Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Good Blaster at Your Side

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

In the Doctor Who episode "The God Complex" that I wrote about last week, when the Doctor finally figures out that the monster feeds on people's faiths and not their fears, he gives as evidence the fact that Rory never seems to be in danger. The Doctor attributes this to the fact that Rory is not superstitious or religious – he doesn't seem to have any kind of faith. I don't think that's true, though. Everyone has faith in something. Take, for instance, two key conversations from Star Wars. In the first, during a meeting of Imperial leaders aboard the Death Star, Darth Vader and Admiral Motti have differing opinions about the best course of action:

Motti: Any attack made by the rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it.
Vader: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fortress…
[Admiral Motti chokes as Vader uses the Force to strangle him from across the room]
Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

In the second conversation, on board the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo has been watching Obi-Wan teach Luke how to use at lightsaber:

Han: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Luke: You don't believe in the Force, do you?
Han: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Admiral Motti and Han Solo are both set up as non-believers in these two scenes, but in both cases it is clear that they do believe in something – for Motti, it's technology and the power of the Death Star, and for Han it's also technology and weaponry, in addition to his own wits and skills. Both men put their trust in things seen and handled and personally experienced rather than some abstract, nebulous, god-like "force," like Luke and Obi-Wan and Vader do. In Admiral Motti's case particularly, it turns out to be misplaced trust in the end when the Rebel Alliance manages to blow up his "ultimate power in the universe."

I think I am like Han Solo more often than I realize or would wish to admit. I'm not nearly as cool as he is, but I am hard-headed and independent and want to do things myself. I want to take care of myself; I want to make things happen by myself. I don't have a good blaster at my side, but I do have my wits and my smarts. I would do well to remember that my abilities are insignificant next to the power of God, and that he is in control and I don't have to do it all on my own all the time.


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