What Christians Must Learn From Yoda

What Christians Must Learn From Yoda November 27, 2018

Pete Enns writes:

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?

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  • Rick Presley

    I have been a sci-fi fan since the early 70’s and have been at a loss to understand Evangelicalism’s reticence to embrace it as a forum for discussing spirituality. Sci-fi is, and always has been, a theological playground. One cannot read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy without pondering life’s biggest questions. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke opened us up to a world of theological speculation, but I don’t remember any preachers ever taking the bait. Frank Herbert prophesied many things that have only recently come to pass with jihads reminiscent of Dune or the threat of The White Plague. Heinlein quoted scripture in his titles, yet Evangelicals were clueless regarding the theology he was discussing.

    My fear is that many who are finally starting to notice theological themes are doing so with such a heavy-handed preachy approach that they miss the deeper lessons. Or even worse, they suck back the theology faster than an oyster on the half shell without bothering to check the flavor. I am put in mind of Orson Scott Card who has written volumes and volumes of Mormon/LDS theology (as a matter fact, he’s written nothing but) but I never hear evangelicals discussing it as such. They may read Ender’s Game and see the hero as a Christ figure, totally oblivious to Ender’s realization that he is a Satan figure and John is the real Christ figure in an LDS yin-yang. So as much as I should be encouraged by the interest in sci-fi as a medium for discussing theology, I don’t really have confidence that Christian pundits will plumb its real depths.

  • Always five acting as one. Dedicated! Inseparable! Invincible!

  • John MacDonald

    I think the most important lesson I learned from Star Wars was the “paradox” that our moral compass is constructed “relative” to our point of view, values, culture, biases, evolution, genetics, etc., and yet there is still “objective” light and darkness. For instance, there are going to be real moral differences of opinions, such as the abortion debate, but “all” people will have an ethical foundation where there will be a circle, however small, that they will act in a benevolent manner toward.

  • InDogITrust

    Star Trek, of course! Equality, to value diversity, to respect the different, to face the unknown with curiosity rather than fear, and to hope.