O.K., it's already two weeks since the latest Star Wars came out. Many blogs I follow had observations on this event the day after it was released. Surely, Yoda would admonish me thusly: "Late to the party, are you." Hopefully, you'll forgive me for covering something that's two weeks in the distant past. If not, you may have real difficulty when I tie in events from over 2005 years ago....
I went to the movie with my 10 year-old son. I'm one of the many fathers who got to introduce this younger generation to the Star Wars saga when the series resumed with The Phantom Menace. The big difference for me, as a viewer, was that I now see with a brand new set of eyes. So, viewing Revenge of the Sith opened up a whole new dimension of spiritual connotations that I didn't focus on too much while enjoying the first 5 Star Wars movies.
Of course, Star Wars is just a fantasy movie, so perhaps an examination of it's spiritual components is not called for. I did, in fact, remind myself to just enjoy the film - especially since it was quality time with my son. I deliberately forced myself to "watch and enjoy now - analyse later." Even still, driving home from the movie, I couldn't help but offer a couple observations from the Christian perspective to my son. Thank God, it actually turned out to be a good (if brief) conversation.
So why should I bring this issue in to this blog? Yes, it is just a movie. BUT...an article by John Sweeney titled Jedi “Religion” Sees Dramatic Growth (we’re not kidding) reports that an increasing number of folks see Star Wars as much more than just a fantasy film.
At risk of posting yet another long post, I'd like to offer some comparisons/contrast between the Jedi "religion," and the way of the one true God of Christianity. First, the similarities:
- Both have a "dark lord" who uses lies to entice people to evil. Interestingly, both involve lies concerning death. In Christianity, it was Satan who suggested to Eve that, contrary to what God had told her, she would NOT SURELY die if she ate the forbidden fruit. In Star Wars, Palpatine suggests to Anakin that the dark side has knowledge of how to cheat death. Palpatine himself, admits that this power is not "natural.' In both cases, the dark power is hinting that those following the light side have been duped, and should come out of their naive, archaic beliefs to a mature, practical acceptance of harsh reality.
- In both, the stated agenda of the dark side is peace. In Star Wars, Palpatine claims that his ultimate goal in wiping out the Jedi is simply to stop all the fighting, and bring peace to the galaxy. In the Bible, we learn that the anti-christ will come on the scene bringing a similar lie of peace.
- In both, the members of the dark side come to see the members of the light side as the enemy. In Star Wars, Jedi's are seen by the dark side as a threat to be hunted down and killed, lest they continue to bring imbalance to the galaxy. In the Bible, the Lord Jesus spoke of a future time when He said that those who kill us (referring to Christians and/or Jews) will think they're doing God a favor (John 16:2). Indeed, in many parts of the world, this is happening now (see THIS or THIS site). Edit as of 6/7/05, I just stumbled across this new blog about Christian Persecution: http://www.persecutionblog.com/
- In both, followers of the light side are expected to give up selfishness, and pursue the common good.
- In Star Wars, the qualities and characteristics of the light and dark sides are vaque and nebulous. Of course, this is a film, so Lucas is hardly to be blamed for not spelling out the foundations of "The Force." In contrast, Christianity (through the Bible) offers a full description of good/evil, instructions on exactly how to live, and the characteristics God himself!
- In Star Wars, one seems to have to move away from good by voluntarily choosing to align with the dark side. The Bible, however, teaches us that we are all born sinners, and must come to the light by accepting Jesus' sacrifice for our sins.
- Star Wars never suggests that the "force" will ultimately exert itself, bringing divine justice throughout the galaxy. Thus, it is up to the Jedi to bring about, and maintain, ultimate good. They do this with the sheer force of ninja fighting techniques and light sabres. In contrast, Christians know that Jesus will return to bring justice, and set up the eternal abodes of the righteous (Heaven) and the unrighteous (Hell). Rather than a sword of laser power, Christ's sword will emanate from his mouth. His sword will be His Word, and with it, He will be victorious. This is not to say that followers of Christ are not expected to live as righteously as possible BEFORE Christ's return, but we know that we are powerless to bring peace by our own efforts. Christ will return as our King. EVERY knee will bow to Him, the creator of all things.
- Star Wars, as fun as it is to watch, is the product of a human being's imagination. In contrast, everything that actually exists is the real product of a real God. George Lucas needed countless helpers and complex technology to create a 12-hour world that only exists as a fun diversion for the eyes and ears. In contrast, God used Himself alone to THINK everything in to existence, including one of his more creative products - George Lucas.