The greatest cosmic spirituality drama of our era with super cool light sabers is back. Star Wars: Episode III is out, it’s good, and it’s a big hit. That the film is deeply spiritual is not in question (George Lucas himself described his intention to “awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people” and loaded the film with not-too-subtle allusions to Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity.)
But audiences will ultimately judge for themselves. Will the spiritual influence of this massive pop culture icon be for good or ill? With the final film of the six now in release, folks around the Web have begun to weigh in. Here are a few highlights: Apparently inspired to use Anakin Skywalker’s loose morals as an instrument of instruction, a traditionalist preacher at Hollywood Jesus identifies related Bible passages and calls out the spiritual lessons of the movie. For example:
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
Repetitive, loveless, cheap sex? Excuse me, I must have dozed through that scene. The message in the movie’s “spiritual connections,” if I understand correctly, is that Star Wars needn’t be bad for spirituality if Christians learn the right lessons from the morals of the characters. Jeffrey Weiss discusses the film’s “quasi-religious mishmash” in a story for the Dallas News. Reg Grant, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, takes a traditional perspective when he says: “The Force is part of a cultural wedge of moral relativism,” said Reg Grant, professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary.
It has no explicit God behind it and no absolute moral code, he said. No Explicit Gods. No Absolute Moral Codes. These are required in order to avoid the great bugaboo of moral relativism. Ergo, Star Wars is bad for spirituality. Got it straight? Interestingly, the reviewer behind the religio-rationalist Office for Film and Broadcasting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops takes a different angle on relativism in the same movie.