From May the Fourth to the Gospel

6
Luke Skywalker in Star Wars

It was pretty festive in the Holz household this morning. After all, it’s May 4.

What’s so special about that, you ask? Well, some years ago, Star Wars fans claimed this day as their own as a play on that franchise’s tagline, “May the force be with you.” In its new iteration, it became, “May the Fourth.” Get it? (I’m told that tomorrow is also an ersatz Star Wars holiday that I didn’t know about until this week: Revenge of the Fifth. Go figure.)

Now, as Plugged In has duly noted over the years, the Star Wars franchise has some spiritual and violence issues to navigate. That said, my kids—especially my 10-year-old—have an affection for the series that’s almost as deep as … my own. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say. (Or, the escape pod doesn’t fall far from the Rebel Blockade Runner, if you want a geekier translation).

But I digress.

Today, my kids all dressed up for May the Fourth. Their school actually encouraged it. My youngest daughter had a Jyn Erso costume. My middle child was in full Padawan mode with a Jedi-approved brown robe. (Seriously, she looked like a little Jedi.) And my oldest? Well, he couldn’t have been prouder with his Chewbacca mask (and the authentic Wookie noises it made—something I’m pretty sure the teachers will likely ban next year).

While driving them to school, I had a reflective moment of sorts. It occurred to me that our favorite movies and stories—be they Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Narnia—resonate so deeply because they’re echoes of the Story, the one that involved Jesus Christ coming to our fallen planet on a daring, divine rescue mission.

So I started to tell my kids that.

Immediately, my middle daughter interrupted me and said, “We know, dad, it’s not what we believe.”

And then I said, no, that’s not actually where I was going with this conversation. I said that it’s fun to be able to enjoy a day like May the Fourth and dress up in cool costumes. But I emphasized that in almost any story that touches them deeply, there’s likely something there that’s mirrored in the Gospel. Maybe not clearly or explicitly, but in the movie’s (or book’s) broad themes. So when they’re responding powerfully to the themes in a given movie—a heroic battle, the promise of happily ever after—I encouraged them to remember that those themes, in that very broad sense, are at the heart of our Christian faith, too.

Now, that doesn’t give us carte blanch to mindlessly indulge any ol’ story we want, of course. We still need to exercise caution and discernment in discerning when something might be stirring up problematic stuff inside of us.

But I think it’s also OK—actually, more than OK—to recognize that the best stories capture our hearts and minds because they get at our core longings: for good to triumph over evil; for significance and adventure; for meaning and purpose; for a happy ending. Those weighty longings find their fulfillment in Christ, the One who made the ultimate hero’s journey on our behalf.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Kelly Johnson 9 months ago
I love this!  Our homeschool group had a Star Wars day picnic - costumes and all - and it was so fun to watch kids and parents together enjoying the day. But more than that, the faith conversations that the Star Wars movies, as well as the others you mentioned, have sparked in our family have been powerful. Thanks for sharing!
Julienne Dy 9 months ago
This is more or less how I feel about Disney Princesses.  They resonate with my inner longing to be the daughter of the King.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

As someone who loves DC Comics, I do find a lot of similarities between their characters and the characters from the Bible. Superman is similar to Jesus. Batman is similar to Moses. Wonder Woman is similar to Ruth. I could go on, but then it would get boring.

Granted, not every hero from DC is comparable to someone from the Bible (a la John Constantine), but those are the more obscure characters. The main ones are much more role model like, just like the ones in the Bible.

So yeah, it is pretty cool that we can compare our favorite pop culture characters to Bible legends. We just have to be careful on which ones we think are the most important; the imaginary heroes, or the REAL ones.
andy_doerksen 3 months ago
Okay, the Jesus-Superman analogy is obvious - but I'm not seeing where you're getting the other two.  (And as you can see, I'm a Bat-fan.)
Anonymous 4 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

In the story of Batman, he leaves his rich, comfortable life, disappears for several years, and then returns to save the people that he cares for; sound familiar? (cough, Moses, cough)

With Wonder Woman, she leaves the home that she has known her whole life so that she can serve in a completely different world; just like Ruth.

Get it?
Anonymous 4 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

For a laugh, you might like a sketch video by a group called Studio C. Just google 'Studio C Christian Bale auditions for the role of Moses', sit back and enjoy!