Cracking the Star Wars Code -- Cornerstone 2000
HELLO -- Welcomes:
This is the FOURTH and FINAL lecture in the series -- Episode I
We've been talking about the STAR WARS Saga:
We've discussed its origins in the values and secret longings of the Sixties
And HOW IT SPEAKS THIS LONGING INTO MYTHIC AND METAPHORICAL TERMS...
In Episode 5 we addressed the charge of an Eastern or New Age Conspiracy
In Episode 6 we showed how STAR WARS has as much or MORE of Western Religion in it than Eastern
And I promised that by examining the NEW REVELATIONS of EPISODE ONE...
And by SPECULATING a bit on what's coming in EPISODES TWO AND THREE...
I would address what is perhaps the most serious of the Christian concerns:
That of DUALISM -- "The Good Side and the Dark Side"
First a WARNING: This COULD be considered a SPOILER SPEECH
Not that I actually have any inside sources -- I won't be using anything that George Lucas himself hasn't deemed fit for public consumption...
Tidbits from the Novelizations, etc.
BUT I DO THINK MY PREDICTIONS ARE ON THE MONEY... AND I WILL REVEAL HERE TODAY THE PLOTS OF THE UNMADE EPISODES!
SO GET OUT NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR
Now, this is a very public forum: 5 years from now we will see together whether I am a PROPHET... or whether I've just made a big FOOL of myself.
Let's start by going back to comments Lucas made in a 1997 interview about the ORIGINAL TRILOGY:
"The Star Wars series started out as a movie that ended up getting so big that I took each act and cut it up into its own movie. But in order to create that movie I had to create a backstory... there's this very elaborate backstory that was created in order to get to Episode IV. And it's that backstory that hasn't been told yet. This story -- the one that we've already seen -- pays off in a larger way. Because... in a sense you get the sense that it's the son vindicating the father. But we're doing this in a context where we don't know where the father came from, or what made him be what he is, or what needs to be vindicated. So we're just seeing the vindication without seeing the cause... we don't really understand what the conflict is at this point."
Here we see that even though STAR WARS is filled with space battles and planets blowing up, etc. etc., the REAL STORY has always been about an interior SPIRITUAL conflict... about REPENTANCE and REBIRTH:
In his 1999 interview Bill Moyers asked George about this... asked him if, after all, the main point of STAR WARS isn't about TRANSFORMATION:
"Well, it IS about transformation. Ultimately, it will be about the transformation of how young Anakin Skywalker became evil and then was redeemed by his son. But it's also about how his son came to find 'the call'."
In a 1995 interview, producer Rick McCallum also gave some more details about what the PREQUEL TRILOGY is really going to be all about:
"This is the story about one of the most extraordinary kids who ever had the power of the Force. It's the story of Anakin and what happened to him and that inevitable moment when he chose between good and evil. Why did that happen and how did it happen? That's the real saga. The ultimate moment is when you see Darth Vader reveal himself -- the impact of that moment will be incredible!"
Now, this "real story" is only hinted at in what we've seen so far.
LET'S DISCUSS THE PLOTLINE WE SEE IN EPISODE I:
Lucas has said that "Phantom Menace" is an appropriate title for Episode One because "nothing in this story is what it appears to be."
I feel that this episode was judged rather harshly because of this... so many false expectations and misapprehensions of what he was trying to do. People kept asking why didn't he do this? Why didn't he do that instead? All this from people who SIMPLY DON'T KNOW THE STORY HE REALLY IS TRYING TO TELL.
People found it hard to get excited about a trade squabble on the outskirts of the galaxy...
... not realizing that it really isn't ABOUT a trade squabble on the outskirts of the galaxy.
READ ALOUD: Lucas Interview 1983
"The prequels will be altogether different in look and tone from the existing trilogy. They will be more melodramatic, showing the political intrigue and Machiavellian plotting that led to the downfall of the once-noble Republic. They will have only enough outward action to keep the plot moving. Obi-Wan Kenobi... and Darth Vader will be seen as younger men, while Luke Skywalker may make a brief appearance as a baby in Episode III."
This "Machiavellian plotting" is, I believe, largely inspired by another book that was important to Lucas:
RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH by William Shirer
This book describes the collapse of Germany's post-WWI Weimar Republic and it's transformation into the evil Nazi empire under Adolf Hitler.
"The crisis of the Great Depression brought disunity to the political parties in the Reichstag. Instead of forging an alliance to enact desperately needed legislation, they broke up into squabbling, uncompromising groups."
Palpatine calls the Galactic Senate "a mass of squabbling delegates."
"Hitler offered... restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amidst chaos, a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again... "
Palpatine calls for "a strong Chancellor" who will "bring peace and prosperity back to the Republic."
"The Nazis had no intention of cooperating with the democratic government, knowing it was to their advantage to let things get worse in Germany, thus increasing the appeal of Hitler to an ever more miserable people."
