Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Star Wars and Religion

Originally Published: November 14, 2005

After watching the entire Star Wars saga, it is clear there are certain underlying messages that the film series is trying to express to the audience. First, it should be pointed out that these films are good and as a whole, it is an exciting story to watch. However, we do learn something about the characters, about ourselves, and about society as a whole through the series. Allow me to enlighten.

For those who do not know the basic outline of the six films, let me explain it. First, the saga is about a Skywalker, but not Luke. Instead, it is really the story of Anakin, Luke's father. The first film, entitled The Phantom Menace, introduces the audience to young Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is a slave who is freed by a Jedi Knight, Qui Gon Jinn. When Anakin is taken before the Jedi Council, it is felt he is too old and too much of a risk for the Jedis to train to become a knight. The only person who has faith in him is Qui Gon. However, Qui Gon is killed and Anakin loses his first real father like figure. Enter Obi Wan Kenobi, who takes over as the new father figure for Anakin. Obi Wan will train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi Knights, but finds his young apprentice to be apprehensive and wanting more than the order can give. Through out the second film, Attack of the Clones, we see that Anakin is beginning to get frustrated with life in general. The reason for this is because his mother was killed and he could do nothing to stop her from dying. In the third film, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin turns to the darkside of the force as the Chancellor of the Republic, Palpatine, convinces Anakin that the only way he can save the one person in his life who means anything, Anakin's wife Padmee, is to join the Sith. As a result, Anakin is forced to betray the Jedis and kill them. In the end, Anakin battles Obi Wan in an epic battle where really two different points of view clash: who is really evil? Obi Wan successfully defeats Anakin after cutting off Anakin's legs and arm. That's right folks, three limbs are taken off in only ONE shot. After Anakin is transformed into the classic Darth Vader, he is told that his wife had died because of Anakin's rage. As a result, Anakin has lost the person he hoped to protect and therefore has nothing left to lose, pushing him deeper into the darkside.

In the fourth film, A New Hope, Anakin plays the villain as he kills Obi Wan and narrowly escpaes death himself when his son, Luke, destroys the Death Star. In the fifth film, The Empire Strikes Back, Anakin obsessively chases after Luke. The shock that Luke is his son is unknown to the audience until the dramatic confession is made that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Although Anakin could have killed Luke at anytime, it seems clear that he doesn't want to. But why? The answer can be seen in the final installment of the film, Return of the Jedi, where Luke and Anakin battle for the last time. In this film, we see that Luke has his own personal mission, to help his father battle the conflict of good and evil within himself and return from the darkside. The interplay between the two is clear that Anakin is battling his alter ego of Darth Vader. In the end, Anakin returns from the darkside when he watches Palpatine, now emporer, electrocuting his son right before his eyes. Anakin kills the emporer and in his final moments tells Luke that he was right about there still being good inside the elder Skywalker.

What we see throughout the film is the desire of Anakin to have acceptance. The Jedis do not trust him because they sense something is wrong with him. The only people who love him and care about him end up dead, but he does not realize that there are times where one person can change what is going to happen. The one person who tries to speak reason to Anakin, Obi Wan, is like the father who tries to show his son the errors of his way, but only talks toa brick wall. When Anakin sees that there is one person who believes in him and gives Anakin himself something to believe in once again, do we see tha there is an inner conflict for the good to return and repent for the mistakes of the past.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter is this, today's society seems to have an extremely negative view about religion. The battle between science and religion seems to be waging across the the country in schools, namely when it comes to evolution versus intelligent design. In addition, we have the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance. For some reason God is seen as taboo. So what does Star Wars have to do with religion and what is going on with the country? The answer is this. If we learn anything from Star Wars it is this: everyone needs something to believe in.

My friends, the world is a complicated place. to simply say that one view is right and there others are wrong is simply not the way things are done. In reality, the world is big enough to accept multiple ideas, so long as it is respected. The one thing Anakin needed above all else was something to believe in and the guidance, support, and the strength of others in him. Today, the shallowness of people drives them to look for insignificant things with only temporary support. The beauty of religion is that it gives people a much stronger sense of strength. We know that God can guide us. We know that God will support us through His love and wisdom. And we know that God will give us the strength of others by bringing people to us who care and like us. So when it comes to religion, people should not find it to be a negative thing. Instead, we should embrace it. We might not always enjoy everything that is said with the religion we may have, but in the end, it gives us the comfort and guidance that helps guide us through the hardest times of our lives.

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