What Doctor Who’s David Tennant and His Father Taught Me About Christianity

Last month, the renowned Scottish actor lost his father and role model, The Very Reverend Sandy Mc Donald, after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. As Tennant mourns his father’s passing, I can’t help but reflect on their special relationship as father and son as evidenced at Britain’s 2015 National Television Awards.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’m a geek, especially when it comes to Star Anything or Doctor Who. My geekdom began early, devouring comic books from the rack in my granddaddy’s general store. It carried throughout my childhood, whether in a blue box or a star ship. I confess it still travels with me into my sixth decade

Never fear. I didn’t just watch fantasy shows or read comics all those years. I read (both pronunciations) everything I could get my hands on, from the back of the cereal box to Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.

But by far, the most important book I read (both pronunciations again) is the Bible. Some of you may stop reading right here. Please don’t. Stick with me awhile longer. You may be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the Tenth Doctor?

Tennant’s most famous role may always be his incarnation of The Doctor on the iconic BBC production first televised over fifty years ago. But his range as an actor enables him to excel on stage and screen, playing roles as diverse as Hamlet, a beleaguered detective, or a pauper. It was no surprise to anyone but Tennant himself when he was called to the stage for the Special Recognition Award during Britain’s National Television Awards in 2015.

Tennant’s Broadchurch co-star, Olivia Coleman, noted “… his complete lack of ego.” That’s high praise for anyone, especially an acclaimed actor. Throughout the presentation, his stunned expression and not a few genuine tears were a picture of humility, especially when his father surprised him during a secretly prepared film tribute.

The Very Reverend Sandy McDonald, a minister and Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said this of his son:

“He may not like me saying this, but he’s gentle. And that comes through in so many of the things he does… He does love people. And that’s a great gift. In this day and age, to love people makes the world a better place. And I think David, in all that he does, makes the world a better place. But then, as you must realize, I’m his dad!”

The love and respect between the father and his son was evident. It’s no wonder Tennant dedicated his award to his dad. “He’s an inspiration and a role model,” Tennant said. “Thank you, Sandy.” Like father, like son. Love. Respect. A “complete lack of ego.”

Tennant’s father spent his life as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The very Son of God walked among us with a love and gentleness astonishing to everyone from great rulers, lowly fishermen, and despised tax collectors. The King of Kings showed a complete lack of ego that drew everyone to him but those filled with their own pride and importance.

Jesus came to draw people to himself and to his Father, our heavenly Father. He taught his disciples to do the same. Then they, without a thought for themselves, went out and changed all of time and space forever.

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