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"The waiting for this movie has some parallels to the Christian season of Advent." Rev Professor David Wilkinson - 07/12/15

Thought for the Day

Good morning. Next week, the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to shatter box office records and adverts and merchandise are everywhere - adding to the anticipation. The waiting for this movie has some parallels to the Christian season of Advent. For fans such as me, there is excitement and apprehension, an attempt to read the signs in the trailers and even a sense of mystery of where is Luke Skywalker going to be found!

Why does this story set a long time ago in a galaxy far far away seem to capture new generations and provoke loyalty which borders on the obsessive? Its creator George Lucas talks of the appeal of Star Wars as an ice-cream sundae mixing together a whole array of different tastes - from great myths to the samurai movie, from the western to science fiction special effects, and with religion liberally sprinkled on top. But I also believe that it appeals because it deals with big questions such as hope, the battle of good and evil and whether there’s more to the universe than just the power of science and technology. It doesn't offer simple answers but it does embody the complexity of these questions in a visual story.

For example, Lucas says of his concept of the Force, "It's designed primarily to make young people think about mystery.... It's to say 'Think about this for a second. Is there a God? What does God look like? ...... How do we relate to God?'". Other questions probe the nature of evil. How can evil develop from an obscure trade dispute to take hold of political and military structures on the largest scale? And how easy is it to be tempted and seduced by power even when trying to battle for the good. Such stories caution politicians, leaders in sport and indeed all of us.

Star Wars is not an allegory of the Christian story but it raises the kind of questions which for me find compelling responses as I think about the child born in Bethlehem. Both ask where hope is located. Rather than by purely technological power, evil can be defeated by a combination of courage, self-sacrifice and trusting in something that is beyond you.

Sir Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie, came out of mass one day and a fan said to him, 'May the Force be with you'. He replied 'And also with you' - a line from the liturgy. It was an automatic and natural response, but he said he felt immediately foolish. He knew that for all its hype pop culture may not give us a new religion even if it can ask important questions.

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