like Q), and yet they still pray to them and worship them.

A religion does not work this way. It never has. It never will. That's the mistake the DS9 writers made (they don't understand religion at all), and it's the mistake you are making too.
Robert
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Your comment was two fold

1) That we wouldn't believe in Jesus (or at least worship him) if he were "actually an alien from a distant planet".

2) That the wormhole aliens "powers" are nothing special (in Trek lore) and likely not even the most god-like of the god-like things Trek's travelers have encountered.

You don't have to agree with me, but I addressed both of those points. I think that we would worship a Q like being if we met one and he had a special connection to our world (maybe Jesus was a Q) and that the Bajoran affinity for the Wormhole aliens has more to do with their perceived parent/child relationship than their "limitless" powers.

It's a lot like the Edo and their God (only way more fleshed out).
Elliott
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert and DLPB :

I have commented about this in another spot, but it's worth repeating. The source of the conflict here is in the conflation of two very different definitions of a god. The Abrahamic God (and a few other gods in more obscure religions), as DLPB pointed out, is intangible, omnipotent, timeless--it is literally *meta*physical in that it lies *outside* of the spheres of science. This is directly linked to the God's origins as a pre-scientific conceptualisation. It was born from a people who had not yet discovered science. For a believer in this god, all laws of nature eventually lead back to God; why does the Sun set? God. Why is there a bountiful harvest? God. Why did grandma die? God.

The gods of antiquity (and a few extant gods as well) can coëxist with science because they are bound by the laws of nature, not above them. These gods are metaphysical in the original Greek sense (naturally) in that they are an *abstraction* of reality. They are not a substitute for science, but a substitute for psychology.

The problem with the Wormhole Aliens is that the writers make them gods in the latter sense (those of antiquity) but make the Bajorans behave and worship them like believers in the former god (Abrahamic). The real-life consequences of believing in these different types of gods are stupendous, but the writers on DS9 treat them as interchangeable, which is what makes the Bajoran religion so infuriating.
Robert
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
So do you think if the real rapture happened and the second coming of Jesus turns out to be John DeLancie with Q powers that all Christians would stop worshipping him?

IE - Do you really believe that no ancient people worshipped an individual God (Zeus or Ares) in the sense of the way Bajorans worship their Gods?

And I'm not sure Bajorans believe bad things happen "because God". Kira doesn't seem to blame them for the occupation.

Actually the only ones in the entire series that really seem to expect the prophets to do ANYTHING are Sisko and Winn.
Elliott
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@Robert, just think about what you're implying :

Q disguised himself as various figures in one obscure part of the world for thousands of years in order to manipulate the people there into creating a mythology (he created Judaism).

THEN, he appeared as a revolutionary Jewish figure (Jesus) for 30 years or so in order to *undermine* the very religion he created in order to create a second religion which would spend thousands of years persecuting believers in the former.

THEN, on some undisclosed date, he would "return" in order to complete the prophecy he himself invented in order to pull a GOTCHA on the those members of the religion who happened to be living in that particular moment.

And all of this to accomplish what, exactly?

Christians today would not believe Q if he claimed to be God ("Tapestry" anyone?) or to have always been God because Q's nature does not make him a god in the Christian sense--he may be powerful, but he is not metaphysical; he is not *above* the laws of the Universe, he conforms to them.

------------

I was unclear in my previous post--yes there were some ancient peoples who worshipped the Type A (Abrahamic) god; I only used the term "antique" as a label, not a generalisation.

------------

The fact that Kira does not blame the Prophets for the Occupation is a product of her own sophomoric psyche. So her gods wanted to impregnate Sarah Sisko, delete a Dominion Fleet and send her back in time to meet her mum? Sure. But no they had no hand in ignoring the half-century of suffering she and her people endured. That's called Battered Spouse Syndrome, not theology.
Robert
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
I get what you are saying about metaphysical, but I'm not convinced that Q isn't and I think he'd be able to pick up a following.

As to his motivations? Kicks and giggles if it were Q.

And as for the prophets, I think you and I have done that one to death :-)

Happy New Year!
DLPB
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott
Yes. What you have written there is completely correct. We can at least agree on some things. The Bajoran "religion" was badly written, likely because the writers had no understanding of the points you have just made. Confused Matthew also makes a very interesting observation that when Dukhat closes the wormhole, the Bajoran people start to put their faith in the "anti-gods", the Pah-wraith. Even Kai Winn. Confused Matthew sums it up just like I would: "Religions do not work that way".
Moegreen
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
Great episode but I found it quite jarring that Sisko had to placate that admiral (deserves an award for bland characterization & bad acting).
William B
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
I don't mean to beat a dead horse, and this is nothing new, but the thing is, even if we accept that even if human religions largely don't work the way the Bajoran religion does, there's still precedent within Trek for something like the Bajorans/Prophets relationship taking on something like worship, and lots of effort being placed to point out why this is wrong. TOS had godlike aliens constantly, and even one who was ACTUALLY APOLLO (which doesn't make much sense, but it's TOS so I think it's just best to go with it). But the fact that Apollo was LITERALLY APOLLO doesn't mean he should be worshiped as a divinity in the sense of a being of higher moral authority, or someone whose decrees must automatically be followed, or whatever. The episode was very clear. Humans worshiped ACTUALLY APOLLO, in the "Who Mourns for Adonais?" version of history, because humans were naive and Apollo and the other "Greek Gods" had superpowers, and we are beyond that now -- which is partly an exploration of the way humans are now beyond the naive need to ascribe to deities natural or psychological phenomena the way they used to. Similarly, Picard immediately does everything possible to shut down being worshiped by the Mintakans.

The beings in TOS & TNG who declared themselves Gods or Devils, or allowed themselves to be worshiped as Gods, were always either deluded or drunk on their own power (like Apollo, or Gary Mitchell) or flagrantly using their divine status to do a scam (Ardra posing as "the Devil"), and they were all correctly identified as not actually being Gods deserving of worship. Heck, the correctly maligned Star Trek V had Kirk undermine "God" in ten seconds by asking what God needs with a space ship, thus demonstrating that this being was not the omnipotent being that God is supposed to be.

What's even weirder is that WITHIN DS9, they have a really obvious example which they fail to properly interrogate. The Founders declare themselves Gods so that they cannot be questioned by their underlings. This shows that they are evil, domination-craving creatures; and this has some precedent in human history, with some emperors and pharaohs declaring themselves God-Kings to keep the "rabble" in line. And this is obviously, totally wrong for the Founders to encourage this, and the only time I can think of when a non-Dominion-aligned character took it seriously was the way Odo and Kira sorta took pity on the "good" Weyoun in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" and Odo consented to play a Godlike role for Weyoun at the end and Kira seemed to think that Weyoun seeing Odo as a God would be a pleasant thing for him. The most explicit dialogue linking the Founder/Vorta and Prophets/Bajoran relationship comes in this dialogue:

WEYOUN: Pah wraiths and Prophets. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
DAMAR: You believe that the Founders are gods, don't you?
WEYOUN: That's different.
DAMAR: In what way?
WEYOUN: The Founders are gods.

The joke of the scene is that the Founders aren't gods, and Weyoun thinks they are because he's been programmed to by the Founders. But someone should listen to Damar, and someone should have turned the question around on Kira or someone. Swap "Weyoun" with "Kira," Damar with say Odo, and Founders and Prophets and you get:

KIRA: Founders as Gods. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
ODO: You believe that the Prophets are gods, don't you?
KIRA: That's different.
ODO: In what way?
KIRA: The Prophets are gods.

Right.

One *can* argue that the Prophets aren't like the Founders because, unlike the Founders, they don't make the Bajorans worship them, and this argument might be true as of what we know of the Prophets in s1 or so. That still doesn't explain why the Prophets merely being worshiped by the Bajorans gives them divine status, but it at least would allow the Prophets to merely be powerful beings who happen to be worshiped and don't take the time (or nonlinear time or whatever) like Picard to clear up the misconceptions, which makes them irresponsible or, generously, unable to comprehend Bajoran worship at all, but not evil dominators like the Founders. Fine. But then as the series goes on, the Wormhole Aliens' protestations of being unable to understand linear time become less and less convincing, since they apparently give visions where they tell Kira who to date and who not to date ("Children of Time"), interfere in Bajor joining the Federation which is a way worse outcome than 60 years of Bajor being occupied by Cardassia ("Rapture"), make clear which of Sisko or Akorem is the real Emissary, implying that they *do* believe that an Emissary should exist and thus that they are at least a little bit aware of their "divine" status with the Bajorans ("Accession"), wipe out a Dominion fleet ("Sacrifice of Angels"), and apparently mindcontrolled of Sisko's mother in order to produce Sisko (s7). They needed to mind-control a woman in order to produce Sisko because, uh...um...because they needed him as their Emissary because, uh...well...I mean, who else would explain time to them using baseball metaphors, if they hadn't set him up to do so?

The Prophets' behaviour, in order words, comes to look basically the same as the Founders'; their taking over Sisko's mother to breed a Benjamin Sisko because they need a Benjamin Sisko for some reason is a more specific, less extensive, version of the Founders' genetic engineering program. They were taking an active role in choosing how the Bajorans would worship them, and via whom.

Some criticisms of the Prophets eventually come up, mostly through Dukat acting as mouthpiece for the Pah-Wraiths, but they get dropped quickly and are articulated by villains.

Meanwhile, the Prophets' motivations are never clarified, whereas the Founders' remain relatively constant. The Founders want to dominate or wipe out all life that can hurt them, because they believe that solids will always betray them unless they are genetically engineered not to. They want to bring Odo back to them, but also on their terms, which also means punishing him when he hurts them. There are individual points where the Founders' actions don't make sense given their general goals, but generally their goals are at least fairly clear. The Prophets, uh, want to protect Bajor except when they don't, talk Sisko into not joining the Federation because Bajor will be hurt by the Dominion and then destroy the Dominion fleet anyway, claim to have no ability to comprehend linear time and tell Kira whom to date, etc. The Pah-Wraiths are evil because they, uh, are fire? How is the Pah-Wraiths possessing Jake against his consent, which is shown to be evil (correctly), different from the Prophets possessing Sarah Sisko, which is just taken as fine and dandy? What is it about the Pah-Wraiths that is different from the Prophets, except that they're all red and fiery and stuff?

So even if we accept that the Bajoran "religion" is not meant to be analogous to human religions, which raises the question of why it's treated with human-religion-like terms all the time, the show *still* fails to point out that there is little distinction between the Prophets and the Founders (or the Pah-Wraiths), and relatedly why Sisko or Kira are ultimately different in terms of their loyalty to the Prophets from Weyoun's blind, pathetic loyalty to the Prophets. Except Weyoun at least had one clone who could think for himself about whether his Gods might be mistaken, whereas Kira never did that, and Sisko's "thinking for himself" is mostly shown to be a bad thing causing sorrow.
Robert
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
There are 3 separate issues here. So let's break it down.

1) Elliott, when speaking of the prophets, is fond of pointing out that the Bajorans should know better than to lend the prophets moral authority over their lives. "Following" a God's teaching is allowing it moral authority and is one aspect of worship.

2) Revering a higher power is a second element of worship. Think celebrity "worship". This can be connected with a) (ie, I'm going on some crazy diet or buying some random product because person X does so) or it can be separate from b) (teenage girls may have Bieber postered around their room in shrine-like fashion without lending him any moral authority in their life. The point I'm tossing out here is that 1 & 2 are related, but not always joined.

3) Belief. You either believe a God exists and has the power to do what it says it can do in your holy texts or you don't.

I'd argue that the only one of these things that is particularly problematic is 1. (3 is clearly a non-issue, the "prophets" are in the wormhole and do have the powers the texts claim they have) But the issues with 1 are 2 sided. The first is... why are we granting beings that don't even understand linear existence moral authority over our lives? The second is if we are even able to judge what the prophets want anyway. Kira and Bareil are seen to argue over prophecy and the Bajorans re-instituted a caste system at the behest of a false emissary.

So let me be clear that I think belief in a God and even reverence of a superior being (or the prophets) is not an issue or a weakness. When the Bajorans attempt to do the will of the prophets they often end up worse off and clearly shown to be wrong (this happens to Winn, Neela, Akorem, Yarka and others).

So I think the show agrees that it is a poor idea to put moral authority in a human interpreting the will of an entity they cannot understand. But how about Kira/Sisko who actually speak to the prophets occasionally and sometimes even get them to do THEIR bidding?

I guess that's just a question of faith in whether or not the prophets have their best interest in heart and know better than they do. Can someone who sees the future as though it was the present "know better" than you? Arguably yes. People put moral authority in their parents... even into adulthood sometimes. And one of Sisko's parents IS a prophet to boot.

Just random thoughts on the matter....
William B
Sun, Jan 11, 2015, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
@Robert, it is a good point that there is a distinction between the "worship" of a celebrity, say, (2), and worship in the sense of bestowing higher authority (1), and that these both are distinct from the pure belief that the gods really exist and can really do what they say (3).

I think the real problem is that the Prophets should have as much intrinsic moral authority to Sisko as Q does to Picard -- which is to say, none, until they demonstrate otherwise. Now, Picard does come to...almost trust Q, over the series, to recognize that there is something of value in the lessons Q imparts. But the tension remains between this and his recognition that Q is dangerous. His movement on Q has everything to do with Q bringing knowledge and wisdom that Picard comes to understand is valuable by testing it out and thinking about it. Sisko does start incredulous about the Prophets, and then moves toward credulity, and a lot of that is that they demonstrate that they can use their awesome power to provide security and illumination. It's not a wholly skipped arc. It's just that the big questions -- why did the Prophets not save Bajor during the Occupation? -- don't get asked by him.

I think the point about parental authority is a good one, which again suggests the contrast between the Vorta/Founders relationship and the Bajorans/Prophets. In some respect, there is another bit of mirroring, in that Sisko's eventually joining in the "Celestial Temple" and even discovering that he is part Prophet, as well as finding himself worshipped by the Bajorans, mirrors Odo's story, where Odo eventually joins the Great Link. Odo's acceptance of the Weyoun's worship in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" has some similarities to Sisko's coming to accept Bajoran worship of him, at least to a degree, and to use that power when he thinks he needs to. Those parallels are interesting, but I think that for the series not to follow through on the fact that Kira's faith is just as blind as Weyoun's and not to ask why the latter's is clearly wrongheaded (because the Founders are the bad guys) and the former's is...well, at best the series takes a neutral position on it.

I wonder if a Sisko:Bajorans:Prophets :: Odo:Vorta&Jem'Hadar:Founders comparison leads to any other points of similarities.
Robert
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 6:45am (UTC -5)
That's a very cool point about how later seasons have Odo very uncomfortable with the power he has over the Vorta/Jem'Hadar in a mirror of what Sisko went through with his role as emissary. And how they both ended up being one with those Gods and will have to deal with it later. I never picked up on that, but it's an interesting parallel.

And yes, I think I agree with you. Forget about why the Bajorans worship the prophets or not (Bajoran are as complicated as any other group of people... Opaka is a true believer, Bareil seems to be more grounded in his faith, Winn is wielding the name for her own power, Fala from "Covenant" does blame them for the occupation... etc.) it really doesn't matter.

"Bajor" might be a "character" on this show, but that's not a fair thing to ask a show to explore the faith of an entire race. But Kira is one of our mains (and the first officer even), so to give a character that strong kind of faith, make her Gods an important part of the show and then not really ever test her faith is.... a flaw for sure.

In truth, Kira is nearly always rewarded for her blind faith.
William B
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 2:07am (UTC -5)
I had never thought of the Sisko/Odo comparison before I started writing that last comment! I think it is really cool and it's something I want to check out more of. I think I am probably going to do a DS9 rewatch with my girlfriend now that we're done TOS, but I'm not positive. I will watch out for Sisko/Odo material.

The point about Kira is basically what I was getting at :). And it's not that I think religion needs to be questioned for all characters, but it's such a big part of the show (and such an unusual kind of "religion" nonanalogous to certain aspects of human belief) that I think that Kira's faith in the Prophets needed to be examined. Some episodes went somewhat toward it, with her realization of the complexities surrounding Opaka, or "Accession," but it just didn't go all the way.
Brian S.
Tue, Feb 3, 2015, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Rather than this episode being about religion (though it is to a certain extent), I saw Sisko's visions as being on par with Lt. Barclay's enhanced intellect from the TNG episode "The Nth Degree."

In that episode, Barclay encountered a probe from an alien civilization of significant intelligence that endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities no human had never experienced before and was somewhat reluctant to give up.

Here in DS9's "Rapture," Sisko consults with an orb (a probe) from an alien civilization with significant knowledge who endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities to comprehend time and the universe in a way no other human had experienced before (granted, the accident caused his visions, but Sisko had enough encounters and contact with these extra-temporal aliens that it seems plausible that the shock triggered something to allow him to explore the universe beyond normal linear time).

Like with Barclay, Sisko was flooded with this knowledge. And that flood was both beautiful and dangerous. It was hard to process it all at once, but both had a feeling that something special was happening to them and that they had to explore it. If I suddenly had the ability to see the universe outside of normal space-time, I would be desperate for more, too.

The Bajorans might have viewed Sisko's experience as a spiritual one through the lens of their own religious faith....but I saw it as an intellectual pursuit. An exploration of knowledge and the limitlessness of the mind. Sisko was right. When you get an opportunity--a gift--like that you don't just walk away from it. You study it and explore it.
MsV
Wed, Mar 4, 2015, 12:34am (UTC -5)
Oh Brian S your assessment of this episode is right on the money. Many times reading this I was tempted to comment on the religious comments but, I didn't. It made no sense. It was the accident that triggered the visions and I believe the aliens gave him the knowledge he needed or was compelled to explore.

It seemed to be a good thing, since this information saved Bajor during the war.

I love your explanation without trying to explain your beliefs or disbelief of religion and not stepping on ones toes who do believe.
M.P.
Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
It is explicitly stated that one can have an Orb experience months or even years after the initial encounter. What were they called... orb flashes? In any case, it is possible the accident triggered and/or enhanced one of these flashes; starting the visions.
Trekker
Sun, May 3, 2015, 12:13am (UTC -5)
After watching this, I flipped back to Season 2 of Babylon 5. This is almost like an episode of Babylon 5 made around the same time, a certain foreshadowing of the future by the lead characters from a very powerful "mystical alien" power (Vorlon vs. Prophets). I get how the two series have comparisons between each other, because it actually has merit in this area at least.

The Locusts obviously represent the coming Dominion war, going to Cardassia foreshadows the destructive nature that such things will bring to Cardassians, nearly resulting in their destruction.

I wish they could have continued on pushing this path in the series, trying to blend religion, war, and science all together into a cohesive storyline (the next attempt was horrible). Too bad Bajor never joins the federation officially in the show, a major point of contention I would have wished they'd resolved at the end of the Dominion war.

The "non-canon" trek novels however do give me some solace that at least in one version of history Bajor will join the federation.
MsV
Tue, May 5, 2015, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Jammer: I'm also interested by the allusion to the coming war with the Dominion. (Could the "locusts" perhaps have been a Dominion strike, with Bajor being the first Federation casualty?

You were correct in one aspect the Locusts "were" the Dominion, as for Bajor, the Captain saw to it Bajor stayed out of the fighting. Now every time I see the Dominion come out of the wormhole I think "Locust" in the deepest voice I can muster up. lol
Teejay
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 1:45am (UTC -5)
Ok, this might come off as a bit of rambling nonsense, but I'm having trouble keeping it straight in my head(I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Trek in my head to fall back on), and I'm hoping one of you might help me in this regard.

The Bajorans believed in the prophets well before proof of their existence (the discovery of the wormhole). I can see how this, coming almost immediately after suffering 50 some odd years of Cardassian oppression, would galvanize their beliefs.

The prophets, once the wormhole is discovered and their existence confirmed, don't seem to understand our existence as linear beings(Sisko tries to explain it to them in the pilot). It almost seems to me that they could be seen as discovering us at this same time. If they could not understand the concept of linear time, it is quite feasible to me that they would have no understanding of what it is to worship something, and thus would not understand the Bajoran worship of them, which could help explain how uninvolved they were in the Bajoran existence(why they didn't prevent the Cardassian occupation, for example). So the whole Bajoran/Prophet relationship could be seen as the Bajorans worshipping a power they can't quite comprehend, and the Prophets using them(and Sisko) to try to understand an existence they can't quite comprehend.

As the series moves on, the Wormhole Alien prophets, through more interaction with our linear existence and Sisko as the Emissary, come to understand us more and thus get more involved in what is happening around them(like destroying the Dominion fleet).

Now this doesn't entirely explain why the Bajorans began worshipping the Prophets in the first place. I also don't remember if there's anything that happens later in the series that would prove these ideas wrong. Like I said, just wanted to put it out there. If it's rubbish, so be it. Just needed to get it out of my head :)
Luke
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 4:26am (UTC -5)
@Teejay,

You seem to be applying linear time standards to the Prophets, which is natural since that's how we all exist in the real world. But remember - the Prophets exist outside of linear time. Therefore, to apply "our" concepts of the flow of time to them isn't fair. It's entirely possible that from the perspective of linear time, the Bajorans started worshiping them only for the Prophets to later learn about the Bajorans through Sisko. All the while it would make perfect sense from their viewpoint.

The Prophets themselves somewhat explain this in the episode "Accession." When someone from the past appears and claims to be the Emissary, he and Sisko go directly to the Prophets to find out who is the true Emissary. The Prophets say that Sisko is indeed their Emissary even if the other guy "discovered" them first. They even say "they are linear; it limits them." Or, as Doc Brown would say - "you're just not thinking fourth dimensionally."

That might be a cop-out for the writers who, by their own admission, didn't really think that far ahead when they introduced the Prophets in the pilot episode, but I think it makes sense.
MsV
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Rapture is by far my favorite Season 5 episode.
methane
Sun, Dec 27, 2015, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
I mostly agree with Jammer's review. Some of the non-regular actors weren't great, and some scenes (like the one where Sisko dispenses fortunes) don't come out quite right, but the positives here far outnumber the negatives.

Some comments:

-Government-run holodecks malfunction all the time. Oftentimes it seems the sole purpose of having holodecks on starships is for them to malfunction. Nobody's ever put in jail. So of course when the one privately-owned holodeck in Star Trek malfunctions, people immediately want to press charges! The writers appear to be making the usual Ferengi joke that capitalism is bad, but the franchise history of holodecks completely undermines the point.

-Lost in the "religious discussion" above is the fact that this is one of the few times in the series when the prophets/wormhole aliens directly help the Bajorans (through Sisko's visions). Knowing what happens later in the series, Sisko's vision did keep Bajor from destruction. Their faith might not have saved them from the Occupation (although it is possible that some prophecies enabled them to keep it from being worse than it was...we have no way of knowing with the information given to us), but it did help them at this point in history.

-Kai Winn, as Jammer & others pointed out, was interesting here. She appears to be a true-believer. Like many people who believe in a religion, she previously believed that her specific interpretation of the religion was correct. This endowed her with a sense of self-importance, moral superiority, & the belief that she is right to take any means to achieve her ends (since they coincide with the prophets'). However, here she had her interpretation of belief pretty much actively disproven, something nearly all believers in Earth religions do not experience*. The actress does a good job portraying a character who's trying to reorient herself after losing her central tenets. Her faith in the prophets remains, however, and she decides to follow Sisko, since she now fully accepts his "chosen" status.

Or you could believe the character herself never had faith in the first place & her outward "loss of faith" is really a cynical gambit to establish herself as a Sisko supporter, since there will likely be few Bajoran believers who don't now accept the prophets speak to him directly. This interpretation is hard to believe, as the character Winn never had any great ability to hide her feelings before.

-Winn had a line in this episode: "Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets". It caught my attention because I think William B. recently brought it up dissecting Winn's character in a previous episode. There must be some truth to this, or Kira would immediately disagree with her. However, it doesn't completely line up with what we know of the Occupation. In "The Collaborator", Odo names Prylar Bek as "the liaison between the Cardassians and the Vedek Assembly". This implies the Cardassians recognized the religion, but were trying to control it.

I'd interpret Winn's comment as hyperbole. It's likely the Cardassians arrested people who preached that the prophets wanted Bajorans to revolt, and/or there were periods of time when the Cardassians did try to arrest everyone who preached the native religion, only to ultimately decide it wasn't worth it. Either way, Kira would understand it's an overstatement & Winn likely was imprisoned, but we shouldn't take the sentence as 100% accurate.



*All the big religions nowadays avoid making any predictions that can be disproven. This helps cut down the crises of faith.
methane
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
Teejay above had questions about the prophets. You can't really consider our ordering of time when trying to understand them. I tried explaining this on the discussion of an earlier episode, but I've thought a bit more about it since then. Here are a few possibilities:

1) They truly have no linear time in the wormhole. If this is true, then they experience every moment moment simultaneously, and their existence is really hard for us to comprehend. Sisko pops through the wormhole explaining the idea of "linear time" which they already knew because it's the same instant they've always lived at & always will; the prophets sent the orbs through the wormhole at the exact same instant; the prophets also were having the discussion with Sisko from "Accession" at the exact same instant; everything else also was happening at the same instant for them.

You can't say they did one thing, then did the next; it's all simultaneous to them.

If this is true, then the Pah-wraiths are in the wormhole even after being exiled to the Fire Caves on Bajor. There isn't any before and after inside the wormhole, so if they're there at all, they're always there. If they're banished, they're always banished. So both are true, I suppose; it's all Quantum Mechanics.

2) They actually do have a form of time (although not our time), it's just not apparent to them until Sisko shows up. They had a completely static universe of their own, where nothing ever changed. Without change, there was no sense of time. Then, one day, Sisko pops through the wormhole into their reality. This is the first change of their environment and introduces the idea of time to them.

If so, this inverts traditional creation myths. Normally, the universe is static (a great void, a great sea, whatever), then a god or gods introduces change. Here a universe of "gods" is static until man (Sisko) introduces change.

Note, they still exist outside of OUR time. Once Sisko draws their attention, they can examine any instant of our time as they like. To them, our universe is like a book. They can open our universe to year 1 (page 1 of a book) or year 100000 (page 100000 of a book), so while they're doing things in an order to them, it may not be the order we experience it.

Anyway, for our wormhole residents:
--at (time=0), everything was as it always was
--at (time=1), Sisko appeared
--After (time=1), all the other actions the wormhole aliens would take before, during, and after the series happened in some order. We don't know what order they happened.

My version of their history would go like this: there was a great dissension over what to do with the new knowledge of time among the wormhole residents. They mistrust our universe, which they never really noticed before, probably seeing how powerful we'll eventually become*. "Prophet Motive" happens early on, as the episode shows them still learning about us. Alarmed by the bad humor the Ferengi represent, the disagreements between the wormhole aliens becomes open conflict**. They divide into 2 camps, the "prophets", and the "pah-wraiths". The prophets win & imprison the pah-wraiths on Bajor. Of course, if the pah-wraiths had examined the history of our universe closely enough, they would have known they would lose.

With the pah-wraiths gone, the prophets take a more active role in our universe. They decide to ally themselves more closely with Sisko and take actions at various points in history to ensure everything turns out right for him. You can decide they're being benevolent and mostly want to help Bajor (through Sisko), or you can decide they're being selfish and mostly want Sisko in place to protect them from the pah-wraiths should they break free of the fire caves.

I link this way of thinking about the wormhole residents. It's easier to understand than the first way, it fits with mythic storytelling, and I like the idea that Sisko's encounter in "Emissary" was with both the prophets & the pah-wraiths. I don't think it quite fits all their dialogue in the series, but it explains why they act somewhat inconsistently.

3) The wormhole aliens are misrepresenting themselves and are more like the Q than they claim to be. They always understood time but are claiming otherwise for their own reasons.

* According to TOS, races eventually "evolve" into powerful non-corporeal beings
**I'm mostly kidding about bad humor being the cause of the conflict!
methane
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
bleah, typos:

"I link this way of thinking about..."

should be:

"I like this way of thinking about..."

There's also a few more obvious ones.
William B
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
I am way behind and if I want to keep up at all I'm going to have to write shorter comments. We'll see how that goes. But if Jammer can post seven Star Wars reviews all at once, I can probably write a paragraph....

Sisko's condition in "Rapture" can be interpreted either religiously or secularly. Obviously he interprets it in the former way, but as others have pointed out above, in a lot of ways what Sisko goes through is not that different from Barclay in "The Nth Degree." Part of the problem is how to interpret it. If he really is going through a Barclay experience, at a certain point he maybe should be relieved of duty at least until it is clear what is happening to him (ala the crew's worried reaction to Barclay once it was clear what was happening). And if he's having a religious experience, well, maybe he should also be asked to step down from duty for a day or two until it's clear what's going on with him. I'm often unsure what to make of the Prophets on this show, but it's worth noting that this episode is actually pretty ambivalent about Sisko's transformation -- he is given insights into finding B'hala and he also is (SPOILER) correct in his locusts visions, but he also totally loses sight of Jake and seems willing to die so that *he* understands what he's seeing, without quite considering that if he dies he can't exactly communicate what he sees to others. I think the use of Kai Winn here is pretty great. Not only does she demonstrate that she really is a true believer in the Prophets and changes her mind on Sisko once he demonstrates that his Emissary status is no mere accident, *Sisko* suddenly starts trusting Winn to guide is visions. "You trust her? Since when?" asks Jake, his voice cracking with sadness. The truth is, Winn hasn't changed; Sisko has, and suddenly he needs a religious zealot the way he hadn't before. Winn encouraging Sisko to push himself further, and risk his death, is a nice callback to "Life Support" where she did the same for Bareil, and this time we see that Sisko is fully on board with it, and even encouraging it. In any case, the grand scale religion vs. politics material in the episode falls flat for me in that I don't really think that religious prophesy works the way it does with Sisko here; there seems to be some "following one's (religious) conscience vs. following one's duty" material here, but it's a false argument, since if Sisko really is getting visions from the future people should listen to him, or at least there can be an actual discussion about how trustworthy Sisko's interpretation of his visions is as a matter of policy. On a character level Sisko making a definite choice to honour his visions over his Starfleet obligations is a major step. Part of the reason I wanted to write about "The Visitor" before I wrote about this is that Jake once again is put in the position of having to decide whether to save his father, and the direct opposition between Sisko's connection to the Prophets and his actual *son* is highlighted. It's resolved for now with Jake's actions, but it's by no means over, especially since it was not the choice Sisko made or would have made. I don't really know how to rate this one, which I think is effective as drama and has much to recommend it but has some elements I'm not sure about; maybe 3 stars.
William B
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
OK, I can't actually resist writing more, as it turns out:

I guess the issue with Sisko's prophesies is this: Sisko believes them to be absolutely true, and part of that is that he is imbued with some sort of "faith," partly from his acceptance of his Emissary status in "Accession" and partly because part of whatever happened to him with that electric shock/orb aftershadow/whatever is this kind of obsessive certainty. So there is, for him, no "debate"; he knows with certainty the things he knows. That he might be wrong, that maybe that guy whom he told to leave because he doesn't belong there might actually have a different idea of his life for instance, does not occur to him, or if it does he ignores it. That kind of absolute certainty that he is right is scary, and is also some of what aligns him with Winn, who is a great reminder of the problem of believing oneself to be right at all times (in her case, to the point of seeing murdering the opposition as ethically justified). And that also is part of what distinguishes him from Barclay, who, after all, could not actually see the future but merely developed superintelligent insight. In any case, it really is a kind of religious fervour that convinces Sisko that his visions must be right, and again this does not really map well onto human experience where someone claiming they had visions for God would be rejected from office, one hopes. In his case the Prophets are real, and it seems the visions that they give him, or that are stimulated in him that connect to the Prophets in some way, seem to genuinely be prophetic, but that still leaves open the question of whether the Prophets should be trusted, and thus whether it is automatically necessary to follow whatever their dicta are.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Jan 20, 2016, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
This spins off in an interesting and perhaps unexpected direction, but I still found it difficult to get on board. And in all honesty I don't really know why. Certainly Avery Brooks' idiosyncratic performance drifts way out towards crazed prophet levels. It all seems just a little by the numbers.

