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Saturday, May 28, 2005 10:12

 

TERRY MATTINGLY: Faith, The Force and 'Star Wars'

 

This story was published Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

 

Scripps Howard News Service

 

(SH) - While tweaking the original "Star Wars" movie for re-release, director George Lucas decided that he needed to clarify the status of pilot Han Solo's soul.

 

In the old version, Solo shot first in his cantina showdown with a bounty hunter. But in the new one, Lucas addressed this moral dilemma with a slick edit that showed Greedo firing first.

 

Thus, Solo was not a murderer, but a mere scoundrel on the way to redemption.

 

"Lucas wanted to make sure that people knew that Han didn't shoot someone in cold blood," said broadcaster Dick Staub. "That would raise serious questions about his character, because we all know that murder if absolutely wrong."

 

The "Star Wars" films do, at times, have a strong sense of good and evil.

 

Yet in the climactic scene of the new "Revenge of the Sith," the evil Darth Vader warns his former master: "If you're not with me, you're my enemy."

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi replies, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

 

Say what? If that is true, how did Lucas decide it was wrong for Solo to gun down a bounty hunter? Isn't that a moral absolute? If so, why are absolutes absolutely wrong in the saga's latest film? Good questions, according to Staub.

 

While we're at it, the Jedi knights keep saying they must resist the "dark side" of the mysterious, deistic Force. But they also yearn for a "chosen one" who will "bring balance" to the Force, a balance between good and evil.

 

"There is this amazing internal inconsistency in Lucas that shows how much conflict there is between the Eastern religious beliefs that he wants to embrace and all those Judeo-Christian beliefs that he grew up with," said Staub, author of a book for young people entitled "Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters."

 

"I mean, you're supposed balance the light and the dark? How does that work?"

 

The key is that Lucas - who calls himself a "Buddhist Methodist" - believes all kinds of things, even when the beliefs clash. This approach allows the digital visionary to take chunks of the world's major religions and swirl them in the blender of his imagination. Thus, the Force contains elements of Judaism, Christianity, Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and even Islam.

 

None of this is surprising. Lucas merely echoes the beliefs of many artists in his generation and those who have followed. But the czar of "Star Wars" also has helped shape the imaginations of millions of spiritual consumers. His fun, non-judgmental faith was a big hit at the mall.

 

It is impossible, said Staub, to calculate the cultural impact of this franchise since the 1977 release of the first film - Episode IV, "A New Hope." The films have influenced almost all moviegoers, but especially Americans 40 and under.

 

"I don't think there is anything coherent that you could call the Gospel According to Star Wars," stressed Staub. "But I do think there are things we can learn from "Star Wars." I think what we have here is a teachable moment, a point at which millions of people are talking about what it means to choose the dark side or the light side.

 

"Who wants to dark side to win? Most Americans want to see good triumph over evil, but they have no solid reasons for why they do. They have no idea what any of this has to do with their lives."

 

Staub is especially concerned about young "Star Wars" fans. He believes that many yearn for some kind of mystical religious experience, taught by masters who hand down ancient traditions and parables that lead to truths that have stood the test of time, age after age. These young people "want to find their Yoda, but they don't think real Yodas exist anymore," especially not in the world of organized religion, he said.

 

In the end, it's easier to go to the movies.

 

Meanwhile, many traditional religious leaders bemoan the fact that they cannot reach the young.

 

So they try to modernize the faith instead of digging back to ancient mysteries and disciplines, said Staub.

 

"So many churches are choosing to go shallow, when many young people want to go deep," he said.

 

"There are people who just want to be entertained. But there are others who want to be Jedis, for real."

 

Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

 

BeachOfEden:

 

 

Well, there is ways to blend Buddhism with Christianity..but it is a skill. Case in point? Well, this one book I have by Marcus Borg, "Jesus & Buddha." I think does a great job of comparing the two faith's side by side. These questions that the author brings out in this article are very logical such as this quoten that Master Wendu (Samual Jackson's character) in Attack of the Clones says of Anakin< "Could this be the one that the prophecies told would bring balance to the Force"?

 

See the conflict the author of this article discribes going on within George Lucas about his aquried beliefs of mixing his United Methodists upbringing with his interest in Buddhism....is not so much unlike many of us here on Progressive Christianity forum..and the discussions we often have had here and these discussions and questions are:

 

Is God personal or immpersonal or both? Is Holy Spirit personal or immpersonal or both? Is the Holy Spirit God or a seperate power FROm God? What's all you guy's take on all this?

