Lenten Reflections on Battlestar Galactica

Wait, what? Seriously? What has BSG (new series) to do with Lent? Quite a lot I think. Read on.

The premise of “Battlestar Galactica” is the threatened extinction of the human race by human-created robots called Cylons. The humans in BSG have lost everything — their homes, families, and easy access to resources. They are on a permanent fast of sorts. Sometimes this fast becomes more apparent, in episodes that feature acute lack of food (food processing ship got contaminated) or water. The fleet of space ships then becomes very focussed on finding supplies of food or water or fuel. An early episode features an acute lack of rest. The Cylon fleet keeps finding and attacking the human fleet every 33 minutes. The humans fast from sleep in order to resist each new attack.

OK, you might say, there’s fasting in BSG. But fasting and Lent are not synonymous. Further, the fasts on BSG are not voluntary fasts, like lenten fasts. True. But there are elements to the BSG fasts that are voluntary. People decide to continue to work together under extraordinary circumstances to evade the cylons as they attempt to find a new planet to call home. Discipline and self-control are valued in the show. Also fasting in BSG leads to some interesting spiritual questions and reflections. Humans ask if the human race is really worth saving. Moral and spiritual arguments about the worth of humanity are often discussed. Cylons have their own spirituality. In an interesting twist, humans worship the many Gods of the Greek pantheon and cylons worship the One True God. Both humans and cylons have believers and non-believers among them, and this leads to some interesting discussions.

Fasting in Lent should sharpen our focus on God. It should send us to prayer. It should give us a longing for the resurrection. It should remind us what hope is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to watching BSG for more spiritual insights. It’s the beginning of season 4 — Jesus is about to show up.

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