In the first podcast, we take a brief look at Star Wars. This will be a topic that we will return to frequently as it is one of our favorite series. We also setup a couple of key ideas that we’ll return to often in the future movies, comics, shows and stories we examine.
The first key idea is the standard three act story structure. This structure is commonly found in hero driven stories and will come up a lot . In the first act, the protagonist1 is in need of an internal change. In A New Hope this is seen in Luke’s desire to learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi like his father. The need for this internal change is often introduced or fueled by the antagonist2, in this case Obi Wan. The second act, protagonist makes external change in hopes of curing his need of an internal change. For Luke, this external change is joining the Rebellion and saving the princess. In the final act, protagonist finally makes internal change which ends up solving the problem of the narrative. We see this as Luke finally trusts the force in order to solve the problem of the Empire and begin on his path to becoming a Jedi.
The second idea that we touch on is the monomyth. The monomyth is a concept originally introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It refers to the narrative archetype that relates all heroic stories throughout all cultures to one ultimate story, “the Story behind the story”3 . The narrative pattern is as follows:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from his mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man”. 4
While Campbell only sees the Gospel as an example of monomyth; we believe that source of the monomyth is ultimately the Gospel. This isn’t to say that the Gospel is responsible for all story, rather that all story takes it’s cues from our longing for the Gospel. Therefore, stories written before Jesus came are reflections of the longing for something they hadn’t been told yet.5
At the end of the episode we look at Han Solo. Han is the quintessential scoundrel. He believes in one thing: himself. His whole outlook on life is based solely on his survival and/or profit. We see this in several of his quotes throughout the movie:
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” 6
“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. ‘Cause no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense”. 6
There is no way that he is going to believe in the Force.Yet by the time we get to The Force Awakens, Han has completely changed.
“I used to wonder about that myself. Thought it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. A magical power holding together good and evil… the dark side and the light. Crazy thing is… it’s true. The Force. The Jedi. All of it. It’s all true”. 7
Though none of the movies give us a picture of when Han’s view changes, but it’s clear that it does. Why? Because Han sees Luke live out his faith in the Force. It can’t be mumbo-jumbo when he sees it lived day in and day out. No one would be willing to sacrifice their life or die for simple tricks and nonsense.
We live in a world that encourages people to live like Han Solo. To trust no one but themselves. To make their own way. They won’t see Jesus through straight forward evangelism attempts like Luke tried with Han.
“You don’t believe in the Force, do you?” 6
But they will see Jesus when as we consistently live out our faith day after day.
Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery. – Joseph Cambell
- The protagonist is the main character of the story. ↩
- The definition of antagonist that we are going to use is different from the standard dictionary definition: a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary. For us the antagonist is the external force/person that is provoking change in the protagonist. ↩
- The Hero’s Journey, New World Library 2003, p. xxi ↩
- Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. p.23. ↩
- Ecclesiastes 3:11 ↩
- Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Lucas Film Ltd, 2008. DVD. ↩ ↩ ↩
- Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Lucas Film Ltd, 2016. DVD. ↩
- Campbell, Joseph, and Bill D. Moyers. Introduction. The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Xvi. Print. ↩