Friday, August 21, 2009

Luke Skywalker Had a Right to Be Angry

(Disclaimer: What follows is totally nerdy. I recognize that and am ok with it. I also recognize that using Star Wars as a jumping-off point for theological and cultural commentary could feel silly and/or like I'm pontificating. All of this is why I decided this was better for Farismaticism than CiC.)

Plenty has been said about the screwy pseudo-profundity of Star Wars theology, but I had to mention something I noticed when I caught part of the end of Return of the Jedi on t.v. last week.

So remember when Luke, Darth, and Palpatine* are all in the super Death Star at the end of that movie? Palpatine keeps provoking Luke to get angry since, as you know, anger and hate are two steps on the path to the Dark Side. And Luke really has to fight the anger when it becomes clear that the Rebel fleet has come right into a trap (we all remember Admiral Ackbar's reaction to that...).

Eventually the lightsabers start flying and Palpatine laughs in delight as he can feel the anger and the hate flowing through Luke. But Luke doesn't want to go to the Dark Side, so he keeps fighting it though obviously frustrated.

And here was the thought that came to this Star Wars semi-nerd's head: what a ridiculously stupid, shallow ethical ideal. You're not supposed to be angry about massive oppression and the looming murder of all of your friends and allies? Your once-good father has been corrupted into merciless (well, almost...) evil, and anger is not a proper response?

Wrong. Anger and hate are legitimate when their object is legitimate. It doesn't mean you should let those thoughts and feelings control everything you do, but if people didn't get angry about genuine evil then we'd probably still have slaves and no one would have challenged Hitler. If there was an indignant abolitionist movement on, say, Tatooine**, would its leaders be moving toward the Dark Side?

God feels hatred (Isa. 61:8) and anger (Deut. 1:37), and He has every right to. Jesus flipped over tables and snapped a whip in the temple (Jn. 2). John Piper hates the prosperity gospel. My wife hates it when people demean her inner-city students. All of this is justified.

The "Anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to the Dark Side" mentality is bigger than Star Wars. It's the ethos of moral thinking in America, normally rearing its ugly head as "tolerance." And when "family-friendly programming" is a synonym for "Christian programming," I'm afraid Christians have bit on the same massive bait-and-switch.

*"Palpatine" comes up as a misspelled word in the Firefox auto spell-checker. Idiots.
**But no spell check problems with "Tatooine?" This is just inconsistent.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Well spoken that was. Appreciate your nerdyiness I do.