A long time ago in a galaxy far away (actually 38 years ago at the Carroll Theater) an 11 year old boy got permission to see Star Wars. I remember that experience in the Spring of 1977 with lots of cool light sabers and spaceships, but not much else. Fast forward to 2016 and the latest Star Wars movie has become the biggest U.S. movie of all time just 50 days after its premier. So how did the story of Luke Skywalker find such stamina and continue to capture the imagination of another generation Here’s a few thoughts…
We love a good sequel (or 7)
From the time we can understand language, or maybe before, we have enjoyed hearing the same story repeated over and over again. How many times have kids demanded another reading of their favorite story or a 100th viewing of their favorite video? As we get older, I’ll admit, the repetition may not be as rote or exact but the retelling and continuation of a familiar story continues to seize our attention. Binge-watching may be the latest example of this love for a sequel principle at work. I confess its hard for me to follow a show that makes me wait a week for the story to continue and shows that are one random unconnected vignette after another rarely even get DVRed in my house.
All this is from our creator. G.K. Chesterton may describe it best. “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
We love a good adventure
Give me something to believe in goes the Chorus of the song by 90’s band Poison giving words to the desire innate in all of us. Every “once upon a time” and yes every “A long time ago, in a galaxy far away” is an invitation to believe. We are invited to believe that we are part of a larger story and to make sense of our role as we experience life. We resemble Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings as he comments to Frodo Baggins “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” as the two hobbits with their cooking gear set out to save the world. Frodo and Luke and Cinderella all summon us to believe that there is a tale going on that is larger than the accumulation of events in my life.
I want to believe it and so do you. In fact we long for it. John Eldridge writes, “We have been given our longings for love and adventure, for romance and sacrifice, as a kind of clue – a treasure map to life itself” Too often we are convinced to ignore our longings and even shun them but it is within them that the clues emerge. When Darth Vadar says “its too late for me” but Luke refuses to give up on him something stirs within us- a clue.
We love the Gospel
The reason we love Star Wars and other great tales of adventure ultimately is because we love the Gospel. It is the real story from which all other stories draw their allure. C.S. Lewis explains, “Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened.” Whether is it Luke Skywalker not giving up on his father or Kylo Ren not sparing the life of his father (spoiler alert) Han Solo the story of the Gospel is what captures our heart. As Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien put it “inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.”
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