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And what about this book, "Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters" he speaks of?

 

Sounds GRAT! Check out this review bya Progressive Christian!:)

 

About time Christians stop critiquing Star Wars!, May 24, 2005

Reviewer: Nicholas Carroll (Smyrna, GA United States) - See all my reviews

 

When I was a teenager, I remember at Sunday School, we used material from Focus on the Family (Dr. James Dobson's organization) and when one lesson critiqued Star Wars as a pagan-influenced film and "Empire" especially for its "Buddhist concepts", our Sunday School class voted to drop use of Focus on the Family for our lessons. That was back in 1989 and I've never liked Dr. Dobson since (as I've learned more about him).

 

In the late 1990s, when I learned about how George Lucas was inspired by Joseph Campbell and his study of ancient mythologies to create the brilliant "Star Wars" saga, that got me interested in learning Joseph Campbell. There's nothing "evil" or "pagan" or even "anti-Christian" in learning about how other mythologies influenced story-tellers and religions through the ages. Unless Christians realize this fact, they will continue to lose out to popular culture and become as irrelevant as Zeus and Medusa.

 

I saw this book and it piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see if the writer had an anti-Star Wars bias or was he willing to examine the ideas in the film series in relation to Christian viewpoints. Fortunately, he is not like James Dobson...that is to say, he's not threatened by the big ideas presented by Star Wars. This book is amazing and necessary, as the writer ties in ideas to Christian ideas without stretching the point to where it doesn't fit. Fortunately, the writer seems to be advocating a kind of Christian life I'm familiar with...one consistent with Jesus' call to help the poor and afflicted, the commitment to peace and nonviolence, etc. He doesn't try to distort the message of the Star Wars films by advancing the conservative/fundamentalist Christian line that supports wars, unfiltered capitalistic greed and compassionless economics...he sticks with the Jesus of the New Testament and early Christians who stood up to the Roman Empire. Thus, the writer has good credibility with me and this is a book I'd love to teach in my church's young adult Sunday School class.

 

The reason I subtract a star is because the writer totally got "karma" wrong. In one chapter, he criticizes George Lucas for his decision to change Han Solo's firing at Greedo first in the special edition of "Star Wars: A New Hope" because Lucas believes that killing without reason means there can be no hope of redemption (which isn't true if you follow the trajectory of Anakin Skywalker to his ultimate redemption). The writer tries to say that this view is what karma is. That is not true. Karma is simply the Golden Rule...a universal law much like the law of physics (for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction). Karma is any action that returns to the originator of such action. If you do evil, evil will come back to you. If you do good, good will come back to you. That's all it is. To distort it as something else hurts one's credibility a bit. To me, it seems like a lot of Christians are threatened by karma...even though no one should be. Jesus taught a principle of karma and if we all lived by the law of karma, we would have nothing to fear. Only people who commit evil acts want karma to be untrue, because they don't want to pay the price of their sins.

 

Other than that one glaring error, I recommend this book for study, as it will help people become better Christians and that is a good thing. Too many people have fallen away from Christianity because of the hypocritical leaders. Anything that helps people understand what Jesus really was about is a good thing.

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IMO, whoever tries to tweak out various elements of Star Wars into a theology (including Lucas himself) is working too hard (same with Harry Potter or Tolkein or any other fictional work, except that which specifically goes for naming names and concepts-- someone like CS Lewis). I think we are talking about a broad range scope of mythical figures and forces: like good and evil; right and wrong; the power of love, friendship, loyalty to prevail against their opposites, that sort of thing. I think broadly speaking you could think of the Jedi as some kind of Eastern warrior priests, if you don't think too long about it.

 

I think you can use these to discuss right and wrong, values, etc with kids as long as you don't try to make Luke into Jesus (or Harry Potter,say) something.

 

For the desire to have a jedi master, maybe part of the appeal of some Eastern religions particularly Zen where you have a sensei (or even the appeal of some of the martial arts). I really liked that about Karate. But always saw the karate sensei as being only much good for karate. I believe the sensei in the martial arts (or whatever term the teacher is), btw, is really good for kids.

 

 

--des

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Here's another article on the new movie. I'm not particularly fond of Card, but I thought his review of the movie and the religion apparently springing from it are relevant to this thread:

 

No Faith in This Force - Orson Scott Card

 

No Faith in This Force

 

"Memo to would-be Jedis: in the new movie, the knights are elitist, dictatorial, and unconvinced that good is an absolute.