What I did like unambiguously was Kai Winn, and the nuance brought to her character beyond that which we have seen previously. "Locusts" indeed. 2 stars.
BZ
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
I'm not going to try to impose my religion on the Prophets, but we believe that the concept of time was created by God, but the concept of cause and effect exists outside time. In this way the Prophets can be outside time and still experience cause and effect, just not necessarily in the order we perceive them.
Luke
Tue, May 3, 2016, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
"'Rapture' is about as perfect an episode as I could hope for."

Indeed! This might very well be the best of series thus far.

I suppose I should start my rundown of how awesome this episode is with the fact that it absolutely obliterates Trek's usual rational materialism right off the map. Okay, sure, Sisko's visions are started by a rather mundane (and easily explainable) malfunction in the holosuites, but that simply does not explain the total, 100% accuracy of these visions. There is no way a random power surge like this can explain how he finds a city lost for 20,000 years, or how he can know about the Admiral's family problems, or how he can foresee the coming war with the Dominion, or how he can deduce that Bajor must remain independent in order to emerge on the other side of the war unscathed. These definitely are visions and they are decidedly otherworldly or - dare I say it - supernatural. Even Sisko himself holds this view. When the Admiral practically begs him for a secular, materialistic explanation, all he can say is "it really was a vision." And yet, like so many treatments of religion here on "Deep Space Nine", all sides are given equal treatment. Whatley, the stand-in for the secularist/atheistic viewpoint, is not made to look like a fool. Kira's open religiosity is not mocked. The magnificent scene in Ops with Kira and Worf defending faith and O'Brien and Dax defending skepticism explores rather profound differences of opinion - which exist even among our main characters - and yet tolerance, actual true tolerance, is the name of the game. BRAVO!

Second, "Rapture" is a stellar outing in the characterization department. Everyone's character is utilized perfectly. Sisko, Kira, Jake, Yates, everyone is at the top of their game and completely acting in character. But, of course, the real stand-out here is Winn. Her transformation from a semi-antagonist to a possible, reluctant ally is superbly handled. And it fits with her established character from at least as far back as the Bajoran Trilogy in Season Two - when she turned on the attempted coup for reasons left unexplained.

Third, there's the family dynamics between between the Sisko family, including Yates. One the many wonderful things that "Deep Space Nine" did was humanize the main characters by giving some of them families. Sisko is a family man. O'Brien is a family man. Quark has an important relationship with his brother and nephew. On TOS, aside from Spock in "Journey to Babel" (probably not a surprise that it's my favorite TOS episode), none of the characters are given any familial ties. Oh sure, we met the wife and son of Kirk's dead brother in "Operation -- Annihilate!", but is anybody seriously going to count that? On TNG, Picard was a loner who hated kids and only slowly softened to them over time. Riker was a ladies man. Data manged to get some development with Lore and Soong. Troi had her mother but was never close to her. Crusher and Wesley were mother and son but their interactions (certainly family interactions) were extraordinarily few and far between. The closest we got was with Worf and Alexander, but even then there wasn't much. But here, the dynamics between Jake, Ben and Kassidy are extremely well written. Jake wants to understand the spiritual journey Sisko is on but is still just a kid who doesn't want his dad to get hurt. Yates, another skeptic, naturally sides with Jake. Sisko, while he feels it's necessary to see this journey to its conclusion still does everything in his power to comfort his son and girlfriend, like any good person would. Even the dynamics between other characters and the family work wonderfully. For example, another reason the scene in Ops works so well is that Kira and Dax, despite having diametrically opposing opinions, know that they will both be there emotionally for Jake and Yates if things go bad. The amount of love and sympathy on display is astounding. If only we could duplicate this in the real world when discussing politics and religion; the world would undoubtedly be a much better place.

Fourth - the mythology. The way "Rapture" handles so many different story arcs is astonishing. There are no less than six different arcs that come together here - SIX! There's 1.) the "Sisko as Emissary" arc, 2.) the quest for Bajoran admittance to the Federation, 3.) the Dominion arc, 4.) the Sisko family arc, 5.) Kai Winn's arc and 6.) the Maquis arc - tangentially, through the return of Yates to the station after her prison sentence. Each one is handled delicately and with wonderful success. Just focusing on the Dominion arc, the level of foreshadowing here is unprecedented for Trek. We get references to an upcoming war with the Dominion, a "swarm of locusts" heading to Cardassia, and a revelation that Bajor must stand alone in order to survive the coming calamity. Obviously the locusts represent the Dominion annexation of Cardassia. Jem'Hadar ships do look an awful lot like bugs, don't they? And the revelation that Bajor must stand alone is naturally a foreshadowing of the Non-Aggression Pact Sisko has the planet sign with the Dominion. All of this foreboding will come to pass by the end of the season. It's damn impressive and a wonderful use of the Prophets (without actually showing them on screen). There's also, more mundanely, the new uniforms (first established in "Star Trek: First Contact") which ties the series to the larger franchise.

Granted, there are some nitpicky problems with the episode. For instance, given what we later learn in "In Purgatory's Shadow", Bashir has already been replaced by a Changeling infiltrator by this point. That means that the Bashir Changeling was the one who performed the life saving brain surgery on Sisko. He must have been really prepared for his role! And there's the rather unnecessary scene of Odo man-handling Quark for a non-crime. There's also the scene where the Admiral and Winn are going to formally induct Bajor into the Federation, before Sisko stops them. Where the hell is Shakaar?!! This is one of the most important moments in all of Bajoran history - and that's really saying something since the Bajorans were producing literature and culture before Humans were even standing erect! And yet their political leader doesn't bother to show up?!! I'm assuming that Duncan Regehr's schedule prevented him from appearing again, but damn. At least the rest of the Bajoran delegation makes since - a mixture of civil and religious officials, which adds to my belief that the Vedek Assembly plays at least some role in Bajor's civil government. But the Federation delegation makes no sense at all. Where the hell are the representatives from the Federation government?!! Apparently they only sent one (and his aide) because the rest are all Starfleet admirals. Why is the U.F.P.'s military so heavily represented while the civilian government isn't? Or did Leyton manage to launch another coup on Earth from his prison cell without the audience being told about it? Still, these are all rather trivial problems that don't ultimately harm the episode.

The ultimate conceit of "Rapture" - that we live in an ordered universe and that you can access that order in a moment of religious ecstasy - and the open acknowledgement of the supernatural represents a very dramatic (and welcome!) departure from Trek orthodoxy and puts the episode in the running for "best in the franchise".

10/10
Void
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
I can't belive how this mockery of secularism and reason could possibly get a perfect rating. This is just lazy writing. The whole time the Prophets were just "Wormhole Aliens", and their artefacts granted insight into the future or oneself. Now, suddenly, they can magically imbue Sisko with the power to see EVERYTHING with absolute certainty. Or did they? That is not explained. Kira suspects that Sisko has a Vision from the Prophets, but that is just that, a suspicion.

For four and a half seasons, Bajor was on the verge of joining the Federation. That would of course have consequences. So, why even bring it into play here if they don't join anyway? To keep the plot alive for another two and a half seasons of course. This episode is completely pointless. Sisko, a man of reason, is suddenly a fanatic. Is it explained in the end? No. And seriously, locusts? A biblic plague, of all things? Not much imagination there either. I was fine with the treatment of religion in this series before, where Sisko sees the Wormhole Aliens for what they are, Aliens, and the Bajorans build their weird cult around it, but it was always clear that the Prophets don't really care about Bajor, because they don't even understand time. So how can they possibly be concerned with worldly matters? It was just an accident that their Orbs would grant visions. A technical error, so to speak.

But this episode turns DS9 into some religious fantasy, the hope that you can gain knowledge through "visions", and that if you believe in shit that shit turns into reality. That is the complete opposite of what TNG and Gene Roddenberry wanted to show. So I can only hope that his spinning in his grave becomes so powerfull that he creates a time line distortion that eliminates this episode from official canon.

And yet it was so simple to save this episode: At the end, just explain what happened. Maybe it really were the prophets who suddenly took an interest in bajor, maybe it just was a crazy scheme to keep Bajor out of the Federation. Something. Like the episode where Odo relives his only mistake, when he sentenced innocents to death.

-2/10, would look down again on the writers in disgust and agony again.
Void
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
PS: Since I cannot edit my comment here, a double post.

To all the people that are so elated that "Religion is treated with respect!": Well, look to the middle east for a place where religion is "treated with respect". Look at the people that kill hundreds of innocents in the name of God to see what "treating religion with respect" leads to as a final consequence. Respect has to be earned, and it can not be demanded, and when you grow up, they don't call it "Age of Reason" by accident. It is because you have to quit believing in Santa Clause and your imaginary friends and grow up, instead of daydreaming all day and imagening things.

And if you feel that I am offensive, or not sophisticated or understanding enough: This is what my God Sauron told me, so dare you not to speak ill of me, for it is my religion demanding me to say those things, and I find it deeply deeply offensive if anyone disagrees with me on such matters, and I might, just might, bomb the shit out of all you infidels so that you suffer for an eternity in a daily soap, where every day the same jokes are told and the canned laughter of the fake audience may haunt you for eternity.
Nolan
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
Sure, be lazy and blame religion for everything. Easy way gets the best results right? Nevermind that religion is just as often used as a reason to start wars that are in actuality about resources or land.

Furthermore sweeping generalizations never make the person saying them look like a total dingleberry with emotional issues.

Let's also not forget that redusing complex issues like religion and its relation to reason into a simple black and white, good vs evil conflict is definitely not a majorly close-minded, absolutionist thing to do, which as one arguing for reason, surely doesn't make you seem to be a flaming hypocrite in regards to a conflict over two things that clearly are mutually exclusive.

Hey strawman! You forgot your hat! And while you're here, recall that the Prophets or Wormhole aliens are ethereal beings with the ability to see all points in time, and that, as a serialized show, DS9 would very well provide some answers about this later. Also recall that DS9 is a show which lives to show grey, hard to resolve conflicts that Must inevitable result in trying to find co-existance between the two sides so they can work towards moving past that conflict. Which to me, is quintessential Star Trek.

As for Roddenberry's vision, I've never heard a more fanwank load of trollop. Roddenberry's Star Trek would've started with Mudd's Women as it's jumping off point. The vision of Star Trek was not created by one man with questionable morals, but by the many people who worked on and wrote for the show, building a world of cooperation and acceptance (to an extent) of a myriad number of cultures and beliefs, even if we don't fully understand them.
Chrome
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Well said, Nolan. Also, let's try not to forget this show isn't specifically dealing with *any* Earth religions, but to the concepts of faith and the supernatural as they might exist in the possible future. While yes, contemporary religion wrestles with these concepts, they can also exist a secular world (i.e. faith in a philosophy or belief in powers beyond human capability).

To apply secular reasoning to this episode, one might simply interpret that as much as Sisko wanted Bajor in the federation, some gnawing piece of his subconscious picked up on the real possibility that being in the Federation would put Bajor in danger. Benjamin didn't need the visions to see this per se; he was already aware of the danger of the Gamma quadrant and the Dominion's ambitions for defeating the Federation. The visions just serve to punctuate Sisko's unique frontier experience, which the Federation politicians lack.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Agreed with Nolan and Chrome.

@ Void,

I guess since "All Good Things..." was about an advanced being giving Picard visions of the past, present and future TNG must also be a stupid anti-Roddenberry religious show, right? ;)
Void
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Oh, didn't notice I blamed religion for everything. I thought I had pretty specific examples (Middle East Clusterfuck, Suicide Bombers). If you correlate that with yourself, that's really not my problem (@Nolan). But hey. Besides, that was a comment commenting on the commentors, not the episode (@Chrome).

@Peter: No, that was perfectly fine. Picard did not have unexplained "divine" visions, Q did it. I guess you already know that, hence your ;) smiley, so, I won't elaborate.

@Nolan: Oups, rustled some jimmies, hm? Now I have emotional issues, how cute that you know me so well. And I find your first sentence especially agreeable, with you aknowledging that religion is all to often used as an excuse to start a war. Well, not exactly the strongest point to make for religion, hm?

But if you look closely, I don't even attack religion. I attack faith. I have no problem with the Bajorans and their funny rituals, or the Klingons, for that matter. Now that I think about it I may as well should have, but it is mostly tradition, and traditions are really a different can of worms than religion. I don't find them particulary interesting, but hey, to each his own, right? What I do have a problem with is a show like DS9 wanting me to accept that Sisko magically knows the future. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the Wormhole Aliens communicated through their orbs, right? So how can a holodeck malfunction turn Sisko into a blind believer? Acting completely against his character? You have to explain those things. Just show me Sisko with a white background and some Wormhole Aliens telling him "Yo, better don't let the Bajorans join the Federation Sissy" and I am fine (if Sisko acts a lot more like himself).

But that is not what happens, and I don't care if it is explained later. Kira just says "you had a pahk tem pha (?), a holy vision. The prophets chose their emissary well" or something like that. Thats it. Thats the whole explanation for everything. And for me, something like this does not belong in an episode of Star Trek. Especially not with Sisko acting like a religious zealot, leaving everything behind for his new found faith, even being willing to die for it. Without even as much as a shred of doubt. Call me close minded if you want, but I am afraid of people who have no doubts.

And now to the "Religion is a complex issue" thing: Well, is it? Is it really? You want something to be true, and persuade yourself that it is, and then its true! Or is it? Religion is not complex, it is simple, thats why it works. If it was complex or hard, most people would be to lazy to accept it, but they aren't. At it's core, religion is like a videogame. You get points for good behaviour and penalties for bad behaviour, but you can always be sure that there is indeed a right way, and that you always get another chance, and no matter what you do, if you make some right descisions, in the end, you get the happy ending. This does not sound complex to me. Granted, priests and "scholars" of all ages have made it seem more complex, shrouded it in mystery, written great poetry and created great art in its honor. But one simple fact remains: It is all made up! It is right there in the description: "Supernatural" means "outside of nature" hence unknowable. And then you get people who tell you THEY know whats UNKNOWABLE. Don't you see the contradiction? And everybody has his own interpretation of the divine truth. Well, if it is indeed divine truth, shouldn't it be obvious? Shouldn't it be eternal? But it isn't. Why? Because we humans made it up!

And about the "Fanwank": Well, I did not talk about all the people contributing to Star Trek, I talked about Roddenberry being a staunch atheist. And I think he would agree with me that he would disagree with this episode.

So no, I am not generalizing, or at least not in the way that you think. But I know why you think it. :) I am arguing that reason and faith are mutually exclusive. Faith by definition defies reason. You can only have faith in things for which there is no evidence. If there is evidence, then no faith is required. Reasoning is apllied to evidence. Without evidence, no reason. QED. This episode provided no evidence whatsoever, yet wants me to just accept it. And with that I take umbridge, for this simple reason: If you start acting without evidence to support that action, at some point, you become really dangerous. For yourself and for others. I will let you work that out for yourself. :)

And one final notice, while I am at it, and I obviously have time to spare: I have no problem with grey areas, or people coming to an understanding, overcoming differences. But thats not what this episode is about. Kira working with Gul Dukat to find the remains of some missing people, thats people coming together, in one way or another. Kira forgiving Odo (or at least that's implied) for killing innocents, and Odo losing his perfect image, thats grey and a real issue. Sisko poisoning a planet to arrest a single Terrorist: Oh boy, thats not grey, thats dark. But this? Please. This episode is showing people moving apart because somebody had a vision. I rest my case.
Chrome
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
@Void

By being disrespectful to other commentors and ignoring the episode you're really doing a disservice to your point (it's also disrespectful to Jammer).

When you're ready to discuss the episode with me civilly, let me know.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

So let me get this straight. When Q (an alien) gives Picard visions, that's ok sci-fi according to you, but when the prophets (aliens) give Sisko visions, that's stupid religious nonsense coming from a divine source? The irony of your position on this is that you are calling the prophets divine, which actually means you're a religious believer like the Bajorans. I can certainly say I don't think the prophets are divine. If anything Q is far closer to the prophets to being divine, to the point where he jokes with Picard about being god, and it's not entirely out of the question that he is (or the closest thing to it). He certainly has power over time and space, and life and death. By the standard of divinity as we humans know it, "All Good Things..." is closer by far to satisfying your standard of a divine being who gives the star of the show magical visions to help him. I think you've bought way too much into the mystique the show gives the Bajoran religion when you assume they're right that the prophets are divine and therefore DS9 involves religious events. It's just aliens doing advanced things. TOS had countless occasions of far more godlike activity than merely giving someone visions.

As a side note, your pithy tautology about reason and faith being mutually exclusive may sound good to you on the basis of tidy axioms that you can string together, but let's just say that a philosophy department would not accept 'logic' of this sort. In point of fact the premise that reason and faith exclude each other is completely false, and such a premise betrays a deep misunderstanding of the place of reason within most faiths. Unfortunately it takes some years of study to realize why this is so, and requires real investigation and learning about what the faiths actually teach, rather than strawman versions of them that pop culture likes to toss around. I can't explain it to you better than this because there is no short sound bite that can detail how religions structure their beliefs. You'd have to be interested enough to find out for yourself, maybe by asking some experts on the subject (sans sarcasm). If you think you've got the entire matter QED solved in one short paragraph that should be enough evidence to anyone with intellectual integrity that the solution is BS.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome: What, now I am disrespectful of the commentors? I thought I was disrespectful of religion. I wasn't the one calling people emotionally unstable. I argued that certain things are unacceptable from my point of view, if that is offensive to you, I am sorry, but I am not attacking anybody as a person. And I am not ignoring the episode, I've seen it a few days ago, thats why I wrote my comment. I know whats shown and what is not, and I know why I don't like this episode, and I think I explained that. You say that you can interpret it in a secular way, but I find that difficult to do when the religious interpretation is so much closer to what is actually shown in the episode.

@Peter G: No, as I said, I take umbridge with the fact that in this episode it is NOT shown that the Wormhole Aliens gave Sisko the Visions. If they were shown doing it, that would have been fine, as I wrote. To qoute myself:

"@Peter: No, that was perfectly fine. Picard did not have unexplained "divine" visions, Q did it."

As I said, I don't care if it is explained in a later episode, then that later episode gets the credit, but this one is still shit.

And honestly, I don't understand where you get from that I think the Wormhole Aliens (WA) are divine. I said this episode makes it look like Sisko gets a divine vision. Not "Sisko gets visions caused by the WAs". If I'd meant that, I'd said that. So, I really don't understand what you mean.

I try to be more clear this time:
This whole episode makes no attempt to explain Siskos visions, as no cause is shown for them. It could have been anything, Pah Wraiths, Mental Issues, Saboteurs, Kai Vinn, whatever. But there is NO EXPLANATION. Kira just says "You have a divine vision", and THATS IT. Now she may be right, maybe it were indeed the WAs giving Sisko the Visions (I think maybe from this part you get that I think the WAs are divine? That's not the case. Kira thinks the WAs are divine, therefore I can make the connection that she means the WAs when she says divine). But that is not shown in this episode. Therefore, Siskos whole act comes off as the ravings of a madman drunk with "Holy Visions", a complete 180° turn of his character, and UNEXPLAINED.

And about my "pithy tautology": If it's a tautology in the philosophical sense, it's true, isn't it? So please, tell me why it is not acceptible for philosophy? Why isn't it logical? I think we agree on the definition of faith and reason, don't we? So why isn't it logical that things mean what we agreed upon that they mean? As I said before, I am not attacking any specific religion, I am attacking the concept of faith. So I don't care what religions teach about faith and reason, because I think that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. If you can prove that to be untrue, please try, but for that you have to change the meaning of the words "faith" and "reason" I think.

Of course you can argue that one can apply reason within a fiction, like "Sauron did this and that, therefore this and that (in that world)". That still does not make it true, however, and does not permit you to say something like "Sauron said "Enslave all free people", therefore we have to go to Japan and enslave them all because they are free". That would be completely insane, because you take the fiction into the real world. In the same way as Sisko is portrayed taking his fiction into the reality of DS9, and acting upon it. And in this sense you can not apply reason to faith, because faith belongs to the realm of fiction, and you can not act upon a fiction (or at least you should not).

And just a final remark, why can the obvious and simple explanation not be true? Again, I am not critisizing specific religions, I am critisizing the portrayal of faith-based-action in this episode. I am not trying to solve complicated processes within religions, I am saying "faith and reason are mutually exclusive", nothing more, nothing less.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

You don't seem to to understand that it's *your interpretation* of the episode that Sisko was given so-called "divine visions." The show never says so. Kira might say so, but who cares? So your entire objection is based on something you, yourself, made up. I never saw anything 'divine' about the visions; that's your interpretation of it, which is fine, but has zero basis in any facts presented. As to the fact that the origin of the visions is never given an explanation, give me a break. It is 100% obvious from the minute go that they were from the prophets. If you think this was in doubt then I would suggest you missed the point.

LATER ON we're given reason to be concerned about our certainty that Sisko's vision was from the prophets, in episodes like "Covenant" and later on "The Changing Face of Evil." But back in season 5 we're given no reason to believe that visions come from any other party than the prophets.

Remember, you are the one who claimed Sisko received "divine visions." The show doesn't make that claim, Sisko doesn't, and in fact it's not true, even on the basis of this episode alone regardless of what came later. You can't accuse the show of introducing something that, in fact, wasn't introduced and that only you have decided is what happened. That's why I compared you to a Bajoran believer; you'd have to be if your takeaway is that Sisko received divine anything. The only arguably divine event in DS9, to whit, in when Q visits the station.

As for reason and faith, no, we do not define reason the same way. I won't elaborate on this point further, but suggest that if you're actually interested in this you can read accessible sources on this such as Chesterton or others who discuss such matters. Or you can read some good apologetics if you like that also discuss matters such as reason and faith. In many religious circles there is no "vs." between reason and faith; that's a fiction made up as a strawman. Btw a tautology is something true because its own internal premises say it is. When an argument is called "tautological" that's another way of saying it's a circular argument, backed up by its own made-up axioms. Your argument about religion is about as QED as the famous tautological argument that God exists because the Bible says so and God wrote the Bible.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Aaaah, now we are getting somewhere.

Yes of course it is my interpretation of this episode that they are "divine visions", because, as you said, there is no explanation for them. For you it is obvious that they come from the Prophets, for me, not so much, because on all previous occasions the prophets only communicated by means of Orbs or inside the wormhole (well, there was one occasion where there was some kind of "echo" from previous contact with an orb, but even then, his visions were clearly be shown to come from the prophets). So I immediatly got suspicious, and when nobody tried to stop Sisko and he acted like the way he did, and nothing was explained at the end, I took away from the episode that Sisko acted without evidence and the shred of a doubt, and the whole imagery and acting screemed "Religious Extremist" to me. And apparently thats fine, because Sisko is still supposed to be the protagonist, isn't he? You say we are given no reason do doubt that the visions come from the prophets, I say we are given no reason to even think that they come from the prophets. That's why I call them "divine", because they are unexplained, and for me it seems obvious that they were supposed to be unexplained, and the episode was supposed to show that there is such a thing as the supernatural.

But at least we can agree on which points we disagree now regarding the interpretation of what's shown in this episode. I think that this episode was lazily written and they way things were shown were not to my liking.

Please, just elaborate. I really want to know what you think.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Addendum: I still don't really get your comparison with Bajoran believers. I said "divine visions", and meant "unexplained visions who look like they are supposed to come from some form of god". Sisko seems to be having a religous Eureka-moment, and he is supposedly understanding everything while gleefully accepting his own death in service to something supernatural. I shortened that to "divine visions" because that is how divine visions are portrayed. Does not however mean that I am in any way, shape or form believing in such things, it is just that this episode used so many tropes assosciated with religion and faith that interpreted it that way, and not the "Super Advanced Aliens seem like magic" kind of way, because those things usually show the Aliens or explain it in such a way at the end.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
*last sentence: "... tropes assosciated with religion and faith that *I* interpretad it that way ..."
William B
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
I'm not wading into real world stuff right now.

On the source of the visions within the episode: I largely agree with Peter on this...but I see Void's point. For the most part, as far as I can recall, all episodes before Rapture were consistent in having the WAs only interact via the wormhole directly, and indirectly through the Orbs, which are themselves ambiguous -- it is unclear whether the Orbs actually contain deliberately imparted information from the WAs or operate by a different physical process, using a combination of advanced tech and the user's own brain to bring about visions, and, as of Trials and Tribble-ations, time travel. Most orb experiences seem to be dominated by the thoughts of the user, but somehow it seems as if ancient Bajorans could predict the future, presumably via the Orbs, either indicating that the WAs can communicate through the Orbs or that the Orbs can show the future, and specific images therefrom. Why not. The pagh wraiths can possess people who enter the Fire Caves. But they have no established nonlocal abilities.

I do think the WAs gave him the visions and this always struck me as self-evident, and not a big leap from the level of power the WAs have to construct the wormhole and Orbs. That said, it's not given a traditional explanation nor is there much in the way of...reaction to the change in paradigm of how WAs can act.

I also think it's ambiguous whether the WAs are directly giving Sisko the visions or have "unlocked" or "added" some sort of non linear time ability within Sisko, and I suspect it's this one, though I think that the WAs are behind the initial electrical surge which started this process. The surge came from a data rod which was a scan of the painting. So it appears that somehow the painting contained information to zap the Emissary to give him visions, which is weird but not totally different from the probe in The Inner Light in function, or the library array giving Barclay the brain boost in The Nth Degree.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
The moment we establish that the WA can construct a means of instantaneous travel (the wormhole) and also live outside of time it becomes fairly evident that their abilities aren't limited to just sitting in there and giving out advice. It's established right from episode 1 that the wormhole is artificially constructed, meaning whoever did that possesses very advanced technology/abilities. Since the WA are non-corporeal in the vein of TOS my guess would be 'abilities', although one way as well call those technology since practical implementation of one's knowledge of reality doesn't really make the distinction between technology and abilities very relevant.

Also regarding Sisko's ability to find B'hala, William B may be on to something when he suggests that the knowledge was already in Sisko and this unlocked it temporarily. Or maybe Sisko was always linked in some way to the celestial temple and the surge broke away his corporeal resistance to feeling that connection. It's hard to say either way. But one thing is clear, which is that the episode was using this as an opportunity to tell the view that Sisko being the Emissary was more than just being chosen as some messenger for the prophets. He obviously had a deeper connection to them than that, and so if the events of "Rapture" seem unprecedented...well yeah, that's the point. I agree with William, though, that more of a big deal could have been made about this. Kira's pithy reply about it being a holy vision didn't really cut it; we could have used a line from Sisko about how the prophets may have had more in store for him than he previously realized. Because the show had to be dramatic they put a lot of screen focus on Jake and Kasidy being concerned for Sisko's health, which is understandable but it's true I would have been interested to hear a word or two about how this mean the WA could do stuff other than just sit in their temple and chat through orb intercoms.
Chrome
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
@Void

The foundation for secular interpretations of the Prophets are scattered throughout the series. Indeed, they're originally classified as alien lifeforms by the main Starfleet characters. Now you can say their powers are similar to popular Earth religious lore, which was certainly the writers' intent, but DS9's writers were always careful to leave the door open to scientific explanations.

Moreover, whereas Earth religions believe based on spirituality and faith where true proof doesn't exist, Bajor's so-called "Gods" have interacted with the Bajoran sector so often that their existence is scientific fact. You want to meet the Prophets? Go to the wormhole. Even Grand Nagus Zek can do it. You want to meet the Christian or Muslim God? It's not that simple. This is a huge difference to me.

I think this also undercuts Kira and Worfs claims of "faith" to a degree too. Is Kira merely acting on faith, or is the fact she's seen dozens of Prophet devices like orbs and glowing artifacts that she believes in them?
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
To add to my previous point: Whenever Sisko interacted with the WAs before, he remained himself. He argued with them, interacted, but did not change his character on a whim. That's why this whole episode does not make sense. It never explains itself. They could have used the usual way of showing Sisko interacting with an Orb, or the WAs, but they didn't, so I have to assume that they had something different in mind, and as Peter pointed out, in later episodes there is even cast doubt about the origin of the visions. So, why did they chose to present this episode in this way? I think it's because Roddenberry was dead and the show wanted to attract another kind of (American) audience. But that is just wild speculation.

Yes, those events are unprecedented, but the problem is, they are not explained. Whenever the WAs do anything, we have to be told that they are doing it, because it is impossible to tell otherwise.

The Wormhole aliens are the most abstract things imaginable.They aren't even aware of time, supposedly. That makes everything far more complicated, for it is impossible for us to explain anything about that. Experiencing all of time at once is like experiencing no time at all, and there is no causality anymore. If the future is the past, a future effect may cause a past action, or the other way around, in short, nothing makes sense anymore. So they should not even be able to communicate with Sisko, because that requires them to understand his actions, but if they see everything at once, nothing makes sense to them. Sisko speaking to them only makes sense if they understand the words (universal translator solves that one apparently) and understand the order the words are spoken in. But if everything happens simultanioulsy, nothing happens at all, because everything ends the moment it begins. The whole concept of "happening" is meaningless in that case.

