Monday, May 23, 2005

Following your heart and the Dark Side

A lot of bloggers are writing these days about Star Wars and Christian discipleship. Please forgive me for adding to the avalanche, but I've just finished watching all six movies with my wife and boys and am overwhelmed right now by the Star Wars galaxy. So at the expense of multiplying words, here are a few observations on the Force, righteous living, and Darth Vader.

Basically, the Force is simply that--a force, and nothing like the personal God of the Bible. It's a force Jedi warriors use and sometimes even control. Jedi religion may resemble Buddhism or Taoism, but Christianity it ain't.

Still, the basic message on personal maturity is light years beyond most of what's being offered today in popular culture. Jedi masters actually teach their apprentices to deny themselves and put others first. On the other hand the central message in Disney movies always seems to be, "Follow your heart; trust your feelings." Yet in Star Wars that is precisely the kind of attitude--passion, personal feelings, romantic love--that pushes Anakin to the Dark Side.

In Star Wars George Lucas set out to craft a drama of mythological sweep, and in the character of Anakin he succeeded. Have you ever found a more powerful story of fall and redemption than Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader? Anakin is a fictional symbol of the entire people of God, from Genesis to Revelation: temptation and fall; sin and struggle; triumph, resurrection, and glory.

Of course, there is one absolutely critical difference: Anakin (even with the help of prophecy, Luke, and the Force) ultimately saves himself. He turns from the Dark Side and emerges, at the end of his life, back into the light. The church, however, can do nothing to save ourselves; we are saved wholly and completely by the blood of Jesus Christ, the true Light of the World. That one difference, by the way, sets the Christian story apart from all others.


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