Friday, January 16, 2015

The Prequels are Not Dumb

   Here is a non-controversial admittance (not a confession): I like Star Wars. I find the Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) a fun, intelligent, poignant collection of sci-fi  films. Here's a controversial admittance: I like the Star Wars prequels. I find the Prequel Trilogy (Episodes I-III) an enjoyable, intelligent, and tragic collection of sci-fi films (and I don't mean tragic in the sense that some might). I understand that the writing has faults, the dialogue delivery is cringe-worthy at times, and the action tends to crowd out the story. However, having recently watched Episode III, I must say that it is a decent, dare I say it, good tragedy. However, I'm not here to defend the acting or any of that, I'm here to propose that the prequels are not mindless and dumb. They make a very important point, specifically one that the Christian Church should keep in mind.
   What do I mean by that? The prequels start with Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi, rescuing a young slave boy from a life of misery. This boy, Anakin Skywalker, having lived his life as a slave in an uncivilized desert planet, suddenly is brought to the center of the universe. He goes from having only a relationship with his mother to having a mentor and a friend in Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan Kenobi. First, Qui-Gon must receive the Jedi Council's permission to receive the boy as his apprentice. The council denies this request, for it would break their rules of only accepting young children as apprentices, and Anakin's age (10-12) was too old. Qui-Gon leaves, upset, and soon dies in a battle with the Sith.
   This introduces the main point of the Star Wars Prequels: when a religion becomes legalism, it dies. The Jedi, after years and years of existing comfortably in the Republic, have changed from being dependent on the force to being dependent on the Republic. The religion of the Jedi is reduced from a 'relationship' with the force to a focus on keeping the rules. And, as things tend to go, as the Jedi focus on the rules, they get bound with the rule makers: the Republic. Thus, the Republic becomes the important thing, and the Jedi promise to keep it running.
   The legalism of the Jedi is best seen in they're continuous admonition to resist relationships. Why? For attachment causes loss, loss leads to fear and fear leads to the dark side. Of course, without relationships people can also become lonely, lost, and depressed. The Jedi are seeking to avoid the negative sides of relationships and, in doing so, lose the positive as well. Emotions are not to be avoided, but being controlled by emotions are to be. However, due to this lack of being able to have relationships with others (and the continual distrust of the Jedi Council), Anakin eventually seeks a friendship with the only person who will listen to him: Palpatine. And that doesn't end so well.  
   Thus this legalism and dependence on the Republic leads, eventually, to the Jedi doing whatever it takes to keep the Republic in power. They never question the orders of the Republic, because they are no longer focused on what is right, but what keeps the peace. From that point on, it is only a slow slide from Republic to Dictatorship, from Democracy to Empire.
   Why is this useful to the Christian Church? Because it embodies how a religion can turn from a focus on God (or the force) to a focus on the a Kingdom. There is nothing wrong with partnering with an Earthly Kingdom to do good deeds, as long as the Church always recognizes that there is a distinction between the Earthly Kingdom and the Heavenly Kingdom. However, if the Church starts to become a part of the state, as the Jedi became the Republic's peacekeepers, then it is the Heavenly Kingdom that ends. In history we can see this happening. When the Church becomes too involved with the State, the Church is the one that suffers or spreads suffering to others.
   So why are the prequels not dumb? They show us how a religion should not behave. It should not turn away from Deity to rules, not turn away from Heavenly Kingdoms to becoming a part of Earthly Kingdoms. Instead, it should keep a separation between Church and State, for if they do not it ends in Empire. And then it will take forty years in the wilderness (or 23) before the Church can get on its feet once again.

   What do you think? Are the Star Wars Prequels a little bit better now? Or are you still disgusted with them? Comment below and tell me what you think!

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