So, apparently thats not whats happening, because we see the WAs interacting with Sisko and the Dominion fleet for example, so something different but still completely strange is going on. But that still has to be explained by the writers, because it is impossible to decide if the WAs can or can not do something.

@Peter G.:
I am still waiting for your definition of reason, if we differ on it. My definition is what Wikipedia says, whats yours? You seem to be fine with my definition of faith, "Belief in something for which there is no evidence or proof", so lets go on from there.

You say the "vs" of reason and faith is made up, I say it is there by definition, and I explained why, I think. Of course religious people don't want to think of it that way, but logic dictates otherwise. The only truly meaningful information is based on fact, not fiction, and facts have to be backed by evidence. Faith by definition excludes any evidence, ergo, it is meaningless. And tautologies aren't necessarily circular arguments, either. "You are either dead or alive" is a tautology, but no circular argument. Of course, there are a few assumptions that everybody has to accept, even though they can not be proven, like "We do exist". We can't proof that either. But aside from those basic assumptions, no faith is required.

So please, elaborate a bit more on your point, and explain to me where my logic broke down, because I don't think it has.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome:

Sorry, hadn't seen your reply while I was typing.

And I am glad to say that I completely agree with you.

My point was that I did not see Siskos visions as interaction with the prophets, but something completely unexplained, that I thus termed "divine vision" for lack of a better word. I don't know why all the other commentors see it as self-evident that his visions came from the prophets, because the episode never made that clear, and given that Star Trek knows many seemingly omnipotent beings beside the prophets, and usually explains where things come from, this struck me as completely off. Thus I assumed that they were indeed ment as some kind of truly religous unexplainable visions. I think I tried to explain that in previous posts, but it seems I did a terrible job.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

I'm still not sure what you're hung up about. In previous episodes Sisko was communicated with the same way as everyone else - orb experiences and cryptic statements. This is the first time he's getting a different kind of information, so obviously he's going to behave differently. This time he doesn't have to try to decipher what the WA are saying or decide whether or not to do what they say. This time he's seeing things as they see them. From what the episode shows us he gets a glimpse at non-linear time, and yeah, no kidding that will make you act differently. It's pretty damn easy to know what you're supposed to do when you've already seen yourself do it in the future. In fact, that is one of the primary topics of considering for the first two Dune books; what happens to a man who can see the possible futures and choose one?

Here Sisko only gets glimmers and so has to make do with the few insights he picks up from his visions. This gives him just about enough info to find the city and save Bajor from a bad treaty. The rest is shadows and suggestion.

I agree with Chrome that the factual presence of the WA's makes this more or less a sci-fi issue to do with a strange new race. It's no surprise that a primitive people would bow down to advanced aliens, but the interesting question about faith in this series isn't about whether it makes sense to 'have faith' in the prophets. The real question is whether to trust them entirely. After all, their powers are factually there. But what do they really want? That's a question I'd like for the show to have asked at some point. Still, I think it's fairly evident that they want what's best for Bajor, or at least something like that within certain parameters. They seem to have something in common with Federation ideals in terms of not overstepping too much, so from that standpoint they should probably have earned some trust by now from the Federation. Regardless, I take any question of "faith" brought up by the show to be chiefly a matter of whether one has faith in the prophets' good intentions; maybe even to an extent in their ability to really manipulate the timeline that effectively.

And no, I'm not going to get back into the 'reason' issue. I told you this isn't a subject to be broached in a forum like this. William B was right to sit this part of it out, and although I wanted to make a brief statement on the subject I'm stay out of it from here on in. No philosophical issue can be addressed or resolved through tidy little assemblages of self-referential axioms. That's not learning, it's just talking.
Void
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
I explained that already. I am hung up on the fact that this episode never made clear that Sisko got his visions from the prophets. If it had, I'd have no problems with it. But it isn't. You say it's obvious, I find it highly doubtful, given what the episode has shown and how previous episodes handled the prophets. I am hung up on the fact that this episode played out like some religious fantasy, and I stated my reasons for why I think so.

Well, thats the point, there is no faith required to believe in the prophets, they are testable. Where the faith part comes in is when, for example, the other emissary whos name I forgot told the Bajorans that they should return to their caste system and people started killing one another. He made that up, based on what he thought the prophets wanted from him. Kai Vinn does it all the time. The existence of the prophets requires no faith whatsoever, and neither do clear instructions from them.

Well, thats sad. I thought talking and thinking about things and trying to find meaning is what philosophy is all about. And since when is talking with one another not learning? And don't you start your arguments with axioms, and go off from there? But I guess you really don't want to talk about it, fine, but I honestly don't understand why not.
Quarkissnyder
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 10:40am (UTC -5)
The religious/mystical aspect did not bother me. The prophets are an alien race that know the future -- even without understanding that it is the future -- and have the power to communicate in various ways with other races, including by sending visions. Sisko is himself (oops -- spoiler) a wormhole alien.

That does not make the wormhole aliens gods, it makes them a race that happens to have knowledge that other species don't have.

I don't think the series ever addresses whether that makes them good or evil or neutral. It seems like they are generally nice to Bajor in an intermittent, fairly passive sort of way, like we might be nice to a pet hamster.

I liked the treatment of Kai Wynn in this episode. I particularly liked when she said they should go ahead and vote without Sisko. She might have come round to believing he's the Emissary, but that doesn't mean she's not going to take every opportunity to aggrandize herself.
dave
Thu, Sep 29, 2016, 1:47am (UTC -5)
Even back in 1996 I just went with the concept that his visions were from the prophets. They can see past present and future (without knowing which is which until Sisko explained time to them), so it is quite easy for them to give him a vision of something in the past, or warn him of something in the future (Bajor joining Federation = locusts heading to cardassia (dominion) destroying them as opposed to the non aggression pact they got to sign as an independent planet).

Bajor would have been obliterated when war broke out as they would have been target #1. Their independence allowed them to sign non aggression; which is what the prophets seem to have wanted Sisko to know.

Any being that is unexplainable can be looked upon as a god. That doesn't make them a diety. The prophets are not dieties, they simply had devices (orbs) that ancient Bajorans could not understand and it gave people visions and so forth and they became a religion . When science and discovery caught up, society doesn't let go of that faith so easily (same as with our religion), even if you can debunk any notion of someone being a god.

All of us would be gods if we went to 5000 BC somewhere, had our iphones, laptop, some movies, MP3 player, power generator, you name it..... we could do all sorts of tricks and before you know it someone in leadership is writing about us and 500 years later we are mythical gods and a religion is born.

There are no actual gods. They are constructs by sentient beings to solve various needs, mysteries, goals, or desires of faith. Anything can be created as a god if enough people buy into the message, some books are written, and a thousand years pass.
MartinB
Tue, Nov 1, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Lee
"New uniforms in this episode. They suit DS9 (ha ha) a lot better than the old ones. I think they get a mention at the beginning of the episode, but otherwise I'm always a little surprised by how underplayed the transition is. The Starfleet uniform is so ubiquitous, it just seems odd that this didn't get a little more discussion. "

I know what you mean. You'd think the characters would comment on wearing new stuff (especially Bashir when he gets back from the Internment Camp, actually never having worn this style uniform before that). I think we get more references to the Bajoran uniforms being itchy than anything about the Starfleet uniforms... ever.

Ironically, "Bashir" here asks Sisko, "Does my uniform look brighter today?", when he's just gone from wearing bright blue to dark grey this very episode!

And Sisko's uniform here was a mess. Think he needs to sack his seamstress, or at least his replicator. It looked really bad with the commbadge on the too large grey area and it's just bulky with the thick red shirt, waistcoat and jacket on altogether. I was just waiting for a Bajoran to shout "hey everyone, here's our Emissary. He can't even dress himself properly!"
David Pirtle
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure I would have given this 4 stars, but I'm shocked by some of the very negative reactions. I don't know why people have a problem with Bajoran faith being a part of this series. The pilot episode laid all the cards on the table. If, like Bashir and Dax, you prefer to think of the Prophets as meddling aliens who live outside of the flow of time, you can do that. If, like Kira and Work, you prefer to approach the issue from a faith perspective, you can do that as well. I'm not a faith person myself, but it can't be denied that faith is one of the most important aspects of our society, and it's no less worthy of examination than any other, and by examination I don't mean just dismissing it as barbarism.
Dave
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
If not for Sisko getting indignant at Quark in the teaser, it apparently would have been Quark that saved the program and therefore got hit with the energy blast. I guess the prophets work in mysterious ways...
Tanner
Sat, Jan 7, 2017, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Why didn't Sisko just say "Computer save program"? No cloud storage in Quarks holosuite? Gotta use a flash drive in 2375 I guess.
SteveRage
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:11am (UTC -5)
Tough one this. I did enjoy the episode, really enjoyed the performances and loved the way it tied all the series narratives together. In fact for me, this is the moment when all the seperate strands of the series start coming together for the more serialized nature of Series 6 and 7.

However, I have little tolerance for religion and even less tolerance for when it starts to get waved around as a magic wand. Religion is a faith in something that isn't provable and requires a belief. It exists because it is entirely unprovable, that's it's power. Created because people are scared of dying and they WANT to believe in something more. In the context of DS9 we KNOW the wormhole aliens exist, we KNOW they exist outside of linear time so the past and future is all the same thing to them. I never saw how with this knowledge, an intelligent species would still worship them as gods. I also never understood why the Bajoron's weren't all flying shuttles into the wormhole to have a chat with their "gods".... I mean it worked for Quark.

The writers clearly wanted all the mumbo jumbo to sound deep and profound but all they've done is look at future scripts and thought "let's call the Dominion locusts" - job done. If there was a better reason for the visions than an exploding console, that would have helped - say the destruction of an orb or an incident in the wormhole.

Anyway, enjoyable enough but not without flaws - 3 stars
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:23am (UTC -5)
@ SteveRage,

I think it's very simple. A sufficiently advanced being or technology will invariably appear to be godlike. You may cynically say "well we're intelligent enough to know they aren't *really* gods, just super-advanced." But that would presuppose you have a working definition for what a god is or isn't that can be applied against such beings. But since you say gods don't exist you therefore cannot have such a definition. In other words, you don't have words of adequate descriptive power to discuss the prophets, or the Q for that matter. If someone decided to worship the Q, for instance, as gods, I would be very hard pressed to tell them "those aren't gods!" Because why the heck aren't they? They may not be 'the original creator', whatever that means, but that's an entirely different can of worms. The Bajorans never claims the prophets created the universe, so objecting to worship of the prophets seems to entirely miss the point of what worship actually is, and what its proper objects should or shouldn't be.

You might suggest you, personally, wouldn't worship a being that could literally re-write the future to suit you, but damn, I think a whole lot of people absolutely would. If that's not a godlike power then I don't know what is.
Steve Rage
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Perhaps you're right. I tend to assume that once you have amassed the intelligence to master faster than light travel, you would have amassed the intelligence to stop being sheep. Once you understand there is other life in the Universe and some of that life would naturally be more advanced than you, you would stop worshipping anything you don't understand just because someone told you to several thousand years ago.

You see there is a MASSIVE difference between what you describe as a godlike power and being a god. One is an incredible power and the other does not insist. Funny how when we look back through history the only two things that require unconditional worship and obedience are gods and dictatorial tyrants. Both had a thing about controlling the masses.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
"You see there is a MASSIVE difference between what you describe as a godlike power and being a god. One is an incredible power and the other does not insist."

What, exactly, is this difference? Are you saying that the only possible 'real god' is 'THE god'? That there is no such thing as 'gods' in the plural sense? I speak, of course, in the science fiction sense when I ask the question. How can you define what is or isn't a god? Related question: have you read Dan Simmons or Stanislaw Lem? Both are sci-fi authors that have addressed whether there is necessarily any distinction to be drawn between a sufficiently advanced godlike being and God proper.

It seems to me that your beef isn't so much with whether there is such a thing as a god (something you realistically can't prove) but rather with the idea of worshipping such a being. Even if you were informed with certainty there was a god of some sort that existed, it sounds like your position is that you would be against worship of that being on principle. Which, as I mentioned earlier, brings up the question of: what is worship? I think this term is one that is oft misunderstood.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 11:32am (UTC -5)
It is a very Judeo Christian outlook to presume that any "god" is necessarily omnipotent and the creator of the universe or else false (by definition).
Gooz
Sun, May 7, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Synopsis:
Sisko tweaks out on futuristic amphetamines, discovers a lost city, and can see the future. For once, Brooks' acting is appropriate as a human (Klingon and meth-head human seem to be his wheelhouse).

Bashir doesn't know benzos and downers exist, and sees radical surgery as the only way to save him. On top of that, he has an order from Sisko not to operate, but lets Jake over-ride it for some reason.

No Keiko + very little Worf + appropriate level of Sisko over-acting + decent story = 3.5 stars.
RandomThoughts
Sun, May 7, 2017, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I liked this episode a great deal. But one of my favorite moments was never discussed:

Banner unfurls...

Worf: Welcome Klingons?

I just thought that was a nice Quark moment. :)

Now what is he going to do with all that root beer?...

Have a great day... RT
P
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
One of the most moving episodes ever.
R.J.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
I expected some anti-religion comments for this episode but it makes me wonder how Trekkies or Trekkers themselves are doing when it comes to that positive vision of humanity Gene Robbenberry envisioned? Seems like far too many comment threads on Jammer's Review turn into pissing contests. Shouldn't we be more evolved than that?
SC
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
This episode makes me wanna give up on DS9. Before it was suggested that the Prophets might just be aliens and Sisko was sceptical. Suddenly he's getting visions and believes wholeheartedly in the Bajor religion. Does this mean that Wolf's religion is incorrect? I've never liked the Bajor episodes and instead prefer Gene's future vision where there is no religion. Of course if Trek was truly representative of the future there would be practising Muslims everywhere, as there's no way Islam wouldn't still be around. Trek should stick to science with everyone getting along, without religion. On another note, Avery was overacting again in this.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
@ SC,

Gene's vision isn't that there is *no* religion in the future. It's that people think for themselves and make their own choices, and respect each other regardless of which choice they make. IDIC =/= 'no religion'.
R.J.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Dagger of the Mind: Mentions a Christmas party

Balance of Terror: Wedding in the ship's chapel

The Ultimate Computer: M-5 says murder is contrary to the laws of man and God

McCoy: Always spouting "What in God's name?"
R.J.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
The other part of Gene's vision for the future was rejecting materialism. Odd that Star Trek conventions and comic-cons tend to be orgies of merchandising. Many fans don't seem to get bent out of shape about this. Mr. Roddenberry certainly didn't have a problem with merchandising and yet we have a continent of plastic floating in the ocean.
RandomThoughts
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 3:42am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@R.J.

But is it Star Trek plastic? My thought here is they are making certain plastic is used up, by turning it into collectibles that would be saved for years on shelves, and in old trunks... until our Mothers get rid of it... :D

Yes, we should be more evolved (as Trekkers/Trekkies). I've seen comments on these pages that makes me believe we have not come as far as we think we have.

Good comments on the original Star Trek and their mentions (or implied) of a Greater Deity.

McCoy also said "In the name of heaven, where are we?" in the Squire of Gothos. There are probably more... A quick search revealed:

SCOTT: "Captain, thank heaven..." Obsession
SCOTT: "Then may heaven have helped your mother." The Corbormite Maneuver

Even if some in the 23rd/24th centuries are pure atheists, the use of god (small or big G) or heaven should still be in the language. And when their Star Ship is being blowed up real good, they would still call out to... something... to save them. It's instinct. My opinion of course on that.

Just some thoughts... RT
R.J.
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 1:52am (UTC -5)
@RandomThoughts

Star Trek plastic for the win. lol
SC
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 2:46am (UTC -5)
@R.J. I'm onboard with that, rejecting materialism. I have no plastic collectables and I prefer the more minimalistic lifestyle seen in the crew's quarters. Whenever we see the Captain's room he / she only has the essentials.

As for religion, it's too simplistic to say respect everyone's beliefs, what if that religion is trying to take over the world with outdated, harmful ideas? Should we just sit back and accept it?
Samuel
Mon, Jul 31, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
So, this episode follows the pattern of the book of Joel in the Old Testament. Here is a citation of the locusts metaphor (which represents a prophecy of an invading nation in both cases): Joel 1:1-7: 1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.

2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?

3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.

4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.

7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
TB
Tue, Aug 29, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
The worst episode since move along home. Almost everyone acted out of character and they just played along with sisko who was obviously having some mental issues? The whole thing felt contrived and undue respect was given to sisko's visions. The admiral was the only one acting with any sanity.

-1/4
DLPB
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
o all the people that are so elated that "Religion is treated with respect!": Well, look to the middle east for a place where religion is "treated with respect". Look at the people that kill hundreds of innocents in the name of God to see what "treating religion with respect" leads to as a final consequence.
--------

Spot on. You can name any fact about Islam and it's disastrous effect on humans... and it will be excused by some people. Religion in general is closed minded and the opposite of reason. It always has been. But it's worse when the prophet being followed was a murderous war-lord.
Luke
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 3:26am (UTC -5)
Well, I count no less than five different logical fallacies in that brief comment alone. "Slippery slope", "black or white", "false cause", "composition/division" and "anecdotal".

Well done.
Rahul
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Interesting episode with a number of subtleties but I don't think it's excellent. I think Jammer's review is too positive -- but I get the strong sense he values DS9 far more than other Trek series. I, for one, don't.

The episode touches on some of the central issues in DS9 and kind of reminds us of them since we've been absorbed by the Dominion arc. That much, I appreciated.

Quite a bit of debate it seems about religion and how DS9 represents it. I think it's fine that the Bajorans are the way they're portrayed -- nothing wrong with a very religious people, prophets etc. It brings a different kind of framework for an episode.

As for Brooks' acting here, I think this is one of his better episodes. Overall, I'm not a fan of his acting but how he acted in this episode worked for me.

Kai Winn is one character that bothers me but it was good to see her having some doubts now. She had some good dialog with Kira and Kira had that good faith dialog with Worf/O'Brien/Dax showing her Bajoran nature.

I think 3 stars is the right rating for "Rapture". I didn't find it all that compelling Sisko's quest for the lost Bajoran city, but his portrayal of somebody getting these visions and single-mindedly wanting to pursue them was good. The aspect with his surgery and needing Jake's approval wasn't exceptionally well done -- after "The Visitor" nothing will come close to being that poignant.

Will be interesting to see future episodes refer to some of Sisko's visions of the future, especially the locusts.
Iceman
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul-He doesn't 'value' DS9 more, it's just his favorite Trek series. We all have a favorite.
Jasper
Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
You got to be f*cking kidding me. Four stars for this religious piece of sh*t? May the prophets be killed by the dominion. Terrible episode.
Iceman
Thu, Aug 23, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
I didn't fully appreciate "Rapture" the first time I watched it. I certainly do now. It is, in my opinion, the best episode in the first stretch of the season. Not only a harrowing exploration of blind faith, it's also packed with wonderful character beats and foreshadowing.

4 stars.
Startrekwatcher
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 5:11am (UTC -5)
3 stars very entertaining
Lost cities always has been intriguing to me
Debut first contact uniforms yeah ! I always hated the jumpsuits. The TNG and FC uniforms my favorite ones

Thought the scene odo arrests quark for failure to maintain holosuites cute one
Bajor joining Federation was exciting but kinda disappointed when he was a fake out although why it must stand alone at the time was intriguing

Winn telling Kira about how she fought the cardassians was a nice bit of insight into her

No jeopardy with Sisko dying but it didn’t hurt the episode so it’s all good

Intriguing Sisko seeking help from Kira although his crying was a little cringe worthy acting wise.

All said a good episode. Don’t see it as four stars though
Springy
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:48am (UTC -5)
I liked the lost city thing, and how that was handled.

The Emissary business is not my favorite and always bores me. This is no exception.

With the talk of locusts to Cardassia and Bejor being destroyed if they don't wait to join the federation, it feels like we're being set up for more and then more and then more of this, which is disappointing to me.

Ben very obviously values his Emissary role more and more, and more than his son. At the end, he seems to be . . . trying to subtly put Jake and Kasidy together, mother and son, so they'll take care of each other. He's got better things to do.
William B
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
@Springy, just curious: any thoughts on the Winn material in the ep? I thought that was one of the interesting things here, and I think Fletcher did a great job.
Springy
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I liked the Winn parts very well, especially her confrontation with Kira, but also her move to accept Sisko as the Emissary.

Fletcher is great in the role, outstanding performance.
Mertov
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
It was nice to watch this episode once again after many years (a DS9 novel prompted me to watch it to refresh my memory). Jammer's review is very fair. It's a multi-topic, multi-dimension episode and the writers pull it off in flying colors. The two dialogues between Winn and Kira add so much layer to the developments of both characters.

I can't give this a perfect rating myself only because I have trouble getting past some of the outrageous moments of overblown acting by Brooks whose lips tremble and each breath intake and outtake come in packs of 4 or 5 smaller sounds.

Random Thoughts is the only one to mention this, but the Klingon flag unrolling by accident and Worf and Quark's reactions were indeed a golden moment as RT says :)))
Adam
Sat, May 25, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
I don't think I disagree with any of Jammer's reviews more. My least favorite DS9 episodes are the ones focused on Bajor's religion. I found this one to be a snooze fest, with far too many inexplicable events that characters are just supposed to take on "faith."

This episode is not in keeping with Gene's vision of the future, which I've always found to be optimistic. It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard. Especially given all of the nonsense that religious faith is putting us through in the present day. 1 star.
Peter G.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Adam,

There's no evidence that the wormhole aliens can see the future and have powers?

To me one of the most illogical things in this series is the continued skepticism on Starfleet's part that the Prophets *don't* have these capabilities, given all the evidence to the contrary.
Luke
Sat, May 25, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
"This episode is not in keeping with Gene's vision of the future..."

You mean the vision that lead to McCoy saying "if you're speaking of worships of sorts, we represent many beliefs" in "Bread and Circuses"?

Or the one that lead to the Enterprise having an area that was specifically designed as the ship's Chapel, complete with numerous religious symbols on the walls, an alter and a woman genuflecting before said alter twice in "Balance of Terror" and where Kirk's funeral was held in "The Tholain Web"?

Or the one which had Kirk saying "mankind has no need for gods; we find the One quite adequate" in "Who Mourns for Adonais?"?

Or the one which had Kirk saying "Daystrom felt such an act was against the laws of God and man" in "The Ultimate Computer"?

Or the one that lead to Spock and McCoy dropping biblical references so often that it would be pointless to list them all?

"... which I've always found to be optimistic. It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard."

I've also always seen Gene's vision as pretty optimistic - that all people, atheists and all different religious types, could leave in harmony and just except each other despite their differences. It really is pretty depressing that so many atheists can't do that, instead wanting everyone to just conform to their way of thinking in one huge, civilization-wide group-think.
Soran
Sat, May 25, 2019, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Adam’s right. Gene’s rolling in his grave over this episode. I can’t wait until Elliott rips it to shreds.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, May 26, 2019, 7:39am (UTC -5)
@Luke

Well, to be perfectly fair, Gene *as a person* most definitely wouldn't have approved of this episode. He had quite a big blind spot when it came to the topic of religion, which DS9 - I think - mostly handled in a mature and balanced fashion.

But I agree with you that this isn't really relevant. Roddenberry gave us this grand optimistic vision for an inclusive diverse future, and his personal anti-religious views are simply not consistent with his greater vision. We shouldn't be stuck with this inconsistency just because Roddenberry himself is oblivious to it.

@Adam
"It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard"

After everything we've seen the prophets do in the past 4 seasons, how can you call Sisko's stance "belief without evidence"?

The wormhole aliens exist, and they have an intimate relationship with Bajor. They also have a personal relationship with Sisko, who experienced it first-hand.

What more evidence do you want?

@Peter
"To me one of the most illogical things in this series is the continued skepticism on Starfleet's part that the Prophets *don't* have these capabilities, given all the evidence to the contrary."

It's even worse than that.

Starfleet insists on completely ignoring a powerful alien species that has a close relationship with Bajor, WHILE THEY'RE TRYING TO GET BAJOR TO JOIN THE FEDERATION.

How does this make any kind of sense?
Luke
Mon, May 27, 2019, 5:04am (UTC -5)
@Soran

Thanks for proving my point.

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Exactly. Why is Roddenberry's personal viewpoint the only position that should matter? It amazes me that so many fans who lambast religion are simultaneously so religiously devoted to the dogma of Roddenberryism - i.e. "Gene wouldn't approve of.... fill in the blank." And it goes beyond religion in Trek. Capitalism/capitalists are shown in a semi-positive light? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Conflict between the Starfleet and Maquis characters on VOY? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Any questioning of any aspect of the "Roddenberry ideal" of early TNG? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Any interpersonal conflict between main characters? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! For crying out loud - children mourning the death of their parents (a.k.a. TNG: "The Bonding")? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve!

So, we're supposed to celebrate diversity, but we're also supposed to conform to the herd mentality. I just don't get it.
Soran
Mon, May 27, 2019, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
“Thanks for proving my point.“

If by proving you meaning ignoring, and by point you mean “face”, you’re welcome. 😉
Peter G.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
"Thanks for ignoring my face"?
Soran
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Excellent reading comprehension.
Peter G.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
I stand by my translation.
Soran
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
That’s fine. You’re using the word translation incorrectly.
wolfstar
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
I have more mixed feelings about this episode than I used to and would put it closer to 3 stars. I generally really like Bajoran-centered and/or religious-themed episodes, but the mysticism goes a little overboard in this one. The long-term plot aspects are intelligent and deft (the locusts prediction, and Ben stopping Bajor from joining the Federation), but... yeah, that scene on the promenade where he can see everyone's future doesn't work. I also don't think the writing choices for Winn were correct here – her speeches to Kira about not having believed Sisko was the Emissary and no longer knowing who her enemies are are too expository and on the nose. There's no reason for Winn to spell out her thoughts in this way and in such detail.

What really makes this episode work, though, is the family focus – particularly the way Kasidy is brought back into the fold, and the bond we see between Kasidy and Jake. This corporeal counterpoint to the spiritual plot gives the episode vital roots and brings it down to earth, and is the right note to end the hour on. I also love that Kira strongly defends Jake's choice and his right to make it even though it wouldn't have been her choice.
Drem
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
I'm so mad, why couldn't they just go into the wormhole and ask goddamnit. It's not like it would've been the first time.
I love/hate how this series wants you to remember certain past actions and builds character development but has no consistency when it comes to anyones abilities/capabilities/tech or former solutions.

Am I missing something? Is this later solved and I'm foaming for no reason whatsoever? Am I retarded?
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
When I was a kid, I loved The Real Ghostbusters. Like to-my-core loved it. Had the comics, the toys, watched all the cartoons. I knew those guys inside out. One year I went on holiday with my family, and we found this little gift shop which for some reason on top of gemstones and lighthouse garden decorations, had some real ghostbusters nick nacks.... except not really. They were knockoffs, with the 'busters fighting ghosts I'd never seen, with their proton streams behaving more like garden hoses, and the uniform colours just slightly off. Being naive to the idea of copyright infringing imports and unscrupulous gift shop owners, it weirded me the hell out, so much so that I remember it 30 years later.

I got that same feeling with this episode. Right from the off, Quark, during the banners and root beer segment, felt like knock-off Quark, doing sort of Quarkey things, but in a hokey, overplayed way, like it was a different actor trying to emulate the old one and not quite getting it.

Then we get the admiral guy, whose acting was so poor it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. If you have netflix, go to the timestamp with 17:59 remaining. Bashir says "nothing's going to change their minds". The admiral walks towards the camera, whilst looking into it, then does the absolute fakest "oh look there he is" turn, presumably as someone on set waved a stick at him. His body is stock still, not a grain of expression anywhere to be found. I start feeling like I am in an alternate reality.

Then we have Kasidy Yates, who is remarkably nonchalant and chipper for someone who just got out of prison, there due mainly due to the man she is dating. No resentment, no lingering change, just "whoo where's that jambalaya". Then when we get the scene where Sisko tells a guy "you don't belong here, go home", and the guy's emotional reaction has all the resonance of "oh you're right, I left the gas on didn't I". Was there an extras strike that week?

The clincher for the weird-out was the conversation about religion and faith in ops, which made me feel the same as when someone on the high street tries to get me to join a cult. DS9 always framed Kai Winn and the Bajoran religion as something odd that was accepted out of necessity, but this episode is saying "its all real". First, Worf's 'Sermon on the Platform' about a captain's faith being strong felt like a religious lecture, and then amplifying the weirdout was Kira's creepy turn to camera and faraway expression, stating "you're wrong, its everything" to Dax's "not much to bet your life on". Dax and O'Brien look about as disturbed, yet trying to be polite, as I would.

Sisko's visions reminded me of the ENT episode when Archer is being mind controlled by the alien offspring pheromones, and Malcolm relieves him of duty, except no one had the sense to do it to Sisko. This felt like "The Religion Episode" the bosses had been resisting all season. Surprisingly, the only character who felt right was Kai Winn, as at least she just played her usual manipulative, psychopathic self, if coming around to the idea of the episode, that we too are meant to accept, that Sisko is genuinely some messiah figure.

I don't know if being religious makes this episode more enjoyable, perhaps it chimes with a sense of faith if you have it, but for someone with none it just gave me that sense of "get me the hell out of here" dolly zoom effect I get when someone asks me if I have had my orgones measured lately outside the library.

In the end I never got any of the weirdo ghostbusters toys. They stayed on the shelf, in all their weirdness, next to a mint fudge and humbug selection.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
.. and, no one's gonna mention the new uniforms?

Nope.
Chrome
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
@Bob

I didn’t catch this one in the original run, and it didn’t get rerun very often so I only saw it after Netflix but I was also really surprised the episode existed. Maybe it’s partly because I know what will happen, but none of this episode really seems to add up to much except “Wow, Sisko sure can get away with a lot without being removed from duty.”

I’m actually religious too, but even on that level nothing really resonates here. It’s more like Sisko took peyote and tripped out for a few days and everyone knew about it so they humored him.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome

Thanks for the reply and its interesting to hear your take on it from a religious perspective.

In some ways I think it would have been easier to follow Sisko through this if he had been just a little uncomfortable with his position and abilities, say in a similar way to neo in the matrix. Neo does not see himself as "the one", but understands that people need him to at least play that role.

Judging from what you said, there is something of a reset button after this point anyway. I am glad, as I don't think I want to see Friar Sisko again soon!
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 11:08am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington,

I always did like this episode, and part of it for me has to do with its argument that there are voices out there more important that Starfleet's. It's not that Starfleet Command is bad or anything, but their policy shouldn't be a religion. Since you mentioned the Bajoran faith, I thought I'd bring up that I'm not sure why you mentioned that it struck you as "something odd that was accepted out of necessity"? Their religion far predates the Occupation, and I'm not sure which necessity you refer to. Plus their 'gods' do, you know, actually exist. You may not want to join such a religion yourself, and the episode goes quite far to present arguments for and against faith in general (and to a narrower extent, faith in it specifically).

