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May the Force Be with You

Melissa Tidwell

I saw the first Star Wars movie during the summer after my freshman year of college. In the years since, I’ve become a parent to a daughter who is now about the age I was that summer of 1977. We have seen all the other Star Wars movies together and have enjoyed them, though I never really considered them particularly deep. Yeah, good versus evil is a timeless theme; and the Jedi were clearly on the side of good.

But there was something Hollywood-superficial about Luke Skywalker’s knighthood. Each time Yoda purred, “Listen to your feelings, Luke,” I would cringe a little. Feelings as the source of ethical conduct? My feelings, for sure, are not always reliable guides, too likely to burn hot and cold, too likely to be directed at satisfying my immediate desires and not geared toward the common good. In this way, I am perhaps not so different from young Luke Skywalker. It was Luke’s feelings—especially his anger and jealousy—that got in the way of the dispassionate commitment to justice required of the Jedi, and it was precisely those feelings that Darth Vader tried to manipulate to lure Luke over to the dark side of the Force.


Feelings vs. Faith

The Revenge of the Sith has the most serious message of the entire series as this clash between feeling and faith becomes the critical point in the story of how Darth Vader is created. The viewer knows from the five previous films that it is young Anakin Skywalker who will somehow be transformed from an idealistic Jedi to an iron-lunged bad guy—the hideous but ultimately piteous old man who is Luke’s long-lost father. We know the transformation occurred, but how? What would make the knight believed to be the Chosen One use his strong connection to the Force in the service of evil? Feelings, as it turns out. Feelings most powerful, like love and fear.

Anakin’s love for Padme is so strong that he becomes desperately afraid of losing her. Yoda senses his struggle and warns him that the pain he is experiencing comes from his obsessive attachment to only one acceptable outcome in their relationship—the dream of a future in which he and Padme live happily ever after. By giving up this attachment and the desire to be in control, Anakin could have lived with less certainty but more peace. But power is a tricky thing. Having the power to levitate objects, to fight off six fully-armed droids, and to leap like an NBA center in flubber Nikes™ has left Anakin unwilling to accept limits or vulnerability. In pursuit of his goal, Anakin unleashes an enormous amount of destruction—betrayal, war, and death—with enormous implications.

Anarkin IMG_2441Anakin’s choice is one we will all face in one sense or another. Though few of us will be in a position to single-handedly change the future of the cosmos, the emotional power we wield, the hurt our words and actions can create have the force to slice through another person as cleanly as a light saber. Will we forget about the needs of others as we pursue our own happy ending—seeking to win at all costs? Will we consider the cost of our attachments to the outcomes we desire—or risk losing everything by trying to be in control? Will we be true to our commitments and the vows we make—no matter what the cost?

Anakin’s transformation came about not because of a single bad choice but as a result of many small choices along the way. As you make your own choices, think about prayer as one of the disciplines that will teach you to tap into a source of tremendous power. Pray like a Jedi warrior, and let the force of all love and goodness be with you.

 

DIG DEEPER

The Jedi live by a code of honor in which one pledges to be loyal, obedient, and honest. What kind of code do you live by? Look for words in a spiritual song, prayer, or worship setting—or write your own—that you would be willing to pledge as a vow of your commitment to Christ.

 

Melissa Tidwell is a writer, former editor of Alive Now, and an avid baseball fan in Nashville, Tennessee.

— from devozine (January/February 2006). Copyright © 2005 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved.

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