by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
It was a day that would not be forgotten. One of those unsuspecting defining moments that touched my life. I saw movies most every weekend, but Star Wars would be unlike any movie I had ever seen before.
In 1977, I was a freshman in college. My interests were boys and having fun. That was pretty much it. At that point in time, I can’t say education or career were high priorities. Nor were things spiritual. I probably went to see Star Wars swept up by the anticipation hype of the day with my friends. All I know is I saw it not once, not twice. But dozens of times.
In Bill Moyer’s interview of George Lucas, Lucas said he hoped the Force would “awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people.” One that was more about a “belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system.” One that would simply make young people think, question and consider. Well, his hope proved true for me.
Some have asked if the prequels have attracted the same audiences as the original Trilogy. If you count me, I suppose the answer would be, “Yes!” And I admit I’ve been among those trying to be first in line. Along with my daughter, I might add.
It was interesting that Lucas gave us the middle and end of the story before going back to the beginning of the saga. After recently watching Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (My daughter and I were first in line), I’ve decided I’m glad I knew the rest of the story. It would have been too depressing to watch Anakin Skywalker seduced by evil, by the dark side, and not be assured of his later redemption.
And now the long awaited answer to the decades old question has been provided. How Anakin Skywalker transformed into Darth Vader.
Perhaps Anakin’s greatest flaw was fear. He became intoxicated by fear. Thus he was led to believe and do that which he should not, would not. As he succumbed to his fear, his doom was sealed.
But in witnessing Anakin’s “fall,” I was immediately relieved and heartened by knowing he would be redeemed. His “fall” would not be the final chapter of his life. I find great hope in Anakin’s example. The hope that promises no one is beyond help, that it’s never too late to change. The same kind of promise felt in the prodigal son parable told by Christ Jesus.
I can honestly say in 1977, it was the first Star Wars episode that prompted me to think more spiritually and broadened my perceptions to consider how one action begets another. That reminded me of the Higher Power that unifies all creation. That all of creation has a purpose. And that included me!
As a result, I became more studious of things spiritual and interested in reading books by spiritual thinkers. This included spiritual thinker and author, Mary Baker Eddy. She was speaking of Galileo, but Eddy’s words ring true of Anakin’s fall: “This awful price: the temporary loss of his self-respect. His fear overcame his loyalty; the courage of his convictions fell before it.” She elsewhere states, “A man’s fear, unconquered, conquers him, in whatever direction.”
If fear is one answer to the question – What makes man evil? – perhaps love is the answer to the question of redemption. Love was certainly central to Anakin’s redemption.
So for me, Star Wars is much more than a mere tale of science fiction. It appears that through his films, Lucas’ own spiritual vision has had a profound effect on two generations of spiritual seekers. Of which I am one.