Sisko's behavior is understandably odd; you compare it to him being high, and it's not so far from that since he got his mind zapped by an ancient artifact. He is most definitely not quite the Ben Sisko we knew from before. But what's different about him other than his hazy state? The major thing is that he doesn't take it as gospel that Bajor must join the Federation ASAP, a point which sounds like sacrilege to his Starfleet compatriots and even to the average Trek fan. And I think that's completely deliberate: it shows how much on faith everyone took it that doing the good old Federation thing was definitely what Bajor needed. Maybe it was, maybe not, but very little effort was made in S1-2 to really address the question about whether it was best for Bajor or not. Sure, the military protection was needed, but joining the Federation is not *just* about having their starships defend you.

Fact of the matter is, the Prophets are another voice in the conversation, and they're saying now that Bajor must not join. Does that mean Sisko is off his rocker, or that there may be a point of view different from (superior to?) the current Starfleet one.

But I'll be the first to agree that I've never liked from day one how the Kasidy character is written and your objection to it here is completely warranted. They did absolutely nothing with that troubled backstory and basically pressed the reset button!
Chrome
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

To be fair, I think I was the one to call Sisko high so I'll take the bullet for that. My problem is not about Sisko acting differently or being anti-Federation. One could probably argue, as you have, that Sisko isn't the typical Federation guy and he's a good ambassador for people who aren't drawn to typical Federation values. I remember in the pilot where Sisko totally strong-armed Quark into staying on DS9 and Odo says something like "And I thought I wasn't going to like him". This scene is illustrative of how Odo was expecting a typical Starfleet Officer to butt heads with, but when he gets an atypical one he finds some common ground. So absolutely, Sisko often works on that level and I have no problem with that.

My main beef is the Starfleet treatment (or lack of treatment) of Sisko here. This seems like the perfect opportunity for Ross to put his foot down and say "You need to make a choice between being a religious figure and being an officer because you have a conflict of interests here". Oddly (spoiler) this happens in a later episode - an episode where I feel like Sisko did the right thing and explained that he couldn't be on the mission for basically religious reasons - something I find completely acceptable. It's the lack of that sort of explanation to Starfleet that puts Sisko on the peyote trail for me here.

What's interesting is that, unlike Elliott, I do imagine Starfleet has exceptions for religious beliefs. I.e. in order for Starfleet to function that way it purports to function, it should allow people to practice their faith and respect their religious rights and holidays within reason. I'd like to see *that* explored, but well, maybe it was too controversial to be explored in the 1990s? I'm not sure, but it's a good conversation to have!
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

What I would have liked to see isn't so much Starfleet as giving Sisko an ultimatum, as seeing an actual discussion onscreen about *why they can't* give him an ultimatum. The fact of the matter is that he has more power than they do in this situation and it's out of control to the extent that they literally can't dictate to their own officer what to do because any kind of interference will be seen by the Bajorans as sacrilege. In a funny way the admiralty has been 'prime directived' and forced not to interfere in whatever Sisko does with them. And yeah, I'd have liked *that* topic to be explored onscreen, about how we have an analog to Lieutenant Lawrence (i.e. "Lawrence of Arabia") where the British officer has gone native and is now such a player in the local politicals that he's almost a political force unto himself.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

My biggest problem with the episode was with the religion aspect of it. I agree, the wormhole aliens are real, and contact with them does grant insight, but the building of a religion around them seems a construction of the Bajorans. In TNG, characters who show up with godlike powers are always deconstructed, and Picard shows a refusal to worship any of them because "special powers" are almost always some facet of physics or technology.

The Bajorans on the other hand have vedeks, they use religion as a means of guilting and political control (especially Kai Winn) and of using "the will of the prophets" as a means to justify questionable actions. That the episode seems to feel like a recruitment drive for the Bajoran faith feels like a deparature from the "respect but don't join" attitude the Federation has always taken, choosing instead to engage with godlike beings on their own terms, without intermediaries, rites and so on that place expectations and controls on a population.

How do the Bajorans know it is in their own best interest to do what Kai Winn says on a daily basis, given her proclivity for self promotion and even acts of totalitarianism when given power? Do the wormhole aliens really care if the Bajorans worship them, or pray, or wear an earring? In general they seem to be oblivious to the fact.

Thats my major issue - the wormhole aliens exist separately from the Bajoran faith, which is a construct useful to a small cross section of Bajoran society to impose its will on another cross section. Coming from TNG it feels wrong for Sisko to become its messiah.
Chrome
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Definitely, that's a story that I think should've happened. There's is this sort of gap of information about what Starfleet thinks about the Prophets. Realistically, they must see that Sisko being the Emissary helps the Federation *sometimes*, and maybe allowing Sisko some slack is part of their plan to learn about Bajor. But without more, that's just speculation on my part.
Boooming
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 12:55am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington Mc Bob
Totally agree. Religion was always the weakest aspect of DS9 (and BSG) but this being an US show and the US being by far the most religious country in the western hemisphere (not counting Italy; in all the other major European countries less than half believe that there is a god) it is probably unavoidable.
In TNG it was portrayed like humanity had left religion and everything that it entails behind but the religious revival in the US of the late 80s and 90s started to undermine this, I guess.
That is why it made no sense to call it "the red angel" in Discovery. That was only made for US audiences. For people in Star Trek saying that would be like us seeing some phenomenon and calling it the "the mighty Ra". Most people in Star Trek wouldn't really know what an angel is (a western/middle eastern concept of a servant of a monotheistic god) or how it looks like. It is so dumb...
In DS9 the religious stuff gets really stupid...
But I don't want to spoil it.
Jason R.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Booming even stone cold atheists like me are capable of looking at something and thinking "angel". Many millenia after Greeks stopped worshipping the Olympian pantheon people today will comment that someone looks like a "Greek God" and it doesn't make them worshippers of Zeus.
Chrome
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
I agree with Jason. Take also for example the Japanese who are notoriously agnostic and have no strong links to Christianity, yet they use religious symbols like Angels and Priests in just about every kind of media.
Boooming
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.
Sure. 50 years ago being christian was pretty much the norm in many Western countries. The greek gods are used in a few of our oldest stories: Hercules, Odysee, Troj. Without Homer we probably wouldn't know that much about them.
What do you know about the Titans and how they looked? Right. Nothing.
Or Vishnu or the Gandharva. Yeah, nothing.
Is it really that likely that an atheist society, consisting of dozens of species and many more cultures in 300 years would see an anthropomorphic being with wings and think: That looks like one of those helpers of the abrahamic god. What was it called again... yes angel" Burnham wasn't even raised on earth.
It was called red angel because it is an American show for western audiences and it sounds mysterious. In doesn't make much sense in Discovery or Star Trek.

@Chrome
Well, they have a pretty strong link to American culture for around 70 years. I believe that they also had a concept of angels through Buddhism (Tennin).
Chrome
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Booming wrote:

"Well, they have a pretty strong link to American culture for around 70 years."

Actually, they have a link with American culture for over 170 years, which is why baseball is popular over there. American religion, on the other hand, never really caught on.

"I believe that they also had a concept of angels through Buddhism (Tennin)."

Less than a third of the population is Buddhist. Your argument was that writers use elements to capture the heart of religious countries, but it seems to be the case that even countries with a non-religious majority enjoy such symbolism. I think you're missing the point that you can enjoy such imagery because - hey, it's interesting! - even if you don't believe in a higher power. I don't believe that Zeus is capable of striking me down with thunderbolts, but it's fun to imagine if such a being existed and what stories may stem from it.
Boooming
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 12:43am (UTC -5)
@Chrome
" but it's fun to imagine if such a being existed and what stories may stem from it. "
That is all good. I don't haved a problem with using religious imagery but this is not about an actual angel. It is just a person in a suit even though of course that "angel" literally saves the galaxy. I just think that it makes no sense for a human first raised by scientists and then on Vulcan in an atheist society that is part of multi planet federation to look at something and the first thing that comes to mind is angel. Watch the trailer again. The word angel features very prominently in it. Even the word apocalyptic.
Do you think they included that because they thought: Angels and the Apocalypse are very trekkian concepts?
Jason R.
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 7:04am (UTC -5)
"What do you know about the Titans and how they looked? Right. Nothing.
Or Vishnu or the Gandharva. Yeah, nothing. "

I have seen illustrations of the titans when I was a kid. Not to mention they have been depicted in several major Hollywood films. There was even a movie called Remember the Titans funny enough although it was about football ha. You could have asked me who Cronos and Rhea were when I was 7 and I could have given you a biography.

I have also seen illustrations of Hindu deities at various times in books and they have also popped up from time to time in pop culture. Oppenheimer quoted the Vedic texts when they blew up the first atomic bomb invoking an image of Shiva I think.

I don't pretend that any of these depictions (especially in pop culture) are accurate or authentic, but they exist and most people are aware of them without being Cronos or Shiva worshipers.

I mean seriously, you're an educated person and you never saw a picture of Cronos and had never heard of Vishnu? They may not be as iconic as Zeus (at least to westerners) but they're hardly obscure.

And yes if an 8 foot tall blue alien landed in my backyard I just might say it reminded me of Vishnu and give it that nickname.

The way I see it you imagine a future where human culture has been scrubbed of not just religion but even of religious imagery. I just don't ever see that happening, even in a Rodenberrian atheist utopia.
Strejda
Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 6:38am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington Mc Bob
„.. and, no one's gonna mention the new uniforms?“

I sure will (because I'm 12)! I've always liked having DS9 guys wear the same uniform TNG crew does in their high-budget blockbuster movies. I think it helps to give a sense of weight and stakes to what is happening, which would be important with the Dominon war. They aren't just little guys doing their thing, they are on the same level as the A-team.

I think people here are wrong to interpret the episode as unambiguously pro-religious or supportive or Sisko’s behavior. Prophets themselves never confirm if they talked with Sisko here. For all we know, even in context of the rest of the show, Sisko really just had a breakdown that made him see things that weren’t there, neglect his family and risk his own life and it just happened to work out in the long run. There is a reason this is all from the point of view of people around him and they have varied reactions to him.
Mike
Thu, Oct 17, 2019, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed thie episode a lot, but kept waiting for the inevitable reveal that Sisko was somehow being manipulated by anti-Federation Bajorans trying to prevent Bajor from joining the Federation. I still think that bee-yotch Winn may have had something to do with it.

Anybody have a list of all the DS9 episodes touching on Bajoran faith, the emissary, the prophets, orbs and stuff?
Adam
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
The thing that is fundamentally interesting about a story like this is what Jammer spends most of his review talking about - we know Sisko we’ll enough at this point that seeing a whole episode of him seemingly tripping out in the glee of cosmic knowledge is a worthwhile exercise, where it wouldn’t have been back in season 1.

And I think I felt after a rewatch that this kind of sudden spiritual-ish obsession is kind of scary and could be played more that way. At least we have the medical caveats here, whereas in Close Encounters there’s not much in the way regrets even when the protagonist leaves his wife and three kids alone to go chill in the desert - at least here we get Jake and Kassidy and a sense of how risky this is.

I’m trying to avoid directly referencing some of the knee jerk comments above, but it does feel as though, that if one were “that kind” of atheist, focusing even on the slightest trappings of religion in this episode (which are there to drive the plot and give us some major Kira filler lines) might cause one to miss the episode’s well earned character exploration.
Booming
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:06am (UTC -5)
Yeah, well the Bajorans don't have a religion.

Religion exists to explain things that (so far) cannot be explained by reason like what comes after death, why are we here and so forth. You can accept the explanation which is called faith. The Bajorans know that the Prophets exist and that they watch over them. That is not faith, that is knowledge. They just follow the erratic rules of their space overlords. The prophets are basically this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M244TI8eu0w

This episode is not as bad as Kira and Jake shooting lightnings at each other with heavenly/devilishly glowing eyes but it is still pretty un-Trek. It is the essence of a false equivalency. The whole prophets thing is one of the weakest aspects of the show. In general the Federation just ignores that there are aliens that live outside of time and apparently know everything. Sisko talks to them a few times but there seems to be no scientific effort to contact these super powerful aliens that live nearby. It's is complete nonsense. As is the attitude of the admiral. He behaves like Sisko is some religious fanatic instead of treating this for what it is: a super evolved species trying to communicate through Sisko about the future.

It is pretty stupid and not a good examination of religion or faith or atheism. It would fit better into something like Star Wars.
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

While I agree that the Federatin not taking the Prophets seriously was always a stupid omission in the series, I could come up with a head canon that makes sense of it.

Imagine that any attempt to contact these so-called aliens meets with simply nothing; any non-Bajoran trying to have an orb experience gets nothing. Scientific tests show nothing. They are just rocks in a box, which is what happened to the Cardassians trying to steal their secrets. To what extent do you really think that Starfleet is going to actually believe Sisko that he had these experiences? I mean ok, he's a command-level officer so that comes with some gravity. But on the other hand he began having these experiences during a grieving process where he had a bad attitude, and during which the Bajorans started portraying him as some kind of prophet or something; and Starfleet isn't going to wonder if he's lost it? And they have literally no other data than his word, and the Bajoran religion.

Imagine for the moment if someone you knew well claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary, and cited to you all the Christians who agree that she exists. Would you look at that and take it seriously, or would you start to wonder if your friend is ok in the head? And yeah, the wormhole aliens are 'in the wormhole' in some sense, but not just sitting there like playing marbles in space. They're unreachable, un-contactable, and undetectable. So it makes sense that Starfleet would really wonder if they exist, *until a certain point late in the series when it should be clear.* However this was never shown in the series, and it would have been good to show an admiral or two frustrated that all attempts at commucation with them failed.
James White
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Interesting take. One question - if what your saying is true, and Starfleet held this opinion of Sisko, then why wasn't he relieved of command?
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
@ James White,

The answer to this was alluded to a few times but never quite made clear: because the Bajorans wouldn't stand for it. No Sisko, no Bajoran membership. I think in the end Starfleet's hands were tied and they had no choice in the matter.
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
"Yeah, well the Bajorans don't have a religion.

Religion exists to explain things that (so far) cannot be explained by reason like what comes after death, why are we here and so forth. You can accept the explanation which is called faith. The Bajorans know that the Prophets exist and that they watch over them. "

Prior to Sisko and Dax discovering the wormhole and actually talking to the Prophets directly (and documenting it) they didn't know the Prophets were real anymore than modern Christians know that Jesus (as the son of God) was real. They had a bunch of legends and stories same as modern religious people do today. They had the orbs of course, which are admittedly more impressive than your typical artifact what with the glowing and the sparkling - but then again for an advanced civilization like the Bajorans with holograms and space ships, maybe not proof of anything really.

Bottom line the Bajoran religion didn't cease being a religion overnight just because someone proved their Gods to be real.

Throughout DS9 there is this ambiguity about just what the prophets really want and why. That they exist is pretty obvious thanks to the events of Emissary, but their status as "Gods" is as much a matter of faith as anything a Christian or Buddhist believes today.

"Sisko talks to them a few times but there seems to be no scientific effort to contact these super powerful aliens that live nearby. It's is complete nonsense. "

I am not sure what you suggest the Federation should be doing to contact them. They only seem interested in talking to Sisko. Since the wormhole is their home, they kind of can speak to whomever they please. Is the Federation supposed to send probes to invade their home and force their engagement against their will? That would seem to be a violation of the PD not to mention incredibly stupid given that they are basically omnipotent within their domain.
Booming
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
I always thought that the Cardassians at least suspected that there was more to it than Bajorans inhaling incense and wearing robes. The orbs are obviously some form of tech. The Bajorans used them regularly to communicate with the prophets and for other stuff. Sure the Federation didn't really know about them but mostly because they had no direct contact to the Bajorans before the occupation ended.

Let's say you become super powerful and people then would serve you and you come up with a few crazy rules would that mean that you have founded a religion?

What is a god really? For the Abrahamitic faiths god is omnipotent, the Buddhists have something like super beings but one thing all these religions have in common is that their super powered believe receivers are fairly hard to reach and impossible to proof. You have to believe that they exist without proof. For the prophets, or wormhole aliens, you just have to pick up the right orb or fly into the wormhole and wait there. It is not much more complicated than a phone call.

And why not just contact them. Say hello. Make sure that they will not start eating Humans or go full Nagilum. In what way would contacting them be a PD violation? They are obviously a space faring people and aware of and in contact with other species. Also their arm reaches even earth. They made Sisko's birth mother have sex with Sisko's dad which is pretty disturbing. Did Federation security ever investigate that? How many more women were forced into sexual slavery to produce useful offspring? The public demands answers!

Even after the prophets destroy several thousand Dominion ships the Federation is still passive towards them. Isn't the Federation all about meeting new civilizations and that stuff?!
James White
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

That makes some sense. However, I'm not sure I'd want him with tactical authority if I believed he was delusional. Maybe an Emissary liaison with honorary title and little actual power over the station?
Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Another episode where I sadly disagree with Jammer's score.

As previously mentioned, I'm not a fan of DS9's dealings with religion, given how it simplifies things to produce something which can both fit into a 45-minute episode and won't cause any controversy with the networks who buy the syndication rights.

The answer is usually to push the religious aspects onto an alien race and have the humans of the story as observers who have little or no direct involvement with the religious activities in question; they'll occasionally take part in the Ceremony Of The Week, but won't actually join the religion in question or engage in any significant discussions about it,

The Bajorans are a prime example of this. Every Bajoran hews to the same religious creed to a lesser or greater decree, and at the upper end of the scale can display some worryingly behaviours. Accession is one of the better examples of this, when we see Kira quitting her job because Akoorem Laan believes that the traditional caste-based system should be restored. And in the very same episode, we see a Vedek blithely pushing another Bajoran over a railing and to their death, because the Bajoran in question didn't want to go back to their caste.

It's a highly primitive setup, especially for a society which is allegedly so spiritual - it's a mash-up of the medieval Catholic Church and the rigid, stagnant, and caste-based societies of ancient India and China - a system which is at least as much about maintaining the status quo as it is about spirituality.

Worse, this setup makes little or no sense to me - in a universe where beings of all shapes, sizes and capabilities exist, why do the Bajorans believe the Wormhole aliens to be gods? They've had everything from energy-based aliens to the mighty Q himself (equally if not more capable of manipulating time and space) visit, and the Wormhole aliens didn't even understand the concept of linear time or that the Bajorans were worshipping them until Sisko stuck his head into the wormhole. Hell, it only takes a sentences or two of technobabble to send ordinary linear-time creatures careering into the past.

(And yes: I know it gets wibbly wobbly timey wimey with the fact that the aliens are non-linear and can manipulate the past, present and future. From a 4 dimensional perspective, they essentially ignored Bajor for 10,000 years, other than to occasionally/accidentally drop artefacts out of the undiscovered wormhole...)

Then we come to this episode, in which the writers decided to throw in some more medieval elements. Uncannily accurate visions which slowly kill the person seeing them, even as they find themselves irresistibly drawn by the tantalising possibility of becoming One With The Cosmic All.

Oddly - and presumably deliberately - these visions are never directly tied to the Bajoran religion; instead, they're associated with the effects of Sisko's holodeck accident. Also, they're treated with scepticism, despite the fact that Sisko is able to accurately describe current events which he should have no knowledge of, such as the Admiral's relationship issues with his son.

I'm guessing that this is an artefact of the unwritten rule that ST humans should only observe religion rather than engaging with it, but it does leave things somewhat muddied.

The whole thing with B'hala feels off, too. This is a 20,000 year old painting with partially visible coordinates, and not a single Bajoran has ever attempted to closely study the paintings for further clues? The Cardassian occupation only lasted for around 30 years, which leaves around some 19,970 years for study, and Sisko didn't do anything especially super-scientific in his analysis.

Maybe their society really is just primitive and rigid...
P'kard
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I like to think the bajoran guy had a really bad case of tarkalean flu that day and the prophets told the Sisko of this man's suffering. Therefore they told sisko to take mercy on him and let him go home early. Rom can pick up his slack anyway
Tim
Sun, May 10, 2020, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
This is a strong episode, although I think its glaring deficiency is that it cheaply sacrifices one of the core thematic struggles of DS9 (Sisko's difficulty in accepting the mantle of Emissary, and his attempts to reconcile objective science with Bajoran religion) in the name of exploring the big themes of Spirituality, Faith and Revelation, both from a personal and socio-political standpoint.

Sisko's grudging indulgence of Bajoran prophecy up until now has been firmly rooted in its clear relation to the 'wormhole aliens', yet he makes no attempt to connect the two, even after he recovers. This new unquestioning 'faith' is totally implausible (and certainly not something to be celebrated), regardless of whatever transcendental experience it came out of.
Elliott
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 10:36am (UTC -5)
In a (likely futile) attempt to subvert the flame wars of comments past (of which I was often a participant), I'm going to try and confine this to the running threads from my own chronological reviews. I think there were some excellent points made by William B in 2016 and I don't want to just repeat what's been said. I want to contextualise my comments and think it would be good to revisit the Prophet-centric episodes thus far.

“Emissary”

Up until the events of this episode, the only thing that was known about the Prophets is that they sent the Bajorans orbs which somehow affect the mind, granting visions...or time-travel as the plot demands. That the Bajorans formed a religion around these mysterious objects over past millennia is not especially remarkable. It's a pattern we have seen dozens of time in Trek with relatively primitive people making a best effort to understand technology that is beyond their comprehension. That the Bajorans developed advanced technology akin to Starfleet's and yet chose to remain *intentionally* ignorant of the orb technology says something important about the sort of people they are. Chakotay mentioned in “Sacred Ground” how he was initially disappointed when his people uncovered the science behind their psychedelic stone magic, but chooses to lead a spiritual life anyway. The nature of his people's faith had to adapt to new information. Science took the place of the supernatural, but that didn't mean there wasn't room for spiritual explorations of the self. The Bajorans thought, apparently, that a scientific exploration of their spiritual totems would break their religion, and that was too dangerous to attempt. This suggests that the Bajorans value credulity *for its own sake.* Regardless, when the Cardassians occupied and subjugated Bajor, we are told that the Bajorans' faith was an invaluable source of strength that helped them survive. That faith is intentionally vague, but I think it's safe to interpret this as faith in the WILL of the Prophets. In other words, the Prophets have a plan for Bajor and that times of trial, like the Occupation, are a necessary means to the end of that plan, which must be good. Therefore, one is impelled to endure such hardships in deference to the Prophets' will and the fulfilment of their plan.

Now, within a period of about a month, the generations-spanning Occupation ends thanks to the Bajoran resistance, AND a new alien overseer, Sisko, discovers the Celestial Temple. He speaks with the Prophets. He touches them insofar as they can be touched. He *influences* them, striking up a bargain for the use of their physical home as a means of transportation to the Gamma Quadrant. He assigns Dax to do what the Bajorans wouldn't and analyse one of the mysterious orbs. This is culture-shattering stuff which is only mitigated by the actions of the Kai. Opaka, guided by sincere belief, subconscious instruction from the Prophets, deft political instincts, or a combination of these declares Sisko to be the Prophets' emissary to her people. She in essence takes these culture-shattering events and recuperates them to the end of prolonging Bajoran credulity as it has been. The Sisko and his actions, however much they should disrupt the status quo, are fitted into the divine the plan. Opaka's tendency towards these kinds of moves are backed up in quotes we get from her later on: “Prophecy can often be vague,” and “One should never look into the eyes of one's gods.”

Sisko himself is being influenced by a number of factors that we see:

1.He is apathetic about his assignment; his general professional motivation is to do his job quickly and then get on with his life.
2.His interaction with the Prophets results in an unintentional therapy session which forces him to confront lingering demons around the death of this wife.
3.Although he is reluctant to assume the role of Emissary, it is nevertheless a call he had not anticipated, a purpose which may potentially hold more meaning than his Starfleet duties.

“In the Hands of the Prophets”

While “Battle Lines” was annoying in several respects, it's here that we see DS9's religious straw man being fully stuffed for future crow-deflection. Vedeks Bitchwhore and Driftwood are juxtaposed to show us the difference between “bad” religious people and “good” ones. Bad religious people plan assassinations to further their ambitions while good ones are never expected to answer difficult questions. Is it a problem that the Bajorans are willing to abandon their alliance with the Federation over the secular teachings of a school teacher? Eh, who cares? Bitchwhore is the bad guy, you see. The only sincere secular perspective is given to Jake, a preteen at the time. While Jake will often show insight beyond his years about art and relationships, his opinion is pigeon-holed as something childish and intolerant. Sisko makes the argument that because the Prophets have an ability humans and Bajorans lack (essentially, the ability to see into the future), the Bajorans' treatment of them as gods is justified. Again, barring a contemporary understanding of physics, this would be true, but Sisko employs the classic deflection tactic of bringing up the Occupation; it would be wrong to rob the Bajorans of their beliefs because those beliefs were instrumental in their surviving a great evil. What is accomplished here is, using the straw man of Vedek Bitchwhore, Sisko is nudged closer into alignment with the will of the Prophets, transforming him into an apologist for Bajoran credulity. It's actually pretty ironic that he would wield the tools of manipulation like this when Opaka was wielding him in the same way at the start of the series.

“Destiny”

So far, “Destiny” represents the low point in the series as far as its Prophets plot. This is because there isn't anything driving the story other than the writers' ignorance about the nature of religious belief. It has all the problems of “In the Hands of the Prophets,” but with none of the redeeming qualities like Keiko's advocacy or a compelling character-driven mystery. Instead the episode actively celebrates the logical fallacy at the heart of the writers' ignorance, conflating the Prophets' ability to predict the future with their right to be divinely worshipped in just about as brazen a manner as one could imagine. In bending over backwards to present an unrequested salve to the humanism of TNG, the writers end up painting their ally gods as truly sinister. As I wrote, “for whatever reason, the Prophets feel entitled to be worshipped. The Prophets chose to share knowledge of the future with ancient Bajorans—who of course regarded such abilities as supernatural. By the time Sisko discovered the wormhole, it should have been clear that their gods aren’t really gods. Their religion should have either changed dramatically or fallen apart.”

In the words of Patton Oswalt: “'You gotta respect everyone's beliefs.' No, you don't. That's what gets us in trouble. You have to *acknowledge* everyone's beliefs. And then you have to reserve the right to go 'That's fucking stupid, are you kidding me?'”

“Accession”

Here we saw a fleeting possibility for the series to self-correct on this topic. For one thing, we learn that the Bajorans are capable of letting go of traditions, despite Opaka's concerns. The Dijaree-doos represent a kind of wooden-soled Puritan stage of development for the Bajorans and their spirituality. The needs of the moment allowed them to retain their beliefs while allowing them to change for the better. And yet, the totality of what it means to have a religion is not shied away from. We don't just have random holidays about atonement (“Fascination”) or months of fasting that make them seem more spiritual; the religious life is a conviction that pits faith against reason.

Unfortunately, “Accession” ends up fumbling the ball. When Cardamom and Sisko enter the wormhole to ask the Prophets who's supposed to be the the real Emissary, they explain that they are intentionally exploiting their ability to move freely through time in order to manipulate the linear being called “THE Sisko.” So the concepts of linear time *do* have meaning for the Prophets, provided they are afforded a furthering of their own agenda. The religious experience is supposed to deal with the unchanging, the numinous and the immaterial. That the Prophets are non-linear is, conceptually, a great way to explore this notion. But by making them creatures with an agenda, puppet-masters who manipulate our characters for their own ends, you remove all of the subtlety and destroy the potential for this experience to have any connection to actual religious life, except in the most superficial ways.

Teaser : **.5, 5%

We begin in Valhalla, I mean B'hala, I mean a fragment of a painting of the lost city of B'hala. Kira, Sisko and Dax (in the new uniforms from FC) are staring at the recently-recovered artefact in the wardroom.

KIRA: Jadzia, you're looking at the most important Bajoran icon ever painted. The only known proof that B'hala actually existed, and all you have to say is “hmm”?

Oh gods, where to start? So we have the word “icon” being tossed into the mix of religious-sounding words meant to lend credibility to our terrible allegorisation of actual religion. An icon is a work of art with a specific religious purpose. It depicts a person or scene from religious history in order that said depiction be used for religious devotion. In other words, it is the visual version of a religious parable or gospel. An icon of the virgin Mary, for example, is designed to give Christians an image of the mother of Christ on which to affix their prayers to the “actual” Mary ascended in heaven. It is not, and has never been considered to be, an historical accounting of Mary of Galilee. So right away, we have the DS9 writers conflating things. B'hala represents a sacred city in the Bajoran religious canon for which this icon was painted, to give Bajorans a devotional image of an important religious symbol. It is not, and cannot be, “proof” of the city's existence. Once again, we are trying to prove the existence of God and his stuff which entirely misses the point of faith.

Now, in an “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” or “The da Vinci Code” adventure story, this kind of historicity hiding within religious paraphernalia can be fun and deeply entertaining. I won't deny this story that possibility. But those kinds of stories are NOT about sincere Christian faith. And when you conflate them, you—and I'm sorry to have to play this record again, but it's true—pretentiously insult both people of faith and secular humanists. Everybody loses.

Okay, okay, I had better get past the first 15 seconds of this thing. Sisko has used his position to steal himself a look at the painting, which has been recovered from Cardassia, before it is sent to a Bajoran museum. This I like. We are cued in to the continued weakened state of the Cardassain Empire and reminded that Sisko has immersed himself in Bajoran texts and artefacts going back about two seasons. The painting includes an obelisk that contains coordinates which are supposed to reveal the city's actual location on Bajor, but the 2D image only shows two of the four sides.

DAX: You're going to study it? Maybe see if you can find the lost city?
KIRA: I was just thinking about Zocal's third prophecy. It said only someone who had been touched by the Prophets could find the ruins of B'hala.

What a fucking convenient prophecy. No unnecessary metaphors like swords of stars and vipers this time? Just “only he who had grown a goatee and knoweth the secrets of jambalaya could ever hope to unlock the Big Secret.”

Later, Sisko examines a scanned image of the painting and realises there is a reflection of the back of the obelisk in a waterfall. Maybe Zocal should have prophesied about advanced C.S.I. technology. Eventually, Sisko recreates the obelisk in a holosuite. He makes a great deal of progress enhancing the image...somehow. All we get is “computer enhance” three or four times...until Quark interrupts him to remind him his time is up. This is when Sisko reminds *him* that he wouldn't have a job or a bar or ownership of the holosuites if Sisko hadn't bailed him out. I'm kidding. Quark is here to suggest Sisko spend his valuable time fucking holo-whores, but Sisko decides to save the programme and go to bed. In his attempt, he's zapped by the control panel. No surprise there. This is (ostensibly) Star Trek; consoles exist to explode in your face.

