The King’s College President Dr. Gregory Alan Thornbury and Parent’s Leadership Council member Ned Bustard recently celebrated the release of their co-edited volume, Bigger on the Inside: Christianity and Doctor Who, a collection of essays exploring religious themes in the popular BBC television series. The collection, published by Square Halo Books, released on Thursday, March 26, with a launch party in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Thornbury delivered a lecture based on the essay he wrote for the book, which explored God the Father.
Doctor Who, one of the longest-running television programs in history, tells the story of the mysterious alien Doctor who can travel through time and space by using his remarkable vehicle, the TARDIS. The character has become a cultural icon, particularly following the show’s reboot in 2005, when it drew in many younger viewers and sparked a renewed interest in the series. Intrinsically, the program contains many interesting religious themes, as the character of The Doctor is almost godlike at times, acting as a heroic supernatural force that intercedes in human (and alien) affairs.
Bigger on the Inside includes essays by Thornbury, Bustard (graphic designer and father of King’s student Carey Bustard, who currently serves as the president of the house of Sojourner Truth), J. Mark Bertrand (an author of mystery novels), David Talk (a pastor from England), and Sarah Etter (a 13-year-old homeschooler), among many others. This wide variety of authors allows the book to explore a broad range of topics from a multitude of perspectives.
Each essay takes an episode—or several—from Doctor Who and draws out theological concepts and comparisons that lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of both the show and the Christian faith. In talking about the concept for the book, Bustard pointed to a quote from Doctor Who producer/director Larry Betts, who said, “I think it’s inevitable, because of Britain’s cultural heritage, that a long-running program about the fight between good and evil will have some Christian themes.” Mining new and old episodes of a show that has been on the air since 1963, the authors are able to explore these themes at length throughout their essays.
During the sold-out release party for the book at the Square Halo Gallery in Lancaster, Thornbury and Bustard hosted a Q & A session about the making of the book and Doctor Who in general. They also hosted a book signing and photo shoot with several of the other contributors, as well as awarding prizes to those who came in the best Doctor Who-themed costumes.
Thornbury’s enthusiasm for Doctor Who is no secret—the president makes frequent references to the show, can be seen carrying a sonic screwdriver around, and has even hosted viewings of episodes for King’s students. Bustard is also passionate about the show, and this book has given them the opportunity to explore both theology and Doctor Who at the same time. The topics include subjects like prayer, scripture, baptism, and time, all examined within the context of the story of the time-and-space-travelling Doctor. Fans of the show (as well as those who want to know more about it) will find this book informative—and fantastic.