Why I (Still) Love Star Wars

MV5BOTAzODEzNDAzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDU1MTgzNzE@._V1__SX1394_SY759_I was just shy of five years old when I saw Star Wars for the first time. I remember a feeling of desperation creeping into me during the opening scene as Stormtroopers blasted through the defenders of a captured rebel ship. And I was riveted with real fear when Darth Vader strode menacingly into the frame, searching for someone named Princess Leia.

I was also completely hooked.

Later I came to understand that Star Wars was a ground breaking cinematic achievement (it won a total of six Academy Awards). But I didn’t care about that at the time, or for many years after.

I cared about Han’s swagger, Luke’s courage, and a Jedi’s cryptic sacrifice. I was surprised by the idea that this futuristic world could be found, not just in a galaxy far away, but also a long time ago. I loved the fact that there was a backstory that we didn’t yet know about (what happened back when Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were young?). And I desperately wanted to see Vader defeated and the Death Star destroyed.

My regard for the Star Wars franchise has now survived (despite the prequels) for close to forty years. Since that time, I’ve witnessed my own kids have much the same reaction as I did when first seeing the movies. And now, with Episode VII coming in a mere two days, I thought I’d mention a few reasons why I continue to love Star Wars.

1. Star Wars is simply enjoyable.

In the first place, I want to acknowledge the simple truth that watching the Star Wars brought me a whole lot of joy. And I’ve now seen similar reactions recently from my own young kids as they watched the films for the first time. And all of that is itself a testament to the fundamental fact that you and I were made in the image of a God who not only creates, but also delights in what he’s made (see Gen. 1). To enjoy creativity is therefore a good thing in itself.

2. Star Wars is a testament to the power of a good story.

As I think back, nearly every scene in the first Star Wars film contained something that grabbed ahold of and spurred my imagination. And that story, along with the other films in the original trilogy, has been stuck in my head ever since. That millions of people have a similar experience points to the power of telling a good story—something we’d all do well to remember if we have something worthwhile to say (and by the way, it’s no accident that much of the Bible comes to us in narrative form…).

3. Star Wars points to something beyond our normal human experience.

A lot of science fiction more or less takes who we are now and projects what we might be like in the future with more knowledge and technological achievement. By contrast, Star Wars is really fantasy in disguise. Take away the trappings of technology, and you’re left with good knights and their allies taking the side of a beautiful princess to fight against an evil monarch (the Emperor) and his fearsome champion (Darth Vader = black knight?)…all with really cool swords. There’s also another fantasy staple: magic. And it’s this element—the Force—that pushes the story beyond our normal human experience. Yes, it smacks of Eastern mysticism, but its presence also serves as a small reminder that human beings are wired to look and long for a reality that involves more than the natural world.

4. Star Wars is a story of good vs. evil.

Since human beings are fallen by nature, it means that much of our best art will be tinged shades of gray, drawing attention to our moral ambiguity and the tragedy and complexity it creates. We need reminders that good and evil exist side by side in each of us. Of course, that same fallen nature means that we also need to see the clear contrast between the two, as well as be encouraged to pursue and celebrate the former. Star Wars does that time and again. This past weekend, my soon to be nine-year-old watched Darth Vader turn from the dark side to save Luke and vanquish the evil Emperor. And he yelled with satisfaction when it happened. I’ll take that anytime.

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