Act 1 : *.5, 17%

Odo has arrested Quark for neglecting maintenance of his holosuites. It's unclear what the point of this scene is unless we're just supposed to assume Quark is lying about his request. Is it a comment on Quark's miserliness? I don't see how considering O'Brien doesn't charge Quark for maintaining the station. Is it a backhanded swipe against Federation communism? Now that Rom is part of the socialised workforce, Quark has to get in the proverbial breadline and things will inevitably go to shit? Meh.

Well anyway, Bashir informs Sisko that his shock has had a psychedelic mushroom effect on his brain, causing some Ted Turner colour saturation in Sisko's eyes and a condescending aloofness in his tone of voice.

One side effect is that Ben seems to appreciate the meal his son has over-cooked for him later that evening. This meal gives Jake the opportunity to exposit that Kasidy Yates is returning from her prison sentence and he expects Ben to wine and dine her. Personally, I think Jambalaya is an iffy meal to prelude conjugal visits, but to each their own.

JAKE: Dad, Kasidy's spent the last six months in prison for helping the Maquis. She's paid the price for what she did.
SISKO: I suppose so.
JAKE: I just hope you give her a chance that's all. You two had something together.

I actually think Jake is right about this. I said in the S4 write-up that Kasidy seems to bring out the best in Sisko's character and in Brooks' acting. So if they have to sweep the very real need for some counselling and couple's therapy under the rug to bring these two back together, I can accept it. Just so long as we never have to hear from Eddington again.

For the moment, Sisko is strolling down the Roy Neary path and constructing ominous shapes with his food. “Close Encounters” is actually a good reference point to bear in mind throughout this story (not just because of the forgivable plagiarism). That was a story that gave room for its main characters to have psychological, if not spiritual journeys. Critically, the spiritual introspections and revelations, while induced by an alien power, were *internal to the characters.* The aliens had an agenda: to make contact with humanity. And the people who mistook their agenda for that of a genuinely supernatural deity were portrayed as foolish.

Sisko returns to the holosuite to continue his mashed potato sculpture, but Dax calls to inform him that he's got a call from Admiral WHATley. The “what” stands for “what the fuck are you doing, Ben?” For now, he's got some good news to share; Bajor's petition to join the Federation has been approved.

WHATLEY: Congratulations, Ben. You've done a hell of a job out there.

Oh? To my recollection, since this series began, the Federation has been infiltrated by shape-shifters, gone to war with their former allies, and been unable to quell an internal rebellion by a bunch of selfish Victor Hugo cosplayers. The “good” things that have happened, like the collapse of the Cardassian Empire, the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order have pretty much nothing to do with Sisko's actions. The only (good) thing we can credit Sisko with is the discovery of the wormhole (again, an accident, but he did sort of make peace with the Prophets).

But leaving all of that aside, this is supposed to be about Bajor, right? That's the premise of the series; Bajor needs to be admitted into the Federation for some reason. In season 1, Bajor wasn't ready. From “Emissary:”

PICARD: [The withdrawn Cardassians] left the Bajorans without a means of being self-sustaining. The relief efforts we've been coordinating are barely adequate. I've come to know the Bajorans. I'm a strong proponents for their entry into the Federation.
SISKO: Is it going to happen?
PICARD: Not easily. The ruling parties are at each others throats. Factions that were united against the Cardassians have resumed old conflicts.
SISKO: Sounds like they're not ready.
PICARD: Your job is to do everything short of violating the Prime Directive to make sure that they are.

It's a little vague, but the implication as far as I can see is that like the Kesprit from “Attached,” Bajor was too divided by internal loyalties to be considered a worthy applicant. We saw this trend continue all the way through “Shakaar” in Season 3. Since then, the dynamics which drove the conflict between Bitchwhore's faction and Shakaar's haven't abated, but the open conflict apparently has. The only peek we had at Bajoran politics following the collapse of Cardassia was in “Accession,” which I already touched on. The Bajoran people have shown absolutely no positive growth since the end of the Occupation. On the contrary, they've become more theocratic, with the space pope as the de facto head of state, and shown that the slightest push will regress their culture by more than fifty years to the point where they would observe a caste system that condones the open murder of priests. While Sisko is responsible for preventing the realisation of this system, he did so only by openly embracing a position of religious power. He can command the Bajoran people not to do stupid things because of religious authority. That may be what the Prophets want him to do, but it's explicitly what Starfleet does not want him to do. So, the idea that anything has happened to make Bajor ready to join the Federation is dubious at best, and the only deliberate actions which Sisko has taken to bring about this end are in direct conflict with his assignment.

There is another possibility, of course. Given the recent Borg invasion(s) and the imminent conflict with the Dominion, Starfleet may be looking to admit as many member worlds as it can to bolster the Federation's political position. That's the cynical view expressed later on in “Insurrection,” anyway. I hate this, but it at least makes sense. Given that, Whatley's praise of Sisko is self-conscious bullshit. The Federation wants Bajor because it wants asses in uniform to fight the Dominion and is willing to overlook the obvious fact that Bajor is no more ready now than it was four years ago to be admitted. Sisko hasn't accomplished anything, but praising him is part of the ceremony that is supposed to justify all of this. I should note that this is the best explanation I can come up with, but it still doesn't actually make sense, annoyances with this cynical view of the Federation aside, because the Federation expends a lot of resources *helping* Bajor recover its self--sustenance and lost artefacts and establishing doomed colonies and whatnot. It's not really possible to reconcile that fact with the notion that Bajor's admittance will somehow make the Federation better able to survive a coming war, which means the whole train of logic pretty much falls of the rails anyway.

Whatever. It doesn't make sense, but the premise is fulfilled so the series is over now, right?

Well, no. First we have to have a gag with Quark and Worf that returns us to the subject of root beer. B- on that one. Here's an interesting Freudian slip. The written script has this line:

DAX: As far as I'm concerned, the Federation should accept a new member every week.

But Dax actually says “Starfleet should accept a new member every week.” Mhm. You're letting your hand show, Ira. Kira reflects on the last five years, realising she now embraces Federation membership, and attributes her change of heart to Sisko.

KIRA: No doubt about it. He made me a believer.

The episode is deliberately couching Kira's feelings about Sisko and the Federation in religious language. This goes back to a discussion on the word “faith” back in “Accession.” One can substitute the word “belief” here and get the same idea:

“Kira '[believes]' in Sisko because he's proven to be a good captain....erm, allegedly. But that is not the same as religious [belief]. Religious [belief] is by definition not about being proved correct or likely. That's what makes it special...The point isn't to be pedantic about language here, but conflating different ideas, simply because they can be described with the same word does a disservice to what those ideas represent. Having 'faith' [or belief] in a deity is distinct from having 'faith' in a person or a process or an institution. The former is specifically about irrational belief. This is not meant to be derogatory, but it is a feature of religious conviction. Kira didn't have any 'faith' in Ben Sisko the man or the Federation the institution in 'Emissary,' but when Opaka declared Sisko to be the Emissary, she did have *religious* faith in Sisko the Emissary. That is what her comments to Sisko about being willing to follow him this whole time or her brushing off Odo's line of questioning about her contradictions are all about—irrational, religious, devotional [belief]. At this point in the series, Kira *also* has evidence-based [belief] in Sisko the man and possibly the Federation, but that is completely different. She has arrived at this [belief] through experience and evidence. That's why, despite the fact that she only knows Akorom as an historical figure, she is willing to immediately follow his new edicts, even if they are extremely difficult for her. She may be willing to do the same for Sisko *now,* but she was always willing to do so for The Emissary, whoever her gods told her that was.”

This is what I mean when I talk about the double-edged sword of a continuity-heavy series. Conceptual problems like these are baked in so that it almost doesn't matter how well a scene or premise works in a vacuum. If I stepped into DS9 at the start of Season 5 and picked up from context what was going on, Kira's lines here tell me a lot about her, about Sisko, and about the dynamic being explored. It's a good storytelling device. But because I know what this dialogue is built upon from past episodes, I have to hold these lines to account for being problematic.

Well anyway, Kira finds Sisko back at his potato pile, seemingly so entranced by the obelisk that he ignores her. But she quickly discovers that he's not just entranced but open-eyed comatose.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Just kidding. Sisko snaps out of it and explains to Kira that he was having a vision of being in Valhalla.

SISKO: I was standing in front of the obelisk and as I looked up, for one moment I understood it all. B'hala, the Orbs, the occupation, the discovery of the wormhole, the coming war with the Dominion...For one moment, I could see the pattern that held it all together...I don't know what I had, but it felt wonderful.

This feeling is what gives the title its double meaning. “Rapture” as a religious idea relating to the end of days and all that fun stuff didn't develop in (some) Christian theology until the mid 19th century, but the feeling associated with being carried off into an ecstatic state of bliss and understanding certainly existed before this. “Raptura” actually means “to seize.” Ironically, being raptured is a state one would usually associate with religious prophets, because (as I tried to explain before), a prophet doesn't “predict the future,” he is able to explain the present with some degree of divine understanding. Even without the confirmation we will get later from Bashir, we can deduce that Sisko's vision is being induced by the same mushroom explosion console effect that is making Jake's food delicious. Many religions invoke the use of psychedelic drugs and/or fasts, etc. to induce euphoric states (of rapture). This was something I brought up in “Sacred Ground.” Janeway, too, had a rapture in that episode. “She was forced into a situation where her access to information was artificially restricted, and in that state, she had a religious experience. It was moving for her. And that's because the ability to have those kind of transcendent episodes relies upon a certain degree of detachment from reality, of purposeful ignorance. Janeway learns that it can be meaningful to intentionally enter Plato's Cave, chain oneself up and observe the shadows on the walls. They can be really beautiful, those shadows.” Sisko is experiencing the opposite effect; his access to information is being artificially enhanced (by the Prophets). In his state, he's having a religious experience, and it's moving for him. But in the end, this transcendent episode also relies upon a degree of detachment from reality.

Sisko is again interrupted on his magical bus ride by a call from Ops. This time it's to inform him that everybody's favourite Space Karen, I mean Pope, I mean Theocratic Despot Kai Bitchwhore is coming to the station for the first time in a long while. Sisko tells Kira to stall for him because he's going to be too busy not giving a fuck and playing with his mashed potatoes.

WINN [to Kira]: Greetings, my child. You look...(observing her engorged belly)...very sweet.
KIRA: Looks can be deceiving. But you don't need me to tell you that.

Meow.

WINN: You know, our culture has had only five short years to recover from the occupation. Only five years of freedom. It hardly seems enough time, does it?
KIRA: Well, Bajor's still going to be free. Joining the Federation isn't going to change that.

Here's the thing. Why is Bitchwhore against Federation membership? What is Bitchwhore's only ever motivation? Protecting her own power. Why would Federation membership threaten that power? Because, despite some possible desperation on Starfleet's part, Federation membership inexorably leads to secularisation. Kira doesn't seem to realise this. Yes, Bitchwhore is the bad guy, but, just like in “In the Hands of the Prophets,” if Kira really stopped and examined her own thinking, she should realise that her views align with the bad guy's. She should be asked to reconcile that contradiction, but, spoiler, she won't be. Again.

Kasidy officially re-enters the series and greets Sisko in the holosuite. Seemingly on a whim, but in truth driven by his enhanced senses and rapture, he asks her to go to Bajor with him immediately and uncover the hidden city of Valhalla, which he believes he's found. Maybe they can squeeze in their jambalaya and sex on the ride over. She humours him and accompanies him to the cave set and, despite some headaches (literally), badda-boom badda-bing he discovers the underground gate to the ancient city.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Odo, Worf and Kira are dealing with trying to accommodate the apparent legions of Federation dignitaries about to arrive on DS9 for the induction ceremony. Worf is giving Odo shit for failing to observe some arbitrary dick-fluffing of the Starfleet brass.

WORF: It is naval tradition.
ODO: So is keelhauling, but right now we should focus on accommodations.

Oh, now you know Odo is all about bringing back that tradition.

KIRA: I was just thinking about Captain Sisko finding B'hala. Bajoran archaeologists have been searching for the sacred city for ten thousand years. He found it in just a few days.

Wow. What an fucking clumsy and lazy line. Poor Kira is apparently tasked with the chore of filling in the gaps for the audience. Bitchwhore interrupts (apologising) Kira's latest episode of “everything that happens confirms my bias for my religion” for a private word with her. See, since Sisko discovered the lost city, Bitchwhore has realised that she is on the wrong side of the religious conflict, at least as far as this supports her own power. While she's being motivated by a desire to align herself with what the Bajoran people accept as gospel for her own ends, I don't think she's feigning this contrition. I think she sincerely believes herself to be destined to be the Kai and is trying to make up for past actions which now jeopardise this. Federation membership is a threat to her power, but if she opposes The Sisko, she'll lose it anyway. Her best hope is to follow him and make the best of it. But she definitely doesn't miss an opportunity to Karen:

WINN: Those of you who were in the Resistance, you're all the same. You think you're the only ones who fought the Cardassians, that you saved Bajor singlehandedly. Perhaps you forget, Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets. I was in a Cardassian prison camp for five years and I can remember each and every beating I suffered. And while you had your weapons to protect you, all I had was my faith and my courage. Walk with the Prophets, child. I know I will.

Meow.

Whatley makes his way to Valhalla to confront...er congratulate Sisko for his big discovery. The admiral is portrayed as a little cartoonishly stuffy, but he makes it pretty clear that despite pleasing the Bajorans with his actions, Sisko's total immersion into his visions is compromising his duties.

SISKO: There's clarity here. I wish I could explain it better, but I can't.

In “Rightful Heir,” Worf's crisis of faith led him to some minor dereliction of his duties and Captain Picard told him to take a vacation and sort his shit out. Whatley doesn't need to deride Bajoran credulity or diminish Sisko's ardent feelings here to recognise that Ben needs to be relieved to duty. Not maliciously—Ben says he needs time and he should get it. But if he can't do his job, he can't do his job. Whatley settles for ordering Ben to the doctor's office first thing in the morning.

Next thing we see Sisko is late for his appointment. Given that the brain mushroom effect hasn't let up, Bashir considers aloud a surgical procedure that would end the trip, but he says this would be a last resort.

WHATLEY: So in the meantime he's going to keep having visions. I knew we were headed for trouble the minute he allowed the Bajorans to call him Emissary.
BASHIR: He didn't have much choice. The Bajorans are deeply committed to their spirituality, not to mention incredibly stubborn. They believe that Captain Sisko is the Emissary and nothing's going to change their minds.

That is some impressive ret-conning there, doctor. Once again, in “Accession,” the Bajorans very happily accepted Cardamom as the Emissary to the point where they were sculpting birds and murdering priests. It wasn't their Kai who told them Sisko was the true Emissary, it was Sisko himself, after being pressured to assume the role by the Prophets. According to the show, their minds can in fact be changed very easily.

Sisko finally arrives, doing the whole Jesus back from the Desert shtick, predicting the future and telling people what they should and shouldn't be doing with their lives.

WHATLEY: What is it, Ben?
SISKO: Your son. You can stop worrying about him. He forgives you.
WHATLEY: How the hell did he know that Kevin and I weren't getting along?
BASHIR: He's the Emissary.

Ha ha. That's funny, Julian. Your captain has developed oracular super powers and you're making jokes. So funny. Hey remember when Picard was able to travel to the future in his mind and Beverly was just like, “eh NBD, that's our Jean-Luc!”?

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

On an infirmary bed, Sisko's visions seem to be intensifying. He mentions a swarm of “locusts.” I'm actually going to defend this (lazy) choice of metaphorical insect because it's being interpreted by Ben, who is a human familiar with Christian history (c.f. “Far Beyond the Stars”). The locust is a very location-specific image for Mesopotamian people, but it's also a very religious-y sounding touchstone. Most Americans would recognise locusts as one of the plagues visited upon Egypt.

Anyway, Bashir may not be concerned that his captain is having oracular visions, but those headaches are a real worry, apparently. For STAKES, we learn that these visions are actually going to kill Sisko eventually. Pin that one up on the board for now. Sisko refuses treatment for this condition because he doesn't want the visions to stop. Jake and Kasidy are understandably incensed by this news.

KASIDY: I cannot believe what I'm hearing. Listen to yourself, Ben. Sitting there, telling us that this mystical journey of yours is more important than watching your son grow up.
JAKE: Dad, please think about what you're doing. These visions, they're not worth dying for.
SISKO: I remember the first time I held you in my hands. You were only a few minutes old and when I looked down at your face, it was almost as if I could see your whole life stretched out in front of you. All the joys it would bring, and the bruises. It was all there, hidden in that scrunched up little face. The baby that I'm holding in my hands now is the universe itself. And I need time to study its face.

When the trappings of Bajoran religion are stripped away, as they are here, and it becomes a “Close Encounters”-styled journey of the self, I think the material is compelling. The Wormhole Aliens are trying to communicate with Ben and he's interpreting their call in ways that *raptura* him away from the things he supposedly holds dear, his duty, his partner, and his family. Just like Roy Neary, it can't be denied that Sisko's actions are selfish, but when the opportunity for something so profound presents itself, I think most of us would act selfishly. Remember that Roy was permanently transformed. He never went back to his wife and kids. He permanently abandoned them. Obviously, they're not writing Sisko off the show, but if this transformation is really going to mean something, the relationship between Sisko, his job and his loved ones has to *permanently* change. There's no going back from this.

A wrinkle arrives in the form of Bitchwhore who has arrived to *help* the Emissary interpret his visions. How convenient. There are of course no other religious figures on Bajor who could help him, or at least none with as much to gain from being seen as the Emissary's personal spiritual guide.

KIRA: The Captain is not going to die. He is the Emissary. The Prophets will take care of him.
O'BRIEN: With all due respect, Major, I'd rather see Julian take care of him.
KIRA: Chief, I know you're worried, but the Prophets are leading the Emissary on this path for a reason.
WORF: Do not attempt to convince them, Major. They cannot understand.
DAX: Since when did you believe in the Prophets?
WORF: What I believe in is faith.

What? …...... WHAT? I'm sorry this review is so long, I really am, but come the fuck ON, episode. “Believe in the Prophets”? They're right fucking there. They have special abilities. You, Dax, were carried in an hourglass made of cream of mushroom soup from their wormhole back to this very room by their powers. Religious belief is a non-factor in all of this. The question is whether one believes the Prophets will kill Sisko to achieve their ends. That's an open question, but we've seen that they allowed millions of Bajorans to die in the Occupation for what Sisko now claims is a larger purpose, and they brought Cardamom back to life for the same illusive reasons. So, yeah, debate that if you want, but this has nothing to do with belief IN the Prophets. And Worf. Mother fucking Worf. “What I believe in is faith.” Well, Commander, what I feel are feelings, including the overwhelming feeling that vacuous, smug platitudes like that are the reason humanity will probably never actually achieve the utopia of Star Trek. Fuck these people.

Bitchwhore gives Sisko access to the orb of prophecy, says a little prayer and invites him to begin, despite the fact that it “taxes even the healthy.” He insists he has to go through with it and she leaves him to it.

Meanwhile, the station is abuzz with activity around Bajor's admittance ceremony. Bitchwhore explains to Whatley why Sisko is so late. Whatley (in a fair episode) would feel like a buffoon for insisting Sisko be a part of all this after seeing him plunge off the deep end in his last scene. Well, they finally decide to proceed without him, but of course that's the moment Sisko chooses to barge in and reveal the “locusts” will destroy Bajor if it joins the Federation. He then collapses and starts writhing about.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

Bashir is unwilling to perform surgery on Sisko given his refusal for medical intervention. If you recall “Sons of Mogh” however, there is apparently a rule that says your wishes can be overridden by a family member, so it's up to Jake to decide whether to let his father die. Karma's a bitch, isn't it, Ben?

JAKE: Dad, I know you want to see this thing to the end, but I need you. I'm sorry.

Gosh, maybe after the events of “The Visitor,” Ben should have tried to lessen Jake's debilitating dependence on him. Karma really is a bitch, isn't it, Ben?

During surgery, Bitchwhore and Kira have another confrontation.

KIRA: He's an eighteen year-old boy who doesn't want to lose his father. What would you have done in his place?
WINN: I would trust the Prophets.
KIRA: Maybe we're the ones who need to trust the Prophets. For all we know, this is part of their plan. Maybe they've told Captain Sisko everything they want him to know.

“Everything that happens confirms my bias for my religion.” Bitchwhore informs Kira and us that Sisko's little speech has delayed Bajor's admittance and made her own job of being the bad guy more complicated.

Sisko awakens from surgery and is utterly destroyed by the loss of his visions. As I said, there is no going back. And yet, next thing we see is Sisko back in uniform, in his office. Whatley wants to pull his commission over this, but the optics of firing the Emissary would alienate the Bajorans. It does occur to me that there may be one more horribly cynical reason the Federation is willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the Bajorans; the wormhole. Unfortunately, that's the only explanation that really makes sense. The Federation doesn't want to lose control of the only conduit between the Alpha Quadrant and the Dominion. That...is bleak.

Anyway, Kasidy and Jake welcome Sisko back in what Jammer describes as a “schmaltzy” scene. The “schmaltz” is actually the part that I think works about it. Kasidy is a grounding presence and, since this show must go on, I'm glad she's sticking around. What doesn't work is that Sisko is apparently never going to be held to account for his actions. Obviously, Jake and Kasidy aren't going to stop loving him, but either Sisko went through something so profoundly transformational that he cannot go back to his family, or that profundity was just a bunch of hot air and exploding console mushroom-induced hullabaloo. The episode is content to undermine itself by settling on the latter. What a shame.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

Fundamentally, this story fails for the same reason as “Destiny.” Instead of asking interesting questions around the subject of faith and belief, the episode is written by religion apologists. I don't get the sense that the creators are especially religious themselves, because there is profound lack of understanding when it comes to that subject. It's more like when your coastal limousine liberal friends invite a black couple to their wedding so that their photos showcase some diversity. “See, I can't be racist. Look at my friends of colour!” The plot of this episode is: Wormhole Aliens are fucking with Sisko's brain in order to keep Bajor out of the Federation (for now) so that the locusts (Dominion) won't destroy it later on. For Sisko, the experience of having his brain fucked with is a(n ostensibly) profound spiritual experience. For Starfleet, their point-man on this apparently important diplomatic mission is compromised by an alien presence that won't stop interfering in the affairs of Bajor. For the Bajorans, anything and everything that happens is a part of the divine plan their gods have for them, the chosen people.

What is appealing about this episode is the blend of elements from the stories its plagiarising. We have shades of “The Last Crusade” in here and of course “Close Encounters.” Indiana Jones confronts a supernatural force that leads to amazing discoveries cloaked in the mysticism of Christian apocrypha. That's a great deal of fun, but at no point does Indiana *convert* to Christianity. That would completely undermine the story. Indiana may not understand the supernatural forces at work, but he is objectively outside of them. That's why he gets to emerge from the experience as himself and continue his relationships and adventures thereafter. Roy Neary on the other hand is not outside of the forces at work on him. Those forces are not supernatural, but they may as well be from Neary's perspective because the alien technology is so far beyond his understanding. He is profoundly affected by his experience and emerges from it a different person, unable to reconnect with his old life and instead taking a journey to the stars. “Rapture” attempts to combine these incompatible stories so that Sisko is inside the experience like Roy but emerges as himself like Indiana. This all goes back to Kira's line in the beginning of the episode:

KIRA: He made me a believer.

Sisko *convinced* Kira that the Federation was good for Bajor. When gods have to *convince* people to believe in them, that's not religion, that's manipulation. If the show wants to explore the concept of faith, it has to present people who believe in things without evidence. That is what religious faith is all about. Everything that happens to Sisko has a scientific explanation, just like Janeway's experience with the comatose Kes. That doesn't mean, like Roy Neary, that the experience he has can't be incredibly profound and spiritually significant for him. On the contrary, that kind of character development is very welcome. The problem is the writers never want to go there. Sisko is supposed to be at odds between this Moses journey he's being set upon by the Prophets, his connection to Jake and the possibility of restoring his sense of family, and his job. But every time something like this happens, he's rewarded in every dimension of his life. Jake is devoted to him, now Kasidy is devoted to him, he keeps getting promoted. Whatley says he wants to revoke Sisko's commission at the end, but not 20 seconds later they're joking around about how Sisko is certain as The Emissary that Bajor will eventually join the Federation. So that's a completely hollow gesture. We know Sisko's going to be given more and more responsibility as an officer as the series progresses. If these different facets of his life don't cost anything, if he gets to have and eat all the cake all the time, then none of them are especially meaningful. If Roy's wife and children forgave him for abandoning them, that would severely diminish the film.

The actual plot of “Rapture” is pretty good. It's certainly consistent with the Prophets' characterisation that they would behave this way and they make for a believable way to prolong the premise of the series. Folding Bitchwhore and Kasidy back into the picture after a period of Klingon-happy dormancy was a good move, although their appearances are both marked by some pretty clunky Exposition Fairy dialogue. And I think Brooks does a good job with the material. It's not easy to portray the state of rapture for 45 minutes and keep it fresh. What elevates this episode above “Destiny” is that there is much more going on than clumsy and insincere propaganda accompanied by a flaccid B-plot. The character journey for Sisko was enjoyable. But with the writers chickening out at the end I can't give it much more than a passable score over all.

Final Score : **
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 11:05am (UTC -5)
I wonder what a 15 year old teenaged girl would think of Elliott's use of "bitch whore".
Elliott
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 11:12am (UTC -5)
I would have gone with K*ren, but alas she was named many years ago, in the before time.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 11:19am (UTC -5)
I guess I'm the only poster on this site who loves this episode. That's ok, I'll just lock myself in a room with Rapture and bottle of whisky. No, just kidding, I hate whisky.

I'm not sure how fruitful it would be to debate the point-by-point on whether X or Y religious idea are half-baked, full chocolate chip, or just empty calories, but I guess there is a general complaint about DS9's portrayal of the prophets that I'll address quickly:

" The question is whether one believes the Prophets will kill Sisko to achieve their ends. That's an open question, but we've seen that they allowed millions of Bajorans to die in the Occupation for what Sisko now claims is a larger purpose, and they brought Cardamom back to life for the same illusive reasons."

The complaint goes something like 'since they're not gods, why does anyone worship or even listen to them? what moral authority do they have?'

This point is not trivial but at the same time we're essentially told that the Bajorans have a very long history of trusting them and getting good results. And it should be pointed out that Bajoran history is much longer, apparently, than human history, and that they are deceptively advanced both technologically and intellectually despite the fact that they occasionally seem like a backwater. But some episodes do go out of their way to show that the Bajorans *could have had* a spacefaring fleet long ago if not for the fact that they preferred art and philosophy instead of technological expansion. So while we're prone to compare them to, say, our dark ages, this really isn't warranted. If the Bajorans say they believe in the Prophets for good reason, maybe it really is for a good reason. The only catch is that the way they talk about it is couched in religious jargon so it makes it sound like superstitious hocus pocus. But that doesn't mean we have to take their language game at face value and throw the baby out with the bathwater. They probably really do have thousands of years of trusting obscure prophecy and realizing "wow, it really worked to listen to it!" After all, we're not talking about some old lady reading tea leaves, we're talking about future-seeing aliens telephoning them information about the future. Anyone who wouldn't listen to that is a dolt. Whether you'd *worship* the caller is another matter and one more worthy of discussion.

Regarding the Prophets' so-called moral authority, the question isn't whether they are good or bad as many posters seem to be concerned about. The fact that they might "let" Bajorans die in an Occupation is no more a statement against their morality than is the Holocaust on Earth a statement against a God granting humans the free will to screw each other over. Bad things can happen even though a good future course is charted. In fact this is a prototypical Trek message, that horrible, horrible things will happen leading up to the birth of the Federation, and that we should rejoice that it will happen. Objecting to the Prophets' 'allowing' the Occupation to happen is sort of like objecting to Roddenberry's idea that Eugenics Wars and WWIII lead to the Federation. How can Roddenberry allow bad things to happen to future humanity if his vision is so cheery? So you see my point.

I guess we could get into a Voltaire/Candide debate about whether "the best possible path" should really include all manner of silliness and horrors. I guess my answer is - why not? Why said the best path has to be one without pain and suffering? So that gets us to the real question about the Prophets' motives: asking whether they are 'good' seems sort of like asking if they're nice and would be good to have as a nanny for your toddler. It's basically irrelevant to ask and nonsensical to try to answer. What we can ask, though, is what is this special future they're planning for Bajor, and why is it so important it go precisely one way and not any other way? Are they trying to avoid some ultimate horror? Trying to establish their own energy-being ascension by temporal paradox? I find this an interesting head canon game to play, and much more profitable then asking why anyone should care what they say. I think it would be silly not to care. Where *faith* comes into it is not faith THAT they exist (which admittedly is a writing error some writers on this show have made), but rather faith that their path is worthy suffering for.
William B
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
@Elliott,

"I should note that this is the best explanation I can come up with, but it still doesn't actually make sense, annoyances with this cynical view of the Federation aside, because the Federation expends a lot of resources *helping* Bajor recover its self--sustenance and lost artefacts and establishing doomed colonies and whatnot. It's not really possible to reconcile that fact with the notion that Bajor's admittance will somehow make the Federation better able to survive a coming war, which means the whole train of logic pretty much falls of the rails anyway."

Well, you get to it later, but the cynical explanation is that they want the wormhole.

"Well, no. First we have to have a gag with Quark and Worf that returns us to the subject of root beer. B- on that one. Here's an interesting Freudian slip. The written script has this line:

DAX: As far as I'm concerned, the Federation should accept a new member every week."

At first I thought the Freudian slip you were describing was that frequently-horny Dax had another idea about what kind of "member" should be "admitted."

Maybe more later.

@Peter,

I get what you're saying, and it's certainly possible this is what the writers (etc.) were going for. I have a hard time with that because it does seem to me that Elliott is correct about the way the story bobs and weaves, going in and out of the difference between believing in the Prophets as existing, believing in the Prophets as having moral authority, believing in the Prophets having a plan, believing that any random humanoid claiming to be a representative of the Prophets actually speaks for them, etc., in a way that I don't find particularly comprehensible. To take an example, the Prophets as we see them in Emissary seem to be almost completely unable to comprehend humanoid, mortal, linear-time life, and don't show much evidence of having particular interest in Bajor. I'm not saying that we need to take what they show us at face value, but that they seem so completely alien that Sisko has to explain basic concepts to them should at least be discussed at some point, if whether their will should be trusted, or can even be understood by linear time mortals, is a question to ask about them that seems so rarely at the nub of it.