 

Star Wars fans are legendary for their loyalty. I saw plenty of that in the 9:45 p.m. showing of Revenge of the Sith on its opening day. They had waited in line to get tickets to the very first showing at midnight the night before, and then saw it twice more before the opening day was over.

Many had obviously memorized all the howlingly bad lines. They began laughing out loud just before the line was said, and applauded at the wretched “emotional” moments in the movie.

 

But then, walking out of the theater, they fiercely defended the movie against anyone who dared to speak against it. It might be badly written, but it’s their badly written movie.

 

Some fans are so loyal they have even adopted “Jedi” as their official religion on census reports and The Force as their equivalent of a “personal savior.”

 

In a way, this is kind of bittersweet. It shows that the universal hunger for meaning is still prevalent, even in our agnostic era, which is encouraging; but these true believers will eventually realize that the philosophy behind Star Wars is every bit as sophisticated as the science — in other words, mostly wrong and always silly.

 

It’s one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it’s something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being.

 

How Does the Force Stack Up As a Religion?

 

As a religion, the Force is just the sort of thing you’d expect a liberal-minded teenage kid to invent. There’s no God and there are no rules other than a vague insistence on unselfishness and oath-keeping. Power comes from the sum of all life in the universe, and it is manichaean, not Christian — evil is simply another way of using the Force. Only not as nice.

 

Good and evil are in a constant and nearly equipoised tug-of-war in the Star Wars series. But in the more recent movies, it seems that the goal of good people is not to wipe out evil, but rather for there to be a balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force.

 

The new movie itself asserts a kind of equivalence. When the evil Palpatine says, “Good is a point of view--the Sith and the Jedi are almost the same,” we can dismiss this moral relativism as part of the deception of the dark side.

 

But in a pivotal scene, Obi-Wan says what amounts to the same thing: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

 

Isn’t that odd? The only thing both sides agree on is that people who believe in absolute good and evil are bad! ... (snip)

 

There are other ways that the actual story subverts the official “religion” of the Force. Take the idea that you become a Jedi by training. Well, sure — but you are only chosen to train for the Jedity if you have some kind of inborn power.

 

You can dedicate your life to serving the Force if you want, but you can’t become a Jedi warrior-priest unless you were born with the power and anointed as some Jedi’s apprentice.

 

In other words, they may seem very inclusive—one Jedi from every species (except for humans, who are way overrepresented)—but in fact they’re a self-perpetuating aristocracy. ... (snip)

 

A Conservative Religion

 

The overt religion of Revenge of the Sith is a kind of democratic pantheism, but the real religion is for the privileged few, who get to decide what’s best for everybody else and then enforce their own rules, all in the name of “the Force.”

 

How did a nice Protestant boy like George Lucas come up with an official religion more rigidly hierarchical and doctrinally uniform than Catholicism?

 

It’s the religion of the people who are Chosen, and you aren’t ready to have a share of the power until we say you are. Quite the opposite of, say, the Quakers or even the Puritans, who eschewed permanent religious hierarchies. ... (snip)

 

So it might not be such a good thing if the Star Wars films become the first movies to lead to a real-world religion.

 

Of course, all this quibbling would be moot if, in fact, the Jedi religion actually worked—if people could tap into the Force and do the miracles that the Jedi routinely perform.

 

But it doesn’t work. No matter how intensely you believe, you can’t leap tall buildings with a single bound or drive a car with your eyes closed.

 

So if a religion is known to be fictional, trains its exclusive practitioners to be killing machines, and doesn’t actually work in the real world, why do people call themselves Jedi?

 

As a protest against religion in general?

 

As a yearning for power?

 

Or as a dream of a world in which virtue, however it’s defined, can actually do something tangible against the evil in the universe?"

 

PS - This was longer than I thought it was, so I snipped quite a bit. Sorry.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Yeah, I read this in the paper too, and I don;t like this Card guy either. He simply sounds like a Southern Baptist Lite to me.

 

No Faith in This Force

 

"Memo to would-be Jedis: in the new movie, the knights are elitist, dictatorial, and unconvinced that good is an absolute."

 

"showing of Revenge of the Sith on its opening day. Many had obviously memorized all the howlingly bad lines. They began laughing out loud just before the line was said, and applauded at the wretched “emotional” moments in the movie."

