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.