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William Shatner, Captain Kirk, and Mike Pence: Together At Last

William Shatner at 90

William Shatner, Captain Kirk, and Mike Pence were joined together on October 13, 2021 at 8:00 PM ET in an unprecedented combination of science fiction and history. Shatner was shown on CNN with obvious Trekkie Anderson Cooper who has been having the time of his life. At the same time on the cable network Heroes and Icons, was showing Star Trek as part of its normal six-day a week schedule of:

8:00 Star Trek
9:00 Star Trek: Next Generation
10:00 Deep Space Nine
11:00 Voyager
12:00 Enterprise.

It’s not only Friends and Law and Order which are on all the time!

The Mike Pence reference is to the Star Trek episode being shown that night.


As is turns out, while William Shatner was boldly going where no 90-year old had gone before, he already had been old before. In the episode “The Deadly Years” shown on December 8, 1967, in the second season, the humans on a planet had experienced a rapid aging. When I say rapid, I mean rapid. People were growing old right before our eyes. Look at this picture of how the Hollywood make-up artists envisioned the old Captain Kirk.

Captain Kirk at 90

The entire episode is based on the aging officers of the Enterprise growing too old to fulfill their responsibilities.

The contrast between the actual actor at age 90 in 2021 and the aged character in the 1967 episode is truly remarkable. As you watched and listened to current version, you saw no one like the TV character. Of course, truth be told, in his physical mobility and mental necessities, he didn’t much resemble many people of his age today either. Imagine if back in 1967, he could have seen a picture of what he would really look like when he reached 90!


Shatner made an extremely casual comment in an interview with Cooper prior to the flight that is easy to overlook. He waxed poetic about his expectations of seeing the majesty of space and the oasis of earth from the rocket window. He would be like a kid with his face pressed against the window not wanting to miss a moment of the experience. Perhaps he was contrasting himself with people who never look up from their gadgets. Today, it’s only real if it is on a screen.

Then Shatner said, “I don’t want to see someone looking back at me” when I am looking out the window. Such an expression seems eminently reasonable. It would be quite shocking if when gazing out into the dark vastness of the universe, suddenly from outside the ship, there was someone looking back at you. While your faced was pressed against the window on one side, imagine the horror if someone or something also was pressed against the window but from the outside.

Nothing else was said about that comment during the interview. But Shatner the actor had had exactly that experience once before. It occurred not on Star Trek but on The Twilight Zone. The episode was “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” shown on October 11, 1963, four years prior to his becoming old before his time on Star Trek.  The episode has become one of the more famous ones in Twilight Zone lore. It even has been retold. Part of what is so fascinating now is to see the limitations in special effects compared to what exists today.

Another fascination is how the show becomes such a terrifying story. It was confined to the passenger section of a plane and the mind of a person recently released from a mental treatment facility following a nervous breakdown. Now he is seemingly recovered and being escorted home by his wife. All I can say about the episode, is that when I first saw it I was terrified. Kudos to Rod Sterling and company for crafting a tale that scared the hell out me. And the scariest moment of all [SPOLIER ALERT] occurred when William Shatner stared out the window on the wing of the plane and saw something staring back at him.

Once this Twilight Zone shot was terrifying

Kudos also to the 90-year old Shatner for joining together The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and his voyage into space.


The Mike Pence connection takes a little explaining. While Anderson Cooper was giggling, Heroes and Icon was showing the Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses” which originally aired on March 15, 1968. In that show, Captain Merik and his crew from his spaceship are missing. The Starship Enterprise crew locates the crew on a planet governed by a 1960s version of the Roman Empire. So if you channel surfed, you could flip back and forth between Shatner and Cooper and Captain Kirk and a Roman Caesar in an earthlike world of 1960s technology where Rome never fell.

Mike Pence has been no Captain Merik from Star Trek “Bread and Circuses.” Will he be a hero now? (William Smithers)

Does this missing Captain look familiar to you? Does he bear a passing resemblance to anyone today?

Back on October 3, 2019, more than one year before the 2020 election and January 6, I wrote a blog entitled “Will Mike Pence Become a Profile in Courage?” The issue then was the second impeachment due to the attempted extortion of the Ukrainian President.

