Current Events, Movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- a Christian perspective 

sw-faI have read over 100 Star Wars books and watched all the movies dozens of times (probably well over 100 for each of the original trilogy). In other words, I’m a Star Wars fan. I absolutely loved The Force Awakens. It was fantastic. It was wonderful. It was Star Wars. I’m also a devout Christian. Here, I will evaluate the movie from a Christian perspective.

SPOILER WARNING: There will be SPOILERS in what follows. I want to make that as clear as possible. Read no further if you don’t want to read SPOILERS. I’m serious. Big ones. Are we clear? Read on if you have seen the movie, or don’t care about spoilers. I’m sure the comments will also have spoilers.

The Force

One of the most pervasive images of the Star Wars universe is that of the Force. Wait, imagery? Of the Force? Well, you can’t see the Force!

Yep, that’s right. We can see Jedi or Sith using the Force. We can see the effects it has on people, and its power. But we cannot see the Force. One might say it’s just a bunch of hokey religions (thanks, Han). But in The Force Awakens, Han Solo admits what he has known for a while: the Force is real.

What is interesting about this admission is how much people of all varieties have been attracted to the notion of the Force and the Star Wars universe in general. In reality, the Force is a metaphysical concept. It goes beyond the mundane, physical universe and reaches for something more. The drive for that “something more” is pervasive in humanity, I think. Inwardly, we know that the world is not limited to those things we can see through direct observation. Thus, we are drawn to even fictional portrayals of a deeper reality such as the Force. Like Han, we may talk the talk, but when push comes to shove, there is more to our world than meets the eye.

Family, Darkness, and Natural Consequences

Exodus 34:7 reads, in part, “[God] does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (NIV).

Many see this as a kind of vindictive verse. In fact, it is an example of human choices bringing about consequences. One of the things I have learned since becoming a parent (and I’m still learning) is that natural consequences are the most effective way to teach my son. If he stands on a chair, he gets removed from the chair until he is willing to sit instead of stand. The verse above shows how our actions and choices have natural consequences.

Anakin Skywalker’s choices have impacted his family in profound, terrible ways. Sure, he saved Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi, and he was reunited with the Force. But think about what his choices visited upon his children: they had to be separated at birth and whisked into hiding. Vader even cut off his son’s hand!

In The Force Awakens, we see those consequences being visited upon the next generation as well. Kylo Ren, Han and Leia’s son, appears to be trying to follow his grandfather’s footsteps. But instead of trying to follow them back towards the Light side of the Force, he is attempting to complete the Dark work of his grandfather’s alter ego, Darth Vader. Can a more poignant reminder of the punishment that can be carried on from generation to generation be given?

In the world we live in, we can see these same systems of injustice bringing punishment on one generation after another. World War II was, in part, brought about by crippling economic hardships imposed after World War I. Systemic racism continues in the United States, demeaning not just those against whom racism is directed, but also bringing darkness onto those who engage in it.

The passage from Exodus above can be read simplistically, but when taken in perspective like this, it is immensely profound. The poignancy of that statement: that the actions we take now can bring about punishment on our children, and their children… should lead us to consider what it is we are doing. Kylo Ren wasn’t created in a vacuum.

Redemption

The Force Awakens also points ahead to a hopeful reality, one which resonates with the Christian worldview. Han and Leia each believe that there remains good in Kylo Ren–Ben–still. Han risks his life on that evaluation and even sacrifices himself for it. Though we don’t see this coming to fruition, the seeds of hope are there. Will Ren follow his grandfather’s Dark choices to a logical end, or will he be brought back to the Light?

The movie ends with Luke Skywalker and Rey on a remote planet. This guru-like setting is also reminiscent of the Desert Fathers of the ancient Christian church (though ironically in a very watery setting!). Will redemption and hope be brought forth once more through Rey? That remains to be seen, but the seeds have been planted. Han’s willingness to believe in goodness in his son is the same kind of willingness we need to have when we confront evil. Yes, we need to be prepared to stand up against evil, but we also need to realize that we were yet sinners when Christ saved us. The “other” is like we were, lost to sin and in need of redemption.

Conclusion

Go see The Force Awakens. Be prepared to celebrate the joys of Star Wars again, but also to think. It’s a fun, delightful movie that is overlaid with much darkness. Yet, in the midst of all that darkness there is hope.

Let me know your own thoughts on the movie in the comments. I’d love to hear what you thought of the film.

Links

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SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

17 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens- a Christian perspective 

  1. Wow timely!

    Posted by SLIMJIM | December 18, 2015, 3:11 AM
  2. Excellent review! I absolutely loved the Force Awakens. I’m currently writing up a post on Star Wars as well. 🙂

    Posted by Anthony | December 18, 2015, 11:08 PM
    • I agree, it was so awesome. Feel free to talk spoilers here since there are all kinds of warnings on the post. I am dying to talk about its contents more with someone! Who was your favorite new character? What’d you think of the plot? The music?

      I also posted a more traditional review on my “other interests” blog, Eclectic Theist.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | December 19, 2015, 12:44 PM
      • I absolutely loved BB-8 and Kylo-Ren! I love how Abrams essentially put the original trilogy in one movie, and made it work. I was unhappy with Luke only being in it for 3 mins, but it really left me in great anticipation for episode VIII! The music was really fantastic, and actually sounded like he had some Hans Zimmer influence, especially on the track “Rey’s Theme”.

        What was your favorite new character?? Did you like the fact the killed Han the way they did?

        Posted by Anthony | December 20, 2015, 2:51 PM
  3. I have benefited from reading your blog in the past and have put up several of your blog posts up on my blog including the outstanding one you did on Ecclesiastes a while back.

    I also loved the movie and have been to see it 3 times already too. You make some good comparisons to Christianity in your post but don’t you think more should be made of the impersonal nature of the force since Eastern Religions seem to compare better to the force than Christianity.

    Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Everette Hatcher III | December 23, 2015, 8:04 AM
    • Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by.

      Regarding the Force, I think you’re right in that it’s impersonal aspects tend to fit better with Eastern thought, however there is much evidence in the Christian tradition for religious experience of the ineffable and the like, which would fit decently with the Force as far as the light side is concerned. Of course, the Force has a dark side, or at least can be used in such a way, and so I think the comparison here of simply relating it to an affirmation of something that goes beyond the physical reality is accurate. It can be used as a springboard for further discussion, but should not be an end in itself.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | December 23, 2015, 2:11 PM
  4. Great initial thoughts! I, too, want to know more about how Ben Solo (Solo-Organa?) came to be Kylo Ren. There’s lots of backstory to be told. Was it something in Han and Leia, something in Uncle Luke, that gave Snoke (stupidest Star Wars character name ever, but I digress) the opening he needed to lure Ben away? Which, of course, leads to questions about how we balance parental/ancestral responsibility — a prevalent biblical theme, as you point out — with personal responsibility, freedom to choose the good (Deut. 30), etc.

    I agree it was a whole lot of fun! I don’t think any movie could displace one of the original three as my favorite, but I am quite sure TFA slots in at #4… until, perhaps, Eps VIII and IX come down the pike!

    Posted by Michael Poteet | January 21, 2016, 10:13 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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