The Force

During my Holiday Blog Hiatus, I, like every other good American, saw the new Star Wars movie (Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers). I come from a family of avid Star Wars fans, who could not stand the thought of only watching the seventh movie of their favorite series. We had to watch the first six Star Wars movies- over 13 hours of space ships and lightsaber battles- before seeing The Force Awakens.

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After having seen and, shockingly, enjoyed 15+ hours of Star Wars, I heard that some Christians are hesitant to watch this new movie because it is about “false gods.” This is an issue that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as I’ve developed my love for fantasy and science fiction stories.

Chewbacca and Han Solo in a still from the Star Wars: The Force

Some Christians seem to be wary of secular fictional stories that use elements of the supernatural. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson all fall into this category. When one of these series becomes wildly popular, there are always Christians who warn against worshiping false gods and fraternizing with witches, sorcerers, and pagan religions.

Of course we should only worship the true God, and we should never dabble in sorcery, but the Christians who use these truths as reasons to avoid fantasy are missing the point of both the verses and of the fantasy genre as a whole.

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Yoda using the Force

Fantasy, by definition, is a genre that merges the natural and the supernatural; it tells stories of mortals merging with magic and mysterious forces. What is the mysterious “Force” in Star Wars? Is it the “false god” that some Christians are wary of?

After watching all the movies, it seems to me that the Force is literally just a force, or a tool, that can be used. I understand that it has a very eastern-religion-y feel to it, with all the “May the Force be with you” and “Be one with the Force,” but when you really think about it, it’s simply a tool.

Now, like all tools, it can be used for good or for evil- like a pen, like a sword, like money. The Star Wars movies show several different examples of how people use the Force. Many people don’t actually believe it exists. Han Solo, for example, said “it’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.” Others perhaps believe the Force exists, but because it has no direct influence on them, they simply ignore it. Only a few actually use the Force. The Jedi Knights use it to protect the galaxy, and their enemies, the Sith Lords, use it for destruction.

Star Wars is about false gods as much as most stories are about false gods; there are definitely characters in these movies who worship things other than the true God.

I believe that not everyone has a religion, but everyone has a god. Everyone has that one thing that drives them. While tools are not gods, they have a tendency of revealing your innermost desires. Your god is that one thing you want more than anything else, and you use tools to seek after it. The Jedi do not worship the Force anymore than Medieval knights worshiped their broadswords, but their use of the Force exposes who -or what- they do worship. The Sith ultimately worship themselves. We know this because they use the Force to gain as much power and control as possible. The Jedi, in contrast, use the Force to protect the innocent and combat evil. They seek after humility, self-control, bravery, honor, and wisdom.

Star Wars is an excellent series to fall in love with; while no one in the series ever explicitly talks about Jesus, the movies repeatedly point to Christ and portray Christian messages through their heroes.

star wars2This series shows how Christians should act honorably in the face of evil. In Return of the Jedi, Luke has an opportunity to kill the unarmed Darth Sidious, but Luke refuses. Christians can follow Luke’s example of self-control. Even though killing the Emperor was a just thing to do, Luke knew that killing him in that moment would have been vengeful and hateful.

This series shows the Jedi failing over and over again because, while they are seeking after good things, they do not trust in God. In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has deep internal struggles. He wants to become a Jedi, yet he is tempted by the Sith. He mistakenly trusts in his own ability to resist temptation, and fails utterly, eventually becoming the tyrant Darth Vader. Christians can see Anakin’s suffering and realize that we do not have to go through that, if only we trust in God rather than in ourselves.

star wars3This series shows how chivalrous warriors might act in an awe-inspiring, fantastical world of aliens and droids and inter-planetary travel. We see Luke repeatedly risking his life to save complete strangers. We see Princess Leia join in the worthy battle against evil, rather than sitting on the sidelines as a damsel in distress. We see Han Solo transform from a greedy smuggler to a courageous freedom fighter.

The newest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, presents more of these same messages through more strong heroes. Christians should not fear this movie simply because it uses fantasy to convey its messages. I highly encourage any of you who may be wary to give it a shot. Love it, you may.

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