There are so many questions that I have: did they deliberately send the orbs to do what they are doing? Did they deliberately want the Bajorans to have d'jarras or was that just Bajorans being Bajorans? Do they care about Bajorans, and, if so, why? Do they want Opaka to stay with the Battle Lines people? Do they control the orb visions or are they kinds of space drugs? Does one have to do everything "they say" or is it possible to select out some parts of what they say or not? When they are apparently taught by a mortal, as with Sisko (or with Quark), does this retroactively affect their past behaviour from the outside-the-wormhole perspective, because of their nonlinearity? How do we know then that their earlier-from-our-perspective actions, if they did indeed take any actions at all, come from the place of higher rather than lesser understanding? Is Bareil or Kira more correct about what the Prophets *want*, when they sincerely disagree, and what is their evidence, if any? Did the Prophets have "an opinion" about the Occupation or is that just Bajorans projecting beliefs onto them? How frequently do the Prophets actually will the things Bajorans attribute to them? (Do the Prophets have anything to say about real life faith, or is it a weird alien thing?) Now of course some of these are addressed sometimes -- Sisko's angry smashing the tablet because the Prophets' will is so vague is an example of such. But much of the time I just lose track of what anyone is really saying. That might be more about me than the show.
William B
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott (cont'd)

"Wow. What an fucking clumsy and lazy line. Poor Kira is apparently tasked with the chore of filling in the gaps for the audience. Bitchwhore interrupts (apologising) Kira's latest episode of “everything that happens confirms my bias for my religion” for a private word with her. See, since Sisko discovered the lost city, Bitchwhore has realised that she is on the wrong side of the religious conflict, at least as far as this supports her own power. While she's being motivated by a desire to align herself with what the Bajoran people accept as gospel for her own ends, I don't think she's feigning this contrition. I think she sincerely believes herself to be destined to be the Kai and is trying to make up for past actions which now jeopardise this. Federation membership is a threat to her power, but if she opposes The Sisko, she'll lose it anyway. Her best hope is to follow him and make the best of it. But she definitely doesn't miss an opportunity to Karen:

WINN: Those of you who were in the Resistance, you're all the same. You think you're the only ones who fought the Cardassians, that you saved Bajor singlehandedly. Perhaps you forget, Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets. I was in a Cardassian prison camp for five years and I can remember each and every beating I suffered. And while you had your weapons to protect you, all I had was my faith and my courage. Walk with the Prophets, child. I know I will.

Meow."

I think I get what you are saying, and it's hard to take Winn seriously after we've seen her scheming, assassination plans, etc., but I think the "meow/Karen" stuff is not quite in keeping with the "I was beaten daily for five years" content of Winn's speech. I think we're meant to see her as sincere here, and if she's laying on a passive-aggressive guilt trip, it's based on real suffering she experienced, rather than how I understand the Karen meme stuff.

I like what you write about the "Close Encounters" stuff. I don't think Sisko needs to *completely* abandon his loved ones, like the protag at the end of CEot3K, but certainly the episode suggests this will drive a wedge between him and Jake and Kassidy. I'm not sure that this episode itself does much wrong on this point though -- Sisko is not allowed to "go on the space ship" at the end because Jake forces him not to, and Sisko forgives him for the moment because there's nothing else that can be done. I guess we know how the rest of the series will go, but even without that, it doesn't appear to me from this that the story of story of Sisko's alienation from his family because of his spiritual experience is *finished*, but rather interrupted, and possible to be taken up again in the future. Both his family and his spiritual experience are still present, to different degrees, but he's been forced back to the family plane.

SPOILERS: I do think that the series makes things too easy for Sisko, by, e.g., having Jake fully 100% on board with Sisko being willing to kill him in The Reckoning, by the vagueness about Sisko's abandonment in What You Leave Behind because of Avery Brooks' refusal to have Sisko be fully-abandoning. But I don't know that the *interruption* in this episode necessarily had to be the story's end.
Elliott
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

"Objecting to the Prophets' 'allowing' the Occupation to happen is sort of like objecting to Roddenberry's idea that Eugenics Wars and WWIII lead to the Federation. How can Roddenberry allow bad things to happen to future humanity if his vision is so cheery?"

I think you know this is an unfair comparison. Roddenberry is not a deity in the Federation. Humans may recognise that the dialectic of history got them where they are but that doesn't mean they are *grateful* to, say, Q for allowing WWIII etc. to happen when he could have prevented it. The Prophets claim a mantle of taking personal responsibility for Bajor, so it is completely fair to ask what gives them the right to make that determination. If the only answer is "because they can," then that is not a sign of being good stewards, it's a sign of monstrosity.

@William B

"Sisko is not allowed to "go on the space ship" at the end because Jake forces him not to, and Sisko forgives him for the moment because there's nothing else that can be done. "

I see what you mean, and it's true that the episode gives itself outs on all the fronts Sisko is facing. I don't mean to imply that the episode doesn't have excuses for its resolution, it certainly does, from Whatley's comments about the Bajorans reacting negatively to Sisko's firing to what you say about Sisko forgiving Jake. My problem is that without consequences within this story, I don't have a reason to care about Sisko's journey. If Roy were told that he couldn't go on the space ship at the end, that would have made for a darker film, but he still isn't going back to his family. That ship at least has sailed. If the idea is, as you suggest, that this is all set up for later resolutions, then that's fine, but doesn't make for a particularly satisfying episode. I suppose it isn't irrelevant that I know how the show ends and am not pleased with the eventual resolutions either, but in a vacuum, I find that this strategy makes "Rapture" pretty mediocre over all.

"I think I get what you are saying, and it's hard to take Winn seriously after we've seen her scheming, assassination plans, etc., but I think the "meow/Karen" stuff is not quite in keeping with the "I was beaten daily for five years" content of Winn's speech. I think we're meant to see her as sincere here, and if she's laying on a passive-aggressive guilt trip, it's based on real suffering she experienced, rather than how I understand the Karen meme stuff."

I was just having a bit of fun. I take Winn's comments seriously, but it can't be denied that she relishes the opportunity to put Kira in her place and there's nothing particularly humble about it. She could have made her point without paying Kira back for her backhanded compliment before ("looks can be deceiving") but she didn't because, that's not who she is.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
"I think you know this is an unfair comparison. Roddenberry is not a deity in the Federation. Humans may recognise that the dialectic of history got them where they are but that doesn't mean they are *grateful* to, say, Q for allowing WWIII etc. to happen when he could have prevented it. "

Picard and Janeway were grateful to Q for introducing the Federation to the Borg, even though it cost quite a few lives.

" The Prophets claim a mantle of taking personal responsibility for Bajor, so it is completely fair to ask what gives them the right to make that determination. If the only answer is "because they can," then that is not a sign of being good stewards, it's a sign of monstrosity."

I can't for the life of me understand what is meant by "monstrosity" in this context. If I am speculating what you mean, I suspect it has something to do with making a decision affecting someone's life against his will or perhaps you are just taking blanket exception to a powerful being imposing its will on a less powerful being a priori? Perhaps this was your objection to the Prophets using Sarah Sisko against her will?

In any event, it isn't self-evident to me that this is "monstrous", especially given that it wasn't the Prophets who occupied Bajor - it was the Cardassians.

Your idea of a non "monstrous" deity seems to be the divine equivalent of a helicopter parent or some kind of guardian angel who swoops in to fill every crack in the road ahead, kills off any threats and otherwise ensures zero adversity and zero growth. Sounds like the Edo Guardian or maybe Vaal.

I fail to see how that sort of intervention would ever be desirable.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott I realize in retrospect that your objection here seems to be to the Bajorans being grateful to the Prophets in spite of the occupation rather to any specific action or inaction by the deities.

I still see no validity to this objection.

The Bajorans believe that the Prophets are guiding them to some good outcome and that to the extent that they suffer, it is to fulfill some beneficial purpose.

In the case of the Prophets, post discovery of the wormhole, we happen to know for a fact that the Prophets are 1. Real and 2. Perfectly capable of delivering on this promise to the Bajorans period full stop.

The Bajorans don't have any hard evidence that the Prophets have a good plan for them, but choose to believe that they do - that would be their faith.

You seem to have an inherent distrust / contempt for faith, which I suspect is the real source of your problem with this storyline. You want DS9 to spit on religion, but it insists on addressing it on its own terms rather than on yours.

As an atheist I can't say I understand faith bit I am not going to expect a tv show dealing with faith to give it the Richard Dawkins treatment either.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

'Did they deliberately want the Bajorans to have d'jarras or was that just Bajorans being Bajorans? Do they care about Bajorans, and, if so, why? Do they want Opaka to stay with the Battle Lines people?"

I highlighted a few of your points, just to point back to what I wrote in my last point. I don't think it gains us much to ask questions like this, because it's treating them like people like you and me who might like or not like certain details. You'd do better, I think, to treat them like Annorax from Year of Hell, insofar as when a timeline is resolved for them they will inspect whether the result is their goal or not. If that is the extent of what we know about them, that they are choosing future universal timelines and guiding events towards them, then the issue of whether they "like" the caste system or anything else is beside the point. The issue is which current conditions lead to the final destination; value judgement wouldn't enter into it. You get another example of this in the Avengers franchise, where SPOILER Dr. Strange intentionally allows the villain to win in a particular way at a particular time because it's literally the only possible future where the annihilation is stopped. Being cross with him because you "don't like" what his choice allowed would be silly; if it's the only way to get there it's the only way to get there.

@ Elliott,

"The Prophets claim a mantle of taking personal responsibility for Bajor, so it is completely fair to ask what gives them the right to make that determination. If the only answer is "because they can," then that is not a sign of being good stewards, it's a sign of monstrosity."

No one ever gave that as their answer, so not sure why it's on the table. The only explanation we get is that they have concern for Bajor and are guiding them somewhere. You could choose not to trust that destination, or to hate them because you don't want to be controlled, but choosing to disbelieve they can control the future path on the grounds that you're uncomfortable on the way doesn't make any sense. By that same logic when a young child is forced to take a booster shot or vaccine we should slam the parents for "allowing" the pain to happen. The only missing data is whether the vaccine actually works or the child is in pain for no reason; and in the show whether the future path is worth fighting for, or whether the pain is for no reason. That's where the faith comes in. And by the way, "faith" is only a bad word to religion-haters because IRL people employ faith *all the time* in all sorts of ways to take things for granted. In some cases, it's because they actually must do so to get by. In the case of the Prophets, the faith doesn't even have to be 'hocus pocus' faith, as in, 'I expect magic to happen.' Faith can also mean "they've done right by me before and now I choose to trust them."
Elliott
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

"Faith can also mean 'they've done right by me before and now I choose to trust them.'"

Forgive me for being more than a little frustrated by this, but I've addressed this half a dozen times already. Religious faith and the faith you're describing here are not the same thing. To describe faith in god like having faith in your buddy (or your captain) is insulting. Religion is about the unprovable, the un-demonstrable. If DS9 wants to talk about religious faith, they have to show people who actually possess it. The way the Prophets are presented makes that impossible, and therefore discussions about religious faith using the Prophets as an example or allegory are fallacious and pretentious.

"No one ever gave that as their answer, so not sure why it's on the table."

From "Sacrifice of Angels"

SISKO: What about Bajor? You can't tell me Bajor doesn't concern you. You've sent the Bajorans orbs and Emissaries. You've even encouraged them to create an entire religion around you. You even told me once that you were of Bajor. So don't you tell me you're not concerned with corporeal matters. I don't want to see Bajor destroyed. Neither do you. But we all know that's exactly what's going to happen if the Dominion takes over the Alpha Quadrant. You say you don't want me to sacrifice my life? Well, fine, neither do I. You want to be gods, then be gods. I need a miracle. Bajor needs a miracle. Stop those ships.

@Jason R

"I realize in retrospect that your objection here seems to be to the Bajorans being grateful to the Prophets in spite of the occupation rather to any specific action or inaction by the deities."

Please show me where I mentioned anything about gratitude. I'm talking about deification. I am just cataloguing the evidence in the show. The Prophets sometimes choose to take life, to restore life, and to allow life to be taken. They make active decisions in the lives of Bajorans and the conceit here is that there is a purpose to these decisions. Unlike with actual gods, the Prophets can be interrogated about those decisions. It is that and the related fact that the Prophets themselves can be destroyed, coerced, etc. by corporeal beings like the Nagus, Akoram, Keiko and Sisko that make it impossible to consider the Prophets gods in any sense except in the way the Greek or Norse gods were considered gods. Those gods never, never, never possess moral authority over human beings; they only possess coercive power over them. The Bajorans' religion is the kind that assigns moral authority to its deities, yet the construction of those deities is of the type where moral authority is impossible. It is an incompatible design, therefore it allegorises nothing, therefore any alleged meaning or lessons it pretends regarding religion are fallacious.

"You seem to have an inherent distrust / contempt for faith, which I suspect is the real source of your problem with this storyline. You want DS9 to spit on religion, but it insists on addressing it on its own terms rather than on yours."

The fact that you keep saying that, over and over, doesn't make it any less untrue. DS9 has pretences about religion, but no actual lessons.
Booming
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R
After my reeducation I now understand that bitch whore and everything else is perfectly fine. If for example wolfstar wants to write about how great it would be to fistfuck Chakotay then I could not be happier. I mean who wouldn't want to put some sausage between these steely buns. First officer, more like first orifice, am I right.
We are all adults.
William B
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

That interpretation is fine, except that again in your interpretation, as I understand it, there's a big gulf between how the Bajorans and the Prophets see these things. As far as I understand it, the Bajorans believe that the Prophets "will them" to do certain things, go to temple, break up if visions tell them to, do djarras or not do djarras, etc. The thing I was articulating is not so much whether the Prophets care about any particular point as whether or not the Bajorans are wildly projecting all sorts of things onto them, or are currently interpreting what behaviours they are "supposed" to do; who is it that decides these things; etc. It's not that these issues are never addressed at all, but it seems like the issues of whether the Prophets are real, whether they can really "see the future," whether they have a plan for Bajor, whether the plan is worth following, whether it's their will that Kira and Odo break up, etc. all get tossed together all the time. I don't mind that the Prophets are mysterious, but I can't even really figure out why Bajorans believe what they do, and at what point they have any evidence at all that the Prophets actually want them to do x or y and at what point it's just a vague faith, and even there the difference between "I have faith that the Prophets exist," "I have faith that the Prophets have a plan," "I have faith that the Prophets' plan is worth following," and "I have faith that whatever I 'believe' is the Prophets' plan is in fact the Prophets' plan" is pretty huge.

@Elliott,

I admit in spite of your quoting both sections I didn't even catch Winn's throwing Kira's remark back at her. It's more of a meow than I remembered.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
"Those gods never, never, never possess moral authority over human beings; they only possess coercive power over them. "

See I am pretty certain that is not true. I will concede that the Greeks and Norse likely had a more nuanced relationship with their Gods than the Abrahamic religions, say somewhere between absolute reverence a la Christianity versus something on the other extreme - say Klingon faith haha.

But you look at Gods and religion from a super contemporary highly Judeo Christian frame of reference and I think that is part of why you can't seem to fathom the Bajoran concept of divinity.
Cody B
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Very childish. I’m a bit worried about that violent imagery you described but I suppose it gels with the anger you regularly show on here. Hurting someone and wanting to be dominant. Yeah I suppose that fantasy is somewhat equivalent to how you speak to people on here.
James
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
"Those gods never, never, never possess moral authority over human beings; they only possess coercive power over them. "

What exactly do you mean by this? I can't speak so much for Greek and Norse gods, but from what I can see the iconography of the whole pantheon of Hindu gods is to do with moral authority.
Booming
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 12:55am (UTC -5)
@Cody
One day you are for free speech and sex positive, now you are not. Maybe concentrate on racism for a while before you transition to homophobia. Ask the people in your nazi fraternity for some pointers.
Cody B
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 3:39am (UTC -5)
@Booming

You’re going off the deep end. I’ve never even typed the words “free speech” on this site, I’ve barely ever touched on race and nothing I’ve said could be construed as racist, I’ve definitely never said anything homophobic. You are grasping at straws because I called out that violent description you gave of sodomizing an actor with a fist. Since you want to bring up the term “nazi”, let’s talk about it. I remember you getting soooo bent out of shape and needing to valiantly get on your soapbox when some called Kurtzman a fascist. Kurtzman, a Jewish man, could not be called fascist! Booming had to take the mantle! Remind us all of the horrible atrocities of WW2. But now? I’m a “nazi” according to Booming. Flippantly using that somber word that should not be tossed around lightly. What would a holocaust survivor think of that? Have you no empathy? What if a Survivor was read these forums? That’s what you said to me after all when I told you to lighten up about someone saying an actress was hot. “A 15 year old female teenager might have a different perception of a guy objectifying and fantasizing a female actress” you said! Oh Booming. Tsk tsk. I expected so much more from you.
Booming
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 4:14am (UTC -5)
@Cody
People like you make me sick.
You haven't served a day in your life. You pick up the sandwich your 80 year old mom made and then it's back to the basement where you attack people who have suffered more in the defense of freedom before they were 20 than you will in your entire life.
While I have a commendation from the minister of defense, you have a dozen used tissues and an embarrassing internet search history.
Enjoy another great day in Cowardsville.
While people like me protect your flabby ass.
wolfstar
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 5:14am (UTC -5)
Booming, if you are someone "who [has] suffered more in the defense of freedom before they were 20" than most people, I'm sorry that that happened to you. You didn't deserve it.

You've touched on a military past and also mentioned that your work/research looks at right-wing groupings, and I'd remind you that you're not in a military context or fighting fascism on this site. It feels like you're in a constant struggle with everyone and your worldview has been primed to be constantly on guard and seeing "fascists" and "Nazis" everywhere, even in the most throwaway comments on a Star Trek forum. No-one can be a one-man antifaschistischer Schutzwall.

I like Rapture and DS9's handling of religion in general, but it's true that the actual content and nature of the Bajoran religion - what the core beliefs and practices are, what actually happens during a temple service - remain relatively ill-defined. I think this is partly just because creating an entire 24th century religion is a big ask, just as we know little about Federation popular culture and never hear Trek characters listen to music (because creating 24th century pop culture would also be a biggish ask). I think some of the handling of religion in the closing stages of DS9 did indirectly pave the way for a lot of the much clumsier, more ill-thought-out use of religion and deus ex machina on BSG.
Booming
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar
You don't have to be sorry. I chose to serve and accepted the consequences.

And it is true I research right wing populism. Around 15% in most western countries hold right wing radical or extremist views. Have you watched the video cody posted and how he complained that the media was ignoring the killing of a white boy by a black guy and how he said that people who make jokes about that should be persecuted.
The media allegedly ignoring black on white crime, white people who hate white people but love black people (race traitors). These are fairly common tropes in right wing extremist circles. Even the original nazis used those tropes (back then it was of course Jews and not blacks).


But again this all started because I asked a guy to tune it down. If he hadn't I just would have ignored it. It's fine if he wants to talk about sex but does it have to include stuff like "hooters of nine." it just sounds so untrek. But it seems most people here don't see a problem so fine
wolfstar
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 9:23am (UTC -5)
I know I don't have to, I was extending compassion.

"And it is true I research right wing populism. Around 15% in most western countries hold right wing radical or extremist views." - be that as it may, who made you chief anti-Nazi inquisitor on this site? Are you not exhausted from gleefully seeing offence at every possible opportunity? Aside from which, the work of dissuading someone from any extremist viewpoint (whether far-right, far-left, fundamentalist religion, whatever) is about deradicalization, which takes calmness and dexterity. Think Janeway in the shuttle at the end of The Voyager Conspiracy. You don't coax someone away from an extremist position (of any kind) by hectoring and abusing them and policing even the most minor perceived infringement (like your example of some guy calling Seven "Hooters of Nine", which you judge to be offensive when in fact the extreme sex scenario you subsequently concocted on here was far more grotesque) - in fact, that pushes them further away and makes them double down. All the evidence we have tells us this. The way you start arguments on here on the daily may appear on the surface as some kind of unhinged moral crusade, like you at least have good intentions, but it's actually nothing to do with genuinely calling out problematic behavior, trying to bring people back into the fold or dislodge their far-right or conspiratorial beliefs (if it were, you'd probably do a better job of it, whereas your success rate speaks for itself) - rather it seems you just want to manufacture argument after argument in order to give yourself a sense of purpose and a feeling of being listened to. Trust me, we're listening. If you actually want to win more people over to a more left-wing (or even just more centrist) way of thinking, (which no-one has asked you to do because this is a Star Trek forum but anyway) you don't do that by constantly going on the attack, because that just pushes them further right.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -5)
"Around 15% in most western countries hold right wing radical or extremist views."

Reading your posts I get the distinct impression that you consider *any* right wing or conservative opinion to be "radical" / "extremist" a priori. Which seems to be about a half step by you away from being a card carrying Nazi.
John
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:06am (UTC -5)
"Radical" seems the norm nowadays. I just read today that Biden was a "radical leftist".
Rahul
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:21am (UTC -5)
I think anybody who has checked out this forum off and on over the past few years will likely agree that Boomer has some serious issues. Why don't folks just ignore him/her and not give the attention he/she craves? Shortly after I started checking out this forum, it was clear that nobody else spews anywhere near as much hateful, vulgar, and offensive things and attacking anybody who doesn't share his/her opinions as a Nazi. So I just ignore Boomer.

It's a pretty way simple to enjoying the time spent on the forum to just scroll past Boomer's posts whenever you see them and focus on reasonable folks just discussing Trek. You're not going to change him/her.
wolfstar
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:58am (UTC -5)
You're right, Rahul. The worst thing about it, apart from the general appalling conduct and the constant falling back on "well, we in Germany [xyz]" as an defense and explanation for his behavior - which is totally fallacious, because almost no-one in Germany is like that and if he acted the way he does on this forum in any German workplace or social environment he'd be fired or kicked out - is how profoundly selfish it is. He doesn't care how many people he pushes away from the left and further to the right, how many people he potentially further radicalizes, as long as people are paying attention to him. That would be bad coming from an ordinary person, but from someone who claims to actually be a researcher into right-wing beliefs/groupings it's flabbergasting and shamefully counterproductive. Someone who is good at combating extremist beliefs does so with skill and care. Someone who is an extremist themselves interprets the entire world through ideological goggles and sees any opinions not conforming to said ideology as something to be denounced and eliminated. In this case compounded by consistently using their profession and nationality as an excuse for their own self-aggrandisement. Germany has on the whole done such a good job of coming to terms with its past, and there are so many people and institutions who've worked hard on this in all kinds of ways and continue to today, that it's shameful to see someone act so crudely then use the fact that they're German and a supposed anti-far-right researcher as a get-out clause to try to deflect any and all criticism. The efforts that people throughout Germany have made to process, atone for and move on from 1933-1945 have been complex, meaningful and in no way easy, and it really cheapens and trivializes this serious struggle to see someone glibly fall back on "well, I'm German and I'm an anti-far-right researcher" as an excuse for being an ass on a fucking Star Trek forum.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Booming is a she
wolfstar
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:05am (UTC -5)
https://www.acxiom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/on-the-internet-nobody-knows-921x1024.jpg
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:35am (UTC -5)
The issue with DS9 vis-a-vis religion isn't that it presents the relatively controversial perspective (for Trek) that maybe having religious faith is good actually, it's that the arguments within the show on the topic use strawmen for actual religious faith. If a "non-believer," like Dax were to say "I don't believe in the Prophets," she looks like an idiot because they're right fucking there, in the wormhole, doing stuff. One doesn't have to be a member of the Bajoran religion to recognise that the beings they call Prophets both exist and can do things. In the real world, saying "I (don't) believe in God," is an assessment of something unprovable. How such belief or non-belief affects your life is a topic worthy of exploration but that conversation is circumvented in most of the allegories we see in DS9. It is my opinion that this is partially the result of an overzealousness on the writers' part to present an anti-TNG perspective on their series. We see this on a number of topics, like the military aspects of Starfleet, economics, etc. In trying way too hard, they end up punching straw men. Not always, I think they get it right sometimes, but with religion, it's pretty much always a fallacious allegory.

@James

Hindus do not expect to run into Vishnu. The polytheism isn't the distinguishing factor here.

@Rahul

You can just say "they/them."

@Booming

What makes me sad is that I think you're actually right about a number of conclusions you draw (not all of them), but the way in which you make your arguments makes it nigh impossible to side with you. Like, I think Cody B has some messed up politics based on the very limited window I have on their views through this site, but you threw every ad hominem, stereotypical grab-bag of anti-right slurs one could think of at them. That's not going to convince anybody of anything other than that you're too angry to have a conversation with. And this is coming from someone who is probably one of the most left-wing commentors here.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:56am (UTC -5)
@Elliott I think it is pretty apparent that when Dax says she doesn't "believe" in the Prophets she is not claiming the aliens in the wormhole don't exist but simply doubting their status as "Gods".

You keep implying that the fact of their apparent existence in the real world is some kind of game changer for people of faith, that a God must be some abstract unprovable thing in order to be a God.

But I don't think many ancient cultures necessarily saw it that way. For many the existence of gods was self-evident - if there was a lightning storm, for instance, that was literally a god's power.

None of your criticisms are correct unless one assumes that the only possible archetype for divinity and faith is a judeo Christian invisible unprovable God wholly separate from human existence.
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

YES! That's the point I've made a hundred times now; when you lack a scientific understanding of the world, gods fill that void; they provide creation myths and explanations for weather, etc. Barring that lack of knowledge (or wilful ignorance), in the real world, the purpose of god(s) is about something else, it's about the numinous, which is to say, a part of the universe isn't measurable or appreciable by science, no matter how advanced. The Bajorans don't have any illusions about what makes the weather. They don't attribute natural phenomena to the Prophets. They treat their gods the same way modern Christians, Muslims and Jews treat their god. That's why the allegory falls apart, because the god of Abraham can't be vaporised by a space station or imprisoned in a fire cave. If the writers tried to make Bajoran religion like that of pre-Enlightenment nature-god pagans, they would be forced to depict them like, say, the Mentakans, a people who haven't yet developed technology or science to the point that they understand the natural world.
Trent
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF BOOMING
The Fastest Trigger in West Berlin

__________________


MICKEY: "Holy crap, I'd go to jail if it meant getting to bang the hell outta that fine fine actress."

BOOMING: "Guys, can we not creepily perv on actresses? There may be young girls reading this stuff."

WOLFSTAR: "Who made you the speech police?"

CODY: "Grow up Booming!"

JAMES: "I doubt girls read this forum, Booming. And stop trying to silence free speech."

BOOMING: "Thanks for correcting me, guys. BTW, I totally want to sodomize Chakotay and spend a great deal of time considering the aesthetics of his buttocks."

CODY: "YOU SICK, VIOLENT PERVERT, BOOMING! WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU TYPE THIS STUFF?"

RAUL: "You have serious issues Booming!"

WOLFSTAR: "Jesus Christ Booming! Don't say that!"

CODY: "You're such a hateful, sick freak Booming!"

BOOMING: "Shut up Cody. You literally just posted a youtube video by an alt-right troll, Memology101, who collaborates with Andy Warski (a white supremacist who, quote, "hates ni**ers", hosts Holocaust Denialism webcasts, and uploads pics of semi-nude underage girls) and Ethan Ralph (who hosts holocaust deniers, went to jail for punching a cop, posts revenge porn and runs the Neo Nazi Killstream), with Memology101 himself uploading Gameergate/Sargon-of-Akkad level edgelord crap about fake conspiracies (Pizzagate, Wayfair etc), and other gamerbro, alt-right, race-baiting, anti-woke goofiness. All of this you posted with a straight face, and with the intention of "drawing attention to the way the media unfairly ignores the plights of white folk at the hands of blacks", which you 'prove' via a troll GofundMe account."

CODY: "Shut up Booming! You don't know me!"

WOLFSTAR: "Booming, have you ever considered that calling people Nazis doesn't change their views?"

BOOMING: "Regardless, the only way people disappear into these brainwashy online spheres is via stuff like 4Chan, Kiwifarms, alt-right gamerbros, Pewdiepie or evangelical facebook groups. From here they decent further into the alt-right pipeline, either due to poor reasoning skills, or the aid of severe data mining and social media algorithms, which exploit prior susceptibilities. Trust me. I'm a really smart sociologist with kick-ass gun-skills."

JAMES: "This is why everyone hates you, Booming. You're a smug know it-all who calls everyone a Nazi and a homophobe."

BOOMING: "And yet look where a comment about Chakotay's fine masculine buttocks has led us."

ELLIOT: *walks by whistling* "Hi guys. Did someone say fine masculine buttocks?"
Trent
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Elliot said: "That's why the allegory falls apart..."

Because to you, religious faith provides an answer in the absence of evidence or scientifically testable phenomenon. After all, you can't have faith in something if you truly understand it. And if you can understand it...well then that's not religion! It's science! It's aliens!

But the religious believer looks at things the other way around. Blossoming flowers? Bajoran orbs? Wormhole aliens? The miracle of life? A growing tree? These visible or testable phenomenon are proof of the divine! And if your science begins to explain them, then it has only explained God's immutable laws!

If Jesus or Vishnu were to appear on Earth today, religious believers would be like the Bajorans. They'd be scientifically advanced people who attribute divinity and mystery to the new arrivals. Be something known or Unknowable, visible or supposed, they're going to appeal to God.

DS9's "allegory" doesn't fall apart to a believer, it's just a quirky take on something they recognize.

I agree with you that the allegory is fundamentally dishonest though. I find most of DS9's allegories dishonest in the ways they pretend to map onto the world. A contemporary, real-world believer does not have testable wormhole Gods, recorded contacts with super-beings, magic orbs and verifiable prophecies.

To me, that's why the Michael Piller years had the more interesting religious episodes. The religious issues were more low key (fighting over schoolrooms rather than entire quadrants!), Bajor's fundamentalism was seen as a understandable (even beautiful) survival mechanism hyper-kindled by the Occupation*, and it was all balanced by the polite smugness of the Federation ("Yeah, Federation policy is to be tolerant. You worship what you want. But we've seen a couple dozen super Gods like this in a couple dozen different quadrants, so excuse us while we remain skeptical.")

*rather than introduce the Dominion, a more interesting arc would have been the Federation dealing with an increasingly sectarian and fundamentalist Bajor who carries out terrorist attacks on the Federation and the Cardassians. The Federation sympathizes, but won't let Bajor join the Federation unless they reform their weird little Orb-Theocracy.

