‘All Souls’, 5x17
Essentially, Donaldson pushes The X-Files and the Gospel message into conversation, where each is allowed to illuminate the other. She arranges her thoughts around the themes of faith, hope, love and truth, but also tackles why we believe, or seek to believe, in anything at all. The final chapter takes important moments from the career of Jesus – e.g. his birth, his baptism, his prayers in Gethsemane, and so on – and analyses them by showing how these moments have echoes in the lives of many X-Files characters. Ultimately, The X-Files shows the importance of truth and integrity, and even the search for these, in our lives; as Donaldson argues, ‘the truths illuminated by the far-reaching tales of The X-Files are really the truths of what it means to live in this world.’ (p. 223).
Mulder and Jesus were pushed too often. And personally, I would like to have seen Agents Doggett and Reyes mentioned more (the vibe of the show definitely changed when these were introduced, but I don’t think it was necessarily for the worse), though I certainly understand the need to focus on Mulder and Scully. All this noted, I am very pleased that Donaldson’s expert commentary on various episodes successfully moves past annoying ‘look, here’s a religious or Christian allusion’ statements. We Want to Believe is an extremely insightful book and, I would say, a near-perfect model of a text that takes seriously the dialogue between faith and culture.
As might be expected, I suspect that reading We Want to Believe will be more rewarding if the reader is familiar with The X-Files. But I suspect equally that it will be those who are familiar with The X-Files who will read it. Regardless, I have no problems commending We Want to Believe as a fine volume. Now someone needs to write a similar book on Lost!