Jim Davila drew attention to an article in The Times of Israel, highlighting some fascinating details in the new book The Fifty-Year Mission: The First Twenty-Five Years. The part of the article that really grabbed me begins with a quote from Richard Colla:
“By the time they got into the alien’s presence, it manifested itself and said, ‘Do you know me?’ Kirk said, ‘No, I don’t know who you are.’ It said, ‘Strange, how could you not know who I am?’ So it shift-changed and became another image and said, ‘Do you know me?’ Kirk said, ‘No, who are you?’ It said, ‘Strange, how could you not know who I am?’ So it shift-changed and came up in the form of Christ the carpenter, and says, ‘Do you know me?’ and Kirk says, ‘Oh, now I know who you are.’”
The “oral history” makes clear that for Roddenberry, the meeting with an alien claiming to be Jesus was a critique of the Christian view of the historical Jesus and a gentle jab at Christian theology.
“Actually, it wasn’t God they were meeting, but someone who had been born here on Earth before, claiming to be God,” Roddenberry is quoted as saying. “I was going to say that this false thing claiming to be God had screwed up man’s concept of the real infinity and beauty of what God is. Paramount was reluctant to put that up on the screen, and I can understand that position.”
“It probably would have brought Star Trek down, because the Christian Right, even though it wasn’t then what it is now, would have just destroyed it,” said Jon Povill, an associate producer of the feature that Paramount finally made in 1979, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
Click through for more of the article, and/or go to Amazon to buy the book. See also my chapter in The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy. UPDATE: See now IO9’s piece on the story.