Saturday, May 21, 2005


Secular interpretations of "greed and "ambition" miss the mark - the genius of Star Wars is that it somehow manages to explain why we sin and what sin does to us


INTRODUCTION - Star Wars is "Great art"

Even though I am no sci-fi fan, I admit to being one of the "Star Wars geeks." Each and every time I sit down to view any of the Star Wars films, I have a quasi-religious experience. "Star Wars" films are Hollywood's apotheosis, and not just because they tackle human themes of greed and ambition.

The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote that the essence of "great" art is its telling the "truth" and inspiring those who experience it to a deeper appreciation, even a metaphysical/religious appreciation, of who they are. Great art need not purposely portend to a Christian message; in fact, art that is antagonistic toward Christianity or is downright sinful to experience may be "great" if it tells the truth about, i.e., human nature. For example, see the films of Todd Solondz, especially "Happiness".

In that light, I watched the latest "Star Wars" film, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," at 12:10 a.m, opening day. Although "Revenge of the Sith" is "great art," I cannot say that I "loved" the film or that I can watch it over and over again because it disturbed me too profoundly. I thank God that this "great art" was disturbing because it moved me, in a Tolstoyan sense, to a deeper and disturbing understanding of who I am. The story of Anakin Skywalker's fall is the story of Genesis' Adam and the ugly effects of sin. The finality of the Darth Vader mask and the destruction of nearly all that was good in Anakin are the wages of sin, similarly, Adam was exiled from the Garden as "Original Sin" and death were wrought upon mankind. Like Anakin and Adam, we are all "Chosen Ones" who have blown it and made a mess of it all. But why and how?

The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden, Michelangelo

MOVING TOWARD A CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION OF STAR WARS - Steven Spielberg's secular notions of "greed and ambition" versus the Christian Truth regarding the ugly effects of sin.

Steven Spielberg has stated that Star Wars is a story about universal themes of greed and ambition, and that Anakin merely succumbed to them. Although that is true and although, quite possibly, Spielberg's explanations are the best that secularism has to offer, greed and ambition are merely simplistic parts of a larger issue. "Star Wars" really reflects the reasons why people sin and the ugly effects of sin on the human personality and "soul." Sin leads to the destruction of nearly all that is beautiful in people, and our partaking of the 7-deadly sins (pride, sloth, wrath, lust, avarice, envy, and gluttony) can lead to the destruction of our human potential.

As previously stated, the genius of Star Wars is that it somehow manages to explain why we sin and what sin does to us. Graham Greene once wrote that "love makes more mistakes than hate does." In that light, the fall of Anakin related to the fact that he loved too much. And that love, combined with a few of the deadly sins, especially "pride," was the witch's brew which Anakin willingly drunk. Anakin wanted to save Padme from death because he loved her. He also wanted to save all the people and other life forms in the Galaxy from the consequences of bad or inefficient government because he loved them so much. He was "afraid" that Padme would die, that all in the Galaxy would die due to continued warfare and lack of peace and prosperity, and he thought that he alone could save them--fear and pride.

Jesus stated, "be not afraid!" That is the key. Similarly, Yoda said, in the "Empire Strikes Back," that "Fear is the park to the Dark Side...Fear leads to anger...anger leads to hate...hate leads to suffering." Yoda did not think that Anakin should be trained in the ways of the Force and in the Jedi arts because he was naturally too fearful. Yoda knew that what Annakin feared losing could lead to his downfall. Luke Skywalker, Anakin's son, almost went the way of his father in the "Return of the Jedi" because Luke feared losing his friends and his sister Leia.

WAS ANAKIN SKYWALKER INHERENTLY EVIL? - How anyone can succumb to the "Dark Side" through a series of choices

Anakin never intended to become the hideous mechanical creature of Darth Vader. He intended to use the powers of the Dark Side to destroy the Jedi, whom he felt were power hungry and then to use the same powers to destroy Palpatine, the Sith himself. Full of dangerous pride, Anakin believed that he was powerful enough to do it, and that he could then rule the Galaxy with his wife Padme to bring peace, order, and prosperity. True, Anakin had shown great promise and was extremely powerful for one so young. However, instead of trusting his fellow Jedi, he thought that he could "go it alone." After telling Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson's) that Chancellor Palpatine was the Sith, Anakin refused to stay back in the sanctum of the Jedi Council Room. He had to get involved, and if he had only just metaphorically "stayed in for the night," nothing bad would have happened. It is likely that Mace Windhu would have killed the Sith, and that Anakin, even more respected, would have been released from the Jedi Order to live with his wife Padme and raise their children, who might have become Jedi. How many times have we all known that we should have "just stayed in for the night?" How many times has our leaving the hallowed grounds of our homes when we just had a feeling that we shouldn't caused bad things to happen to us?

