There are all these Christian themes running through the Star Wars movies. People have written bazillions of books. I didn’t think any were all that impressive. I’m feeling kind-of nerdy (and arrogant) tonight. I think I’ll blog about them.
I think that these become more obvious in the more recent movies. The most obvious connections are cosmetic ones. There are these little explicit nods to Christianity that are hard to miss. For example, Anakin is a product of an immaculate conception. The number for the plan that will destroy the jedi is order 66– only, of course, pretty close to the number made famous in revelations as the number of the beast. In the most recent movies, the force is even sometimes referred to as “the living force”– reminiscent of Christians referring to the “living God.”
Slightly deeper is ideas that run a little deeper than mere nods. The favoring of the spiritual over the material for example. The Star Wars movies paved the way for The Matrix in their declaration that the physical world is much less important than the spiritual reality which lies beneath it. Consider, for example, Yoda’s chiding of Luke when his lack of faith leads to his failure to rise the X-Wing fighter out of the muck. Or consider Ben Kenobi’s victory through surrender. (More on this in the next post about this topic.)
(Just for the record, I have some misgivings about the understanding of the physical world vs the spiritual world. Nonetheless, the orthodox Christian position has usually taken this route.)
A second paralell, also on this deeper level, occured to me recently. One of my favorite scenes in all six movies is the one in “Revenge of the Sith” where Palpatine is talking to Anakin in that bizzare opera house. He’s laying the ground work for his eventual corruption of Anakin, planting some seeds of doubt about the Jedi, some seeds of faith in the Sith.
I don’t know if this is why I liked the scene before I consciously realized it. Here’s what I do know about that scene, and really, the whole series of movies.
It’s really about the fall from the Garden of Eden.
Like Adam, Anakin is tempted. (Interestingly,two of the first three letters are the same of both names.) Clear parameters have been lain out for him. (In Anakin’s case, by the Jedi. In Adam’s case, by God.) The temptations of both Anakin and Adam are closely related to the God-like power of immortality. (Remember the tree of life in the Garden of Eden?) Both Adam and Anakin are tempted by a figure that takes advantage of greed, pride, and fear.
Like Adam, Anakin loses what he most sought. Vincent Antonucci, in his excellent “I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” observes that Adam’s crushed community with God is the obvious ramification of the fall. But his crushed relationship with Eve is also worth noticing. Anakin, of course, loses his Amidala just as Adam loses the community he once had with Eve. (We see this in Genesis by the way he tries to throw Eve under the bus as soon as God comes ’round.) The God- Jedi paralell is here, too: Anakin loses the Jedi just as Adam lost his close connection with God.
I think there’s all sorts of interesting paralells between Luke and Jesus just as there are between Anakin and Adam. I’ll probably “go there” in my next post.