Star Wars Theology

Anyone else sick of people trying to explain the Christian significance of the Star Wars trilogy-plus-three? Five minutes with an internet connection ought to be enough to debunk the whole lot of them.

George Lucas, along with many other writers/directors, has openly admitted that a good deal of his inspiration for the story came from Joseph Campbell’s 1948 work entitled The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In this work, Campbell depends in no small part on Carl Jung’s proposed phenomenon of “the collective unconscious.” This, he claims, is the part of a person’s unconscious which all human beings hold in common. He further suggests that this collective unconscious holds within it human archetypes which give way to mythological characters such as Buddha, Krishna, Hercules, and even, he suggests, Jesus Christ.

Jung and Campbell may certainly be employed in an attempt to secularize and psychologize Christianity away. More to the point, that Lucas used such a source makes it obvious that the philosophy of Star Wars was crafted so that it would resonate with most religious worldviews.

I’m certainly not done with my search, but a quick rundown of some of the names in the trilogy-plus-three are certainly interesting:

Dagobah: lived there Yoda did; dagoba is also a Buddhist shrine containing Buddha relics or writings.

Yoda: short green Jedi master; etymology uncertain, perhaps Sanskrit for “warrior” or Hebrew for “knowing one.”

Padme: beautiful wise princess, obsession of Anakin Skywalker, mother to Luke and Leia; also the fourth and fifth syllables of the Buddhist mantra om mani padme hum.

Darth Vader: nothing big here; Dutch for Dark Father.

Sith: those from the dark side of the force; from Irish mythology, the underground defeated fairies, including the banshee.

Qui-gon Jinn: Jedi master, trained Obi-wan Kenobi; jinn are smoke spirits in Arabic tradition, including Islam.

Jedi: the monastic order of warriors who use the force; from Japanese jidaigeki, dramas about the Samurai.

This is only a very small list of the ecclectic sources for the characters and places in the series. I’m a fan. It’s a great set of movies (generally). But inherently Christian it is not.

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One Response to Star Wars Theology

  1. Interesting research here, but I don’t think anyone reasonable is saying Star Wars is exclusively Christian, just that it does in fact contain some very strong themes quite consistent with Christian belief.

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