Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"Luminous beings are we"

Said Yoda. Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News points out that half of all Americans grew up with the phrase "May the Force be with you," all part of the "quasi-religious mishmash" that is the Star War series. (Registration required; get a password from Bug Me Not.

Did George Lucas tap into audience's desire for a new religion? In 1999 he told interviewer Bill Moyers that he wanted "to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people."

Weiss writes, "Two of the basic story themes for Western culture are redemption through sacrifice and redemption through violence, said Tyron Inbody, a theology professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

"Star Wars uses both of those ideas, and adds Eastern motifs about attachment and emotion pulled from Buddhism and Taoism, said Dr. Inbody, who has studied religion in films."

What strikes me as "Pagan" about the Force (which could equally well be claimed by other traditions) is its impersonality. Gary Snyder once quoted a Northwest tribal saying, "The world is as sharp as the edge of a knife."

(Yoda: "As sharp as the edge of a knife the world is.")

In a polytheistic system, you may have a relationship with one or more deities and ignore (and be ignored by) others. There is not the problem of how the all-loving creator who supposedly numbers the hairs on your head lets bad things happen to you.

But now I have invoked Gods and an impersonal Force as well. Which is it? I think it likely, as did some of the ancients, that the Gods too are somehow subject to Fate, or Wyrd or the Force, but in a way that is outside our normal scale of imagining.

(Thanks to Get Religion for the original link.)


Anonymous Edward Butler said...

I think that the 'impersonal force' you speak of can be reconciled with polytheism by regarding the 'force' as the interference pattern, so to speak, generated by the totality of the Gods.

This 'force' could be seen, in a certain light, as the concrete counterpart of the empty formalism with which one speaks of "All the Gods", the latter representing a logical, quantificational set instead of the mythically articulated integrity of a particular co-emergent set of deities (a 'pantheon').

Relative to any given deity, therefore, this 'force' would represent nothing more, and nothing less, than the real existence of all the other Gods, both those within that given pantheon as well as all the rest.

This 'force' can feature within myth (i.e., within a particular world-order) as a 'constraint' upon the Gods, not because it is something beyond the Gods, but because it derives ultimately from the inherence of all the Gods in each.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

"[T]he 'force' as the interference pattern, so to speak, generated by the totality of the Gods."

Very handy, Edward. Mind if I steal it?


7:59 PM  
Anonymous Edward Butler said...

Be my guest!

1:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home