"On September 12, 1932 the Reichstag under the new chairmanship of Herman Goring gave a vote of 'no confidence' to Fritz von Papen and his government."
Palpatine calls for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Vallorum's leadership.
"On the 29th of January 1933, a false rumor circulated that conservatives were about to stage a military takeover of the government. When President Hindenburg heard of this, it ended his hesitation. He decided to appoint Adolf Hitler as the next Chancellor of Germany."
Then came the burning of the Reichstag -- "a manufactured crisis."
The whole "Trade Federation Invasion" is a "manufactured crisis" of this kind... a PHANTOM MENACE.
DARTH SIDIOUS cares nothing for the Neimodians or their trade franchise... He has ONE GOAL ONLY... to get Senator Palpatine elected Chancellor of the Republic.
OF COURSE, Palpatine and Sidious are one and the same.
I think Lucas' model here was one of the Republic serials that have been such an influence on his life -- specifically, 1941's ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL.
In this one, a group of scientists discovers a set of twelve lenses which, when used in tandem, form a devastating weapon. To prevent any one of them from succumbing to temptation, they divide the lens among themselves and separate. Soon however, a deadly villain appears -- a dark, hooded figure known as THE SCORPION -- who begins killing the scientists off one by one and collecting their lenses. Before long, it becomes apparent that the SCORPION is actually one of the scientists themselves in disguise... yet neither the scientists nor the audience knows which of their number has this secret identity going.
READ ALOUD: From the original 1976 Star Wars Novelization
"Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and restore the remembered glory of the Republic... Once secure in office [however], he declared himself Emperor... and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears."
As to how the Senator from Naboo became a Sith Lord... well, let's look a George Lucas' longstanding interest in Hitler and the Occult... RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Here we find a vast secular bureaucracy run, at its center, by magicians and diabolists.
The Third Reich was outwardly atheist -- inwardly demonic.
Let's continue the Hitler parallel, then:
Hitler rose to power on the strength of his "SA" -- the Brownshirts, as they were called -- his STORMTROOPERS.
And we've known for 20 years that the wars which brought the Emperor to power are known as THE CLONE WARS.
WHO WERE THE CLONES?
Well, which characters in the Original Trilogy look the most like Clones?
Palpatine needs an army. Hitler needed one too.
Hitler created his by breaking the Treaty of Versailles -- and defying the international community to go to war over it.
What if Palpatine creates his army by a similar act of defiance? -- to wit, by flaunting some age-old Republican prohibitions of human experimentation and cloning.
Let's say that under the Republic -- which has, after all, ruled with peace and justice for "a thousand generations" -- civilization became so advanced that war became practically unknown. It became so rare, in fact, so limited and so frowned upon, that what little conflict remained had been relegated to small, local police actions conducted entirely by mechanical armies.
But (as we saw in Episode One) these armies were only suited to a civilization in a very advanced state.
(There's a parallel here to the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Civilization at that time had reached such an advanced state that warfare had an almost ritual quality -- like a duel -- and civilians were rarely involved. Two columns of colorfully dressed soldiers met in a field -- almost like a complicated dance. Then, when the American minutemen decided to invent guerilla warfare and use it on them, the redcoats were sitting ducks... almost like the droid armies of the Trade Federation).
The battle of Naboo proves that droid armies are decidedly unsuited for heated, in-earnest, galaxy-wide conflagration... such as Palpatine is preparing for.
So... what the would-be Emperor needs is a quick, cheap, "just add water" sort of army -- the shock troops he will use to claw his way to the top.
What if he achieves this by cloning a small group of live, crack commandos into a huge, faceless army of human drones... who become the familiar Imperial Stormtroopers of Episodes 4-6?
The "Clone Wars" then, would be the JEDI vs. STORMTROOPER wars fought for the control of the Republic.
Who leads these CLONE WARS? For years we assumed that it must be the SITH LORDS.
But now we know that there are never more than two of these at a time.
Another possibility: BOBA FETT and his mysterious MANDALORIANS. Possibly they are the original "SA" from whom Palpatine cloned his army.
Any confirmation of these theories?
READ ALOUD: 1999 interview with Lucas in a Japanese magazine
"The reason why the stormtrooper army was created will be told in Episode 2, but it becomes obvious to the Emperor that droids are of no use for fighting... This entire issue will be explored fully in the next film. You will learn why droid armies perform badly and evolve into stormtrooper armies."
NOW: Let's see if we can uncover more of the plot for EPISODES II & III...
... by looking at more interviews, etc., BUT ALSO by looking more closely at some of Lucas' OTHER INFLUENCES.
READ ALOUD: Natalie Portman interview 1999
"Amidala is going to fall in love in Episode 2. She's so stony and severe in the first film. It's going to be interesting to see how she changes."