If Roddenberry were still alive, I imagine he'd have the wormhole aliens get more powerful the more they're worshiped, and perhaps even plot to wipe out Cardassia. Knowing him, he'd probably have Sisko, rather than becoming Space Jesus, become Space Nietzsche, and save the quadrant by killing God.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
"That's why the allegory falls apart, because the god of Abraham can't be vaporised by a space station or imprisoned in a fire cave."

Okay but you realize in Greek myth, to use an example, mortals could at times impact, even injure their Gods and did so in Greek myth all the time.

And yet, contrary to what you asserted, the Greeks nevertheless considered at times their Gods as moral authorities in a manner analogous to the judeo christian God.

So you are presupposing that a "God" must, by definition, be outside of human influence OR not a moral authority but refuse to accept the possibility of overlap.

If a Bajoran has faith that the Prophets are good and have a righteous plan for Bajor, notwithstanding the knowledge that they are actual aliens who can be affected (even killed) how is that any different than a Greek worshipping Aphrodite, notwithstanding the knowledge that she could be influenced by or even injured by mortals or demigods?

I just don't see the problem here.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

"A contemporary, real-world believer does not have testable wormhole Gods, recorded contacts with super-beings, magic orbs and verifiable prophecies."

Why should it matter if the belief is "testable" or not? If someone believes the lightning is Thor out of ignorance or because it really is Thor the resulting belief system should be the same.
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

1. I appreciate the monicker of whistling butt admirer.

2. "Blossoming flowers? Bajoran orbs? Wormhole aliens? The miracle of life? A growing tree? These visible or testable phenomenon are proof of the divine! And if your science begins to explain them, then it has only explained God's immutable laws!"

Yes, but you are describing the numinous dimension of the Universe, which I already concede is precisely the dimension of life religion tackles. A blossoming flower can be understood scientifically in terms of the intersection of chemistry, physics and biology, but the 'divinity' and 'miraculousness' of the flower is a theological question that can't be answered by science. These things intersect for religious people, but one can't substitute the other. Some religious people certainly deny science when it conflicts with their beliefs; that's a part of the experience and something they tried to manage in "In the Hands of the Prophets," but the series is very careful not to depict the Bajorans this way. Kira isn't a science-denier.

"If Jesus or Vishnu were to appear on Earth today, religious believers would be like the Bajorans. They'd be scientifically advanced people who attribute divinity and mystery to the new arrivals. Be something known or Unknowable, visible or supposed, they're going to appeal to God."

Let's stick with Jesus as something I think is a little more theologically familiar on this site. Christians believe Jesus to have existed on Earth as a man. But this is understood to be a specific, partial and temporary divestment of his divine nature. Most Christians believe Jesus performed miracles, for which there is of course no evidence. The paradigm is still in place where the supernatural elements require faith in the unprovable.

@Jason R

"Okay but you realize in Greek myth, to use an example, mortals could at times impact, even injure their Gods and did so in Greek myth all the time."

I'm not sure if you're aware of the fact that you keep repeating points I've made many times in this debate, but yes to the first part--the Greek gods are an example where, like the Prophets, the deities are subject to the laws of the Universe. They can be injured, have sex, etc.

"And yet, contrary to what you asserted, the Greeks nevertheless considered at times their Gods as moral authorities in a manner analogous to the judeo christian God."

This is absolutely not true. The Greeks did not view the gods as especially virtuous, let alone arbiters of virtue. The gods were capricious and mortals felt the need to appease them in order to be successful in life. The gods took sides in human affairs for their own petty reasons all the time. They were jealous and vindictive.

"If a Bajoran has faith that the Prophets are good and have a righteous plan for Bajor, notwithstanding the knowledge that they are actual aliens who can be affected (even killed) how is that any different than a Greek worshipping Aphrodite, notwithstanding the knowledge that she could be influenced by or even injured by mortals or demigods?"

I think that should be clear now; ascribing moral authority to a deity requires that the deity exist outside the Universe's physical laws. If a god can be pricked by a pin, then he can be struck with jealousy. And no sane people would view a god who can be jealous as immutably good.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Jason R said:
"None of your criticisms are correct unless one assumes that the only possible archetype for divinity and faith is a judeo Christian invisible unprovable God wholly separate from human existence."

Not only that, but even this premise would be a strawman since that is literally not what Christians and Jews believe. In fact that assertion is more or less *the opposite* of the Christian view.

Elliott said:
"YES! That's the point I've made a hundred times now; when you lack a scientific understanding of the world, gods fill that void; they provide creation myths and explanations for weather, etc. Barring that lack of knowledge (or wilful ignorance), in the real world, the purpose of god(s) is about something else, it's about the numinous, which is to say, a part of the universe isn't measurable or appreciable by science, no matter how advanced."

While it is likely true that historically people have created mythical systems to try to explain natural phenomena, this is not a working definition of religion, nor is it a complete summary of why religion exists or what it deals with. You are limiting your definition artificially to something like paganism, seemingly because that makes it maximally dismissable nowadays. But while it's not particularly useful to try to explain rainfall through myth, at the same time not even then was it true that this was *all* they were doing, just part of it; and actually most likely the least part. To whatever extent historic religions have tried to made strong statements about what we'd call science I would be first to agree that this was not a productive activity. The part of what you said which is a bit more grounded to me is that religion deals with numinous stuff, but even then that is not quite accurate in terms of how religions define their own beliefs. It's not that these things are *outside* of the realm of science, but rather the issue they are trying to grapple with isn't the mechanics of that reality but rather the meaning of it. And as any philosopher of science will tell you, science provides mechanics but not meanings. That is in the realms of philosophy and religion.

Trent said:
"I agree with you that the allegory is fundamentally dishonest though. I find most of DS9's allegories dishonest in the ways they pretend to map onto the world. A contemporary, real-world believer does not have testable wormhole Gods, recorded contacts with super-beings, magic orbs and verifiable prophecies."

I think part of your objection here mirrors to an extent what Elliott is saying, namely that introducing the actual mechanic of a wormhole with aliens in it more or less invalidates the religion angle as being relevant to our real world's religious people. But I would like to point out that this objection may be missing the point, or shall I say the storytelling premise the DS9 team seem to have been going for. The possible ways to see DS9's reality is that:

(a) It's just an analogy for modern Judeo-Christian mythos, and that Trek is mushed together improperly with this;
(b) It's pure science fiction, using a technological premise (the wormhole) and examining how certain people could develop a religion around this.

Answer (a) doesn't seem quite right because too much doesn't fit, as you point out. There is a physical wormhole present, not analogous to real life, and the also the Bajorans seem to have access to more direct hard evidence than we do, such as orbs, which invalidates the idea of believing IN the gods as being relevant.

Answer (b) doesn't seem quite right either because there's too much content in the show about faith, and with Judeo-Christian imagery, for it to be merely a science fiction setting. Clearly they are trying to say something about religion as well.

My conclusion is that we should actually conclude:

(c) That they are introducing a hard sci-fi premise, and examining what this means in terms of dealing with extra-temporal beings, which at the same time riding the fence and checking out the other side of it, and seeing things from the 'believers' perspective. But at no time is the message purely religious, nor does it ever cease to be the sci-fi premise no matter how much POV we get from the people of faith. But at the same time enough room is given for the people of faith, and especially for Sisko's eventual 'conversion', that we can see the real-life impact of dealing with a force greater than yourself. In this case the force is actual beings in an actual physical place, but that place is so mysterious and difficult to understand that it might as well be magic, like the Q. That doesn't make it supernatural, but it does mean that in real time the people who are alive at present can't just throw their hands up and say "hey, we'll probably understand the science of it in a million years or so, so let's just hang out." They need to decide in the here and now whether to listen to these aliens or not. So once again, to whatever extent the series speaks of faith, it's pretty clearly a question of whether to do what the aliens say or not. The few occasions where it does sort of sound like it's about whether they exist is IMO a writing error. I'll also say that I don't think the series went further enough with the sci-fi premise of non-linear entities. Elliott chastises the series for not bothering about the religious stuff enough because that was too hard for them, but I think the problem is exactly the opposite: it didn't bother enough with the hard sci-fi because *that* was too hard for them. For all the respect I have for many of the writers on this show, I don't think they had great science writers among them giving us thought-provoking science.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

"This is absolutely not true. The Greeks did not view the gods as especially virtuous, let alone arbiters of virtue. The gods were capricious and mortals felt the need to appease them in order to be successful in life. The gods took sides in human affairs for their own petty reasons all the time. They were jealous and vindictive."

At best this is a contentious assertion not backed up by classics studies. I can't say it's wrong, but you're basically claiming that what Ancient Greeks claimed to believe was really BS that they *knew* was BS. That is theoretically possible but certainly not demonstrated anywhere I've heard of. The clearer view of the Ancient Greeks is that they totally did hold up Zeus' law as the ultimate standard of virtue, whether that was in the xenia of welcoming guests, or in the justice of following what we would call hierarchies of value. Certain other gods possessed their own realms, all of which more or less are subsumed as Zeus' in the end; Apollo for art, medicine and music; Athena for war strategy and in the case of the Athenians for the justice of their court systems. They in no overt way made claims other than the fact that their gods were great and should be followed. It's a modern interpretation of those myths which reflects on how their gods seemed to be, shall we say, a little morally suspect. That says more about us than about the Ancient Greeks. Socrates could literally not even come out and say that the gods in the myths might not be all they're cracked up to be; he had to speak in terms couched in metaphor and insinuation, letting you come to your own conclusions (which if you were very wise, would of course be his!). That he instructed the youth at all to think for themselves got him judged and convicted of corrupting the youth, and executed. So no, the Ancients didn't believe their own gods were immoral.
Cody B
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Trent: “Here’s some over long snark filled failed comedy diatribe that amounts to me white knighting a grown man”

Everyone: “Yikes”
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
"This is absolutely not true. The Greeks did not view the gods as especially virtuous, let alone arbiters of virtue. The gods were capricious and mortals felt the need to appease them in order to be successful in life. The gods took sides in human affairs for their own petty reasons all the time. They were jealous and vindictive."

Well I will concede certainly some Greek myths suggest a certain cynicism about the Gods which fall into the category you describe. Other myths only seem cynical through a modern lens, but undoubtedly would not have been from the point if view of the ancients.

But I never saw this as monolithic, nor would I have assumed that myths like the Iliad, for example, or others that survived into modern day, were necessarily representative of rank and file religiosity in day to day Greek life.

I could be wrong, bit I always presumed that ordinary Greeks would have worshipped various Gods in a sincere and not cynical way. So when an ordinary Greek put an offering out for Zeus he wasn't secretly thinking that Zeus was a virgin raping capricious bastard to be bought off out of fear.
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

The text of the show is that the Bajorans' view that the WAs are divine is justified because the aren't linear beings. Every time there is an episode about proving the Bajorans right, this is the framing:

"In the Hands of the Prophets"

SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?

"Destiny"

KIRA: The prophecy came true. All of it. We just misinterpreted Trakor's words.

"Accession"

SISKO: The Bajorans believe you are their Prophets, that you've chosen one of us to be your Emissary.
PROPHET 1: We are of Bajor.
SISKO: Go on.
PROPHET 2: They are linear.
PROPHET 3: It limits them.
PROPHET 4: They do not understand.

"Destiny"

WINN: What is it, Emissary? Have the Prophets revealed something to you?
SISKO: Locusts. They'll destroy Bajor unless it stands alone.

The Bajorans should be allowed to have faith in unprovable, divine beings. That creates all the space that is needed to talk about the value of faith and the conflicts it creates. These writers so completely miss the point that they want to prove the Bajorans aren't dummies for believing in things that can't be. That's not *my* assessment of religion, that's *their* assessment. They have no confidence in being able to write about actual faith.

"So no, the Ancients didn't believe their own gods were immoral."

You are misinterpreting what I have written. The Greeks followed the laws of their gods, yes, but that was out of punitive fear. The laws of the gods provided structure in Greek society (which is of course the underlying reason Socrates was executed). My point is that the Greeks believed Zeus held you to specific standards of conduct for his own reasons, not because it was immutably "good."
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

"I could be wrong, bit I always presumed that ordinary Greeks would have worshipped various Gods in a sincere and not cynical way. So when an ordinary Greek put an offering out for Zeus he wasn't secretly thinking that Zeus was a virgin raping capricious bastard to be bought off out of fear."

It is possible to be both cynical and sincere.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
"You are misinterpreting what I have written"

Apparently not from what you say next:

"The Greeks followed the laws of their gods, yes, but that was out of punitive fear. The laws of the gods provided structure in Greek society (which is of course the underlying reason Socrates was executed). My point is that the Greeks believed Zeus held you to specific standards of conduct for his own reasons, not because it was immutably "good.""

Umm evidence? Or could it be that maybe you are superimposing *your own opinion* of the Greek Gods onto the Ancient Greeks?
Cody B
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

I absolutely did not say I wanted to see people who made jokes about that 5 year old being killed prosecuted. I said I wished there was a way to prosecute the people donating to the fund to have his killer bailed. I then said I’m sure that’s not possible. Also you and Trent keep bringing up this Memology character. The two of you know way more about him than I do. I do not know anything about him. Like I very clearly said, I could not find the original source I read that revealed people were mocking the death of that five year old and donating to his killer’s fund. You said that wasn’t true remember? That’s why I posted that video. It’s all I could find. I explicitly said do not focus on whether or not the video is “right wing” just focus on the fact that he is revealing screenshots and names of the multiple people making fun of a murdered five year old and donating to his killer. I did this because you said THE PEOPLE DIDNT EXIST! And that’s where the real problem was for you. I unequivocally showed that yes these people you said didn’t exist in fact did exist and were doing exactly what I said they were. You can’t handle being PROVEN wrong. So you did a little mental gymnastics and turned the narrative into “it was a right wing video though”. It wasn’t about right or left wing anything and I clearly said that and warned the video seemed to have right wing leanings. Whatever though. As you’re known to say after a nice rant of your own- “Trek please guys”. I’m done
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

I mean possibly, but we all do that. What is objectively true about the structure of their mythology is that the interests of the gods were at odds with each other and frequently with the interests of human beings. In Abrahamic religions (including the way they tried to write the Bajorans), there is one absolute moral authority. There may be many Prophets, but they don't diverge from each other in terms of their plans for Bajor.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Elliott wrote:
"In Abrahamic religions (including the way they tried to write the Bajorans), there is one absolute moral authority. There may be many Prophets, but they don't diverge from each other in terms of their plans for Bajor."

I'm not sure, in any case, why your argument needs to rest on this being true while the Greek gods are not moral authorities. So what? Your overall point is that Abrahamic religion is not about physical reality (which is incidentally not true) while pagan religion was and is therefore made obsolete by science; and therefore the Bajorans' view is both Abrahamic and yet apparently made obsolete by science, and therefore doesn't fit into this schema. But you are the only one trying to make it fit into the schema. The writers took a premise, riffed on it a bit, threw in a bit of Western belief system, and came out with a new recipe. It has similarities to but IS NOT Christianity or Judaism. That should be easy enough to see based on the Buddhistic influences we can see in other elements of their art and culture. Sure, it borrows from Earth stuff but it's no one religion, nor should it be shoehorned into one to try to show it somehow is doing it wrong. Don't like how they told stories - hey that's your business. But objectively saying they're misrepresenting Christianity or something just seems way off base to me.

As far as the Prophets and their moral authority I'm not sure what's so convoluted here. Yes, they are called divine; no, that does not have to mean divine in the way Christianity means it because it is NOT Christianity. Yes, they tell the Bajorans what to do; and no, not because they'll get angry and smite them otherwise, and also not because of any other reason we can fathom other than they have goals. The Bajorans have largely decided to follow those goals, and it's no surprise that the entire planet is practically unified in belief in them, which also pretty much invalidates direct comparison to Earth religion. They are united for obvious reasons, because their religion is based on a real, demonstrable thing. So their situation is not ours. Maybe the show is suggesting that perhaps this *is* our situation and we just don't know it yet; maybe we're 10,000 years behind Bajor, and we'll be occupied by Cardassians in 9,960 years. This is where the show lets us speculate in sci-fi mode.

Either way I can't help but feel that all of these objections are really just objections to religion, and that the only tolerable presence religion could have in media (for you, I guess) would be where it 'knows it place' and admits that it's basically nonsense for making people feel good.
Booming
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
By the way I agree with Elliot in the debate. And nooo the greek gods were not ethical or moral guides for greeks. Zeus alone did: patricide, incest, murder, rape ... so much rape, started wars and so on.

And to the rest. Elliot don't worry I'm past trying to convince people. Wolfstar if my ramblings can push you to the right then maybe you were never that left. The only men with love in his heart is trent.

I perceive myself like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCczsduXJBA
As we like to say in Germany: Immer feste drauf!!! (and please put that sentence into google translate, it is not accurate but beautiful)

Kisses guys (on Chakotay's BUTT)
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/67/2b/5b/672b5b2cb802f997801d674dbdb83253.jpg
Booming
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
@ Cody
I just wanted to say that I haven't read your last five ? posts. Quite a while back you obviously started to engage me just to hurt my feelings and when I decided that now I would try to hurt yours it didn't seem wise to continue reading your posts. I'm sure you understand but let me say this, if I had read them, then they certainly would have hurt me deeply. :)
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
"And nooo the greek gods were not ethical or moral guides for greeks. Zeus alone did: patricide, incest, murder, rape ... so much rape, started wars and so on."

Are you arguing that we in 2020 shouldn't think Zeus was moral or are you saying the Ancient Greeks didn't think he was? If the latter then again... evidence?
Elliott
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

"I'm not sure, in any case, why your argument needs to rest on this being true while the Greek gods are not moral authorities. So what? Your overall point is that Abrahamic religion is not about physical reality (which is incidentally not true) while pagan religion was and is therefore made obsolete by science; and therefore the Bajorans' view is both Abrahamic and yet apparently made obsolete by science, and therefore doesn't fit into this schema."

Because without that schema, there is no allegory to actual religion. And without the allegory, the messaging around the topic is fallacious. Think of an episode like "Hero Worship." The actual condition of a child imitating an emotionless robot is entirely fictional. But the boy's and Data's situation fits into the same schema as certain kinds of trauma and personal development respectively. But unlike Trent, I actually think nuBSG did religion correctly. The gods of that Universe may very well be real or they may not be, meaning that the degree to which the characters manifest faith in them actually matters.

"But objectively saying they're misrepresenting Christianity or something just seems way off base to me."

That's not exactly what I'm saying. The Bajoran religion uses a pastiche of religious imagery (which I do find irritating in the same way I find things like "Oprellian Amoeba" and "Rigellian Field Mouse" annoying), but structurally it works pretty much like any contemporary Western faith (including a westernised version of Buddhism) except in the most important way, which is what this entire debate is about.

"The Bajorans have largely decided to follow those goals, and it's no surprise that the entire planet is practically unified in belief in them, which also pretty much invalidates direct comparison to Earth religion. They are united for obvious reasons, because their religion is based on a real, demonstrable thing. "

I have two thoughts about this. First of all, most alien worlds in Trek are united in a way that likens them more to modern nation states than planets. Klingons are all united and Romulans are all united and humans are all united in their respective belief systems, are they not? But more importantly, the real and demonstrable part of their religion didn't become apparent until Sisko made contact with the Prophets five years ago. I think it would have been unrealistic and silly to have Bajor become a planet of agnostics after this, but for there to be no theological reaction to the discovery the gods are actual a collection of monotone afterimages hanging out in vanilla soft serve should have a consequence or two.

"Either way I can't help but feel that all of these objections are really just objections to religion, and that the only tolerable presence religion could have in media (for you, I guess) would be where it 'knows it place' and admits that it's basically nonsense for making people feel good."

This is a projection. I will praise a depiction of religion that is thoughtful, nuanced and relevant. This ain't it.

@Booming

I didn't realise you were German. I actually wouldn't be surprised if some of the communication problems between you and the rest of this group aren't at least partially a result of a language barrier.

@Jason R

Enjoy.

https://www.thecollector.com/incest-ancient-greece-rome/
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

"I have two thoughts about this. First of all, most alien worlds in Trek are united in a way that likens them more to modern nation states than planets. Klingons are all united and Romulans are all united and humans are all united in their respective belief systems, are they not?"

To an extent yes, to an extent no. In a manner of speaking, as you say, looking at each of these species as references to our planet means not so much that they've discovered the secret of unity, but more like the represent an aspect of ourselves (which by definition is one thing). But in the show's reality, I'm not quite sure they're as united as all that. The Klingons that we see do tend to be warriors, but there are hints in early TNG that although these are the Klingons you'll likely face in space, there are non-warrior types on Kronos that are kept out of our sight. That the warlike ones seem to control government and land may be a reference to the Samurai code or something. In terms of unity the 'honor' system does seem beyond reproach to them, even though in practice few seem to take it as seriously as the average Bajoran takes their religion. For Romulans it's a mixed bag because they're basically living under the KGB, so public dissent isn't allowed. That doesn't give us much insight into their philosophical unity, other than the small glimpse we got into their underground in Unification. The United Federation is actually the least united of them all; or at least the least homogenous. Despite what Eddington would have us believe, the Federation comprises many worlds with many beliefs, and the only commonality is they believe that they must accept and even embrace these differences. It's pretty much the opposite of the type of unity people today think is so great, which is not much more than everyone chanting the same slogan. In the Federation they embrace totally disagreeing about what's right, so long as the disagreement has a forum and a representative council to decide things.


"But more importantly, the real and demonstrable part of their religion didn't become apparent until Sisko made contact with the Prophets five years ago."

Yes, and this is the cool sci-fi premise that I think gets underappreciated. People like to take the piss out of religion nowadays, fair enough. But what this show does is take a 'typical' religious people who believe the 'usual' nonsense, and right in the first episode a scientific expedition sets out to find the basis of their beliefs, and bam, we get a bona fide discovery that lends a new light on their historic traditions. This is sci-fi at its best, to look at what may have originally spawned their religion, scientifically speaking. Sure, sure, their beliefs are nonsense, right? Except hold on, now we find out they actually came *from something real*. To me that's a really cool premise. What if one day we discover, using 27th century technology, a way to reproduce exactly the parting the Red Sea, and realize thatt they were using ancient alien technology? I'd read that book. Turns out the aliens weren't just alien, but so far removed from us that it's hard to even imagine what to make of them. 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles something akin to this, where we play a part in some larger schema that we could barely hope to comprehend. Now what comes after the discovery is indeed a big deal to sort out as the writing team.

"I think it would have been unrealistic and silly to have Bajor become a planet of agnostics after this, but for there to be no theological reaction to the discovery the gods are actual a collection of monotone afterimages hanging out in vanilla soft serve should have a consequence or two."

One thing to bear in mind is that no one except Sisko had firm and direct contact with the Prophets in the wormhole (until Zek did...). So any report of his is probably not much more use to the Bajorans than their old prophecies. But the shining light thing in the sky! Well they now know there's a space thing out there, but not really that their gods are in it. Sisko says they are, but then again for a the first few seasons they are a bit leery of him, other than Opaka. Also they have so many political problems, and are still reeling from the Occupation, so it's not clear that even if they did know it for a fact that the repercussions would take their effect until a few years down the road.

That being said, I do wish they had put more time into the issue of the Bajorans understanding that their religion is now accessible to non-Bajorans, who *are not religious*. In other words, someone from Romulus might well want to hear what the beings who can tell the future have to say, and not care a whit about religion. Does that make them 'believers', or just opportunists? Is there a difference? These types of questions would have been neat. The biggest failure of the series is that the Federation never took the wormhole aliens seriously *as aliens*, forget about what powers they have. Sure, they told us that "all contact efforts failed" but that's a cop-out. We should have seen those efforts with our own eyes, even watched the Fed scientists concoct crazy ways to try to get in touch with them. That would have made for some neat B-stories at least. And by Season 7 when Admiral Ross - after knowing that the WA's saved the Federation by banishing the Dominion Fleet!!! - still wants Sisko to tell the WA's to bug off, notwithstanding that Sisko is basically the Federation ambassador to them (which btw he should have officially been). This is just stoopid, so by this point in the series they had lost the chance to go there, and ended up having to write some boneheaded stuff to perpetuate the fake tension between "Federation officer" and "religious figure". After 7 years this should not have been a major issue, or at least not one where the Federation was still scratching their heads. Are they supposed to look like skeptical idiots?

So yeah, that's a problem. But the premise itself to me is great: turn the "stupid religion" thing on its head by giving it a scientific basis.
William B
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

We're getting somewhere! (Or, maybe you and Elliott aren't, but....)

I agree with you both that it's a cool idea to show that a religion has a factual basis, and further that there are interesting potential sci-fi ideas there (2001, e.g.). I also think that this *does* appear to be a lot of what's going on in "Emissary" in particular.

This maybe ties into Trent's suggestion that the Piller era of the show dealt with religion in a bit of a different way than the later seasons, but: one of the things that's interesting is, and I might be misremembering, but in "Emissary," Sisko had an encounter with something interesting via Opaka, was given the Orb, and then got Dax to study it, and then they went to investigate, and then found the wormhole. What's significant about this is that Sisko, in this scenario, is someone who can rely on, and balance, Opaka and Dax, and it's because of *both* the traditional/religious and the novel/scientific approaches that he is able to make contact with the "gods." This is also part of what makes "Emissary" feel like it's reaching for both a religious experience and for something that fits into a material conception of the world. Even there, the highly rationalistic Dax is left in the cold and unable to contact the WAs (they literally have completely different experiences inside the wormhole, possibly because only Sisko is sufficiently open to them). This conception of Sisko as the one able to reach them *because* he is able to balance different worlds is a very cool one.

However, future episodes, as most of us seem to agree on, just have the secular Federation characters appear to be idiots, who have nothing to bring to the table. It's not even that they are shown to be wrong in a way that is fair to secular people: they are just wrong because they stubbornly refuse to see the evidence before them. Now you are right that initially there is only Sisko's word to go on, so maybe for a little while it would make sense, but still, I don't get the sense that anyone ever doubts Sisko's communication with them or that they are nonlinear, or whatever, they just refuse to accept it. I also really agree with Elliott that having direct contact with their gods, at least on occasion, should have transformed Bajoran society more fully, at least some of the time.

I think Elliott's position in part is that he is arguing that the *good things* about religion, as it is practiced today, relies on distance, on it being specifically about the parts of life that are not explicable, at least not currently. IIRC, he's said he volunteers for local religious institutions and his husband is religious (or something? sorry!) and so while he's an atheist and all, I don't think he's as contemptuous of religion as he is sometimes accused of, but understands religion primarily through the lens that it is about what is intangible, etc. What is *lost* in bringing gods back down to earth, so to speak, in finding that belief is no longer required about certain aspects, albeit not all? Maybe nothing, or very little, or maybe a lot. Don't meet your heroes, kid: what if they're not who you think you are. ("What does God need with a space ship?")
James
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
"Yes, and this is the cool sci-fi premise that I think gets underappreciated. People like to take the piss out of religion nowadays, fair enough. But what this show does is take a 'typical' religious people who believe the 'usual' nonsense, and right in the first episode a scientific expedition sets out to find the basis of their beliefs, and bam, we get a bona fide discovery that lends a new light on their historic traditions. This is sci-fi at its best, to look at what may have originally spawned their religion, scientifically speaking. Sure, sure, their beliefs are nonsense, right? Except hold on, now we find out they actually came *from something real*. To me that's a really cool premise. What if one day we discover, using 27th century technology, a way to reproduce exactly the parting the Red Sea, and realize thatt they were using ancient alien technology? I'd read that book. Turns out the aliens weren't just alien, but so far removed from us that it's hard to even imagine what to make of them. 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles something akin to this, where we play a part in some larger schema that we could barely hope to comprehend. Now what comes after the discovery is indeed a big deal to sort out as the writing team."

It's an interesting premise for sci-fi, I agree, but it's far more significant for non-believers than for believers. To give something a scientific basis is tremendously important for atheists and agnostics. But it is less important for a religious person than revelatory experience and direct communication with God, because for a religious person those are the reality, and everything else is dependent on it, including the scientific proof.

That's why I don't think a Bajoran would react all that strongly to someone, an alien someone, describing their revelations in a wormhole with a vague incomprehensible being or force. Their race has already had interactions with aliens, they're nothing special. Maybe it would, at best, confirm their beliefs, or maybe not. That the revelation happened in a newly discovered space phenomenon, would not be seen as all that amazing.

There are a ton of books written in the last few decades about revelations just like Sisko's experience, and they're not exactly best-sellers. There are fringe communities extremely interested in them, from both believer and non-believer sides, but they are nowhere near as big as traditional religion. For me, personally, the example you used with the Red Sea parting, would most likely have very little to do with my beliefs, and I'd take no more than a passing interest in it.
James
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
One last thing I forgot to add - there is no scientific proof of God or gods in DS9. Sisko's experiences are about as valuable to science as alien abduction stories. No one can even verify he had those experiences, and he is the only one experiencing them.
Dave in MN
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
^

except

#1) We, the viewer, see the visions

#2) other characters also meet the Prophets in visions

#3) Therefore, the Prophets exist (call them wormhole aliens or whatever you wish to call them)

and

#4) Sisko (communicating in one of his visions) gets the Prophets to eradicate an entire Dominion fleet.
James
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
Okay. Now imagine a show which depicted a number of people having visions of Jesus, receiving guidance which then led to avoidance of some major disaster. Would that mean anything to a non-believer?
Booming
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 1:42am (UTC -5)
@Elliot
Yeah most definitely. Before I engaged cody in a more aggressive way, I actually, despite my views about his political leanings, tried to reason with him in a neutral way. But to him and in other instances with other people here it obviously comes off as arrogant, smug or mean spirited and sometimes as policing.

@Jason
I don't have evidence. These gods just did so much horrible stuff. I always understood it like the greeks were trying to buy the gods favor with gifts. As far as the Christian god goes, either that one already knows if you are good or bad and treats you accordingly (predestination) or you can by good deeds put a smile on it's face (catholic view). The prophets seem be closer to predistination. They plan from the end so to speak. I don't think DS9 is bad because it has nothing in common with our gods, the weak point is that the bajorans don't freak out more about their gods who before were just a few shiny orbs in temples (that barely anybody could visit) and now definitely exist in a space tunnel not far from their planet. I would imagine that this would create quite significant societal upheaval.

