Study Guide

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Spirituality


J'ONN: It is as if a weight has been lifted from my heart. How can I repay you for this miracle?

SYBOK: Join my quest.

Sybokism (that's our name for it, and we're sticking to it) spreads like wildfire across Nimbus III thanks to the evangelism of its namesake and creator. This is achieved, as we see here, by Sybok's focus on the individual experience.

SPOCK: He believed the key to self-knowledge was emotion, not logic. When he encouraged others to follow him, he was banished from Vulcan, never to return.

A key element of Vulcan society since ancient times is its reliance on logic and the suppression of emotion. But there are plenty of things that logic alone can't explain. It can't explain love. It can't explain passion. And it certainly can't explain spirituality. Sybok, despite his negative characteristics, understands this better than most.

SYBOK: Modern dogma tells us this place is a myth. A fantasy concocted by pagans. It is no fantasy, I tell you.

Sybok's big plan is to travel to the center of the galaxy and discover Sha Ka Ree, which is basically the Vulcan version of heaven. This pilgrimage will take him—and Enterprise—through the Great Barrier. No one's ever done that before and survived. Gulp.

SYBOK: Sha Ka Ree. The source. Heaven. Eden. Call it what you will. [...] Still every culture shares this common dream of a place from which creation sprang.

According to Sybok, every religion is true, in a sense, because each one refers back to the same fundamental set of truths. This isn't a crazy concept: mythologists like Joseph Campbell have long argued that human belief systems are more similar than they are different. Sybok simply gives this concept a science-fiction spin.

KIRK: What vision?

SYBOK: Given to me by God. He waits for us on the other side.

KIRK: You are mad.

We're inclined to agree. While Sybok's ideas are intriguing at times, it's hard to trust someone who starts a revolution and hijacks a starship based on a hallucination.

GOD: One voice, many faces.

[Representations of various deities float through the mass of blue energy before settling on the form of an old man with long, white hair and a beard.]

GOD: Does this better suit your expectations?

And here he is, folks, the Big Man himself. This is another way of conveying Sybok's earlier message that though each religion takes a unique perspective, they all refer back to the same thing. Of course, this exchange takes on an ironic bent—and perhaps even an ominous one—once the true identity of God is revealed.

KIRK: I said, what does God need with a starship?

MCCOY: Jim, what are you doing?

KIRK: I'm asking a question.

GOD: Who is this creature?

KIRK: Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?

Despite his colleagues' immediate belief in this supposed deity, good, old Captain Kirk has a few questions that need answers. Like, isn't God supposed to be omnipotent? All powerful? Endless and eternal, and all that junk? This guy doesn't seem to have any of these qualities.

[Kirk and Spock lie wounded after being struck by energy shot at them by God.]

GOD: Do you doubt me?

MCCOY: I doubt any god who inflicts pain for his own pleasure.

And here we were thinking that this fellow was a loving god—turns out he's all fire and brimstone. Either way, this is a bad look. Not only does his refusal to answer Kirk's questions make him seem suspicious, but his violent response makes him seem downright unpleasant.

SYBOK: Stop. The God of Sha Ka Ree would not do this.

GOD: Sha Ka Ree? A vision you created. An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place. The ship. I must have the ship. Now give me what I want.

And it all comes out: it's a lie. In actuality, God shot out a telepathic space beam to con some poor mark into performing an unknowing prison break for him. That mark, of course, was Sybok. Holy smokes. Literally. It's a pretty lame move, but we have to admire the dude for thinking up such a deliciously diabolical plan.

KIRK: Cosmic thoughts, gentlemen?

MCCOY: We were speculating. Is God really out there?

KIRK: Maybe he's not out there, Bones. Maybe he's right here in the human heart.

Okay, we're not going to lie—this is about as profound as a Hallmark card. But Kirk is a captain, not a quote-maker. Though it might sound hackneyed, we dig the idea that spirituality is a subjective, internal experience.

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