Unless you’ve been stuck down in a Sarlacc pit, you probably know that the latest Stars Wars film just opened. The excitement has been enormous because Star Wars has been a cultural phenomenon for so long, enchanting the imaginations of kids and adults alike.
One of the most fascinating things about the Star Wars saga has always been its mythic quality. In fact, George Lucas has long admitted that he built much of its structure on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth structure, also know as “The Hero’s Journey”. Campbell’s argument is that this storytelling structure resonates deeply within all human societies and cultures as a common touchstone that helps us make sense of life.
Coming from a Christian perspective, writers like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien approached this idea from a different angle, arguing that there are common threads of mythology in all cultures and ages because all men are created by God, and have echoes of the True Myth within their hearts. This True Myth comes into history and is made real by the Incarnation of Jesus.
What struck me personally, watching the film during this Advent season, are the interesting parallels between the Christmas story and that of The Force Awakens. In some ways they are set in similar situations, and grapple with similar questions, such as:
Where are the great redemptive acts of the past? Are these just myths and legends that have no relevance anymore?
In both stories, the characters are also confronted with the fact that these stories are true, are in fact still happening, and now they get to be a part of the story themselves.
In the Christmas story and The Force Awakens, myth becomes fact, legend becomes reality, and the broken, the lost, and the lonely find out that they can be part of a great story.
Chris is an Associate Professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and is also the author of several books of poetry. In 2018 he helped co-found The Poetry Pub, an online community for poets. He enjoys walking in the woods, visiting coffee shops, and poking through used bookstores with his wife Jen.
Thanks for this, Chris.
I got the shivers several times during The Force Awakens — especially at the line: “It’s all true. All of it.”
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