@James: I smiled about your hypothesis that they are all basically seeing things that are not there. We have seen several cause and effect interactions with the prophets but yeah maybe... maybe we that we write here are just a bunch of crazy people shouting at each other in an insane asylum and star trek doesn't really exist, would that make the prophets more or less real?
Jason R.
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 6:15am (UTC -5)
I agree with Peter and others regarding some of the weaknesses in DS9's portrayal of the Prophets which are *not* in my view, the same as Elliott's complaints.

And ya, I wanted to smack Admiral Ross silly every time he poo pooed Sisko's role as the Emissary or implied that this was second-fiddle to being a Starfleet officer. Buddy, these space Gods annihilated a Dominion fleet and saved the Federation from conquest. If they want Sisko to fly into the wormhole once a month and kiss their non-linear boots, you should give him your blessing and call it a win. Ungrateful punk!!

This is especially galling considering that Ross was prepared to throw Bajor under the bus just to placate the Romulans who are just soooooo important to the war effort. Hey Ross, guess who is more important to the war than the Romulans? How about the aliens who wiped out a 4,000 ship Dominion invasion force and are single-handedly blocking the Dominion from overrunning the Alpha Quadrant? But god forbid they should ask Sisko to stay on DS9 because nobody but Sisko could stand on the bridge of the Defiant and say "fire phasers!" as well.

What I love especially about that episode was that Sisko ended up getting knocked out by a disturbance in the force and had to spend the battle in Sickbay anyway. They end up destroying the automated weapon platforms just fine without his help anyway.

God Ross is stupid!!

@Booming I won't argue that many of the Gods' actions seem immoral (to put it mildly) by modern standards. I mean Poseidon rapes Medusa in Athena's temple and then Athena punishes Medusa for defiling her temple by turning her into a Gorgon! Wow even ISIL would say that's a bit unfair.

But then again, Athena is the Goddess of wisdom. She was worshipped as such. What's more, apart from different standards of morality (the ancients I think valued sacredness and purity perhaps moreso than we do - and clearly saw sexual violence differently from us) I am not certain that the myths we are most familiar with were necessarily the stories that rank and file worshippers would have known or cared about.

I mean with Judeo Christian beliefs at least there is a fairly standardized bible. But even with the bible there are oddball books that seem extreme, out of place or inconsistent with others. The Old Testament is chalk full of nuttiness, nearly as bad as the Medusa myth.

I just wonder if the Ancient Greeks all had the same set of stories we are familiar with today, or perhaps even if they did, like with the bible, they may have emphasized some over others. Nobody ever claimed religions are internally consistent!

Anyway I just see your and Elliott's comments on the Greek Gods off base.
James
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 7:04am (UTC -5)
@Boomer
If DS9's universe is one where the prophets are in charge, then the cause and effect relationships we see aren't actually real. They just appear that way. It would be like a lego toy in a sandbox looking at all these things going on, trucks moving sand, lego people moving around, and thinking objects impact other objects. Meanwhile it's all been the giant kid in the sky all along. So that's another point that DS9 is confused about, apparently. I remember wishing it would decide one way or the other.
Booming
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 7:17am (UTC -5)
@ Jason
And the really weird thing is that the Spartans, who worshiped a god, had the most extensive women's rights. Women basically controlled the Spartan economy. Athens on the other hand, who worshiped a goddess, was maybe the most misogynistic society of them all. You mentioned Isis which is fairly on point because Athenian women were not allowed to leave the house alone and if they left it they had to cover themselves head to toe. Most people use bon-mots from Plato but if you actually read "the state" by him then it is basically like the Soviet Union. No scratch that, the soviet union was a fairly mild and humanitarian version of Plato's politeia.

And about the stories. I believe that was mostly done oral by the priests. But I think at this point we would need a theologian or a historian of ancient greece.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVJOxqYi7uc&list=PLmAkom7gizGB78T7GwhL_ql4ZdbUIzWPy&index=9
That I found interesting.
here is another episode
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgjlDzxevF0
Jason R.
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 7:46am (UTC -5)
@Booming I just think that our understanding of Ancient Greek religion based on a few greatest hits from their myth library is likely less accurate and representative than Worf's understanding of the Klingons based on his childhood experience being raised by a couple humans on Earth.

But I'd love to know what a classicist who has actually studied this has to say.

As an aside I was positively gaga for Greek and Norse myths as a kid and read every story I could find, albeit probably the kid versions they stocked in the school library. As an adult of course I read Homer and took a few classes in university but I always did wonder if what I was reading bore any resemblance to what an actual Ancient Greek person would have known.
Perin
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 8:25am (UTC -5)
@Jason R. I'm no classicist, but for what it's worth Aristophanes' The Clouds portrays a Sophist as an insufferable smartass for pointedly taking the gods' carryings-on at their face value. The implied authorial stance is basically how I'd imagine a typical conservative Christian reacting to The Brick Testament.
Perin
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
-----
Just: I will destroy you miserably.

Unjust: Tell me, by doing what?

Just: By speaking what is just.

Unjust: But I will overturn them by contradicting them; for
I deny that justice even exists at all.

Just: Do you deny that it exists?

Unjust: For come, where is it?

Just: With the gods.

Unjust: How, then, if justice exists, has Jupiter not
perished, who bound his own father?

Just: Bah! This profanity now is spreading! Give me a
basin.

Unjust: You are a dotard and absurd.

Just: You are debauched and shameless.
Mike
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
@Boomer -
So if the Prophets bringing doom to a Dominion fleet and other "cause and effect relationships" proves the existence of divine forces, shouldn't that mean that a mortal man creating mountains of food out of a few loaves and fishes, healing and resurrecting others, and resurrecting himself also proves God's existence? If not, why not?
Booming
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 1:28am (UTC -5)
@Mike
Oh if somebody would do this while cameras are rolling I would fall to my knees and shout: Jesus Buddha and Allah. I love you all!!

The difference is that we see Sisko talk to the Prophets, directly asking them to get rid of the ships. In the created universe of Star Trek it is therefore presented as real (ignoring James general critique of perception) while the whole Jesus story is just that, a story somebody told somebody + a few more somebodies until it reached a guy who bothered to write it down. There are numerous religious texts who tell stories of wonders. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most if not all religious stories have some wondrous elements.
Trent
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
William said: "This is also part of what makes "Emissary" feel like it's reaching for both a religious experience and for something that fits into a material conception of the world."

This, to me, is was what was initially cool about the Bajorans. It's such an interesting angle - a hyper-rational Federation investigating super-aliens whom a relatively low-tech culture views as benevolent Gods - to explore the culture of the Federation, the skepticism of scientists, and the lives of believers.

But little by little, things just get too heavy-handed and even comical. Until you get to the point, as Elliot says, where things degenerate into a kind of straw-man portrayal of religion and skepticism (mid 90s TV scifi seemed rife with orbs and Jesus allusions).

I mean, this episode is almost comical in how literally things unfold. Sisko's a chosen one who is smeared by scientists and who is granted visions and prophecies by secret monuments, deities and scrolls so that God's people can be ushered to a promised future.

In its aversion to Roddenberry's view of religion, the show becomes far too insistent upon offering a kind of "rational" version of the Old Testament God. And all these little bad decisions add up, until you get literal fire and brimstone with paghwraith in fire-caves...because where else can this lead?

Once you've created God-like beings and started using them as an allusion to contemporary Gods, you're going to end up having to make a decision. Either your God's a Good Guy working toward a Benevolent Master Plan (which is arguably morally incoherent, for all the usual reasons; why you killing all those people, God?). Either God doesn't care about the Bajorans (this could be mined for interesting conflicts between the Feds and Bajorans). Or either God's a sociopath who hates the Bajorans, or so loves the Bajorans that he helps them wage war on the Cardassians. What else can you do with the topic of worm hole Gods?

I generally prefer things low-key, so would have loved ruthlessly disinterested wormhole Gods. Perhaps the Federation teaches the Bajorans to move away from the wormhole aliens. Or perhaps the Federation teach the Gods how to be truly Christlike.

Instead, we seem to end up in New Testament territory. Things unfold as God intended. The quadrant is secured, the chosen one fulfills the prophecies, billions die, Yahweh ex machina and so on.

But what does all this say? What's the meaning of all this? What does DS9 ultimately say about religion or contemporary religions? In its insistence upon destiny and bloodletting, how does it not unintentionally say something far worse about religion than Roddenberry would have said?
Trent
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Jason R said: "Why should it matter if the belief is "testable" or not? If someone believes the lightning is Thor out of ignorance or because it really is Thor the resulting belief system should be the same. "

Yeah, that was my point. It doesn't matter to believers.

A believer doesn't tend to see themselves as having faith in something in the face of no evidence. Everything is retroactively interpreted as proof of their divine, be there evidence ("God made these mountains!"), be there none ("God is testing our faith!") or be there ambiguity ("This mystery is explained by God!"). Whatever you throw at it, the religious mind will rationalize.

Elliot then argues, "Sure, but DS9 is presenting ridiculously miraculous things which no contemporary believer is affirmed with! And which no contemporary atheist has even been able to test!"

Which is true, but DS9 has always stacked the decks a certain way, be it tackling religion, war, false flags etc.

I wonder how religious Ira Behr is. I know he's Jewish, but I always attributed the Bajoran/Jews/Palestine angle to Piller. I wonder, when Piller left, how Behr personally saw the Bajoran's and their overall allegory. Because it does at times play like Jewish eschatology in space, a quirky and fantastical tale of God's Chosen Peoples, their holy land surrounded on all sides, and with the space UN caught in the middle.
Trent
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Cody said: "“Here’s some over long snark filled failed comedy diatribe that amounts to me white knighting a grown man”"

lol, I mean you literally just white knighted Chakotay's buttocks.

But then those who use the term "white knight" - popularized by Men's Rights Activists, the alt-right, gamerbros and a famous 4chan rape post, typically to belittle feminists - have never realized that they're also "white knighting".

And so defending a grown man who wants to bang actresses, or posting alt-Right youtubers in defense of white dudes hounded by conspiratorial blacks, journalists, GoFundMe's and You Know Whos working in tandem, doesn't register in their mind as odd behavior. No, it's only "virtue signalling" and "white knighting" when others do it. My morality is pure and rational!

That's why Booming's employment of the Chakotay Manoeuvre™ was hilarious. In a single post, he got you guys to go from "Defending dudes creeping on chicks: Good!" to "Typing gay sex fantasies: Bad!".
Cody B
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

You are actively looking for politics where there are none. I did not say “gay fantasies bad” or whatever nonsense you’re trying to pin on me. I’ve never been on “4chan” in my entire life, I’ve never voted for a republican in my entire life, I have no idea who Memology is and I explained exactly why I posted that video. Because it was the only thing I could find that provided undisputed proof of people that Booming said “did not exist”. And I clearly said ignore any politics and focus on the screenshots of the people shown in the video. For the second time I’ll again say you and Booming know more about this guy who made the video than I do. But you and Booming STILL need to do your tired “right wing!!!” card as a way to shift focus from the original points. I’m not the person your assumptions lead you to attack. Saying that a publicly posted fantasy about wanting to sodomize a straight man with a fist is violent is not homophobia as I said before. It’s a violent fantasy. I called it such. The only card you can try to play is “homophobia tho....” because otherwise you’d have to admit that in reality yes booming publicly typed out a explicit, inappropriate and graphic fantasy. Do you really think I would care if anyone said “Chakotay is hot” or “It might be worth a night in the brig for breaking protocols and being romantic with Chakotay”? Because that’s what Mikey originally said about a female. He didn’t mention forcing anything graphically that would cause pain the way Booming did. You’re going to have to learn to stop making assumptions about people’s character and attempting to put them in convenient stereotyped boxes. I’m not your right wing boogeyman
Booming
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
@Trent
Please, don't continue this. That guy will just whine about how horribly misunderstood he is and what a vile person I am. I mean let's be fair, haven't we all at times shared nazi propaganda on the internetz by accident??

I also think it should be clear by now that if I would need a knight it would a native american knight who is charging with his mighty sword drawn.
Jason R.
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 5:47am (UTC -5)
"I also think it should be clear by now that if I would need a knight it would a native american knight who is charging with his mighty sword drawn."

Native Americans didn't have swords. No metalworking.
Booming
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 7:36am (UTC -5)
I really don't know what it was made of.
I only know that it was hard, big and powerful.
Jason R.
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 8:18am (UTC -5)
"I really don't know what it was made of.
I only know that it was hard, big and powerful."

The 15 year old girl in me is offended but the 15 year old boy in me is turned on.
Booming
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Both perfectly normal and disturbing at the same time. :)
Trent
Sat, Aug 29, 2020, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Cody said: "Because that’s what Mikey originally said about a female. He didn’t mention forcing anything graphically."

Mikey was making a rape joke. He thought the actress was worth forcing into sex, even if it meant spending the rest of Voyager's journey back to earth, in the brig. Hence Booming's objection, which people reflexively ignored ("Don't police what we say!").

Cody said: "Saying that a publicly posted fantasy about wanting to sodomize a straight man with a fist is violent is not homophobia as I said before."

It is homophobic.

You think such behavior is "violent", "angry", "dominating" and constitutes "sodomy" (a loaded word which conjures up centuries of laws forbidding homosexual activity, and which historically tries to smear people by alluding to the Biblical sins of Sodom, much like an entire "Judas arc" was entered into the Bible to smear Jews, thereby helping to sanction centuries of anti-Semitic behavior).

Ignoring the fact that all sex is violence, and ignoring the fact that you didn't realize Mikey was talking about rape, you can't complain about a guy fantasizing about homosexual sex with a fantasy man (who can't consent because he's a fantasy object), and not see that it's the same thing as a guy fantasizing about having heterosexual sex with a fantasy woman (who can't consent because she's a fantasy object).

You're cool with one thing (fantasy vaginal penetration), and reflexively upset with the other (fantasy anal penetration). Why is that?

Booming said: "Trent, please, don't continue this. That guy will just whine about how horribly misunderstood he is and what a vile person I am."

No. Cody is our Trek brother. And you are CLEARLY A VILE PERSON, BOOMING. GET BACK IN YOUR CAGE. BAD! BAD SOCIOLOGIST! YOU CAUSE HAVOC WHEREVER YOU GO! AND FISTING? Really Booming? WTF IS IT WITH YOU GERMANS AND FISTING?
William B
Sat, Aug 29, 2020, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
@Trent et al

I'm pretty sure I'm closer politically to you than others but

"Mikey was making a rape joke. He thought the actress was worth forcing into sex, even if it meant spending the rest of Voyager's journey back to earth, in the brig. Hence Booming's objection, which people reflexively ignored ("Don't police what we say!")."

The episode Mikey was commenting on is one where Harry breaks Starfleet law by having consensual sex not approved by his CO. Your read is not impossible but it did not occur to me that this statement was any more than that he would be willing to suffer a worse punishment than Harry for the same (consensual) act.
William B
Sat, Aug 29, 2020, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
(I already regret getting Involved, I realize. I sweat as I wonder who has found my self-insert fanfic, and whether the het or slash will be easier to discover.)
Elliott
Sat, Aug 29, 2020, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Wow, is this still going on?

1. Yes, Cody, it was a bit homophobic.
2. No, Trent, I don't think rape was implied; it was just an unnecessary and juvenile comment.
3. DS9 generally sucks at talking about religion.
4. As Janeway said, William B, "We didn't ask to be involved, but we are."
Booming
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 2:08am (UTC -5)
For the record, I didn't think that MikeyZ was making a rape joke. I thought and still do think that women could interpret it as such. You have to have seen the actual episode to understand how it was meant, if you haven't then it surely sounds like a rape joke.

Heterosexual men have no idea how common sexual assault is. In the USA 1 in 6 women have either experienced attempted rape (2.8%) or completed rape (14.8%) and that stuff doesn't even include the "normal every day" stuff like being grabbed by the pussy/ass/breasts in the subway.

That is why I asked him to write with a little more restraint because I thought that it would be nice if a forum dedicated to a bunch of shows about how humanity can improve over time could act with a bit more decency then the rest of the nightmare that we call internet discussions.
And I don't want a rape victim to come in here and think:" Oh my god, is that guy fantasizing about rape?!"
Cody B
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 3:19am (UTC -5)
@Elliott

In what way is Booming saying he wants to “fistfuck” a straight character and straight actor who plays that character supposed to be construed as anything but a rape joke? It’s a unwilling participant which makes the act violent and painful. Where’s this “homophobia” you’re claiming I conjured? I really take offense to you trying to pin something like that on me.
Jason R.
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 6:54am (UTC -5)
" GET BACK IN YOUR CAGE. BAD! BAD SOCIOLOGIST! "

If I were a 15 year old female sociologist who was locked in a cage coming upon this thread, I'd find Trent's locking female sociologists in a cage joke to be triggering and unfunny.
Booming
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 7:05am (UTC -5)
@Cody
Ok, you got me. I didn't look away fast enough and saw your post.

You might think that (maybe because of your homophobia) that using an entire hand to give another person anal pleasure immediately implies rape which it doesn't, it also doesn't imply aggressiveness or anything. The only thing it implies is your narrow view on human sexuality. And using the word sodomizing after my homofabulous rant. ouch.

But hey nice try to pin your own failures on me AGAIN.
Elliott
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 7:51am (UTC -5)
@Cody

For something to be rape, it has to be non-consensual. There's no reason to infer anyone's comments about Tal or Chakotay were meant to be non-consensual. If the only distinguishing feature between the two sex acts is the gender of the participants, then this is homophobic.

@Jason R

15 year old with a medical degree, huh? Poor taste makes for bad jokes.
Jason R.
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 7:57am (UTC -5)
"15 year old with a medical degree, huh? Poor taste makes for bad jokes."

Fewer distractions, more time to study in a cage. And it was a sociology, not MD degree. But maybe we've hit on a concept for a new super adult Trek sitcom? CBS must have st least a half dozen more Trek slots to fill in their Trek lineup. Does anyone have Kurtzman's phone?
Jason R.
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 8:06am (UTC -5)
" If the only distinguishing feature between the two sex acts is the gender of the participants, then this is homophobic."

You should go work for the defence in the Gladue case which just got sent back for a new trial by the Supreme Court of Canada. Without going through all the details that was a murder case where many many people (most likely of Trent et al's pusuation) were arguing rather forcefully for just such an inference where an (allegedly) consensual fisting resulted in death.

But then with people in that camp it isn't really the act that matters but who the perpetrator and who the victim was.
Booming
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 8:14am (UTC -5)
OMG will this debate never end.

Let's not turn this into another left right fight please.
Jason R.
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 8:24am (UTC -5)
https://youtu.be/UneS2Uwc6xw
Elliott
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 8:29am (UTC -5)
@Jason R

That's the most obtuse argument I've seen in a while on this site, and that is saying something. Plenty of men and women consent to all sorts of sex acts, all of which (including the most vanilla) could be dangerous depending on the situation. I'm not continuing this debate as it is so far out to sea at this point, Davy Jones would ignore us. I'm telling you, as a gay man, that there was some low-key homophobia in Cody's reaction to Booming's intentionally provocative escalation. That's the last thing I want to say on the subject.

"it isn't really the act that matters but who the perpetrator and who the victim was."

All of these things matter, actually.
Cody B
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 9:49am (UTC -5)
@Elliott

And I’m telling you as the person who said it, you’re absolutely wrong. Please don’t tell me what my intentions are. You aren’t in my mind. I think you might be sensitive to the whole subject and took offense that never was at all meant. I don’t want to get rude but this is the second time you’ve called me homophobic when I already explained that was not my intention in any way shape or form.
Peter G.
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Of all the stupid arguments on this site, this one is the most toxic and unreadable. There is not even any content being fought about, it's just a bunch of people trying to slap each other.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -5)
@Wolfstar
"It feels like you're in a constant struggle with everyone and your worldview has been primed to be constantly on guard and seeing "fascists" and "Nazis" everywhere..."

Why on earth would a *German* veteran see fascists and Nazis everywhere?

Also, a friendly reminder: World War II ended 75 years ago. I don't think there are many Nazi-fighting veterans on the net these days.

@Peter

Welcome to the 2020 version of Jammer's community. A few months late, but the majority here has become just as crazy and hateful as the rest of the world has become.

Guess it was to bound to happen at some point.
wolfstar
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
As I said before, Germany has come to terms with its past very well, but there's a tendency among a minority of West Germans (typically in the Generation X age-range) to be in a state of constant paranoid vigilance towards anyone or anything they perceive as "Nazi" or associated with the (far-)right. Some of these people can be overzealous in a counterproductive way, even attacking people on the left who they don't see as sufficiently left, and also think that Vergangenheitsbewältigung gives them a certain moral superiority and the right to preach to the rest of the world - like righteously, indignantly explaining American politics to Americans from 6000 miles away. I've only infrequently encountered these types of people, but I see the traits in a certain commenter here and remarked on it. Even if someone on a Trek forum is using alt-right-associated terms or rhetoric (whether or not they actually know it, because some of this stuff has unfortunately seeped into aspects of online speech), it's not useful to - as Elliott rightly said - "throw every ad hominem, stereotypical grab-bag of anti-right slurs one could think of at them. That's not going to convince anybody of anything other than that you're too angry to have a conversation with." If Booming is indeed "past trying to convince people", as they replied, then I wonder what the point of this entire argument was (and every other political argument they've been involved in on here). I'm certainly retroactively embarrassed by my own involvement in it.
Booming
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
@wolfstar
Again, Cody provoked me several times and I tried to react to that in a neutral way and then I reached a point where I thought enough. And I don't do warning shots.
That is the deeper meaning to everything I said from a certain point forward.

If you still want to believe that I am paranoid, false moral superiority, a destructive influence on leftists, and some kind of confused anti USA preacher, fine.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
@Wolfstar
"As I said before, Germany has come to terms with its past very well, but there's a tendency among a minority of West Germans (typically in the Generation X age-range) to be in a state of constant paranoid vigilance towards anyone or anything they perceive as "Nazi" or associated with the (far-)right."

Unfortunately this kind of thing has become quite popular in the USA as well, in the past year.

At any rate, my point that this tendency has absolutely nothing to do with Booming's "service" stands. I also wonder what possible war-for-freedom s/he could have faught in Germany in the 1990's...
Booming
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
@Omicron
yeah In the 1990s I did what every good German citizen did. I turned 10 and thought let's go fight in the Balkans...
Elliott
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
@Cody

It doesn't matter what your intention was. Nobody intends to be homophobic or racist. I'm not here to chastise you or offer you life advice; I'm just telling you what happened.
Cody B
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott

No that’s just your perception. Which doesn’t make things fact. All I can do is for a third time say I know the intention behind my words and they didn’t come from a mean spirited place associated with that word you throw around a little too easily.
Booming
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 2:13am (UTC -5)
Don't you get it Elliot. It's not the people who make homophobic or racist statements who are at fault, it is the people who point it out. For example, the leaders of the KKK said that they are not racist. Case closed and everybody who says otherwise is just throwing around hurtful speculations.
Cody is right. It is immaterial that he made statements that contained homophobia, racism or posted racist videos. You cannot read his thoughts, therefor you cannot prove what his intentions were, ergo you are accusing a potentially innocent person. Sounds crazy but it seems to be the new normal.
Cody B
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 3:22am (UTC -5)
@ Booming

Remember when you said you never read any of comments last week and refused to read any of them? This is the third time you’ve replied directly to one of them when they weren’t addressed to you. Not much of a shocker that you are a deceitful person that would lie though. Let’s get real you’ve read every single comment I’ve posted in the past couple weeks. I’m not going to comment on the content of your last post it’s just moronic and desperately argumentative.
Booming
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 8:51am (UTC -5)
@Cody
Well, no Nancy Drew. I only read your last three posts. I once searched for the word sodom in your posts and found them in two or three of your posts but I only read the sentences in which you used that homophobic slur, not the entire posts.

Are you still nazi-curious?
What do you think about Jews in US media?
a) too many
b) far too many
c) feels like a suburb of Jerusalem
d) all of the above times a million
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
@Everybody

The world isn't neatly divided to "racists" and "not racists", or "homophobic" and "not homophobic".

Yes, Cody's remark was a bit homophobic. Emphasis on "a bit". We all have our blind spots. And naturally, we are not aware of those blind spots. Just because somebody has a bit of prejudice against something, does not turn him into a Nazi or KKK supporter.

At any rate, that being said:

If the thing that bugs you most about this thread is Cody's slightly homophobic vibe, then you have a serious problem.

There's Cody's blind spot, which is mostly harmless and definitely due to ignorance.

And then there's this organized attack-by-provocation that we've seen here, where people resorted to rape jokes, twisting words and outright lies to demonize a fellow poster as some kind of nasty bigot.

So congratulations! Booming, Trent, Elliott... you've managed to prove that Cody is a fallible human being. A person who (oh, the horror!!!!) is not aware of their own blind spots, and (oh, the double horror!!!!) gets defensive when being attacked.

Way to go, team!

I just have one question for you three:

If Cody's own comment reveals him to be a terrible bigot, what does your own actions reveal about yourselves?

I'll end by repeating Peter's words:

"Of all the stupid arguments on this site, this one is the most toxic and unreadable. There is not even any content being fought about, it's just a bunch of people trying to slap each other."
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
"Well, no Nancy Drew. I only read your last three posts. I once searched for the word sodom in your posts and found them in two or three of your posts but I only read the sentences in which you used that homophobic slur, not the entire posts.

Are you still nazi-curious?
What do you think about Jews in US media?
a) too many
b) far too many
c) feels like a suburb of Jerusalem
d) all of the above times a million "

And what about you, Booming?

What do you think about (say) religious people.
a) too many
b) far too many
c) They are stupid
d) They are bigots
e) They are a terrible excuses for a human being
f) all of the above times a million

No, don't bother to answer.

I'm just showing you how easy it is to do this kind of cr*p.

Really, this kind of rhetoric says far more about you then it says about the person you're askng.

___________________________________________________________________________
"Of all the stupid arguments on this site, this one is the most toxic and unreadable. There is not even any content being fought about, it's just a bunch of people trying to slap each other."
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
"I once searched for the word sodom in your posts and found them in two or three of your posts but I only read the sentences in which you used that homophobic slur, not the entire posts."

Which is why you completely missed Cody's point.

Had you read his entire posts, you would have realized that:

1. Cody was specifically talking about a non-consensual act.
2. Cody specifically mentioned the fact that the target of your "fantasy" (which was nothing more than a cheap provocation) is straight, which is why is calls it a non-consensual act.
3. Cody's use of the word "sodomy" was clearly referring to the fact that the act was non-consensual.

At no point did he use the word "sodomize" to describe a consensual act between two consenting adults.

So honestly, I don't see anything wrong with his view here.

Sure, people do all sort of strange things for their sexual pleasure. There's also the bondage crowd. Nothing wrong with that, if both sides are consenting. Yet if I said "I'd really like to tie Chakotay to a post and beat him with a whip" then everybody here would have agreed that this is a violent fantasy.

Nobody would say "Hey! You don't *know* that Chakotay doesn't like getting beaten up for his own sexual pleasure". No. That would just be silly.

So how a fantasy of fisting a straight man any different?

And I'll tell you another thing:

I, too, searched for the string "sodom" in Cody's past comments. And you know what I found? He used that word in exactly two posts, both of them in response to your own provocation. He never used the word elsewhere. And he never used the word, even once, to describe a consensual act between two gay men.

(In my opinion there *is* a slight homophobic vibe in Cody's comments, but it has nothing to do with his general argument which is 100% sound)
___________________________________________________________________________
"Of all the stupid arguments on this site, this one is the most toxic and unreadable. There is not even any content being fought about, it's just a bunch of people trying to slap each other."
Elliott
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
"So congratulations! Booming, Trent, Elliott... you've managed to prove that Cody is a fallible human being. A person who (oh, the horror!!!!) is not aware of their own blind spots, and (oh, the double horror!!!!) gets defensive when being attacked."

Enough irony in that statement to plug all the plotholes in "Threshold."
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
And what irony is that?

Please, do tell.
Trent
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Omicron said: "At no point did he use the word "sodomize" to describe a consensual act between two consenting adults..."

It's like you guys are right on the verge of getting Booming's point. So close...right on the edge...almost touching it...almost...almost...when suddenly...

WE MUST PROTECT IMAGINARY CHARACTERS EXISTING IN PRIVATE MENTAL SPACES FROM GAY FANTASIES CREATED BY GAY IMAGINATIONS!

It's hilarious in a way. A guy asking a dude to tone down his pervy sex posts, and hounded by everyone for "unfairly policing their free speech!", deftly maneuvers everyone into demanding gay dudes get their fantasy objects to sign consent forms in their brains.


Omicron said: "So congratulations! Booming, Trent, Elliott... you've managed to prove that Cody is a fallible human being. A person who (oh, the horror!!!!) is not aware of their own blind spots, and (oh, the double horror!!!!) gets defensive when being attacked."

Nobody cares about Cody's aversion to gay fisting or Mikey's perviness, which are fine. The point is that everyone jumped on Booming for no reason. Because what applies to Booming applies to nobody else. Everything afforded to others - be it sympathy or leeway or everything you just typed in regards to Cody - is not afforded to Booming.

Poor, gentle Booming. Sweet, beautiful, wise, and well-hung Booming, doomed to routinely endure a scrutiny that, were it turned upon others, would expose them as lesser men.

We salute you Booming. With our fists. Up your butt. Namaste.
Booming
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 1:34am (UTC -5)
Sorry Omi I didn't read your posts. I just didn't want to. You can call it laziness if you want. It was already on the second page of the comment stream...
@Trent
Yeah, if guys like Elliot or Wolfstar have a sexual fantasy involving the bottomless pits of Robert Beltran than that implies an non consensual sex act. Duhhh

I guess my work here is done.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzetwTavfks&ab_channel=TvAddict
Thomas
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 3:29am (UTC -5)
Maybe it would be helpful - and I'm just trying to find territory both parties can agree upon here - to point out to Cody B that it is not unheard of for a straight person to consent to gay sex. Sexual identities are not set in stone. If I'm straight and I've consented to sex with a same-sex partner according to the legal requirements, I wouldn't be able to bring a civil or criminal action for rape in a US court just because I've defined myself as straight and have regrets about what I did.
Jason R.
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
"Poor, gentle Booming. Sweet, beautiful, wise, and well-hung Booming, doomed to routinely endure a scrutiny that, were it turned upon others, would expose them as lesser men.

We salute you Booming. With our fists. Up your butt. Namaste."

Tee heeee
Jaxon
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Considering Picard's intense interest in the Bajorans stated in the pilot, it's a little glaring that Picard wouldn't have detoured the Enterprise to partake in this Federation joining ceremony.

It's not like Picard hasn't done such a thing before, Starfleet's wishes be damned...he dropped everything for Galen's agenda in "The Chase", and that was a lot more than a brief one-off detour.

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