Science Fiction Can Inspire Hope

Dear Dr. Tom: When you look out at this troubled world, what (besides your immediate family and friends) makes you happy? For me, it’s music. I think God did not say, “Let there be light!” I think God sang those words in a vast, Universe-exploding, massive multipart harmony.—Do Luv Music, Salt Lake City, Utah

DEAR DO LUV: Wow. How do I top that? But I don’t need to up the ante because you asked what makes me happy, right? Your vision of the Big Bang reminds me of the opening burst of sound in the Star Wars movies, albeit on a much smaller scale. Composer John Williams isn’t God unfolding the cosmos, but the beauty of his music paints a background for something that makes me happy—good, traditional science fiction. It’s not silly creature-feature stuff—it’s magnificent space opera!

I look at science fiction as a declaration of hope: Humanity will survive its internship as a species and move out into the galaxy to interact with other sentient beings. Like humans, some of them will be good, others will follow the “dark side” of the forces in life. How will we get along in a multispecies cosmos, considering the degree of prejudice and rancor persisting among the human family, even in this second century of space flight? I devoted a chapter to this question in my book Glimpses of Truth (Theosis House, 2014).

I see the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises painting similar images of cooperation and conflict, with the better parts of humanity leading the struggle for justice and peace. Maybe that’s why I write science fiction as well as theology. Both potentially offer visions of a better world. [March/April 2016]

The Greatest Unity Gift

Dear Dr. Tom: What do you think the greatest Unity gift to humanity has been or will be?—Love Is the Answer, Los Angeles

DEAR L.A. LOVE: The unshakable faith that, despite appearances to the contrary, God is good, life is good, and all things are possible. [May/June 2017]

Conservative Attending a Unity Church

Dear Dr. Tom: I’m conservative in all but religion—I attend a Unity church. I often feel my views are dismissed as hopelessly narrow-minded, even fundamentalist. What can I do to feel more at home in Unity?—Old-Timer in Arizona

DEAR OT-IN-AZ: Be warm and friendly, avoid partisan politics, listen intently, and share your truth kindly as you see it. If Unity required everybody to agree on everything, I don’t think Charles Fillmore would have allowed Myrtle to join the movement. [July/August 2018]

What Is God?

Dear Dr. Tom: What would you say to a person who is seeking to know God? What is God?—W.K., Olathe, Kansas

DEAR W.K.: I would say, “Walk out under the dark sky on a moonless night and look up at the stars. If you can feel the Oneness of the cosmos, you have experienced God.” For years before I retired, I had a sign on my office wall at Unity Institute and Seminary that said, “One Presence/One Power—everything else is commentary.” [November/December 2018]

Called to Ministry?

Dear Dr. Tom: Did you feel a “call” to ministry? When did it happen?—Prospective Clergy, online submission

DEAR PROSPECT: I will probably get defrocked for saying this in public, but here goes. I wanted to be a minister since I was a kid. When I decided to move back to my Protestant roots during college in Idaho, I realized my old dream was still possible. I took a walk one snowy winter night in 1973 and found a park with tall trees. One of the conifer trees … uh … spoke to me? Not with words but with its deep roots and towering branches. That was my “call” to ministry. I still don’t understand, but here I am, half a century later. But you can make the decision without a “call” from God. Listen for your guidance. Trust your gifts. [September/October 2022]

This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.

About the Author

Rev. Thomas W. Shepherd, D.Min., former professor of theology and church history at Unity Institute® and Seminary, is the author of many Unity books. Send questions to [email protected].


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