 

He critisining of the movie is over-the-top. The only lines in the movie that are very good are the ones between Anakin and Padme..but the Emperor has some of the best lines in the movie and I like the dialog between Anakin and Ob1.

 

"But then, walking out of the theater, they fiercely defended the movie against anyone who dared to speak against it."

 

Yes, we know that and no I don't relate. I felt Star wars episode 1 sucked and I don;t have a problem saying it. I felt II was a little better and I think Revenge of the Sith was really good.

 

"Some fans are so loyal they have even adopted “Jedi” as their official religion on census reports and The Force as their equivalent of a “personal savior.”.."

 

We also know this and yes, it may seem a bit much..but then again the Jedi religion on planet earth looks very sane when compared to the pink haired Pentacostal clown lady on TBN.

 

"In a way, this is kind of bittersweet. It shows that the universal hunger for meaning is still prevalent, even in our agnostic era, which is encouraging; but these true believers will eventually realize that the philosophy behind Star Wars is every bit as sophisticated as the science — in other words, mostly wrong and always silly."

 

Would this person not say the very same thing of Progressive Christianity? Yet, they can not see how WRONG and silly we see their TBN circul style Evangelicalism..complete with circus ten, ring leaders and clowns for Christ. Why does Christ 'NEED" clowns, anyways???

 

"It’s one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it’s something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being. "

 

You mean like George Bush or a spokesman for the Southern Baptist convention?

 

How Does the Force Stack Up As a Religion?

 

"As a religion, the Force is just the sort of thing you’d expect a liberal-minded teenage kid to invent. There’s no God and there are no rules other than a vague insistence on unselfishness and oath-keeping. Power comes from the sum of all life in the universe, and it is manichaean, not Christian — evil is simply another way of using the Force. Only not as nice."

 

Again, is this not what the far right claims our Progressive Christianity is? That WE are the spiritual junkfood? The Christian answer to Tweenkies? Have the ulta-Evangelical Fundamental Christians ever stopped to consider that's how WE see THEM? That We think 'their' version of Christianity does not makes sense and infact contridicts itself?

 

"Good and evil are in a constant and nearly equipoised tug-of-war in the Star Wars series. But in the more recent movies, it seems that the goal of good people is not to wipe out evil, but rather for there to be a balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force."

 

Well, the Evangelicals think if they side with the Jews in the Middle East then they CAN cause Jesus to come back and fullfill all the prophecies...Is this not trying to balance out good and evil? Is it not silly to think that humans can do certain things to force Jesus to come here through there own foolish attempts and screwing around in politics?

 

"The new movie itself asserts a kind of equivalence. When the evil Palpatine says, “Good is a point of view--the Sith and the Jedi are almost the same,” we can dismiss this moral relativism as part of the deception of the dark side."

 

Is not one's man meat another man's posion? Bush 'thinks' he's good and that Holy Spirit is with him.

 

But in a pivotal scene, Obi-Wan says what amounts to the same thing: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

 

This most likely, is a piece of George Lucas coming out and saying that no person has "All the truth." And those who claim they HAVE aquired it...must have lost it completely. In otherwords, only extremists claim to know all "the Truth."

 

"Isn’t that odd? The only thing both sides agree on is that people who believe in absolute good and evil are bad! ... (snip)"

 

No, it is not odd. There ARE extremes at both ends and whether extreme Left or extreme RIGHT..the PROBLEM is..BOTH ARE EXTREME and thus is WHY they see in black and white.

 

"There are other ways that the actual story subverts the official “religion” of the Force. Take the idea that you become a Jedi by training. Well, sure — but you are only chosen to train for the Jedity if you have some kind of inborn power. "

 

How should I know? I never visited the Jedi Temple. i don;t know how Jedis are spoted or chosen. It's likely much like how the Buddhists chose their Buddha Masters. Or how apostles are chosen.

 

"You can dedicate your life to serving the Force if you want, but you can’t become a Jedi warrior-priest unless you were born with the power and anointed as some Jedi’s apprentice. "

 

Well, according to the Revenge of the Sith novel Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn (Ob1's Master who died in Episdoe 1..) learned about immortality not from the Jedi's themselves..but from another order called The Order of the Whills. Later he tells this to Yoda and then Ob1.

 

So ovbiously, the Jedis are open to the fact that they do NOT have ALL the answers and maybe OTHERs CAN enlighten their understandings in the ways of the Force. The sounds pretty Progressive, if you ask me..and maybe this is why the Jedis annoys this author so. Maybe the idea that Jedi individuals in Star Wars aknoweldge that maybe THEY do NOT have ALL "the Truth" annoys...this Card guy..because that sounds too much like Progressive religion.

