Saturday, September 29, 2012

Guest Post: A Town Called Mercy

     Welcome to Doctor Who Saturday! It was going to be Friday, but I started too late and it took too long to write!
     Now let's get down to business and talk about "A Town Called Mercy."
     I'm one of those Whovians that has a go-plan set for just in case the Doctor ever comes for me. I re-pin (to clarify for the men: "re-pin" is like retweeting for Pinterest) all of the pins about the show. I follow fan blogs and read spoilers and... yeah. Suffice it to say that I love the show and the characters. I adore the Doctor and like to think that I have his characteristics all figured out.
     One of the things that I adore about the Doctor is his tendency to show mercy to those who most would deem undeserving. It's so lovely and wonderful, as compassion is a desirable characteristic in anyone. Because we see it so often, it's easy to assume that it's ingrained in him. The Doctor must be innately merciful.
     Yet in the episode named "A Town Called Mercy," he proves that impression wrong. When faced with a mad military scientist who turns his victims into monstrous cyborgs, the Doctor's mercy falls short. He shoves the man to the brink of death and turns away. Acting as his conscience, the lovely Amelia Pond immediately calls him out. The following conversation ensues:


The Doctor: We could end this right now. We could save everyone right now!
Amy: This is not how we roll, and you know it. What's happened to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?
The Doctor: Jex has to answer for his crimes.
Amy: And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?
The Doctor: But they keep coming back, don't you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well not today. No, today I honor the victims first. His, The Master's, the Daleks'. All the people that died because of my mercy!
Amy: See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. 
      Wait a second... right there at the end of her knocking sense into him with her rhetoric and a gun. See it? "This is what happens when you travel alone for too long." That sounds familiar. Probably because we often see the Doctor slipping into a darker, harsher version of himself when he travels without companions for too long. The TARDIS wikia explains that the companions (such as Amy and her husband Rory, or previous companions such as Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, or Donna Noble) are the Doctor's closest friends, and one of their primary functions is to provide him with a perspective that prevents him from abusing his Time Lord powers.
     We've seen companions on multiple occasions bring him back to reality, reminding him to show compassion to those who may not warrant it. They bring him balance; along with the fun and enjoyment they share, they keep the Doctor sane. They keep him from going so far into justice that grace is forgotten.
     Hmm... friends who keep someone accountable? This still seems familiar. Oh, I know why! Probably because it's exactly what we're taught in scripture. The sentiment occurs over and over- we're created for companionship, especially that which gives us wise counsel.
     Look at Proverbs 27:17- "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."
     Or Proverbs 11:14- "Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety."
     Proverbs 17:17- "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."
     And my favorite, Proverbs 27:9- "The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."
     It's so clear that we, just like the Doctor, benefit greatly from having companionship. From the beginning, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and created for him a mate. As the stories flowed through history and through the pages of the Bible, friendship reigned: David and Jonathan, Naomi and Ruth, Jesus and Lazarus. For that matter, Jesus and all of his disciples- especially with Peter, James, and John. Jesus himself demonstrated friendship to the fullest extent, in John 15:13- "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
     But friendship is hard. I think it's simpler, at times, to avoid it. As humans, we are almost guaranteed to hurt each other. We say the wrong things and poke too much fun and ignore one another. And to protect our own hearts, we place walls that block intimacy. We lie when asked how we're doing. We smile when we're broken. We don't confess our sins and struggles. And true, Godly friendship is not attained because we can't let go of the fear of being betrayed.
     But we need it. We need an Amy Pond to tell us when we've clearly been taking stupid lessons. We need guidance and counsel. Although times of solitude are needed and welcomed, spending too much time without counsel makes us weak and unwise. How lovely that God provides it for us, if only we open our eyes and hearts.
     It's summed up so beautifully and clearly in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12- "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

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