For my birthday last week, Amy got me the special edition DVD of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” Basically, the original Star Wars movie that started everything off, and my personal favorite (It’s the archetypal Hero’s quest, after all).
But the best part was watching it with my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Grady. He’s already very familiar with the entire Star Wars universe, because I’ve read him all the story books we could find. He dressed up as Luke Skywalker last Halloween (longstanding family tradition, actually) and has his own plush-cloth lightsaber (although he prefers mine). But up until last week, he had never actually seen a Star Wars movie. He was thrilled, to say the least.
But it’s a mixed blessing for me. My Dad was a Star Wars fan too, so I love that this is a passion shared and passed down through the generations. But even though we held off on showing the movie for 2.75 years, it still might have been too soon. Let me explain.
We’re very careful with introducing “violence” concepts to Grady, and after watching the movie, everything he touches is now a “blaster” he uses to shoot pretend stormtroopers. We did have a great talk about what happens when you shoot a stormtrooper, and how even stormtroopers have Mommies and Daddies who are sad when their children get hurt. That seemed to hit home to him…for all of about five minutes.
So my new challenge (at this phase in my life) is to find the teaching/parenting value in Star Wars. I think it came to me when we were watching it for the third time in as many days: It’s the moment right before they escape the Death Star, where Obi-Wan Kenobi is fighting Darth Vader (we call it “doing the lightsaber dance” in our house) and looks across the hangar to his young student, Luke Skywalker, who is earnestly looking on. At this point, Kenobi does something very counter-intuitive for a science fiction movie borne of a violent culture: he stops fighting, in a very deliberate way, at the cost of his life (sort of).
In that one moment, I see Christ, Gandhi, and MLK reflected in Star Wars — the idea that sometimes a non-violent and sacrificial gesture will go much farther and become much more influential than conquest over flesh and blood. Or maybe its the idea that winning is losing and losing is winning — another concept Jesus talked about. Grady may not be able to fully grasp that concept just yet, but at least I know which direction to steer the conversation next time it arises. And it’s nice to know that a good story can grow and change with you over the years.