 

A Conservative Religion

 

"The overt religion of Revenge of the Sith is a kind of democratic pantheism, but the real religion is for the privileged few, who get to decide what’s best for everybody else and then enforce their own rules, all in the name of “the Force.”.."

 

Now, that sounds more like our present government in the United States..not this movie. Only difference is it is in "The name of God" instead of "In the name of the Force."

 

Maybe this Star Wars fil annoys this writter cause it reminds HIM TOO much of our government????

 

"How did a nice Protestant boy like George Lucas come up with an official religion more rigidly hierarchical and doctrinally uniform than Catholicism?"

 

What? You just said George Lucas' religion was that of a LIBERAL-minded teenager. But now you are claiming his religious views of a fundamentalist Catholic?! Which is it? Too liberal or too fundamental?

 

"It’s the religion of the people who are Chosen, and you aren’t ready to have a share of the power until we say you are. Quite the opposite of, say, the Quakers or even the Puritans, who eschewed permanent religious hierarchies. ... (snip)"

 

WHICH "QUAKERS"? The liberal ones or the Evangelical ones?

 

"So it might not be such a good thing if the Star Wars films become the first movies to lead to a real-world religion."

 

It already is...at least symbolically speaking. George Bush is Emperor Palpatine...and all of damn liberals and Progresives are those annoying Rebels of the Alliance trying to undermind the American Way..akak "The Empire."

 

"Of course, all this quibbling would be moot if, in fact, the Jedi religion actually worked—if people could tap into the Force and do the miracles that the Jedi routinely perform. "

 

I don;t know. What about those Faith HGealings on TV? Is the Power from some Force? And if so, which side? The Light or the Dark?

 

"But it doesn’t work. No matter how intensely you believe, you can’t leap tall buildings with a single bound or drive a car with your eyes closed."

 

Wait a minture..I thought this Card guy WAS an Evangelical Christian. If so, does he not believe in mircles?

 

"So if a religion is known to be fictional, trains its exclusive practitioners to be killing machines, and doesn’t actually work in the real world, why do people call themselves Jedi?"

 

The Jedis do not train their students to be killers anymore than Jesus trained Peter to cut off that Roman officer's ear. People do what they want, impulsively,whether their religion agrees with it or not. Why do people call themselves anything?

BushEmperor.bmp

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I smiled because you said Card sounded like a Southern Baptist. Mormons and Southern Baptists have a LONG history of really really not liking each other. The SBC likes to come and picket the LDS temple whenever they are in town (Utah).

 

Just thought it was funny (ironic).

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Well I might disagree slightly (re: Comrade) that SW is *only* a movie (well it is only a movie but as a movie it is an art form-- and art usually is beyond just a simple entertainment value, which I think the whole idea is).

 

Card makes interesting points considering the hx of Christianity (ie the Jedi are an elitist group, etc. Seems there were a lot of such warrior groups in the hx of Christianity, like the Knights templar. Current administration in Washington propose a elitist (ie US born) group of trained warriors (US military) to go out and convert savage and evil governments to our side thru the use of bombing and if necessary on the ground fighting. Actually sounds *conservative* to me, or rather "neocon".

 

>It’s the religion of the people who are Chosen, and you aren’t ready to have a share of the power until we say you are. Quite the opposite of, say, the Quakers or even the Puritans, who eschewed permanent religious hierarchies.

 

Sort of like the Southern Baptist. HIGHLY democratic??? Or JW, not exactly highly democratic either.

 

> As we learned at the end of Return of the Jedi, even the most dark-side-serving of ex-Jedi mass murderers can, with a single “good” act like refusing to murder his own son (which even the most evil men generally avoid), earn the right to eternal life as the equal of true saints like Yoda and

 

Or the sort of justice where a person can "earn" eternal life in heaven even after mass murder by professing Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, while those who have lived lives of great virtue but have not done so (ie the Dali Lami, Gandhi, etc) will go straight to hell and live in eternal damnation?? At least we know the Jedis are a fictional group. :-)

 

>As a religion, the Force is just the sort of thing you’d expect a liberal-minded teenage kid to invent. There’s no God and there are no rules other than a vague insistence on unselfishness and oath-keeping.

