Belligerence in theological discussions is a reaction to a deep fear—typically unperceived as such—that one’s narrative is under threat.
Before someone goes off in the wrong direction, I am not saying Christians can’t disagree or even get angry. I’m talking about a life of faith marked by a theme of belligerence—hostility and aggressiveness toward others who think differently.
You know who you are. And if you don’t, the people around you will let you know (if you listen).
People fight about their views of God because they are afraid of the consequences of being wrong. Being wrong about God is fearful because it destabilizes their way of looking at the universe and their place in it. People tend to fight when frightened this way.
Let me put that in Yoda-speak: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
Show me someone who expresses his/her faith in language peppered with anger, and I will show you someone who is deeply afraid of losing control of God.
Of course, Christians could learn these points from sources within their own tradition. But we don’t always do that. And sometimes it helps when a perspective breaks in unexpectedly from a different angle.This is why I value theological engagement with (and not just secular academic study of) Star Wars. Its explorations of ethics and spirituality have interesting things that can enrich our own ethical reflection and spiritual exploration in positive ways.
And of course, this isn’t just true of Star Wars. See the recent article in Tablet about Stan Lee as a “great spiritual teacher.” The article mentions a book about Lee that the author is working on, which I’m sure many readers will look forward to with great interest. Also not to be missed is Stephen Garner’s latest post in his continuing series about science fiction from his childhood. The two that are the focus of his latest post were also important part of my childhood: Battlestar Galactica (the classic series) and Battle of the Planets. G-Force!
What profound spiritual, religious, and/or ethical truths have you learned from fiction? What stories or series played a formative role in shaping who you have become and the trajectory your life has followed?