READ ALOUD: Lucas interview 1999
"Obi-Wan is a developing character with little personal history at present. In Episode II his relationship with and Anakin and the Queen will be brought into focus over the course of a love story."
Now, this may sound egotistical... but you can ask my friends: I've been speculating for 15 years that ANAKIN'S FALL INVOLVES A WOMAN.
Dramatically speaking, his temptation needs to be vital, immediate, understandable.
As we have seen in our other sessions, Anakin keeps much of his nobility even as Darth Vader.
He has kept the dignity of the ancient religion: "I find you lack of faith disturbing."
He seems to take actual pleasure in offing the greasy Imperial officers he is surrounded with.
So his fall to the Dark Side CAN'T HAVE BEEN MOTIVATED BY AMBITION, GREED, LUST FOR POWER, or any of the other baser motives.
His mother tells us that Anakin "knows nothing of greed."
I just knew somehow that whatever it was, it HAD TO HAVE BEEN A MATTER OF THE HEART.
I speculated that it might involve some kind of LOVE TRIANGLE between Obi-Wan, Anakin, and the mother of Luke and Leia.
Well, now we know that Queen Amidala of Naboo is the mother of Luke and Leia.
But WHAT ELSE can we deduce about this "romance" in Episodes 2 & 3?
LET'S GO BACK AGAIN TO GEORGE'S SOURCE INSPIRATIONS:
Specifically -- to White's ONCE AND FUTURE KING.
I mentioned that the first half of ONCE AND FUTURE KING was made into the Disney movie SWORD IN THE STONE.
And the SECOND HALF?
Into 1967's CAMELOT.
How many have seen either the movie or the play of CAMELOT?
CAMELOT is probably the most dramatic and wrenching LOVE TRIANGLE in the movies.
You remember the story:
Young Arthur Pendragon, chosen by fate to be the rightful king of the realm, is betrothed to Princess Guinivere in a marriage of convenience.
Yet in spite of the fact that this marriage is an arranged one, Arthur falls deeply in love with Guinivere... and she accepts the marriage as well, though perhaps with somewhat less conviction.
In the wars to establish his noble "Round Table" Arthur is joined by Sir Lancelot du Lac -- the greatest knight in the world.
This Lancelot has skills far beyond those of other knights and his spiritual purity equals his physical perfection.
So much so, in fact, that he even seems to have miraculous powers...
Lancelot believes that all these things have been granted to him so that he can fulfill his destiny by questing for -- and ultimately finding -- the long lost Holy Grail.
But as you also probably remember, all of this is ruined when Lancelot and Guinivere fall helplessly and hopelessly in love with each other.
This love is doomed, of course, and all three principals realize it from the beginning. Yet the Fates seem to have dictated their parts to them in a drama that can only end in the destruction of everything they all hold dear.
... even of the romance between Lancelot and Guinivere itself.
LANCELOT ends up deserting Arthur when he is most needed and opening him to the assaults of his mortal enemy, the wicked Sir Mordred... who has skillfully exploited Lancelot's anguish for his own purposes.
ARTHUR ends up fighting with his own most loyal and trusted protégé Lancelot... and destroying his cherished Round Table in the process.
And GUINIVERE, seeing that her actions have brought about the Fall of the Round Table, shaves her head in penance and disappears forever into a convent of nuns.
Arthur is Obi-Wan Kenobi
Guinivere is Queen Amidala
Lancelot is Anakin Skywalker
The Round Table is the Order of the Jedi Knights
And Mordred is the Emperor, Darth Sidious.
If this is, in fact, Lucas' inspiration, then WE MIGHT EXPECT THAT:
OBI-WAN (possibly General Kenobi now) will become engaged with or actually married to... Queen Amidala.
AMIDALA will return his love with respect and affection (possibly for the sake of a political alliance which could save her homeworld of Naboo).
That Obi-Wan's apprentice ANAKIN, will have become the greatest Jedi Knight of them all, rumored to have been divinely chosen for a miraculous purpose.
But that this Anakin shall also fall in love with Amidala... and she with him... and that this illicit love affair will eventually destroy their relationship with Obi-Wan and the Jedi.
DARTH SIDIOUS will be waiting in the wings, ready to exploit this Achilles Heel that has now been introduced into the mighty Jedi Order.
And that the FINAL TRAGEDY which will engulf this star-crossed trio will be that their LOVE TRIANGLE will help the Emperor to bring about the state of affairs we hear described in Episode 4:
"The Jedi are now all but extinct... their fire has gone out of the universe... Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin are all that is left of their old religion... and one of them has become an agent of evil... "
NOW, let's see if there's any evidence that I might be right here:
READ ALOUD: Lucas Interview 1999
"[Episode 2] will be the romantic one, which is probably a rather dramatic departure -- which some people may not like. There will be some action in it, but it's basically more romantic. The next two will be darker. Episode 2 isn't so bad. The third one's pretty bad... Episode 3 will probably make half of whatever the others make."