 

Oh yeah, blame it on liberals. :-)

 

I'm sure some kids take the Jedi as their personal saviors but kids are kids. They grow up. I don't think this would be more than idle wishing anyway as there are (well NO JEDIs-- sorry to disappoint Card :-)).

 

I repeat that you can look at this in broad themes but once you start pulling any story like this the threads start to unravel. It's lousy theology, I agree, but it isn't real theology.

 

 

--des

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"Well I might disagree slightly (re: Comrade) that SW is *only* a movie (well it is only a movie but as a movie it is an art form-- and art usually is beyond just a simple entertainment value, which I think the whole idea is)."

 

I agree. Was the Beatles JUST a band?

 

"Card makes interesting points considering the hx of Christianity (ie the Jedi are an elitist group, etc. Seems there were a lot of such warrior groups in the hx of Christianity, like the Knights templar. Current administration in Washington propose a elitist (ie US born) group of trained warriors (US military) to go out and convert savage and evil governments to our side thru the use of bombing and if necessary on the ground fighting. Actually sounds *conservative* to me, or rather "neocon". "

 

The Current Bush administration are actually like the Dark Jedis because Bush and his far right Empire do not want Evangelical Protestantism to merely blend WITH the American government, (which, in itself, is bad enough...) but they actually want Evangelical Protestantism and the American government to be ONE. Just like how Emperor Palatine does not want to merely merg his Dark Jedi views WITH the senete. Rather he wants his dark Jedi beliefs to BE the government, the Empire.

 

"Sort of like the Southern Baptist. HIGHLY democratic??? Or JW, not exactly highly democratic either."

 

Precisely. I never forget many years ago reading a quote in a JW watchtower where the JW org actually not only admitted but BRAGGGED that they are "NOT a democracy." They are NOT a democratic Order, They are a Theocratic Order, as they discribe it. They explain this as meaning, "God ruled," But it's really Man-ruled.

 

"As we learned at the end of Return of the Jedi, even the most dark-side-serving of ex-Jedi mass murderers can, with a single “good” act like refusing to murder his own son (which even the most evil men generally avoid), earn the right to eternal life as the equal of true saints like Yoda."

 

What of Saul of Tarsus? He murded MANY Christians, thinking he was serving the True God of Abraham and maybe the Roman Empire? Yet, like Anakin, Paul was punished for his acts. Just as Anakin turned into Darth Vader and defromed by the fire and had to wear this iron lung untill he was an old man, and worse yet, trade his beautiful wife, Padme for the evil, wrinkled Emperor...so too...Paul was blinded for a while before he was knighted Saint and what about in the Old Testament in which King David not only aranged to have sex with of of his own army officer's wife..but then to cover it up..he purposely send the women's husband to the front line in war so that he is killed..and yet later he is blessed by God and it is through His blood line that Anoited One come to be? But again, David had to pay the price of dealing with his own hell... Card's complaint against the older Vader turned back to Anakin saving his son, Luke's life, and killing the evil Emperor in Return of the Jedi ..and thus saving his eternal soul is therefore is an invalid complaint.

 

"Or the sort of justice where a person can "earn" eternal life in heaven even after mass murder by professing Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, while those who have lived lives of great virtue but have not done so (ie the Dali Lami, Gandhi, etc) will go straight to hell and live in eternal damnation?? At least we know the Jedis are a fictional group. :-)"

 

Yeah, well, that's not really Christianity or God but rather the far right extremists they were like to call Fundamental Christians..and 'their' twisted 'version' of what 'they' think Christianity is. This is like the Dark Jedis.

 

"As a religion, the Force is just the sort of thing you’d expect a liberal-minded teenage kid to invent. There’s no God and there are no rules other than a vague insistence on unselfishness and oath-keeping."

 

Oh yeah, blame it on liberals. :-)

 

Well, some people DO see religion like that, or maybe they make it like that..but that's not God's problem.

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"The Matrix" has come up in the thread on Fundemental Theology. I decided to post a reply on this thread, since it seems more on topic than posting it over there. :)

 

AletheiaRivers wrote: "Only the first one unfortunately. I hate to be a cliche, but it changed my life big time! The second and third ones ...  :angry:  :(  :angry:  What were they thinking?"

 

Fred replied: Are you serious??!! Reloaded is the key to the entire story.

