Having seen Star Wars Episode III on Thursday, I posted my initial thoughts yesterday as Part I.
Today, I want to add one or two more thoughts.
The central crisis in this epic tragedy involves the small, thin line that divides “The Force” into the Light Side and the Dark Side. Jedi are are powerful in the Force and have chosen the Light Side. Sith are their opposites who have chosen the Dark Side. The question is, what is it that leads Aniken Skywalker, in the end, to choose the Dark Side?
George Lucas has chosen an appropriate and believable (although not particularly well-scripted) explanation. In short, the film tells us that evil is essentially the same as the good; except that the good is twisted around towards oneself instead of directed outwardly towards others.
Anakin loves Padme but dreams that she will die in childbirth. She is willing to accept that result but Aniken cannot imagine life without her. He is tempted by a power offered to him by the Sith lord, a Dark Side power that (and we must recognize that this offer is probably a lie) can keep others alive….at least for a time.
Anakin mistakenly believes that he is motivated by his love for Padme. It is clear, however, that his concern is for himself, not for her. He wants her alive for his own needs and he is willing to sell out his soul to get what he wants.
In his play, “Murder In the Cathedral,” T.S. Eliott depicts the spiritual struggle of Thomas a Becket as he considers the various temptations he faces in deciding whether to give in the will of the King or to follow his conscience and defy him….a choice that would lead to his death.
The final tempter appears and describes that, in martyrdom, Beckett will become a Saint who will be venerated by millions. Pilgrims will flock to his burial shrine from all over the world to honor him and pray to him. Miracles will even be done in his name! “This is what you want, isn’t it?” the tempter seems to whisper. “Choose death and all of this will be yours!”
Unlike Anakin, however, Beckett sees the self-seeking heresy in this. In despair and defiance he cries out, “The last temptation is the greatest treason; to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
Beckett’s sacrifice does, in fact, become holy and blessed. But only because he chooses to stand his ground for the sake of his conscience alone….without any thought or desire of personal gain. He willingly lays down his life for what is right and good.
Anakin, however, willingly lays down the life of others for what appears to be right and good but is, instead, a temptation to “do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
Some months ago, Jolly Blogger asked an interesting question: “What is Satan’s favorite sin?” My answer, which can be found here, reads as follows:
I should think that Satan’s favorite sin is the one he actually practices….the one that has allowed him to rebel against God….the one that led to his fall I would characterize this sin as “self-righteousness” which is very similar to “pride.”
I think the Bible actually backs me up on this where we read (Proverbs 16:18),
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
I get the feeling that Satan knows that all the other sins are sins. On the other hand, I believe that for Satan, as for ourselves, the favorite sin is the one we do not believe to be one.
This is also, I believe, a good description of Anakin’s favorite sin.
In the midst of his epic, climactic light saber duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is challenged by the charge of having turned away from the light and, instead, chosen evil.
Anakin, now called Darth Vader, replies, “From my point of view, all Jedi are evil!”
The Dark Side is the place where what once was known as good and evil has been twisted into its opposite. In his darkest moments, Vader is not morally aware of being evil at all. Those who oppose him are the true threat…the true evil in the galaxy.
For Christians, the Dark Side is the side of sin, the realm of Satan, the Devil. It is the opposite of Truth for it is opposed to God. Jesus himself, in debate with a group of Pharisees, spoke these words, which could just as easily have been directed to Darth Vader:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Vader succumbed to a lie, an illusion of greatness and power that could only lead to death and destruction, including his own. In spite of all it’s faults, Lucas’ “New Age,” science fiction spirituality presents the choice between “good” and “evil” as a crucial decision that each of us must make for ourselves. Lucas also offers us the assurance that “good” is ultimately stronger than “evil” and will win in the end.
As Chrstians, we should be very glad that Lucas got this right! And we should not forget to let everyone know that, in the end, it is Jesus who has saved the galaxy…including you and me…from the power of sin, death and the Dark Side.