“I am one with the force and the force is with me.” These are the words of Chirrut Imwe from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Yes, lately I have a great deal of time on my hands and I will admit that my subscription to Disney+ is paying off. As I was watching this movie again I was reminded of my attraction to Star Wars that started 43 years ago with the release of Episode IV – A New Hope. I can still remember what it was like to sit in a little, single screen theater that was so small that there was no concession stand. You had to buy your candy and drinks next door at the candy store before you entered the theater.
It was one of those old school, wood floor, glass containers with big metal scoopers and white paper bags kind of candy stores. The walls were lined with large wooden ladders that were affixed to a track that would cruise back and forth behind the counter as patrons called out their desired brand of chocolate bar or their favorite flavor of taffy. All while others were scooping out their desired amount of candy into white paper bags. Everyone met up at a huge scale, or what seemed to be a huge scale to a ten year old, to weigh their booty. The weight determined the amount that they would pay before setting sail from this fortress of candy concoctions.
Candy in hand, a fifty cents worth would last the entire movie, off to the little theater we would go. This particular one screen theater was so old that you could still see where the organ used to live, from back when movies were silent. The opening cartoon played, the whole theater went dark and then “Buh-Bum”, the first chords of the now famous music and the slowly scrolling words that introduces every episode: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” This was followed by a view of space, stars twinkling and then a space ship sails into view from the top of the screen, obviously running for its life as laser beams shoot from the back of the ship towards whatever was making chase. Then you saw what predator was lurking. Onto the screen, I mean the entire screen, slowly rolls in an Emperial Star Cruiser lobbing volleys of laser cannon blasts toward, what now appears to be the tiniest of spaceships. I am not kidding. I had never seen anything as big as this craft in my entire ten years of existence. The first little ship obviously didn’t stand a chance against whomever and whatever had created such an intergalactic beast.
Most of you know the rest of the story. Star Wars has gone on to become the biggest movie franchise in the history of the world with nine episodes and several spin offs. It is so big that Disney decided to buy it to make it a part of their kingdom. But I digress. Back to “I am one with the force and the force is with me.” In these movies, the force is an energy field that connects everything in the universe. There are two sides to the force, the light side and the dark side. Star Wars is, in essence, a documentary series about the battle between the light side of the force and the dark side of the force for the control of a universe that is far, far away from our own and existed a long time before our own. It is this primal battle between good and evil that makes this franchise so powerful and has given it the ability to last for as long as it has. Not to mention the cool special effects and the fantasmical other worlds that it explores.
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” This is a question that Jesus posed to Philip in John 14:10. Sounds very much like Chirrut Imwe’s mantra doesn’t it? Not that I base my understanding of God off of Star Wars, but I do have to think that our fundamental, human nature to battle between good and evil is at the root of the mass appeal of these movies. We want to believe that good can win. Yet, we also want to know that the choice is up to us. We acknowledge that evil will have its day, but in the end, light will always triumph over darkness as long as we don’t give up and give in. Something to think about as you sit at home and wrestle with God and this whole COVID-19 pandemic.