 

An online review summed up my thoughts pretty well about the part 2 and 3. Here are some snipets:

 

"Don't get me wrong: I love a thought-provoking intellectual movie as much as anything, and I did enjoy the film on that level. However, with regards to profound philosophical questions, it is better to subtly leave the questioning and the answering to the audience (like the first film did) instead of laying it all out. Which in this case only reveals the pseudo-philosophy to be rather vacuous."

 

"It's a shame to see a promising concept be totally wasted in its ultimate execution. The promising concept arose in The Matrix...

 

The decline began in The Matrix Reloaded where it was evident that the sequels (filmed simultaneously) were just tacked on and wouldn't have been made at all if The Matrix had bombed. Still, I held out hope that in the third installment, The Matrix: Revolutions, that things would come wrapped up better.

 

In this film, Neo fulfils his destiny as The One, which is really another means of control, like the Matrix itself, created by the machines to keep (at least the rebellious) humans happy. In this way, the Matrix turns out to be more about human nature than the nature of an artificial intelligence, since its goal is to enslave humans by creating a pretense of what humanity is.

 

It's clear by the end of the third film that a lot of what is happening in Zion and the Matrix is metaphorical. Perhaps they're both the same since the boundaries between the two diminish further here (which is my take on it). However, for these type of metaphors to work, it requires a great deal of bookkeeping and meticulousness, which was displayed by the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings, but is not present here.

 

The only way I have been able to resolve the incoherency in the Matrix mythology is by viewing the whole trilogy as a big simulation, with perhaps an arbitrary number of illusionary levels, as seen in eXistenZ, or just two, as seen in The Thirteenth Floor. In other words, the whole concept of humans being batteries, the concept of the war between machines and humans, etc. could all be a big lie too.

 

Even given my criticisms, I recommend checking it out on a big screen, since I think this film is better than The Matrix Reloaded. I still love the visuals; I still like all the things about it that have become associated in our pop culture ("that is the sound of inevitability, Mr. Anderson"); and I can watch it rehashed again and again while ignoring all the pseudo-philosophical garbage. But the sequels to The Matrix simply don't live up to the freshness of the first film, as well as the cool ideas introduced in it."

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Yeah, I read your blog and I liked it alot. This Card guy seems to resent the idea that Anakin could do bad things and then do a good act in Return of the Jedi, saving Luke, his son, and then at the end of Jedi we see Anakin has gained immortality long side OB1 and Yoda. But as I said there are many characters in the Bible who did terrible things and yet were redeemed in the end such King David and the Impulsive apostle Peter and Paul of Tarsus.

 

But why begrudge a person turning to the Light side? The very idea of begrudging someone's truning their life around is not Christian. The moral of these stories is...the harder it is for a person to redeem themselves...the better it makes a person later. Maybe if Peter did not have to work so hard to not be impulsive then he would not make the more sympthathelic Saint he would become later.

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The new movie itself asserts a kind of equivalence. When the evil Palpatine says, “Good is a point of view--the Sith and the Jedi are almost the same,” we can dismiss this moral relativism as part of the deception of the dark side.

 

But in a pivotal scene, Obi-Wan says what amounts to the same thing: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

 

Isn’t that odd? The only thing both sides agree on is that people who believe in absolute good and evil are bad! ... (snip)

 

I was taken aback a little by that as well... but, I just attribute it to Lucas' increasing senility.

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Again, is this not Lucas' way of making a statement that only extremists claim to have "All 'The Truth'"?

There is a difference between saying that there is absolute truth, and saying that our ideological group has the corner on it. Claiming that there are absolutes doesn't make one an extremist.

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I agree, Fred. I think that some people (and Lucas may be one) are afraid of the "all the answers, we know everything" point of view expoused by some that they do go to the opposite extreme saying there are no absolutes. Or at least I am assuming Beach is right about this. OTOH, in a more eastern type thinking I think that absolutes are kind of a dualism that they would avoid. You know it is like killing the Buddha on the road, fi you get my drift. Though perhaps I am writing here in some sort of ignorance. :-)

I think the Jedi are almost like Samari masters-- not that I am saying these are Buddhists either-- in some ways. (Of course, as I like to remind people, sorry but there are NO Jedi masters. Some people who write conservative essays against various popular fictional characters seem to forget this. They act as if there were real Jedi masters, a real Harry Potter, etc.)

 

--des

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  • 2 weeks later...

2005

The Detroit News

 

'Star Wars' has strong presence in religion

 

Series inspires reflection as the story lines are compared to those in the Bible, some say.

