May 21, 2005


Dick Staub on the Star Wars Myth: Lucas's stories may have more in common with Hinduism than Christianity, but it's still True Myth, says the author of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters. (Interview by Stan Guthrie, 05/17/2005, Christianity Today)

In the book, you call both Star Wars and Christianity "mythology." What do you mean?

A myth is a story that confronts us with the "big picture," something transcendent and eternal, and in so doing, explains the worldview of a civilization. Given that definition, Christianity is the prevailing myth of Western culture and Star Wars is a prevailing myth of our popular culture. However, one of these myths is actually true and historically based, and that is Christianity. Both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien loved great myths, but each believed beneath all well-crafted myths there was the one true myth, Christianity.

Many observers have viewed the impersonal Force of Star Wars as a popular presentation of dualism or Hinduism, with both sides locked in a perpetual struggle, and neither one ultimate. In Christianity, light and dark are locked in a similar struggle, but good—being grounded in a personal God—is ultimate, while evil is merely a perversion of the good. Why then have you chosen the George Lucas mythology as a vehicle to convey Christian truth?

Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters was born after a conversation with a young Microsoft guy. We had seen one of the prequels, and over coffee afterwards he commented that he wanted to go deeper in his faith, but wouldn't ask most guys my age for advice, because we were all idealists in the '60s and then sold out and never really did the radical Christian deal. I said, "Oh, so you want to be a Jedi Christian and my generation didn't produce a Yoda!" As I thought more about the themes of Star Wars, the connection to helping the next generation become "Jedi Christians" just started falling into place.

My book is not a theology of Star Wars, but rather is a look at Luke's development from a directionless young man who discovered his life purpose after encountering Obi-wan and Yoda and learning from them about the "unseen Force." Today, many young people are seeking meaning, and my generation has failed to pass on the authentic and radical adventure offered by Jesus. This book is written for the next generation and those who love them. I hope it inspires people my age to step up and become the kind of followers of Jesus who inspire the next generation by example. I also hope the younger generation will desire a deeper, authentic faith, and that as they seek out more mature Yoda's to help them on the path, they will find them.

George Lucas, to my knowledge, has never made explicitly Christian claims for Star Wars. How would you compare his fantasy world with those of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien?

As you mentioned, the Lucas story is more theologically attuned with Hinduism. In Jedi mythology, the highest good is achieved by balancing light and dark, whereas Jedi Christians believe the highest good is achieved when darkness is defeated. In Jedi Christian lore, the dark side is not just the opposite of light, but is an unequal opponent of God, who, in Star Wars terms, is the Lord over the Force.

In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, there is a ring over the other rings, and then there is a Lord of the Rings. The wizards Sauron and Gandalf represent the dark and light sides, but Tolkien's title reveals his Christian belief that above all the rings and all manner of powerful wizardry, there is a Lord of the Rings who rules over all, and who will bring history to a just and good conclusion. Tolkien said of his work, "The Lord of the Rings is a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; it is about God, and his sole right to divine honor."

Lewis also recognized the ultimate rule and authority of God over the "forces of good and evil." As Lewis put it, we must ultimately decide whether Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or who he said he is, the Lord. The first chapter of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters draws this important distinction between the Star War's Hindu, monistic worldview and Christianity, which teaches that there is one who is wholly other and Lord over all.

The worst sin for a storyteller is not understanding his own tale.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2005 6:12 AM

I thought the force was an infection.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 21, 2005 5:23 PM