Let’s boldly go into a brief blog post honoring this week’s 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” universe. Calling it a brand or franchise is correct but inadequate. Like the actual universe, “Star Trek” seems to keep on growing, spawning new creations and rekindling inspiration.
As the CBS news network reported online, “Star Trek” is sometimes mocked for having led young fans to adopt nerdy lives as cookie-cutter imitators of their favorite characters, repeating favorite lines and re-telling favorite stories. While this has happened in some instances, Gene Roddenberry’s brainchild sparked fresh thinking. It showed human diversity at work and encouraged people to pursue their own unique dreams with hope for the future. Phrases that motivated viewers “to boldly go” into the “final frontier” impacted people’s lives because they were memorable words that were lived out—in fiction and in fact.
So, as I have been developing a new web home playfully called OnWord, complementing and continuing my professional forays into the frontiers of writing and communication, I realized I should offer my own salute to “Star Trek.” I’m incorporating into my blog and my business this occasional theme, or meme: “Phrases on Stun.”
You’re hereby invited to join me in recalling, and awaiting always with new receptivity, key phrases and other well-crafted combinations of words that literally can become “words to live by.” I’m planning to honor—and, please God, to help create—verbal content that adds to the net quantity and quality of ideas, meaning, and purpose in this universe.
This is important. I fear the overflow of text and its permutations, so easily accessed online today, can lead to “information inflation.” This devaluation can rob content of meaning and nullify the power of good writing and communication to renew us, to surprise us. Remember, we celebrate this power to “stun” in a positive sense, and we reject the negative power of those words which are weaponized like phasers, used to capture attention only to destroy or demean or dismiss.
As my first proposal in this installment of “Phrases on Stun,” I offer the words of Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, from Luke 14: 25-33. You can read the whole passage, but here’s one taste of the Eternal Word’s unmatched ability to stun people and revitalize futures with his phrases: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This hard saying surely lived on in the minds and hearts of Jesus’s followers when they saw him suffer on his Good Friday journey. It jolted them even as it jolts us with tough love in our church pews today.
I would like to hear your candidates for “phrases on stun,” and I invite you to form the habit of listening for new stunners—and celebrating them whenever and wherever they jump out from today’s dull mainstream of words lacking passion or compassion.
To assure you that this exercise can be fun—not always as challenging or holy as today’s Scriptures imply—I return to the anniversary we’re celebrating this week. Captain Kirk’s son, David Marcus, reaffirms my purpose behind “Phrases on Stun” in this memorable father-son dialogue from the movie “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan,” as archived at the Memory Alpha website. David begins:
“You knew enough to tell Saavik that how we face death is at least as important as how we face life.”
“But good words! That’s where ideas begin. Maybe you should listen to them. I was wrong about you, and I’m sorry.”
“Is that what you came here to say?”
“Mainly. And also that I’m proud—very proud—to be your son.”