Anakin sinned for what he thought were all the right reasons. And the "road to Hell is paved with good intentions." The key to understanding Satan's grip on humanity lies in his own name, "Lucifer." Lucifer means "bearer of light." Lucifer was the most powerful angel in Heaven, second to only God himself. And he fell, and took one-third of the angels in Heaven with him. Why? It was pride. In this vein, it is Satan who deceives us. When we sin, we are often convinced that we are doing right and heading towards the light or towards something good. It is Satan who seeks to influence our intellect. We sin for one of many reasons. Sometimes we sin because the activity makes our body "feel good" or it makes us "feel closer" to someone. Other times we sin because we feel like it will help us "get something we want" later, perhaps, to lead to a greater good. Most often, however, we sin because we are afraid of something, for example, that we will "lose out" on something we feel that we are entitled to--some form of fleeting pleasure attached to a good, a person, a way of life, or a physical/emotional sensation we think we "owe ourselves."

And of the wages of sin? Death. See Darth Vader. Anakin was deprived of his good looks, he broke Padme's heart, literally broke her heart, and he ended up trapped in the "Hell" of the Darth Vader outfit. He was forced to proverbially "wear the mask" unto his death. Instead of slaying the Sith, he became the Sith's servant and his whole existence came to depend on the Sith by the time of "Return of the Jedi." My eyes welled up with tears when I saw the mask of Darth Vader being drilled onto the distorted face of Annakin because I saw it as a metaphor for the effects of sin in my whole life. Make no bones about it, sin is the utter destruction of all that is good. And, as Kierkegaard wrote, "sin didn't only 'come into the world' when Adam sinned because sin comes into the world, fresh and new, every time each one of us sins." Anakin's story is a cautionary tale for all of us.

REDEMPTION IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE - There is "A New Hope" in all of us

Finally, Star Wars is a story about "Redemption." No matter how much we have sinned, and no matter how many mistakes we have made, it is never too late to change. Even Darth Vader was redeemed. Lucas has stated that Vader was redeemed by love of family. In fact, love of family is only part of the story. Anakin was really the "Chosen One." He was destined to "bring balance and order," and he did. Darth Vader comes to the rescue of his own son Luke in "Return of the Jedi" from his master. It is Darth Vader who kills the evil emperor. Anakin Skywalker, as Darth Vader, fulfilled the prophecy of his boy-hood.

We are all Chosen Ones. Only when Vader made the decision to become reconciled with the Force, in other words, only when Vader repented of his past sins, could he fulfill his "divine" mission. His son Luke Skywalker had faith him, and Vader's last words were, "Tell your sister you were right...You 'already have' [saved me]." If we repent of our past wrongs and make amends, we can all fulfill our destinies. And with God's grace we shall.


CNN.com - Was Darth Vader born bad? - May 19, 2005

Other blogs commenting on this CNN article: Target Centermass, Mama Write.

FOXNews.com - Views - CATO - Star Wars Saga Reflects Political Ideals by Thomas Firey, managing editor of the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine.

Other blogs commenting on this Fox News article: , MNSLOG.

The Weekly Standard: The Last Star Wars, a review of the prequels by Jonathan Last

Other blogs commenting on this Weekly Standard article: NeoConCrusher.

Other blogs commenting on Star Wars, One Fine Jay, American Mind's tally, review by American Mind, Michele, Timoty Goddard, Instapundit, John Podhoretz, Jim Geraghty, Scott Kurtz, Donald Sensing, Ed Driscoll, Solonor, Coalition of the DarkSide, Shutterblog, Not Rocket Science, Accidental Verbosity, A Small Victory, Karol, Ace of Spades, Joust the Facts, Baseball Crank, Coyote Blog, Andunie, Michelle Malkin, ,



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