For the last week I have been trying to figure out what to post next. I am taking a sabbatical from heavy reading and have picked up some of my favorite fiction works, Star Wars novels. They are fun and quite interesting but I also find one other aspect that makes me enjoy them, at the weirdest times they give me insight into my own perception of spiritual things. I know how can a Star Wars book ever give me insight into spiritual things, right?
Well, the answer is simple. Star Wars is an expression of modern culture; as such it reflects the values and beliefs of the world at large. As I was reading some thoughts struck me as vaguely familiar. As I struggled to place them some things became apparent. As people write they do so from their own perspective, which is in turn shaped by their beliefs. When an author writes about things such as the “force” he has to have a framework to fit it into. The choice that the authors of Star Wars made was to view the Jedi as a religious group. (Granted, some may disagree with my assessment.)
This decision is important because it gives us a glimpse of the view that the authors have of religion as a whole. Inherent in the nature of the Jedi is the superimposition of the major world religions as people would define them today. There is an element of Buddhism, Christianity, and pantheism. So what insight have I gained from this? The answer is sort of complex but I will try to distill it into its component parts.
I have noticed a trend in modern Christianity (this should be read as a broad stroke statement) which depicts a pop culture view of faith. Just as Star Wars depicts the Jedi as mystics (from the fictional populace’s perspective) so has Christianity been perceived by the modern world. After all we believe in a God we cannot see, in a spiritual realm of eternal significance and in God who can do all things.
The problem lies not in our beliefs but in the fact that many Christians have accepted the world’s view of Christianity and have relegated the truth of their faith to the level of science fiction. Take for example the resurgence of theistic evolution, or the bent toward accepting the charismatic view of the role of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is buying what George Lucas was selling and thinking of God as a mystical force that surrounds us and is in us but only certain people can access.
Even worse is the perception that God is a tool to be used to make life easier. More dangerous yet is that thought that God is both light and dark. After all, if God made the world and if He is in control then HE must have created evil, right?
Perhaps the most dangerous part of this pop culture influence is that the force is seen as an abstract thing that is almost whimsical in its fluidity. You have to “learn to understand the will of the force.” One of my favorites quotes is this one, “Always in motion the future is.” The implication being that we control our own destiny and that everything can change if we make it change. Personally I’d much rather believe that God has foreordained the future and that it is His plan that is taking place not mine.
I guess the bottom line is that the struggle we face is not to resist pop culture per se but rather to remember that we are to be “in the world but not of it.” Know what is around you, analyze it, “prove all things” and remember it is not the force that “will be with you always,” it is the Son of God, Jesus the Christ!