June 9, 2008

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: One Holy Klingon and Apostolic Church

Maybe it’s just me, but I can see on cursory inspection several similarities between the Roman Catholic Church and the religion created for the imaginary, fictional aliens called the “Klingons”:
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Catholics: THE BIBLE: As in all Christian Churches, the Bible is the source of doctrine and provides a “roadmap” to following the tenets of Christianity. As well, it offers a history of events that led up to the establishment of both Judaism and Christianity as well as commentary on those events, stories of the heroes and heroines of the faith and expectations of what is to come.

Klingons: PAQ’BATLH: The Paq'batlh is a large series of ancient Klingon scrolls and religious texts, that, among other things, passes on the stories of Kahless. Along the side of the scrolls are icons of the Klingon culture, such as bat'leths, d'k tahgs, and the emblem of the Empire. Among the scrolls in the paq'batlh are Klavek's tomes. The Eleventh Tome of Klavek describes how Kahless came back from the afterlife, and had kept a scar to show that what he'd experienced was real, so that he may save the soul of his brother. (VOY: "Barge of the Dead")
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Catholics: CREATION: God created the Heavens and the Earth and gave them and all that was in them to Adam and Eve with a single exception – they couldn’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve did so anyway, earned the punishment for disobedience: being cast out of God’s presence. (See Genesis 2:1-3:24)

Klingons: CREATION: "With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out, 'On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.' But then the Klingon heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered and the gods said, 'Why do you weaken so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation.' And the heart said... 'I am alone.' And the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart. But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power. Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom. 'If we join together, no force can stop us.' And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a terrible sound. For the first time, the gods knew fear. They tried to flee, but it was too late. The Klingon hearts destroyed the gods who created them and turned the heavens to ashes. To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts."
A version of this creation myth is told during the traditional Klingon wedding ceremony:
DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited")
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Catholics: ANGELS/FALLEN ANGELS: St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel': from what they are, ‘spirit,' from what they do, ‘angel.' With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word." As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment. (Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9) For more information, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 328 and following:
http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt1art1p5.htm

Klingons: FALLEN ANGELS: In Klingon mythology, the kos'karii are pale, serpent-like creatures which inhabit the blood-red waters crossed by the Barge of the Dead on its way to Gre'thor. They attempt to lure dishonored souls to them with voices of friends and loved ones, and then drag them into the water. (VOY: "Barge of the Dead") ___________________________________________

Catholics: UNIQUENESS OF THE CHURCH: Belief that the Church is the vessel and deposit of the fullness of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles from which the Scriptures were formed. This teaching is preserved in both written
scripture and in unwritten tradition, neither being independent of the other.

Klingons: UNIQUENESS OF THE KLINGON PEOPLE: “Early in the 23rd Century…the Klingons trumpeted their superiority over the physically inferior and comparatively docile humans…”
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Catholics: JESUS the CHRIST: Belief that Jesus Christ is Divine, a doctrine officially clarified in the First Council of Nicea and expressed in the Nicene Creed.

Klingons: KAHLESS: Kahless awaits all Klingons in
Sto-vo-kor: the life, which lies beyond this life. His teachings of honor and tradition form the basis of modern Klingon philosophy and culture. Kahless is still worshipped as a divine figure by the Klingons. (VOY: "Day of Honor")
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Catholic: THE SECOND COMING: Few truths are more often or more clearly proclaimed in Scripture than that of the general judgment. To it the prophets of the Old Testament refer when they speak of the "Day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31; Ezekiel 13:5; Isaiah 2:12), in which the nations will be summoned to judgment. In the New Testament the second Parusia, or coming of Christ as Judge of the world, is an oft-repeated doctrine. The Saviour Himself not only foretells the event but graphically portrays its circumstances (Matthew 24:27 sqq.; 25:31 sqq.). The Apostles give a most prominent place to this doctrine in their preaching (Acts 10:42; 17:31) and writings (Romans 2:5-16; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 5:7). Besides the name Parusia (parousia), or Advent (1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:19), the Second Coming is also called Epiphany, epiphaneia, or Appearance (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13), and Apocalypse (apokalypsis), or Revelation (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Peter 4:13). The time of the Second Coming is spoken of as "that Day" (2 Timothy 4:8), "the day of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), "the day of Christ" (Philemon 1:6), "the day of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:30), "the last day" (John 6:39-40).

