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Faith and the Force: How Star Wars and Christianity Intersect

*Spoilers ahead however these movies were made 40 years ago but I'm being nice anyway :)*

I used to not like Star Wars.

There. I said it.

My loving dad, who has pretty awesome taste in music and movies that are culture classics, spent most of my teens trying to educate me but, of course, I rebelled. I never understood how movies made in the '80s could be good. All I saw with my finite teen eyes were awful puppets and outdated effects (sorry dad!). My whole family loved Star Wars and I never got it.

Then when I was in elementary school, the prequels came out and I just couldn't get into it. I thought it was for boys and I wanted to stick with my Disney princess movies. I later got very into superhero movies but Star Wars was still too "nerdy" for me.

But last year I went to see The Last Jedi with my then-boyfriend (now husband!) and something clicked. I know The Last Jedi was such a divisive movie for Star Wars fans but I do have a special place in my heart for it as it was the movie that got me into the series.

I've been re-watching all of the movies over the last year to see it with fresh eyes and I think I finally understand why it is such a universally loved cinematic adventure. It speaks a lot to the human condition and takes these themes that resonate with a variety of people and makes them so accessible.

Ok, that was probably a little overly sentimental but bear with me. Here are some themes that resonated deeply with me from Star Wars.

Faith

You don't have to watch Star Wars to be acquainted with the the concept of The Force. Across each trilogy and the anthologies, there is this higher power, this higher presence that drives the story and the mission of the people in the galaxy. It is also something that empowers people whether they can use the Force or not.

At the end of the day, these characters believe in something bigger than themselves and it drives their every action and permeates their convictions.

As someone who believes in the saving grace of Jesus, this hits home. I actually feel guilty because of how often I wish I could be a part of the Star Wars world and be some lightsaber-wielding hero when I actually am a part of something so much better than that. I have a faith far more real and far greater than that of any Star Wars character and a fraction of the drive to act on it. Granted, I'm not a Jedi or Jesus, so there is grace.

Redemption

In the last month, I watched Return of the Jedi again and I have a sad confession; I bawled like a baby when Vader was redeemed and then died. My poor husband had to deal with me as I was sitting there with snot bubbles exclaiming, "He didn't even get to know his kids!"

It truly is a beautiful moment though and I believe it is the heartbeat of this franchise. Luke had no reason to show grace or compassion to this man who literally slaughtered hundreds (the women and the children too! - Prequel reference lol). This empty shell of a man turned machine deserved nothing but the cruelest death. Instead of killing him like how Vader had tried to kill him and his friends (and basically the entire galaxy), Luke saw through the darkness and felt the pain. His heart and sacrifice for his father was what caused Vader to turn back to the light and have his soul redeemed.

That moment in the movie is so exquisite but again it resonates personally with me. Because of my faith, I know that Jesus had no reason to love someone like me with so much darkness and so much sin. He sacrificed himself when he was the perfect hero of this story and saved me from myself. He gave me hope. And that leads me to my last theme...

Hope

You can't have Star Wars without hope and you can't have hope without Princess/General Leia Organa.

The feisty princess, master military strategist, and girl power icon had no shortage of horrible things happen to her. She lost family, the love of her life, and was forced to watch her home PLANET be destroyed. But she never lost hope.

My favorite quote from The Last Jedi was when Admiral Holdo noted that Leia used to say,"Hope is like the sun; if you only believe in it when you can see it, you will never make it through the night."

In the last 6 months, I have dealt with health scares, the death of a loved one, and financial hardship. The only thing that has carried me through was the hope I have in Jesus along with loved ones and a great counselor.

Star Wars definitely found a way into my heart but not just because it's a compelling story. As cheesy as it sounds, it has taught me a lot about life, love, and my faith.

On that note, May the Force Be With You, sweet friend.

Cheers,

Sarah

 

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