Last Thursday, I caught the late late showing of Star Wars Ep VII. If you know anything about me you know I love Star Wars. For 2 hrs & 16 mins, I was a bright eyed kid again living in a galaxy far far away. But I didn’t experience that alone. To my left and to my right, in front and behind, 100’s of adults became kids again.
What is it about Star Wars that captures our hearts and imaginations? What is it about fantasy and “fairy tales” in general that seem to speak to our deepest desires?
“Rational” and “educated” adults know better than to believe in cosmic good & evil and magic & miracles. Right? “Grown ups” know that the hero will not always rescue us, light doesn’t always triumph over dark, and, no matter how hard we wish it, there is no paradise across the enchanted sea and we most certainly will not live forever. Yet, we “adults” laugh, shout, and even cry watching movies like Star Wars. Why is this so?
Lord of The Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote a beautiful essay on fairy stories, human longing, imagination, and the true story of the gospels. In it he says:
“It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed… The Gospels contain a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories… But this story has entered History and the primary world… There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits… But this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused…”
Early in Star Wars Episode VII, after Rey asks Han Solo if The Force, The Sith, and The Jedi are real or just legends and stories. Han Solo dramatically replies, “It’s true. All of it. The Force, The Dark Side, The Jedi. They’re real.” I’m not ashamed to admit that seeing the once skeptical Han Solo confessing his belief, confessing his faith, well, it made me tear up a little. I wanted to stand up in the theater and shout:
“Men and women of Des Peres theater, what if he’s right and all the stories and all the myths really are true! Listen to me! Han Solo’s speech is pointing to more than the story of Star Wars. It’s pointing to the story of a good creation gone bad, angels and demons, God himself putting on skin like ours, punching a hole through reality and history, living the life we couldn’t live, dying the death we should’ve died, rising from the dead, and inviting us into an adventure of cosmic proportions!”
I didn’t stand up and say that. But I wanted to…
This Christmas, take some time to talk with a non-Christian family member or friend about the stories they love. Ask them why they love them. Lean in and listen closely to their hopes, fears, and deepest desires. Perhaps your next conversation about the gospels need not be as awkward as the last one. Remember, they miss Eden and deep down they long to touch The Force and meet The Jedi. This Christmas, if you feel lead, show them that the gospels don’t begin with “once upon a time” or “long ago in a galaxy far far away…” but rather “This is the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…”