There are two things that Star Wars does better than any of the other sci-fi, superhero, surrogate-saviour movies.
First: no one does cute creatures better – organic or electronic – ewoks, R2D2, C3P0, BB-8, Yoda himself, and most recently, porgs. Ok, they are not quite as adorable as the Skellig Michael puffins they were modelled on, but hey when it comes to creativity it’s always been tough to top God.
Star Wars’ second great distinctive is this: no other movie franchise better understands this elemental truth of the universe – there is a reality deeper than our senses can apprehend, a reality that underpins everything, and impinges on everything. Yes, other franchises have individuals with superhuman powers, but they all operate in a closed universe. There is no ‘force’, nor any active ‘divine being’ beyond.
In Star Wars, the counterfeit reality that’s presented is a hodge-podge of 1970s new age flummery and pseudo-Zen monkery, laced with a quasi-Judaic understanding of the soul’s battle between ‘the impulse to good’ and the ‘impulse to evil’. The ‘force’ itself is impersonal, morally neutral, and manipulatable, and the extent to which it will or will not ‘be with you’, depends on genes and training. As such, it is radically different from the personal, righteous, and unmanipulatable triune God. Nevertheless, Star Wars has boldly gone where art has often found it hard to go – opening up our imagination to the possibility of a transcendent reality that affects daily life now.
This, I think, is one of the hardest truths to live out consciously day by day – there is more to life than what we can see with iris and retina. God is alive and well and pro-actively working out his purposes in time, over time, and today, in my life, and yours.
The Gospel, after all, is not only a plan of personal salvation but the announcement of the good news of Jesus’ cosmic victory on the cross – VU Day. Victory in the Universe Day. And his victory inaugurates a new era in human possibility when the Spirit of God comes to dwell in all those who trust in Christ.
Followers of Jesus then are citizens of a different kingdom, with constant access to our Creator-Redeemer-Renewer God and his empowering presence. So, God-with-us, we don’t need to regard any person or any situation from a merely human point of view.
This day, in every situation, the Lord be with you.
Mark is Executive Director of LICC.