READ ALOUD: Rick McCallum interview 1999
"We start to learn the reasons why Anakin turns towards the Dark Side... What is it, basically, that makes people do these terrible things to each other, especially to people they love?"
Is there anything in the Original Trilogy that is illuminated by this new slant on things?:
Luke: "Obi-Wan! Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Ben: "Your father was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Ben: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed at how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong."
This same scene contains some additional information in the paperback novelization of RETURN OF THE JEDI:
"Ben: "When I saw what had become of Anakin, I tried to dissuade him, to draw him back from the Dark Side. We fought... your father fell into a molten pit... When he clawed his way out of that fiery pool the change had been burned into him forever -- he was Darth Vader... irredeemably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will."
Obi-Wan called Vader "irredeemably dark."
But is this true?
Luke: "There is still good in him... "
Ben: "He's more machine now than man... twisted and evil."
Luke: "I can't do it, Ben."
Ben: "You cannot escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again."
Luke: "I can't kill my own father!"
Ben: "Then the Emperor has already won. You were our only hope."
Luke: "Yoda spoke of another."
Ben: "The other he spoke of was your twin sister."
Luke: "But I have no sister."
Ben: "To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, that if Anakin were to have any offspring they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remains safely anonymous."
Here we see two most important bits of evidence displayed:
First, we see that Luke still holds out hope for Anakin when Obi-Wan is unable to. And that this hope is ultimately the only thing which will be able to reverse the evil effects of the old LOVE TRIANGLE.
Obi-Wan is too close to the matter... gives up too soon.
Luke is outside the loop...
AND HERE IS POSSIBLY MY SINGLE BEST BIT OF EVIDENCE THAT WE'RE PARALLELING KING ARTHUR HERE:
WHO REMEMBERS WHO IT IS THAT ULTIMATELY FINDS THE HOLY GRAIL? WHO SUCCEEDS WHERE LANCELOT HAD FAILED?
And who is GALAHAD? Lancelot's SON.
Galahad vindicates his father by RECAPTIULATING him... yet without sin.
Luke vindicates his father's role as the Chosen One by resisting temptation where Anakin had succumbed.
ANAKIN, because of his bitterness towards OBI-WAN was unable to resist the Emperor's temptations.
(There's also an element of the LITTLE MERMAID story here... in which the lovesick Ariel, bitter from her Father's harsh interference, goes to the SEA WITCH for help instead).
"Anger and fear are the path to the Dark Side."
Luke's thoughts are less conflicted... his motivation is PURE.
Remember that the moment of Luke's final victory is when he himself SEES THIS RECAPITULATION HAPPENING... after he had just cut off Vader's mechanical hand, reminding him of the mechanical hand he wears from their initial encounter.
THIS IS ANAKIN'S TRAGIC TEMPTATION SCENE IN REVERSE.
Luke tells Vader: "Father... let go of your hate."
Which hate is he speaking of? BITTERNESS TOWARDS OBI-WAN.
Listen now, for something interesting:
Vader: "I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master."
Ben: "Only a master of evil, Darth."
Emperor: "We have a new enemy... Luke Skywalker."
Vader: "Yes, my master."
Emperor: "He could destroy us."
Vader: "He's just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him."
Vader: "Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way to save your friends. Yes. Your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong... especially for... sister. So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now, his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will."
IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT OBI-WAN, ISN'T IT?
Luke is "just a boy." But Obi-Wan is the cause of all his misfortunes...
The second thing we see in the passage we heard a moment ago is the fulfillment of the rest of the ONCE AND FUTURE KING parallels:
The EXILE. The kids were "hidden away safely anonymous."
This is "Guinivere in the nunnery."
READ ALOUD: Carrie Fisher interview 1983
"Leia's real father left her mother when she was pregnant, so her mother married this King Organa. I was adopted and grew up set apart from other people because I was a princess."
READ ALOUD: JEDI Novelization
Ben: "When your father left he didn't know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible... I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine... and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa on Alderaan."
Who did Ben take Luke to live with? His BROTHER Owen?
Luke's UNCLE Owen?
Do you see it?
If Owen Lars -- Obi-Wan's brother -- is Luke Skywalker's UNCLE... then wouldn't that make Obi-Wan Luke's FATHER?
At least legally speaking?
In other words, Queen Amidala -- whom we know to be Luke's mother -- has Anakin Skywalker for the father of her children...
... but Obi-Wan Kenobi for her HUSBAND.
VERY INTERESTING ;-)
Luke with Owen is like Wart with Sir Kay... made to scrub floors.
The infant Leia goes with Amidala to Alderaan... the nunnery... and thereby acquires her early memories of her.
BUT... if Luke recapitulates Anakin, and succeeds where he failed, wouldn't that make Luke "the Chosen One" and not Anakin?
Indeed, some people have speculated that this may be the case...
