Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sith Stuff

Warning: Star Wars post.

Yes, I saw "Revenge of the Sith". I liked it. But of course, the eyes of a preacher see movies a little differently. So here are my observations/comments:

This was perhaps the most interesting Star Wars from a philosophical perspective (I hesitate to say "theological"). But nonetheless the tension between good and evil, the internal conflict of Anakin, and the contrast of Jedi and Sith all got me thinking.

Certainly the movie makes no claim to be Christian, but it still hinges on the question of "what makes someone evil". What I liked about the treatment here was that it showed how evil often begins with "good intentions". That is, Anakin wanted to save his wife from death, and this is, after all, a good intention. It's just twisted. Sort of like the good intention to "be like God", which the serpent twisted into temptation for our first parents, Adam and Eve.

Another interesting piece of the puzzle was the characters' focus on immortality. The Sith promised it, and craved it. There was the story the Emperor told Anakin of the powerful Sith Master who learned the secret of cheating death. He taught everything he knew to his apprentice, and then that apprentice killed him in the middle of the night. It seemed clear the apprentice was Palpatine himself. However, this story also foreshadows the Emperor's own relationship with Vader, who kills the Emperor in "Return of the Jedi".

Then there was the scene near the end in which Yoda promises the secret of immortality to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yoda's advice to Anakin regarding the death of Padme was to "learn to let go" and "death is a natural part of life". But then when it's Yoda's own hide, a little immortality comes in handy, eh?

I liked the last scene. The juxtaposition of the birth of the twins and the "birth" of Vader (at least as we know him) was powerful, emotional, even creepy.

Birth, Death, Good and Evil - all themes we know well in our faith. Of course only Christ brings immortality, only Christ makes us good, only in Christ, by His Baptism, are we reborn.

As to the nature of Evil, here are some interesting ideas - how one uses power, to benefit whom, and in what way - these were not always such clear-cut differences for the Jedi and Sith. The "Ick-factor" was clear enough, though, with the darkness and gravelly voices surrounding the villains, and the major "Ick" of Anakin slaying the "younglings". Then we knew for sure he was evil.

What was missing was a clear source of moral authority. We Christians have that, in Scripture. But what about the Jedi code? Seemed rather flexible to me. One's feelings are another source of authority for the Jedi, but which feelings? Anger and fear, apparently are not feelings to be trusted; they lead to the dark side. But for Christians, we know that all of our feelings can fail us, lead us astray, for we are sinful by nature. We have God's unchanging word to rely on. I guess that's why it's better to be a Christian than a Jedi.


Mike T said...

What did you think of Obi-wan's comment to Anakin that "only a Sith deals in absolutes"?

Preachrboy said...

I'm not sure what to make of it, honestly. As has been pointed out, that statement in itself is an absolute statement.

I initially though it was an attempt to somehow slam those who don't subscribe to an "enlightened, post-modern" morality, i.e., Christians who still teach absolute right and wrong.

But having read other commentaries, I am not so sure. It seems more of an inconsistent comment for a Jedi to make. Isn't it the Jedi who deal in absolute morals, with their code? Isn't it the Sith who see "all sides of the issue", as when Sidius tells Anakin to explore all sides of the force?

But it certainly caught my ear...