Why Star Wars Doesn’t Work (No Spoilers)

The latest Star Wars installment has sparked mixed reviews. After seeing it (for my second time) I had an interesting conversation with some friends about a pervasive worldview misfit in the galactic epic. Don’t worry, I won’t give any spoilers here for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, like my twins whom I’m taking to see the film after school today.

I happen to agree with my friend Sam Allberry, surprisingly enough, that the movie is wonderful in spite of  “some plot holes the Death Star could fit through.” You can discover those for yourself and decide whether or not you agree. In general, the critics have mostly loved the movie and the fans have been split, as though with a light saber, right down the middle.

One of the issues that pops up in every Star Wars film, however, is its irreconcilable notion of balance in the force in contrast to its heralding of the moral quest of the rebellion. The notion of the force is reflective of eastern religious concepts that all is essentially one and that any distinction between one thing or another, good or evil, is only superficial. But, while Jedis might talk about seeking balance in the force, they, along with the rebellion, are really fighting for goodness to prevail.

If the eastern religious notion of oneness was consistently applied in the narrative then there would really be no difference between good or evil, light or darkness. But what motivates fans in the millions, this worldview is not. Forgive the Yoda speak.

While moviegoers might prefer some bad guys’ weaponry over that of the good guys (think Darth Maul), deep down we all want the light to win out in the end. We want goodness to triumph. For making sense of that basic human desire, and the backbone of the Star Wars saga, we cannot look to Buddhism or Hinduism but to a Christian perspective of reality.

That light has come into a dark world, a world that was good and has turned bad, is a theme Christians celebrate every December on the twenty-fifth. The good news of Christmas is not that an impersonal force can be with us, but that God has come to be with us. Two-thousand years ago a bright star shone over a small village in the Middle East that marked the beginning of the end of the dark side.

Light has come into the world, a light that the Apostle John says gives light to every man (John 1:9). This is a message that reverberates throughout all of our best stories and resonates within every human heart because it explains our deepest longing for light to reign. We don’t want darkness to have the final word (John 1:5). We need this to be true. And in Christmas we discover the most wonderful thing: It is true. All of it. It’s all true. Joy to the world.