On the planet, Captain Merik sells his soul to the Roman Emperor, to Caesar and not to Christ. It is not an exact match to V.P. Mike selling his soul to his Lord and Savior, the chosen one, blessed be his name, but it is close enough.  Pence’s performance in the Cabinet meeting where he thanked God for enabling him to share the same space-time continuum as The Donald will forever define him. In its own way, it is even more pathetic than Captain Merik’s abject submission in the TV show.

 Be that as it may, both Mike and Merik have violated their oath. Merik has violated the Prime Directive by interfering in the planet and sharing knowledge of the existence of the Federation of Planets along with the awareness of a superior technology to that a 1960s country possessed. Vice President Brown Nose has been submissive in his behavior but whether he has crossed the line or not is another issue…until the current scandal

Now he faces a moment of truth. He was present during the violation of the Constitution and the cover-up. What will he do? He was part of it. Will he tell the truth? He has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.

In the Star Trek episode, Merik redeems himself. In the moment of truth, Merik rescues Kirk and Co. enabling them to beam back to the Starship Enterprise and escape the clutches of the imperial order. He pays for that decision with his life. Sometimes being a profile in courage can be fatal. Just because you demonstrate the right stuff to go into the arena does not mean you will survive the ordeal and emerge a victor. In the TV show, Merik did not.

What will Mike Pence do? He prides himself on his Christian values. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on never dining alone with a woman who is not his wife. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on his integrity. Will he tell the truth? He thinks he is part of God’s plan. Will he tell the truth?


He will not rise to the occasion.

He will not be a profile in courage.

I returned to this issue in blog from January 7, 2021, the day after the attempt to steal the election, overthrow the Constitution, and attempt to hang Mike Pence. I concluded that blog with the wishful thinking that “The country needs him to be the hero and not a zero” and hope that he would be one. True he did not go along with the 6-step program insisted on by the Hitman, but that is not enough. His last chance to be a profile in courage will occur when he is subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee about his involvement in January 6. The odds are Pence will remain true to character and fail his country once again.

Covenant to Lady Liberty: An Idea and Political Identity

Moses and the Covenant (

There is more to Moses than Charlton Heston. Ignore the theology. Ignore the special effects. Ignore Cecil B. DeMille. Instead focus on the political. Focus on the fact that when Israel emerged in history it did not have a king, it did not have a temple, it did not have a capital city. It was not a nomadic people. Yet somehow people still were able to identify themselves as Israel. What the people did have that no one else had was a covenant. While not exactly a Constitution, it did serve to define the people. Whereas our defining document begins with WE THE PEOPLE, Israel’s began with “Yahweh thy God took thee out of the land of Egypt (Ex. 20:2).

Pharaoh Merneptah (1212-1202 BCE), the son and successor to Ramses II, claimed to have destroyed the seed of Israel. When the Merneptah Stele was discovered in 1896 with these words, it caused quite a stir as you might imagine.

Merneptah Stele, Cairo Museum (Wikipedia)

Merneptah used an indentifier with the word “Israel” to indicate that Israel was a not a settled people as were the people of the Canaanites cities that Egypt had ruled for centuries. But they were not nomads in the land of Canaan either. So what were they?

Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of small unwalled settlements in the land of Canaan that date to this time. They are considered to be Israelite because realistically speaking who else could they be? Merneptah knew there was a people Israel there and they knew they were not a city-based people. So how did they maintain their identity?

The answer is the covenant renewal ceremony. They were united by an idea. Israel was not a people based on geography. It was not a people based on race. It was not a people based on ethnicity. It was a people based on an idea expressed in the covenant and later physically expressed in the Ark of the Covenant. Periodically, the people met (or at least the elders did) to renew that sense of identity. At first Israel did so at Mount Ebal as instructed by Moses (Deut. 11:29, 27:4, 13) and done by Joshua (Josh, 8:30-35). Archaeologists have discovered the altar used in the ceremonies but the consequences of admitting it are too much to accept.

The Altar at Mount Ebal (Biblical Archaeology Society)

After Mount Ebal, the covenant renewal ceremony relocated to Shiloh. Shiloh also served as a place for men to bring the unmarried women in their family to find mates (Judg. 21:19-23) much like the camp meetings in the early 1800s in the United States. The ark remained at Shiloh until it was captured by the Philistines.

