Today is Star Wars day. It’s a big day around here, for all kinds of reasons. For one thing, we Randolphs are world-class geeks, with strong opinions about Kirk versus Picard, Smith versus Tennant, and Episodes I-III versus IV-VI. For the record, and this is not open for debate, it’s Picard, Smith, and IV-VI. More on that last bit in a minute.
Star Wars has serious nerd cred, but pop culture has lots of offerings that scratch that itch. We are talking about something special here; something different and transcendent. Serious fans are aware that Star Wars’ creator George Lucas was a deep admirer of Joseph Campbell’s work, and deliberately set out to create a work that would follow the universal archetypes and framework present in Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. The saga is so compelling because it’s the timeless story, the universal myth not exactly told by us, but rather lived through us.
But that’s not the whole reason, either. There’s something else that makes Star Wars special. The Force.
Episode IV was the first movie I saw in a theater. Of course I was blown away by the special effects, the spaceships and creatures. I’d never seen anything like it. But there was also something very familiar to a Unity baby. The notion that there is a single unifying presence and power, transcendent from but manifest through all things, is the same thing I’d been hearing in Sunday school.
Even the name, the Force, works from a Unity standpoint. We are taught that our experience of Spirit isn’t just an intellectual concept. It’s not just a set of memorized affirmations or practiced rituals. Instead, we’re talking about an idea so profound that it’s also a feeling, a feeling so intense that it spills over into action. This is something we have all experienced; we are born with it. We are talking about “…the power that joins and binds in divine harmony the universe and everything in it.”
Who said that? Obi-Wan Kenobi? No, that’s Charles Fillmore, talking about love. Everybody knows what love feels like, or ought to feel like. Everybody knows that it’s not just a concept. It’s a force.
If you’re a die-hard fan, you know that being a Jedi doesn’t have anything to do with material circumstances or intermediaries. It’s about knowing who you are. Maybe you know the Yoda quote, from Episode V, by heart: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere.”
Sounds like Sunday school. Yes, as the movies got successful and some of the constraints that inspired the initial creativity went away, some silly decisions were made in the later films. There was an effort to dumb things down a bit, to explain things in physical terms, to take the idea of a universal Force and make it into something material and finite, something subject to personal whim. In a way, it’s the same thing we see in some churches when folks start talking about “energy” and “vibrations,” and relying on material talismans and personalities rather than discovering the Power within them. That kind of approach might not challenge the head, but it’ll never speak to the heart.
We’ll come to our senses. There’s an Episode VII, made by new people with old ideas. The portrayal of the Force is a spiritual one, and, for the first time in years, it’s a good movie. The opening line, “this will begin to make things right,” says it all. There’s hope for the movies, and there’s A New Hope for us, too.
The hero’s journey is your journey. Right here and now, the power that will draw your own to you, make all things whole, and change the world is never for a moment separate from you. All you have to do is claim your birthright. Just like every hero in every story, you know that your inheritance, your true nature, is more than you’d thought. You are royal, powerful, sacred. And the adventure is calling.