In fact, many Christians rushed to this idea as a way to avoid having a Messiah figure who falls from grace...
And yet, Lucas ended this line of speculation recently when he said definitively in an interview that Anakin is, in fact, the Chosen One and not Luke.
SO... this brings me to the most difficult part of my "Christian defense of STAR WARS"...
ANAKIN/DARTH VADER as CHRIST FIGURE
Qui-Gon: "You should be very proud of your son. He gives without any thought of reward."
Shmi: "Well, he knows nothing of greed. He has a... "
Qui-Gon: "He has special powers."
Qui-Gon: "He can see things before they happen. That's why he appears to have such quick reflexes. It's a Jedi trait."
Shmi: "He deserves better than a slave's life."
Qui-Gon: "Had he been born in the Republic we would have identified him early. The Force is unusually strong with him... that much is clear. Who was his father?"
Shmi: "There was no father. I carried him. I gave birth. I raised him. I can't explain what happened. Can you help him?"
Qui-Gon: "I don't know. I didn't actually come to free slaves."
This was a shocker to most Christians -- even to myself at first.
If Anakin is virgin born wouldn't that clinch the fact that he IS meant to be some kind of Christ-figure?
... and wouldn't that, then, give us some serious questions about his role as the one who "will bring balance to the Force?"
... with all the DUALISM which that would seem to imply?
Does Anakin bring this balance by being a CHRIST WHO IS BOTH GOOD AND EVIL?
Is Lucas saying that what the world needs is a nice gray MIXTURE OF GOOD AND EVIL... and that the Evil side of God needs equal time with the Good Side or things will get boring?
Well, let me admit right off that there are some forms of religion that do harbor these kinds of ideas...
But as I said before, I don't think George Lucas does a very good job of speaking for Eastern Religion.
I think that in spite of his hippie-ism, George's LUTHERANISM has a funny way of popping out from time to time... especially when Eastern ideas get too ugly or alien to be good ingredients for EUCATASTROPHE.
But perhaps, before getting into the details, we'd better address this "Virgin Birth" business head-on:
First of all, let's get something straight.
YES, ANAKIN SKYWALKER IS VIRGIN BORN.
Lucas has said so in interviews... despite some weird speculations to the contrary.
(And BTW, did you notice what was Pernilla August's next role as an actress? -- TV miniseries "MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS." Same role twice in one year!)
So -- what's George saying here? Is this a MOCKERY OF CHRIST?
I don't think so. In a recent interview Lucas said that people shouldn't get so hung up on the connection with Jesus. He correctly points out that just about every mythology known to man has a virgin birth story in it. It's a worldwide theme. Just about any mythological avatar who is going to be set apart for some great purpose is likely to be Virgin-born in these stories. And it isn't necessarily a sign, always, of divinity or sinless perfection.
Lucas gets this from JOSEPH CAMPBELL, who devotes a whole chapter of his "HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES" to the VIRGIN BORN HEROES in mythology.
If you've been coming to my "KING KONG DIED FOR YOUR SINS" series, you've already seen something about Christ-figures... that they often embody ASPECTS OF CHRIST, rather than the complete meaning of Christ.
AND THIS IS TRUE OF THE MANY CHRIST-FIGURES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AS WELL.
MOSES, for example:
Parallels to Christ: Moses is the Prophesied Redeemer, the Chosen One, who longs to free his people from bondage.
Parallels with both CHRIST and ANAKIN.
BUT MOSES IS NOT SINLESS. In fact, it's precisely because of his sin that he is not allowed to enter the Promised Land himself, but only to view it from afar.
Possibly the best example of this principle, however, is SAMSON.
Samson is definitely a Christ-figure. The Church has always held this to be the case. Among many other things, Samson stretches out his arms (between two pillars) and by bringing death upon himself pulls down the house of his enemies... the enemies of God's people.
But Samson is definitely NOT SINLESS.
In fact, the whole reason he is IN the house of God's enemies in the first place is because he sinned with a Philistine woman... joined their side, so to speak.
Just as Anakin is able to destroy the Empire precisely BECAUSE he's in the Death Star with the Emperor... and the Emperor trusts him.
GOD IS NOT AFRAID TO LET SINNERS STAND IN FOR HIM SYMBOLICALLY AT TIMES:
DAVID -- Upon whose throne Christ sits.
SOLOMON -- who judges the world from that throne with infinite wisdom.
And JONAH -- whose 'three days and nights in the belly of the fish' are Jesus' own favorite symbol for His death and resurrection.
BUT THESE THREE WERE NOTORIOUS SINNERS, ALL.
And even as symbols they are very iffy. Jonah, for example, goes into the belly of the whale because of his disobedience.
Which might make us want to second guess it as a symbol for Jesus' tomb... since Jesus goes there as the ultimate sign of OBEDIENCE...
BUT if we do this, we're second guessing the Lord Himself.
