Bringing Christianity into the Mainstream
The Judeo-Christian worldview is the foundation upon which western civilization has been built. That being said, Christianity is oftentimes excluded from the cultural zeitgeist. Try bringing up Jesus Christ in an everyday conversation and you will know exactly what I mean. Occasionally, however, something overtly Christian becomes a part of the pop cultural discussion. The Passion of the Christ, for instance, was a huge blockbuster success and was lauded (or jeered) by practically everyone on the planet. Recently, the show The Chosen – the completely crowd-funded episodic telling of the life of Christ and his apostles – has likewise become a part of the bigger conversation. Nevertheless, in spite of these momentary respites from the almost exclusively secular world of entertainment, Christ, for his impact on the world, is drastically underrepresented in our society.
Simply stated, Christianity is the mainstream, yet it is hardly ever part of the mainstream discussion.
The problem is we are often so focused on whatever is happening in the world of popular culture, that we lose sight of Christ and his unending relevance in our world.
Based on a True Story
Hollywood loves its superhero movies, and it also loves to boast that a movie is “based on a true story.” Someone should let these Hollywood executives know that there is a pretty popular book in the public domain that checks both of these boxes.
What I am saying is that Jesus is more powerful than any superhero, and his story (i.e. the Bible) is so true that it isn’t just based on a true story, it is literally the basis for all truth as we know it.
I won’t hold my breath waiting for Hollywood to find Jesus. That doesn’t, however, mean that Hollywood is useless for bringing people closer to God.
Star Wars and Christianity
It recently occurred to me that I could use the fandom of a major movie franchise to my evangelizing benefit. I believe that by using Star Wars as an analogy for Christianity, I can more easily relay the teachings of the Bible to your run of the mill Bible novice. (Don’t worry if you don’t think you have a good handle on Star Wars either, it will all be explained as we proceed).
Currently, there are over a dozen different Star Wars movies, spinoffs, animated series, and television shows. For our purposes, we will be focused primarily on the first two trilogies.
The Star Wars franchise began as a trilogy in the 70s and 80s. What is peculiar is that these first three movies were not numbered 1, 2, 3 as one would assume. Rather, they were numbered 4, 5, 6. In other words, Star Wars begins halfway through the story.
And what is the story of Star Wars? Star Wars is the story of Darth Vader’s life and death. (Well, at least the first two trilogies are).
Episodes 4, 5, 6 (the first three Star Wars movies released) tell very little about Darth Vader’s backstory — where he came from and how he became the infamous Darth Vader. It is episodes 1, 2, 3 (the second Star Wars trilogy released in the late 90s and early 2000s) that tell us what makes Darth Vader who he is and why he is important.
A Long Time Ago…
I find this to be the perfect analogy to describe how most Christians come to understand the Bible. Let us think of the Bible as Star Wars, and let us, therefore, think of Jesus as Darth Vader — not in the sense that Jesus is the bad guy (obviously), but in the sense that the whole story revolves around this one man born in the desert “a long time ago.”
As we said, the Star Wars franchise began with episodes 4, 5, 6 — thus starting the story in the middle. Most Christians, likewise, begin the Bible with the second part of the story as it were. That is, Christians often approach the Bible by beginning with the New Testament — the Gospels and letters that speak of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ — instead of starting at the beginning of the story, which is to say, the Old Testament.
In such a way, the second Star Wars trilogy, which is really the first part of the story, is analogous to the Old Testament.
After watching the original trilogy, one then watches the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In the latter trilogy, one is observing how Darth became the man we understand him to be in the second part of the story (where we began). Essentially, we are told why he matters — how he went from a suffering servant to a lord of the Universe.
Analogously, when Christians finish reading the New Testament, they become deeply curious about where Jesus came from and why he matters. It is then that we turn to the Old Testament. When we do this what we are observing is the culture from which Jesus came, the prophecies he fulfilled, and his pre-earthly existence — which is to say, how he went from a suffering servant to the Lord of the universe.
A Christ Figure
So to reiterate: Christians are like Star Wars fans, in the sense that we typically start at the second part of the story and then go back to the beginning, in order to see the larger picture of the man at the center of it all.
I hope that this analogy was easy to understand. From my point of view, it is unfortunate that I even have to make such an analogy. It reveals a kind of degeneration of society. I shouldn’t have to use something as banal as a science fiction movie to help people understand something as divine as the Bible.
People will often praise Star Wars as original and groundbreaking. Ironically, the story is quite derivative of Christianity. For instance, at the end of episode 6 (the last movie in the timeline of the two trilogies), Darth Vader sacrifices himself to save his son Luke Skywalker. At this moment of selfless love, Vader’s mask is removed, and his true identity is revealed for all to see. It shouldn’t be hard to see here that George Lucas, when creating the character of Darth Vader saw him as a Christ figure.
After all, who was the most famous man to ever sacrifice himself in an act of selfless love in order to reveal to the world who he was and why he matters?
The Force of the Universe
The point is, Jesus Christ is the foundation of all things. Or to put it as I did earlier, his story is not only true, it is the basis for all truth. It seems ironic and frankly unfortunate that one would ever have to make some random pop cultural reference in order to help someone better understand Jesus and the Bible, when in fact it is Jesus and the Bible that are actually the reference points for practically everything in our world — Star Wars is just a very small example of this.
What is more, those are hardly the only overtly Christian aspects of Star Wars. The motto of the movie is “May the force be with you.” Perhaps it should be, may the farce be with you, because the phrase is clearly a rip-off of the liturgical greeting, “May the Lord be with you,” which has its roots in the Old Testament Book of Ruth (See Ruth 2:4). Star Wars producer George Kurtz confirms this Christian connection in his book entitled “How Star Wars Conquered the World.” Perhaps the book should be called how Star Wars repurposed Christianity in order to Conquer the World. Nonetheless this is the perfect encapsulation of my overarching point. People often misunderstand just how much Christianity is underlying everything in our world. As a society, we constantly reject Christianity in favor of some poor comparison.