I love writing these Doctor Who reviews. Here’s a piece from my upoming review, which you can find over at Reel World Theology sometime this month. Follow me on Twitter @Laura_Fissel, or Reel World Theology @ReelWorldTheo to make sure you catch the whole thing when it’s released! BE WARNED: SPOILERS GALORE.
CHILD [OC]: Mummy? Mummy? Please let me in, mummy. Please let me in, mummy.
(A little hand comes through the letter box.)
DOCTOR: Are you all right?
CHILD [OC]: Please let me in.
(Nancy throws something that breaks, and the hand withdraws.)
NANCY: You mustn’t let him touch you!
DOCTOR: What happens if he touches me?
NANCY: He’ll make you like him.
DOCTOR: And what’s he like?
NANCY: I’ve got to go.
DOCTOR: Nancy, what’s he like?
NANCY: He’s empty.
This is the fulcrum of the story. Our “big bad” here (Whedon reference: check) is this child, once a little boy named Jamie. Nancy warns the Doctor that though the boy looks alive, he is actually a hollow, dangerous thing that can pass his condition to others by touch. Throughout the episode, we watch as this “empty child” searches for his origin (“are you my mummy?”). Each time he instinctively reaches out to connect, he only manages to spread his emptiness. The Doctor discovers a whole hospital full of people to whom this has happened. They all bear the same head-trauma, scar on their hand, and gas mask that is not covering their face as much as it has become their face. They are an extension of “Jamie,” who unwittingly controls them all.
What better setting to explore real-world brokeness than WWII-era London, at the height of the London Blitz? The city is dark and dust-covered. Sirens are wailing, warning people to get to bomb shelters. The troubled Nancy is surrounded by starving kids. The four-year-old Jamie, now our “empty child,” was killed. Even as Moffat takes us into a fictional story about aliens and time travel, the historical setting presents the undeniable reality that mankind’s brokenness has catastrophic consequences.
I had no idea what to expect from this NPR podcast when my sister recommended it to me. It’s such a unique blend of storytelling, psychology, history, and science that in some ways, it defies description. Hosts Elix Spiegel and Lulu Miller take a crack at it this way: “Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas,
beliefs, assumptions and emotions.”
Once I started listening to Invisibilia,
I could quite literally not stop. I invented reasons to go driving or to clean (my designated podcast-listening times). My house is now spotless.
It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I’ve already lost count of the times I’ve brought into a conversation some story or insight I learned from one of these episodes. I carrying them with me, and see their influence on my life in ways I did not anticipate. Conjuring courage in a scary situation, recognizing the power of my thoughts, being conscious of my expectations of others: I often find a connection between these things and the stories I have heard through Invisibilia.
That is this podcast’s source of power: stories. True, visceral, honest, personal, human stories. Human behavior may be the mind of each episode, but the people sharing their real life experiences are the program’s pulsating heart.
Spiegel and Miller are fantastic hosts. They are enthusiastic, full of life, and unabashedly curious. After crafting thoughtful environments for each episode, they have the humility (and the great sense) to get out of the story’s way.
Pictured: Chester Cathedral in Chester, Cheshire England, UK. Image retrieved from here.
I heard “Sanctus Dominus” by Margaret Rizza through the Pray as You Go podcast that I often listen to as a morning mediation. I was doing my dishes with headphones in when the Friday, November 21st episode began. A few seconds into the “Sanctus,” I had to physically stop what I was doing. I took my coffee over to the glass door overlooking my deck, paused, and listened. And then listened again. And again. I have listened to it almost every day since then.
I shared it with a friend of mine who described her experience as being “transported,” and likened the song to a sunrise. That is the perfect analogy: The song begins as a quiet, steady hum. Progressing, it crescendos while adding layers of complexity–the way colors begin to ripen as the sun climbs higher in the sky. By the end of the piece, it reaches its own kind of zenith: emotionally, spiritually, physically, causing the listener to “look up.”
If you want to hear it in its entirety, follow the link provided to the Pray as You Go episode for November 21st. It plays from 1.36-4.43.