Reliving childhood fantasies is always a favorite pastime of the holiday season and this year the return of the Star Wars movie franchise provides ample opportunity for a nation revisit one of the defining myths of a generation.
Also, it's easier to debate the merits of a pop culture theology than talk about the much darker real world impact of religion that usually ends up in racist talk about deportation, terrorism or some other uncomfortable aspect of old world myths which aren't quite as sophisticated as content devised by suits at Disney.
And so, this is the season of Star Wars wherein the struggle between good and evil gets a lot simpler than the current political discourse. Simplicity might be key given that throngs of people have made the pilgrimage to horrible movie theaters in order to witness the latest "Jedi" installment while churches and voting booths have become desolate places in the Western world. It's not a hard decision, there really is no competing with movie special effects and soundtracks. Also, Supreme Court gay marriage victory makes the old world religious struggle seem antiquated and unnecessary. The Force is alive and well while real world ancient superstitions struggle to stay intact.
And so, now that Star Wars and the Force have become America's new religion. The theology deserves some examination in order to weigh its merits. No, talk of midi-chlorian counts would be a waste and actually represent the horrible screenwriting of creator George Lucas. More often than not, "The Force" is a really a great plug for poor plot structure or otherwise lame movie transitions. Unlike Youtube clips, movies always have some kind of downtime and metaphysical conversations make great filler. Still, talk of the force is just about as vague as politicos referring to their religious views in a way that affirms their humanity but lacks any real detail that might offend voters or turn away the legions of Christians who appreciate dressing nice on Sunday but don't want to be judged in any meaningful way.
The force flows through us like friendly smile or shot of tequila, it's best not to get too hung up on what it all means.
Yet, the dark side of the force also offers a subtle reminder that even new age philosophy comes at a cost. The practitioners of the dark side are mostly faceless nearly robotic characters because it's too hard to look a person in the eyes and tell the that their beliefs are wrong.
If there is some not so pleasant spoiler to be had in terms of a faith based discussion, it's the fact that the dark and light side don't seem to be too far apart when characters finally meet their end. Dueling and eye-rolling Star Wars talk is part of a spiritual debate of a two headed coin wherein wardrobe choices seem to be the determining factor. Most would agree that the dark side wins with a much cooler fashion sense.
And then there's Jabba.
A fat slob to be sure; there is no lying in Jabba. He stands against the rebels, Jedi and the Empire.
He's the only guy looking out for his own self interests, that of his family and his friends without guilt or political motivations.
He rolls deep with a rag tag crew of supporters who are also unaligned with the ideologies that seem to rule the Star Wars universe. Both rebels and the Empire are forced to respect his cunning and the cruel cleverness of the bounty hunters he employs.
And let's face it, if "The Force" was oh so powerful, the daughter of the baddest Jedi in the star system wouldn't have ended up as a member of Jabba's harem for one glorious moment in time that is forever burned in the memories of all heterosexual fans of the movie series.
In the end Jabba was choked out by his hottie lady Jedi concubine but not before he outplayed, outmaneuvered and outmatched virtually every interest in the Star Wars galaxy.
Again, we come back to poor screenwriting. It seems like "the Force" is more of a plot device to fill in the blanks rather than any belief system worthy of consideration. Any realistic examination of the details surrounding Jabba might have seen the Hutt fattie using his powers of skepticism and practicality to train fellow loyalists about resistance against the power of cheap tricks, mind-control persuasion and telekinesis.
Alas, the Hutt clan lost one of their most charismatic family members and the only creature who expressed a love for music, good times and enjoying a snack with evening entertainment.
Jabba the gangster is nobody's hero but a few grown ups who understand that Star Wars is a bad metaphor for merchandising and the death of other unifying narratives which offer slightly more logical consistency but require a bit more devotion than the purchase of licensed merchandise.