(Jonathan Ryan posting for Jen Schlameuss-Perry.)
This is going to sound really messed up at first, but that scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, when the Imperial Officers are all talking about their plans for the Death Star and Vader says, “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” and then uses the Force to choke Admiral Motti expresses so perfectly what being religious feels like sometimes.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this part:
It’s not the part when Vader chokes him, because that’s just not right (even if there are times when I sooooooooo wish I could do that), but the conversation about how powerful the Empire thinks they are. In their hubris, they entirely overlook the power of something quiet, but much greater than themselves—something that can, and ultimately will take them down. Admiral Motti actually calls the Death Star the “ultimate power in the universe.” He taunts Vader mocking his, “sad devotion to that ancient religion.” I feel like I’ve heardthat exact thing said to me before…or I might have drifted off into a Star Wars daydream…
More and more, religion is looked on with suspicion and, even worse, isn’t thought of at all. Now that I work with kids (I’m the Coordinator of Religious Education for a parish), I’m given an insight into their parents’ mindset. And before that, when I worked with young adults it was the same. Not only do most of them not have even a basic theological vocabulary, but the most basic Christian concepts are perfectly foreign to these young people. They are completely shocked when I tell them that, as people of faith, God should come first in their lives and that they should try to put others before themselves. No one ever told them that.
Our society seems to be moving in a direction that views religion as either the superstition of old people, or some vague authority that exists just to squish our fun. Like Darth Vader, I want people to recognize the power of the Force. Of course, he used it for evil for a long time, but he knew that those who used it for good and to promote justice and freedom for the oppressed—even without using fear tactics, or weapons of mass destruction—could overthrow what appeared to be an insurmountable enemy. It’s true in real life, too. With God, all things are possible. With faith lived in community, impossible things become a reality.