Star Wars

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

January 9, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

“May the force be with you,” whatever that means.  It sounds like George Lucas and now Disney are trying to say something religious.  It is clear that they expect their audience to recognize the good guys and the bad guys.  However, there does not seem to be any directive that identifies what is good and what is bad.

The force which awakens does not make any distinction between good and evil.  It has its priests.  Some dress in black and others dress is brighter colors.  Luke Skywalker carries a name that suggests he is a good guy.  His name is the same as one of Christianity’s Gospel writers, and his surname suggests he is higher somehow than his opponents.  However, the force empowers both sides of this star war.  In the end all that seems to matter is who has the best pilots and the smartest generals.

“The force” has no moral standards and no personality.  Any morality that attaches to the plot is brought into the theater by the audience.  There are, of course, religious systems that look something like “the force.”  Zoroastrianism has a kind of moral dualism which is wrapped up in a single deity called Ahura Mazda.  Ahura Mazda also contains a destructive principle called Angra Mainyu.  Hinduism also has an all-encompassing Brahma which contains the Shiva principle as well as the Vishnu principal.  Brahma is creator; Vishnu is preserver; and, Shiva is destroyer.  However, in such systems it is actually impossible to identify good guys and bad guys.  The universe is essentially irrational and this includes an absence of what we would understand as moral law.  Moral law needs to have a Creator who is personal and has a character which defines morality.

If you have stuck with me this far you can understand why my kids hated to watch movies with me.  I would always look for what the story tellers believed about the world they lived in.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) said that if God does not exist everything is permissible.  In the Star Wars saga God does not exist.  “The force” has no moral content.  There cannot be good guys and bad guys.  However, the story tellers want us to believe there are good guys and bad guys and that the good guys win the war.  What is going on here?

The Apostle Paul nails it when he says in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  A good story needs good guys and bad guys.  We need moral order in a society to enable “the pursuit of happiness.”  However, moral order presumes a God who orders the moral universe as well as the natural universe, and a moral order presupposes judgment, and there’s the rub.

In “Star Wars” the light side of the force ultimately becomes a light saber.  The battle between good and evil ultimately dissolves into might makes right.  The distinction between good and evil is impossible to maintain.

Thankfully, many of the movie goers took Christmas into the theater with them.  They remembered that “God so loved the world that he gave…”

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net).  END-whs