SO, I think we can say:
A: That Christ-figures who fall from grace are not only acceptable, but actually an old Christian tradition...and Old Testament tradition.
B: That George Lucas is not saying anything in particular about Christ by making Anakin virgin-born. He makes him a Christ-figure... but not a strict Christ-allegory.
NOW, Concerning His Mission to "Bring Balance to the Force":
This will take us into some very deep water indeed... but if what I'm saying does turn out to be right... then the ultimate message of STAR WARS will be a very Christian one indeed!
Do you recall that in Lecture #2 (or "Episode V") I wanted to address the pious Christian T-Shirt that read: "JESUS -- The Force Without a Dark Side"?
And how -- without mitigating the fact that Christianity's God is pure good without any admixture of evil -- I wanted to simultaneously express the fact that "Aslan is not a tame lion."
I wanted to remind you that we are all "Jobs" -- to whom God says, "Who are you, little man, to question me?"
That sometimes God's purposes can be good... but also TERRIBLE.
Some of this is expressed in the ancient Easter prayer which reads:
"Oh happy fault! Oh necessary sin of Adam, that brought down from heaven so great a redemption!"
Now, obviously, in the strictest sense, Adam's fault was clearly NOT HAPPY.
BUT THE POET DOES NOT SPEAK STRICTLY.
He wants to express something nearly inexpressible...
... the fact that GOOD & EVIL ARE INTERTWINED IN THIS WORLD.
NOT MIXED, MIND YOU, BUT INTERTWINED WITH EACH OTHER -- IN A WRESTLING MATCH THAT MIGHT EASILY BE MISTAKEN AT TIMES FOR AN EMBRACE.
Orthodox Christianity teaches that our world is indeed sadly fallen... but that this fallen world has a certain POIGNANCY to it, a particular type or flavor of goodness in it, which WE WOULD NEVER HAVE SEEN IF WE HAD NOT KNOWN EVIL FIRST.
That even though a timeless, static Garden of Eden would undoubtedly have been a GREAT GOOD.
Nevertheless, we would never have seen the Garden of Gethsemane without losing it first.
AND -- IN OUR HEART OF HEARTS -- WOULD WE REALLY WANT THAT?
Recall that Jesus said that the man who has been forgiven many sins will love Him more than the man who has been forgiven few.
NOW: If this emotion is legitimate, even in Christians, might we not expect to see it being addressed (very imperfectly) OUTSIDE THE CHURCH as well?
This, I think, is what the Orientals are really trying to express in their Dualisms, their Shiva/Kali pairings...
THAT THERE'S A CERTAIN KIND OF GOOD WHICH IS SO SEVERE AND EXTREME THAT IN THE EYES OF MORTALS IT MIGHT PASS FOR EVIL... AND EVIL, THOUGH UGLY IN ITSELF, BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN THE FORCES OF GOOD WHICH COMBAT IT.
Now please don't go out and tell everyone that "Rod is a dualist."
The Eastern Religions know nothing of The Fall.
As a result, they are forced to imagine some kind of God who WANTS THINGS TO BE THE WAY THEY ARE NOW!... a prospect which would ruin anybody's theology!
This is the reason their version of this legitimate impulse really is open to terrible abuses.
BUT NOTICE THAT THEY'RE INCONSISTENT... AS THEY MUST BE.
They're better than their philosophy... they LOVE Shiva and fear Kali... even though they are supposed to be the same person.
Watch Lucas' version now... which is even more diluted with Truth:
READ ALOUD: Lucas interview 1999
"[On the state of the Republic in Episode I] If good and evil are mixed, things become blurred -- there is nothing between good and evil, everything is gray. In each of us, we balance these emotions, and in the STAR WARS saga the most important point is balance, balance between everything. It is dangerous to lose this."
He's using the WORD balance -- but if you listen closely you see that what he really means is segregation. We need to segregate good and evil, and it's dangerous not to.
Notice that Lucas is explicitly REJECTING the graying of good & evil!
"... I think the core issues I'm dealing with are still valid... if they were valid 2000 years ago, they've got to still be valid today, even if they're not in fashion... I think a lot of those moralities have gotten grayed to the point that they don't exist anymore. But those issues are still there... "
Lucas himself thinks he is DOING BATTLE with the very forces he's been accused of promoting!... that is, the idea that GOOD & EVIL are (or should be) mixed into shades of gray.
He wants them to be BALANCED... not like the black & white pigments in a pot of gray paint...
...but like black & white stones in the dishes of a scale, with all the black ones on one side, and all the white ones on the other.
WITH ALL THIS IN MIND, LET'S EXAMINE SOME OF THE ACTUAL MATERIAL IN EPISODE ONE:
About the story, Lucas says this:
"In The Phantom Menace, one [member] of the Jedi Council knows that the balance of the Force is starting to slip... and will slip further. It is obvious to this person that the Sith are going to destroy this balance. [By coming back into existence!] On the other hand, a prediction is referred to which states that someone will replace the balance in the future. At the right time a balance may again be created, but presently it is being eroded by dark forces."
