DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     May 27, 1999     vol. 10, no. 103


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          Today we complete the virtual trilogy series on the impact Star Wars has had on religion and the faithful. In the third episode, we bring you ZENIT's take on the hype and myth behind the phenomena as the international Catholic news agency delves deeper to try to decipher the code within the storyline and if the theology of Star Wars is Christian or new age and if the latter - from the parallel "coincidences" that mock the sacred - then it is something to get away from fast and put the soul controls in hyperdrive in order to evade the intruders of grace in our effort to return to the safe port of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - the only Federation that has a chance in the great battle with the evil empire of the nether regions.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: Reactions to the Theology of Star Wars

          LOS ANGELES, MAY 21 (ZENIT).- Yes, the movie has arrived and everyone is talking about it as if there were no tomorrow. It seems to have been reviewed from every angle, vantage-point and perspective possible. But after all the hoopla about new planets, underwater worlds and podracers dies down, some are asking themselves if there is any real message behind the whole 2 hour, 12 minute saga. Are the dialogues no more than transitions between saber battles and galactic attacks, and is there really any intellectual content behind all the computer-generated special effects?

          From the reaction of some reviewers, it would seem there is. True, most movie critics agree that the drama, in the words of L.A. Times film critic, Kenneth Turan, is "ponderous and plodding" compared to the original trilogy, while others, let's call them 'Christian critics,' have focused on some of the more specifically spiritual elements that to them are cause for concern for Christian viewers.

          Although the original Star Wars series was complete with religious-sounding karmas like "The force be with you!" and the Franciscan-looking warrior monk Obi-Wan Kenobi, some seem to think that, in this latest of the series, creator-writer-director and resident mythologist, George Lucas, is pushing the envelope a little too far with new elements of the Star Wars myth that comes conspicuously close to mocking Christian scriptures and beliefs.

          In an internet movie review, complete with stills from the main scenes of the new release, David Bruce and John Vitti remark that "there are lots of parallels to the Bible. Anakin has no father, 'virgin born' like Christ. He is a slave (living in a desert) hoping some day to set his people free, like Moses. Jedi Knight Qii-Gon Jinn believes that Anakin is the Promised One (Christ) of prophecy who will bring harmony to the universe and proclaims his belief as John the Baptist did of Christ. Anakin has a unique connection to the Force, as Jesus did to the Holy Spirit."

          In one scene, Anakin stands before the Jedi council, "as Jesus did before the temple priests" and hears words -- they maintain -- that are very similar to the Gospel passage of Matthew 11:3, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" (http://hollywoodjesus.com/phantom_menace.htm)

          Even Queen Amidala, the young matriarch of the besieged universe, in her elaborate costumes and headdresses, often seems to come complete with an artificial, or should we say, computer-generated, halo.

          Of course, Lucas has been quick to play down the religious- mythological aspects of the plot to emphasize that it's really just an action movie made for 13 year-olds. At a New York news conference last week, Lucas told reporters: "It's only a movie." And referring to those who try to read too much into his script, he added, "People should get a life."

          In the May 22 edition of World Magazine, R. Albert Mohler points out that, thanks in part to Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy, "in the years since 1977, Americans have become primary consumers of Eastern philosophies and ancient mythologies -- dumbed down for popular consumption and dressed up for a media age."

          "The mythology of Star Wars," Mohler continues, "is perfectly adapted to the spiritual confusion of postmodern America. 'Go with the Force' is about all many citizens can muster as spirituality. When Christianity ceases to be the dominant worldview of a culture, paganism is quick to fill the void."

          Whatever the spiritual or mythical undertones of the new "Star Wars, Episode I - The Phantom Menace," it's sure to be a box-office buster that will set new cultural standards, as high or low as that may be, at least until the next sequel to the prequel is released. So brace yourself for the barrage of Pepsi promotions and new double-bladed laser toys that are about to invade the everyday lives of our children today and their fantasies tomorrow. And ... May the force be with you! Whatever that means. ZE99052121

May 27, 1999       volume 10, no. 103


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