Star Trek and Sacred Ground

Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture

Edited by Jennifer E. Porter & Darcee L. McLaren

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Paperback : 9780791443347, 315 pages, December 1999
Hardcover : 9780791443330, 315 pages, November 1999

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Introduction: Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture
Jennifer E. Porter and Darcee L. McLaren

Part I—
Religion in Star Trek

2. From Thwarted Gods to Reclaimed Mystery? An Overview of the Depiction of Religion in Star Trek
Anne Mackenzie Pearson

3. Classic Star Trek and the Death of God: A Case Study of "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
Robert Asa

4. Religion and Science in Star Trek: The Next Generation : God, Q, and Evolutionary Eschatology on the Final Frontier
Gregory Peterson

5. Deeds of Power: Respect for Religion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Peter Linford

6. (Re)Covering Sacred Ground: New Age Spirituality in Star Trek: Voyager
Darcee L. McLaren and Jennifer E. Porter

Religious and Mythic Themes

7. Intimations of Immortality: Death/Life Mediations in Star Trek
Jon Wagner

8. Suffering, Sacrifice and Redemption: Biblical Imagery in Star Trek
Larry Kreitzer

9. The Outward Voyage and the Inward Search: Star Trek Motion Pictures and the Spiritual Quest
Ian Maher

10. Biblical Interpretation in the Star Trek Universe: Going Where Some Have Gone Before
Jeffrey Scott Lamp

Part III—
Religion and Ritual in Fandom

11. "Star Trek to Me Is a Way of Life": Fan Expressions of Star Trek Philosophy
Michael Jindra

12. On the Edge of Forever: Understanding the Star Trek Phenomenon as Myth
Darcee L. McLaren

13. To Boldly Go: Star Trek Convention Attendance as Pilgrimage
Jennifer E. Porter

TV Episodes and Movies Cited


List of Contributors


Offers a multidisciplinary examination of Star Trek, religion, and American culture.


Drawing on a number of methodologies and disciplinary perspectives, this book boldly goes where none has gone before by focusing on the interplay between Star Trek, religion, and American culture as revealed in the four different Trek television series, and the major motion pictures as well. Explored from a Trek perspective are the portrayal and treatment of religion; the religious and mythic elements; the ritual aspects of the fan following; and the relationship between religion and other issues of contemporary concern.

Divided into three sections, this detailed study of religion, myth, and ritual in the Star Trek context extends the boundaries of the traditional categories of religious studies, and explores the process of the (re)creation of culture. The first section explores the ways in which religion has primarily been understood in the Star Trek franchise in relationship to science, technology, scientism, and 'secular humanism. ' What do Star Trek and its creator Gene Roddenberry have to say about religion, and what does this reveal about changing American perceptions about the role, value, and place of religion in everyday life? Section Two examines the mythic power and appeal of Star Trek, and highlights the mythic and symbolic parallels between the series' story lines and themes taken from both western religious tradition and the scientific and technological components of contemporary North American Society. In the final section, contributors discuss the mythic and ritual aspects of Star Trek fandom. How have Star Trek fans found meaning and value in the television programs, and how do they express that meaning in their lives?

Contributors include Robert Asa, Michael Jindra, Larry Kreitzer, Jeffrey S. Lamp, Peter Linford, Ian Maher, Anne Pearson, Gregory Peterson, and Jon Wagner.

Jennifer E. Porter is Assistant Professor of Religion and Modern Culture at Memorial University, and Darcee L. McLaren is former Adjunct Professor at McMaster University.


"…a great start toward beginning to analyze the religious themes and motifs embedded in much of the media around us. " — RSiSS: Religious Studies in Secondary Schools

"Star Trek and Sacred Ground is marvelous. All of the articles are relevant, clear and rational. They 'interpret' this material diversely, courageously and with precise excellence. The judgments are relevant, the chapters skillfully ordered, and the essays fit together in building interpretations. The contributors succeed in bringing forth their positions individually and collectively. This book is simply brilliant, and more than interesting to read. " — Robert M. Garvin, State University of New York, Albany

"The subject of religion/myth/spirituality has long been a favorite of Trek scholars and fans; this book gives the subject the serious treatment it deserves. " — Elyce Rae Helford, editor of Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on "Star Trek"