Remember that BALANCE IS SEGREGATION in Lucas' mind.
NOW... all this establishes one important fact, which might seem obvious at first but is often missed:
THE FORCE NEEDS BALANCING.
In other words, the Republic we see at the start of Episode One IS NOT WHAT IT SHOULD BE. It has already fallen, to some degree, before Episode I ever opens.
Recall Palpatine -- "The Republic is not what it once was."
To illustrate this, I'm going to evoke one more source: the New Testament itself.
OTHER THAN THE VIRGIN BIRTH, WHICH SERIES OF EVENTS IN EPISODE ONE IS MOST LIKE A SERIES OF EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST?
Answer: CHRIST BEFORE THE DOCTORS -- Age 12
Also: Christ on trial before the Sanhedrin. "We don't know who you are."
Anakin is presented to the Jedi Council as the fulfillment of a prophecy which they are supposed to have been waiting for.
Yoda: "Master Qui-Gon. More to say, have you?"
Qui-Gon: "With your permission, my master. I have encountered a vergence in the Force."
Yoda: "A vergence, you say?"
Mace Windu: "Located around a person?"
Qui-Gon: "A boy. His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I've seen in a lifeform. It is possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians."
Mace Windu: "You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this... boy?"
Qui-Gon: "I don't presume to... "
Yoda: "But you do. Revealed your opinion is."
Qui-Gon: "I request the boy be tested, master."
Yoda: "Oh? Trained as a Jedi your request for him, hmmm?"
Qui-Gon: "Finding him was the will of the Force. I have no doubt of that?"
Mace Windu: "... Bring him before us then."
In this analogy:
ANAKIN is CHRIST
QUI-GON JINN is JOHN THE BAPTIST
THE JEDI COUNCIL is the SANHEDRIN
And YODA is...
Gee, I hope not. I have another theory I'll propose in a moment.
For now, let's listen again as the Doctors test Anakin's credentials:
Anakin: "A ship. A cup. A ship. A speeder."
Yoda: "Hmmm. How feel you?"
Anakin: "Cold, sir."
Yoda: "Afraid, are you?"
Anakin: "No sir."
Yoda: "See through you, we can."
Mace Windu: "Be mindful of your feelings."
Ki-Adi Mundi: "Your thoughts dwell on your mother."
Anakin: "I miss her."
Yoda: "Afraid to lose her, I think... Hmmm?"
Anakin: "What has that got to do with anything?"
Yoda: "Everything! Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you."
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
BUT WHAT DOES SUFFERING LEAD TO?
Yoda doesn't want to know. Neither do the other Jedi.
Now, we, of course, as the audience, know that Anakin will, in fact, become Darth Vader.
So many of us may have assumed that these scenes are just supposed to show how wise and forward-looking Yoda and the Council are...
BUT WHAT IF THEY'RE NOT?
Many people have also noticed how stiff and unappealing the Council seems to be...
They would have made them better than Lucas did... more swashbuckling, romantic, more noble.
BUT WHAT IF THE COUNCIL WE SEE HERE IS NOT WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE?
WHAT IF THE FORCE IS OUT OF BALANCE RIGHT FROM THE START... AND THE COUNCIL HAVE OSSIFIED INTO A CLINGING, RIGID BODY OF OLD MEN... LOOKING OUT FOR "THEIR NATION AND THEIR PLACE" LIKE THE PHARISEES?
Look how different Qui-Gon's response to Anakin is to theirs:
Obi-Wan: "It's not disrespect, master, it's the truth."
Qui-Gon: "From your point of view... "
Obi-Wan: "The boy is dangerous. They all sense it. Why can't you?"
Qui-Gon: "His fate is uncertain. He's not dangerous. The Council will decide Anakin's future. That should be enough for you. Now get on board... "
"Finding him was the will of the Force."
And Qui-Gon responds to that fact IN FAITH.
If Anakin is the Chosen One... the Messiah... well, then he's the Chosen One.
Who are we to question God? And if the Force has ordained that suffering is what the world needs right now, then that, once again, is HIS BUSINESS.
We must respond as Mary did: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to thy word."
The Council, on the other hand, responds to the Chosen One exactly as the Pharisees did:
Ki-Adi Mundi: "The Force is strong with him."
Qui-Gon: "He is to be trained then?"
Mace Windu: "No. He will not be trained."
Mace Windu: "He is too old."
Qui-Gon: "He is the Chosen One. You must see it!"
Yoda: "Hmmm. Clouded this boy's future is."
Here Yoda is doing nothing less than second-guessing the Force. There's no legitimacy at all to his attitude. They've seen every sign that they could possibly want... Anakin prophecies, he shows them miraculous signs... he's even Virgin-Born, for crying out loud.
