Buddhism, Star Trek, and Utopia

I’ll be honest. We spent the first half of this episode geeking out on Star Trek, talking about how this vision of a utopian future hinges on the civilizing influence of an alien culture and that the Federation, being created by humans, is actually less of a utopia and more of a homogenizing galactic empire. And it isn’t even until the last four minutes that we get around to actually defining the word “utopia.” But, really, we do talk about Buddhism (seriously!) by noting how, in analyzing the causes of suffering and offering a solution, Buddhism posits a kind of vision for a better world. So, this episode is basically all about the cultural and religious narratives that we go to for meaning and value in our lives. And, if not that, then…aliens. (Literally.)