Saturday, March 19, 2016

Podcast #004 - The Jedi Path

"You've Taken Your First Step Into a Larger World."

In this all-new, super-special fourth podcast episode, Emily & Alan talk about some of the religious and theological topics that arise from Star Wars. We talk about the Force, dualism, and warrior monks.

We also talk about our thoughts on "The Force Awakens," and cover lots of terrific feedback from our terrific feedbackers.

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Link: Anderson Cale's music 

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  1. As per usual, another terrific episode, Middletons!

    Emily mentioned being open to stories about Rey, Finn, and Poe set before THE FORCE AWAKENS. In addition to the upcoming Poe Dameron comic from Marvel, Lucasfilm released an anthology book called BEFORE THE AWAKENING. It includes three short stories, one focused on each of the three new heroes set shortly before the events of the movie. The book is technically supposed to be a young-reader publication, but it's written by Greg Rucka, so while the writing is pretty simple and straightforward, it is no less engrossing and exciting.

    As I said, this was a wonderful episode. I love your analytical approach to The Force from a philosophical point. It is actually very close to the topic of a future episode of my GIVE ME THOSE STAR WARS podcast, wherein I ask if the Force is reactive or proactive or both or neither. Your discussion this episode gave me a few things to think about when I do my recording.

    Keep up the good work. Can't wait to hear the next episode!

    1. Thank you, Ryan. It's tough talking about Star Wars as generalists, when there are so many specialists out there.

      YA publications can be surprisingly good. And often more clear and straightforward than grown-up versions.

  2. I'm still paused at the 41:45 mark. Have been for about a day. This episode is having a lasting effect on my life. Caused by the Google based rabbit holes it sent me spiraling down.

    When I was a kid who read books bigger then he was and Star Wars (not yet a New Hope) came out, LotR was suggested as a book I would like because I liked that film. I have always felt that the two properties/worlds were part of the same cycle of stories on some deeper level, even if they are technically separate.

    1. Sorry about that?

      But if Lucas was indeed writing a fantasy story with a different type of setting, then similarities to THE fantasy story are to be expected? Or maybe it's all Joseph Campbell's fault?

  3. Very insightful and thoughtful discussion on Star Wars and the Force, Middletons! I really enjoyed it, but I have a few disagreements with Emily's analysis as it pertains to the Force, the Skywalker Legacy, and "Order." And apparently I have so much to say that it won’t fit in a single post, so here’s Part 1:
    I think she hits it on the head when she says that the Force is not something you can necessarily contain or refer to as a simply good or evil entity, and bad things seem to happen when the scale is tipped too far in one of those directions. The Force is harmony, it's free flowing, it is natural. So with that, I think it is a misstep to align or equate "Order" with "Good." In the case of Anakin, if his mission was to bring Order to the galaxy, he succeeded on that front. This was a Galaxy caught in a massive civil war during the Clone Wars, the disorder and turmoil at this time was much more chaotic than the Empire was with the Rebels until the destruction of the first Death Star (that definitely raised the stakes) and then Anakin comes in with Palpatine and the Clones, wipes out the Jedi, eliminates the Separatists, and establishes a Galactic Dictatorship. So following Vader's descent to the Dark Side, and the establishment of the Empire, there was 20 years of Order throughout the Galaxy. Sure he did it through vile, horrible actions, but gone is the open, armed combat of the Clone Wars that were ripping the Galaxy in half. Was it a good and benevolent order? Absolutely not, it was peace through tyranny, it was Absolute Rule by the most evil man in the galaxy, but it was Order.
    In Star Wars, it seems the theme running through the first 6 movies, at least on the "Force Wars" or "Jedi Wars" front, is that whichever side is currently in power, they mistakenly try to contain and impose a Western set of ideals and structure on the Power of the Force, which seems to fall in line much more with an Eastern based Philosophy.
    In the Original Trilogy you have the Jedi very much being these blend of Eastern monks and Ronin, living very Feudal Japanese Eastern lifestyles, they then have to square off against this militarized western, Totalitarian Space Government. In the Prequel Trilogy, you have the Jedi Order, presented much more like the early centuries of the Roman Catholic Empire, taking this Eastern Philosophy and trying to fit into the rigid structure and hierarchy of an organized Western Christianity. And in that system, the Force became abused and mistreated, essentially setting the Jedi up as suffering from the same follies that Martin Luther witnessed with the Catholic religion and hierarchy. In both cases, Prequel and Original Trilogy, the Eastern Philosophy style of the Force is subjected to being pulled, prodded, and forced into the confines of some Western system, Prequels being Religion, OT being Government, and in both cases the Force rebels, it fights back, and brings that system down with it, giving rise to the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing them to come in, essentially abuse the Force once again via a different method, until the Force rebels again. But in the case of Vader & Palpatine, it looks as if they did succeed in their mission of Order for 2 decades, before the Force pushed back, and allowed for the rise of the purer approach, the Jedi, now back in sync with the Eastern ways, to assume power again.

    -Kyle Benning

  4. Part 2:

    Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely, and anytime that Power, the Force, is used as a way to govern or control someone whether it us under the guise of good or evil, it pushes back and topples the Apple Cart. Essentially the Force is Entropy, and imposing Order and Structure on it may give you Temporary control, which Anakin has in the form of the Empire, until the Force picks a new totem in Luke to champion anarchy and bring down the system. Luke upends the apple cart, and while we don't know the specifics yet, appears to make the same mistake that the old Jedi Council did, a new Republic is formed, with Jedi & the Force being a core element again, a new champion of anarchy comes along in Ben Solo, and brings the system down with it. Now it appears he is doomed to make the same mistake as Vader, to wield the Force to impose a New Empire, that will once again be doomed to fail, and appears to already be on the path of failure, with the new Champion of the Force being Rey. Like Emily said, it's the swinging of the Pendulum back and forth, and we are essentially witnessing each of these cycles get shorter and shorter, until maybe true balance is finally found, and neither side is in a position of using the Force as a pillar in some sort of government or religious based ruling society.

    It sounds like the Force is calling for States' rights, religious freedom, and little to no central government or organized religion used in a ruling capacity. OMG the Force is the living embodiment of the Constitution with some mystical wizard powers thrown in. :P

    -Kyle Benning

  5. But wait, there's more! Still listening, got to the 50 minute mark and you guys have touched on some of the things I mentioned in my tome above, namely the Protestant Reformation allegory & Separation of Powers, and Power Corruption.

    With regards to Emily talking about the Holy War amongst the Jedi and the split, that somewhat reflects a discussion Ryan Daly and I had back on an August or September episode of DBS, about the varying levels of Force Wielders and the delineation point between Jedi, Dark Jedi, Sith, and other Force Wielders that used the Force as a means of survival but didn't impose any sort of control of their will on others to rule (such as the female character from Splinter of the Mind's Eye that Luke encounters on the Mining Colony, her name escapes me at the moment). The 90's Dark Horse comic series "Dark Empire" and "Tales of the Jedi" really reveled in adding layers and levels to these Force Wielders, so that you didn't just have this Black & White or Good vs. Evil look at the Jedi & Sith.

    -Kyle Benning