I think the new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is fantastic. I’ve seen it several times since it hit the Internet yesterday afternoon, as you probably have, too. Each time, it makes me smile.
I’m sure it will make me smile this time, too:
I like this teaser trailer a lot more than I did the first one. It doesn’t clarify the plot one bit, or offer any solid information about any of the new characters, but it feels more like Star Wars than the first teaser trailer does. It balances some of the series’ most familiar and iconic elements with exciting glimpses of strange new stuff, easily making it the most intriguing and entertaining 90 seconds of my day.
Other fans have been all over the teaser trailer like mynocks on the Millennium Falcon, scouring it for clues about plot, character, and technology. Me? I’ve been mulling over its possible theological import.
If you’d like some biblical back-up for bringing the teaser trailer into conversations at church this weekend, or if you’re a geeky preacher or Sunday school teacher itching for excuses to show the footage as part of this week’s sermon or lesson plan, maybe these musings will help!
What Destroyed That Star Destroyer?
That Star Destroyer wreckage could make a strong cautionary parable about the perils of pride. Hubris doesn’t begin to describe the heights of arrogance the Galactic Empire reached. As it manufactured Star Destroyers, Super Star Destroyers, and not one but two moon-sized armored battle stations, the Empire never considered its vulnerabilities. Like the prosperous wicked in Psalm 10, Emperor Palpatine and those who served him thought, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity” (v. 6). Isn’t that essentially what Grand Moff Tarkin said moments before a boy from the galactic backwater blew up the Death Star with nothing but a snub-nosed fighter and faith in the Force?
I don’t know how this Star Destroyer in The Force Awakens ended up a crumbling carcass half-buried in some alien desert’s sand, but it’s a powerful reminder of what ancient Israel’s sages knew: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16.18).
I confess: I didn’t initially notice the crashed X-wing fighter on the scene as well… Maybe this debris field points less to pride and more to the fact that “time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9.11)!
Feeling The Force Within
I’m wondering (and so are others) if we’re hearing Mark Hamill deliver newly recorded dialogue when he talks about the Force’s strength in his family. Whatever the case, in this context Luke sounds as though he is introducing some new member of his family to the Force connection that is the Skywalker birthright. The sights of Darth Vader’s charred and mangled mask and Luke’s own, now-skinless robotic right hand remind us that this connection can bring danger. The hand-off of a lightsaber, however, evokes (at least for me) warm memories of Ben Kenobi giving Anakin’s blade to Luke on the day Luke began the journey toward realizing his role as the galaxy’s new hope.
Now the elder Jedi, Luke sounds a little like the apostle Paul writing to his protégé Timothy about the “sincere faith… that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you” (2 Timothy 1.5). Unlike the Force, faith in God doesn’t empower us to do things like levitate rocks while standing on our heads (although Jesus did say it could move mountains, Mark 11.23). But faith does spiritually strengthen us. We believe God “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3.20)—or at least we say we believe it! Faith in Jesus can have its dangers, as Paul knew (see, for example, 2 Corinthians 11.23-29). But if Jesus has chosen us (John 15.16) and awakened faith within us, we will find ourselves answering his call to new life as surely as Luke answered the Force’s call to adventure.
After the intense 30 seconds or so of sea-skimming X-wings, sleek new stormtroopers, eye-popping explosions, and speeding TIE fighters hot on the Millennium Falcon’s tail that make up the last third of the trailer, the final clip of Han Solo and Chewbacca reboarding “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” feels, on first viewing, anticlimactic. It’s a jolt to see that once-roguish Han has grown gray and grizzled (especially when his Wookiee co-pilot has somehow maintained his coat’s youthful sheen). But I don’t look like I did 32 years ago, either. The less I look at Han’s face and the more I listen to his line, the greater my appreciation for this moment. With a twinkle in his eyes and the slightest of tremors in his voice, Harrison Ford smuggles a lot of peace and joy into those three syllables: “Chewie, we’re home.”
I think again of the apostle Paul. He pictured death—or, more accurately, the new life he looked forward to after his death—as being “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5.8). Jesus himself assured his followers that he would “go and prepare a place” for them in his Heavenly Father’s house, a place where they would one day be with him always (John 14.2-3). Whether heaven is an actual place or not, I don’t know, but I do believe heaven is a person. When we fully and finally enter our living Lord’s presence, we will truly be able to say, “We’re home.”
What do you think about the new trailer for The Force Awakens?
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version. Images from the trailer found at Russ Fischer, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Teaser #2 Images: Let’s Over-Analyze the Trailer,” 16 March 2015, http://www.slashfilm.com/the-force-awakens-teaser-2-images/.