 

By Karen Vance / Cincinnati Enquirer

 

Films such as "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" are becoming a more popular part of discussion on religion's relationship with culture.

 

"Star Wars" was the first movie Russell Smith ever saw in a theater.

 

Twenty-eight years later, as a Presbyterian pastor, Smith was an easy sell when asked whether his Cincinnati church would host a Bible study entitled "Gospel According to Star Wars."

 

"This is our language. We grew up with this," says Smith, 33, pastor at Covenant-First Presbyterian Church for four years. "With this study, we're saying there are hints of truth, beauty and goodness in the story that can bring us back to the biblical story."

 

It doesn't hurt that the May 19 opening of the final installment of the "Star Wars" series coincides with the 12-week study, which focuses on the original trilogy, Episodes IV (1977), V (1980) and VI (1983).

 

"It's a story we all know, and a vast majority of people who know it love it," says Jeffrey Perkins, 34, author of the Bible study and a member of the church since 1999.

 

"Star Wars" is hardly alone as a film looked to for spiritual enlightenment.

 

"We are now movie watchers as never before," says Bill Blizek, founding editor of the Journal of Religion and Film. "And movies are filled with religion -- sometimes it is done well, and sometimes it is not done well."

 

The most written-about mainstream film in terms of hidden religious meaning in recent years, he says, is "The Matrix."

 

For Perkins, the overall arc of the six-movie "Star Wars" series is inherently Christian.

 

"The whole story is the redemption of Darth Vader. He falls to temptation and is redeemed by the son in Episode VI," Perkins says.

 

A recent study was a discussion of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo's decision to try to rescue Princess Leia from the detention area of the Death Star in Episode IV and how that relates to the obstacles Christians face and are willing to overcome to follow Jesus and put values into action.

 

The study has evolved into some heavy thinking, says Andy Adams, 27, who teaches the course.

 

In the first session, for example, class members discussed the urgency and need to share their faith with others. The class discussed how every action R2-D2 takes in the first 30 minutes is motivated by his need to share his message from Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi, including going into the desert on his own.

 

Adams likens that to Matthew 28:19: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

 

"This is a Bible study that's simply using 'Star Wars' as a vehicle," Adams says.

 

That's not a new way to teach Christianity, says John Brolley, director of the legacy program in religious studies at the University of Cincinnati.

 

"It's the modern-day version of something that is described over and over in the (New Testament's) Acts of Apostles as what (St.) Paul did. He provided a blueprint for evangelization," Brolley says.

 

"(Paul) accessed the concepts and the images from the dominant culture to teach the Gospel. If 'Star Wars' was in those days, (St.) Paul would have invoked C-3PO and R2-D2."

 

Brolley says Paul would visit communities in the ancient world, and begin by talking about themes they were comfortable with. Then he would segue into talking about Christ.

 

"Popular culture is something that many religions, Christianity in particular, either sets itself up against or tries to incorporate," Brolley says. "Churches try to make the principles of religion that may be too abstract or too dull to the average person more accessible."

 

Incorporating pop culture as a way to teach a faith is a skill urban churches have become especially good at because they often deal with people exposed to the arts and culture, he says.

 

"The Gospel According to Star Wars" isn't the first connection Covenant-First has made between the secular and the sacred. In the past, the church has done "The Gospel According to Shakespeare".

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The new eposide is fanatasic!

 

How Darth Vader came to the dark side is as good as any Shakespeare. His confrontation when his wife finds out he's gone dark side is unforgettable.

 

Redemption becomes much easier, in my opinion, by coming to realise that the temptation of evil is the big lie.

Edited by TheMeekShall
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"The new eposide is fanatasic! "

 

I think it is too! :D I can't wait untill in comes on DVD!:)

 

But..can you expand on this...

 

"Redemption becomes much easier, in my opinion, by coming to realise that the temptation of evil is the big lie."

 

Thanks;)

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  • 3 weeks later...
Yes, it very much feels like we are living in the second McCarthy Era. It is as if the 60's Civil Rights movement never happened and when went directly from 1950's to now. :(

Yes, and sadly, power struggles and stupidity within the Left in the late 60's probably contributed to the downfall of the movement more than anything else. Lots of youthful idealism; not so much of the wisdom and experience of age. (I mean, let's be fair: we're talking about an undergraduate student movement here.) What makes our era potentially even worse than the 1950's is a lack of optimism about the future of humanity, and a sea of philosophical confusion on the Left about Truth and Value.

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