Shiloh and the Capture of the Ark of the Covenant (Biblical Archaeology Society)

When David became king of all Israel, he continued this tradition of defining the people based on an idea. He brought the ark to Jerusalem, his new capital. Jerusalem, unlike with the founding of Washington, DC, had been enemy territory for centuries. Based on the archaeological record, Jerusalem had been a good vassal of Egypt during the more than three centuries of Egyptian rule in the land of Canaan.

Diplomatic Correspondence between Vassal Jerusalem and Egypt (Amarna Letters)

It is reasonable to conclude that Jerusalem like other vassal cities would have joined with Pharaoh Merneptah against the newcomer Israel. And according to the biblical account, Jerusalem organized a coalition against Israel (Josh. 10:1-5). In the biblical accounts of this time period, Jerusalem definitely is not part of Israel (Judg. 1:7-8, 21; 19:11-12).

Yet David makes the enemy city his capital. He installs the ark there (II Samuel 6). He buys land there from most likely the Jebusite king of the city and the Temple of Solomon would be built there (II Sam. 24:16-25; I Chr. 24:15-30; II Chr. 3:1). He does not massacre the Jebusite inhabitants of the city. Instead he welcomes them into his kingdom, his government, his family. Consider the words of Rahab the Canaanite, the female figure used to symbolize the Canaanite people who are now under the rule of David, King of Israel.

Joshua 2:10 For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

Note that the Canaanites have heard what Yahweh has done. By contrast, the Israelites had seen what Yahweh had done.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of Yahwweh, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.

In this contrast between those who saw and those who heard, one may recognize the difference between the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and the naturalized Americans who have no biological link to the Patriot cause. It is precisely this distinction and inclusion that Lincoln will replicate at Gettysburg (see below).

Before Lincoln did do that, four score and seven years earlier, the Founding Fathers had to first create the United States of America based on an idea. To understand what they accomplished it is necessary to put aside our racial classification system. Based on the standards of the time, they were trying to create “WE THE PEOPLE” out of a disparate amalgamation of peoples. There were English of various types, Scotch Irish, Irish Catholic, Dutch, Palatine Germans, Sephardic Jews, and French Huguenots among other peoples. There was no precedent for combining such a diversity into a non-imperial republic. Certainly no political entity was organized on such a basis in Euope. The idea of constituting themselves as a people was farfetched to say the least. They knew it was an experiment. They knew it might not work. They probably would be shocked by the idea of a pending 250th anniversary for such a political entity.

Lincoln at Gettysburg continued this definition of the political entity based on an idea. When he said “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers,” he knew that not everyone in his audience was a son or daughter of the American Revolution. But just as David included in the political kingdom of Israel people who had not been part of the people of Israel that Merneptah had claimed to have destroyed two centuries earlier, so Lincoln linked all the Americans of his present to the events 76 years earlier. If you stood for the Union now, you were one with those who had created the Union then.

This idea took a giant leap forward for humanity with Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise. His hero was Lincoln so I presume Lincoln was a hero to Gene Roddenberry as well. Earth like the 13 states was part of a Federation. Beings of different races were joined together in a single entity. The precise details of how the Federation of Planets operated are not the issue here. What is the issue is the concept of beings becoming one without abandoning their individuality as with the Borg or in Mainland China. In this regard, Federation with its Prime Directive and other defining principles is another step on a journey that began millennia earlier when a mixed multitude entered into a covenant. They are united not by geography, not by race, not by ethnicity, but by an idea.

It’s all one story. Moses in the wilderness with the covenant, David at Zion with the Ark of the Covenant, the Founding Fathers with the Constitution, Lincoln with the Gettysburg Address,  Kirk on the Enterprise are all part of a single story. As the Ark of the Covenant once was the physical expression of the covenant idea that defined Israel, so the Statue of Liberty is the physical expression of the idea that defines the United States. Both for the people who come here and those in Hong Kong, Russia, and elsewhere, the Statue of Liberty is the global symbol for people who want to be free. So which Charlton Heston ending will America choose? The Charlton Heston of The Ten Commandments who ends the movie with the words of the Liberty Bell to proclaim liberty throughout the land (Lev. 25:10) or the Charlton Heston of Planet of Apes overwhelmed by the sight of the Statue of Liberty buried in the sands?

Planet of the Apes (YouTube)