Klingon: THE SECOND COMING: Upon his death, Kahless promised he would return one day and lead the Empire again. Since his death, it is said that Kahless awaits all Klingons in
Sto-vo-kor: the life, which lies beyond this life. His teachings of honor and tradition form the basis of modern Klingon philosophy and culture. Kahless is still worshipped as a divine figure by the Klingons. (VOY: "Day of Honor") Kahless later invented the forms of what would become the Mok'bara when he went to the Underworld in search of his father. Kahless showed him the forms, and his father was able to remember his body and return to the world of the living. (TNG: "Birthright, Part II") When Kahless united the people and gave them the laws of honor, he saw that his work was done. So one night he gathered his belongings and went to the edge of the city to say good-bye. The people wept, they did not want him to go. And Kahless said, "You are Klingons. You need no one but yourselves. I will go now, to Sto-Vo-Kor. But I promise one day I will return." Then Kahless pointed to a star in the sky and said, "Look for me there, on that point of light." (TNG: "Rightful Heir") The story of "The Promise" indicated that Kahless was to reappear in the lava caves on the planet of Boreth. The Followers of Kahless, or "Guardians", waited there for his return. To Klingons, there was no more sacred place. For over 1,500 years, Klingons came to Boreth to ask questions. According to the Clerics, the only way a Klingon warrior could find the answers they sought was to: "Open your heart to Kahless, ask him your questions, let him speak to you with your mind unclouded by doubt or hesitation. Only then can you find what you are looking for." (TNG: "Rightful Heir")
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Catholics: PURGATORY: Pope John Paul II used his Wednesday general audience during the period of late 1999-JUL to early
1999-AUG to discuss topics related to life after death. He had described heaven and hell; at his AUG-4 audience, he described Purgatory. He affirmed Roman Catholic theology that: "Before we enter into God's Kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our soul must be corrected. This is exactly what takes place in purgatory." But he continued by stating that Purgatory "does not indicate a place but a condition of life. Those who, after death, live in this state of purification are already immersed in the love of Christ which lifts them out of the residue of imperfection." Like Hell, Purgatory is not a physical place. He urged Christians to pray and do good works on behalf of those in purgatory, so that the latter will be released earlier than they would otherwise be.

Klingons: PURGATORY: Sto-vo-kor is, in
Klingon mythology, the afterlife for the honored dead, where all true warriors go after they die to fight an eternal battle against great enemies. The halls of Sto-vo-kor were said to be guarded by Kahless the Unforgettable. A Klingon can enter Sto-vo-kor by dying in battle or while performing a heroic deed. In addition, they may enter Sto-vo-kor by allowing themselves to be killed by another Klingon. (DS9: "Children of Time"). Alternatively, the relatives of the deceased can also perform such a deed in the name of the fallen to ensure their arrival in the halls. In 2375, Worf destroyed the Monac shipyards in the name of Jadzia Dax, in order to gain her entry into Sto-vo-kor. (DS9: "Image in the Sand", "Shadows and Symbols")
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SOURCES OF RESEARCH

http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/features/documentaries/article/1614.html
http://startrek.wikia.com/wiki/Paq'batlh
http://www.klingon.org/smboard/index.php/board,37.0.html
http://www.sub-space-9.com/ie/kfile02.html
http://www.religioustolerance.org/purgatory1.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic

5 comments:

Kosmo said...

Fascinating stuff, Guy!

Paul said...

Hmm, I don't know. There are certainly some parallels between Klingon religion and a general sort of Christianity, but I don't see a lot that's distinctively Catholic. The Purgatory section sort of gets there, but there doesn't seem to be an actual Purgatory for Klingons--just a way for someone to act as a proxy in order to get someone else into Sto-vo-kor. (Although, it's interesting that you bring up Worf's actions on behalf of Jadzia--apparently Klingon salvation isn't confined to just Klingons.)

Is there anyone in Klingon theology who might be a parallel to Mary? Is there a well-defined and old hierarchy of Klingon clergy, culminating in someone like a Pope? These are a couple of particularly Catholic characteristics I'd look for.

Guy Stewart said...

There isn't much WRITTEN about Klingon Religion. I made the connections that I could with the stuff I could find.

Anonymous said...

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sincerely,
anonymous
p.s. interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

Jeronimo stilton.