The final proof of YODA'S SIN in this matter comes later:
PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT LINE IN THE FILM:
Yoda: "The Chosen One the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave danger do I fear in his training."
He said WHAT? Listen again:
Yoda: "The Chosen One the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave danger do I fear in his training."
Did you hear it? I thought FEAR WAS THE PATH TO THE DARK SIDE?
And though Yoda is even willing to admit that Anakin may, in fact, BE the promised Messiah...
... Nevertheless, for the sake of the existing order of things...
... the current state of placid, static peace, in which even "the Sith have been extinct for a millennium."
... Yoda is willing to defy the Force's decree in a vain attempt to preserve the status quo.
WHICH IS THE QUINTESSENCE OF PHARISEEISM.
The Pharisees had no other excuse for existing except to be waiting for the Chosen One when He came and to teach others to do likewise.
Yet when He did come, they rejected him as a dangerous challenge to their own plan for the future.
Did they consciously say to themselves, "We can run things better than God?"
No, but it amounts to the same thing.
JESUS CAME AS A "SUFFERING SAVIOR" -- The Pharisees wanted a KING
They refused to join Him in drinking the cup of Gethsemane.
It was the will of God to bring a GREATER GOOD than they could understand or imagine BY MEANS OF SUFFERING.
Yes, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
BUT SOMETIMES SUFFERING LEADS TO REDEMPTION.
They (both Pharisees and Jedi Council) RESPONDED TO THIS NOT IN FAITH BUT IN FEAR.
For Yoda to admit, then, that he is afraid... is HEAVY DUTY.
SO... IS YODA CAIAPHAS?
I don't think so. What if he's Nicodemus instead? And a conversion... a transformation... is in his future?
To get Yoda from the fearful, suspicious person we see in Episode One... to the gentle, peaceful sage we see in Episodes 4-6... means that Yoda has quite a path to walk in the remaining two Episodes.
We may have to change our assessment of him.
If my intuition is correct, then Yoda will go from being the most static character in the series... to one of the most dynamic.
Keep in mind, we know that he is fated to watch the Republic fall in the next two chapters, to watch nearly all of his Jedi friends wiped out and his religion brought to the point of extinction.
And Lucas recently said that Yoda -- via the new CGI technology -- may have to dust off his lightsaber in these Episodes and...
GO DOWN FIGHTING
Is there really any evidence that this is where the story is going?
Consider one more quote from George Lucas:
"Ultimately -- after you've seen all six episodes -- you will understand that the final story has really been between Obi-Wan, Anakin, the Queen... and Yoda. Those four characters."
Perhaps we get an inkling of what Yoda has been through when we get to Episode V:
Yoda: "Will he finish what he begins?"
Luke: "I won't fail you. I'm not afraid."
Yoda: "Eh?... You will be. You will be."
ONE MORE POINT:
HOW WILL ANAKIN'S RISE & FALL & RISE AGAIN MANAGE TO "BRING BALANCE TO THE FORCE"?
I think we'll have to see the movies to get the complete answer...
But Vader's SAMSON act does do something very interesting:
He sacrifices himself to kill the Emperor... thereby RIDDING THE UNIVERSE OF THE SITH MASTER/APPRENTICE PAIR BY TAKING THEM BOTH OUT AT ONCE... something impossible to anyone but him.
SO... As we come to the end, I ask those of you who may have had questions about where things were going after Episode One to be patient with me as we wait.
Unless I miss my guess, the man who saved Darth Vader's soul has a good deal more to say to us before he's through...
... things of a very spiritual nature.
One last time, let's allow George Lucas himself to give us a sneak preview:
"It's not as apparent in the first three movies, but when you see the movies I haven't made yet you'll see that the issue of 'How do we get Darth Vader back?' is really the central issue. How do we get back to that little boy he was in the first movie? -- that good person who loved and was generous and kind. And had a good heart."
AND I SAY --
THAT IS AN ISSUE THAT ALL OF US OUGHT TO RELATE TO...
ALL OF US 'ANAKIN SKYWALKERS' OUT HERE...
... WHO CAN ALWAYS COME BACK AT ANY TIME, LIKE THE PRODIGAL SON, TO OUR FATHER'S HOUSE... IF ONLY WE CAN LEARN TO RESPOND IN FAITH, NOT FEAR...
AND TO ACCEPT, WITHOUT ANY SECOND-GUESSING, ANY CROSSES THAT GOD MAY NEED TO SEND OUR WAY.
I've been told that Episode Two is filming as we speak in Australia.
If that's true, then perhaps tonight, as we lie in our tents trying to sleep... let's offer a prayer or two for George Lucas & company.
God would want it that way.
Anyway, thanks for listening.
See you next year... and MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.
Rod Bennett, Editor
Jim Henry, Webmaster