Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review of Just One Scene


In case you've been living under a rock, and under that rock you dug a deep cave, and at the end of that cave you fashioned a bunker with thick, steel-reinforced concrete walls, cutting off the outside world, and making yourself impervious to any kind of radio, television, or internet frequency -- the latest Star Wars movie is out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I've seen it, and it's a Star Wars movie. Don't worry, I'm not about to spoil it. Well, much of it anyway. There's just one tiny little scene I wanted to bring up, and then I'm going to spoil the outcome of that scene at the end of the blog. I'll put up a spoiler alert when I get there. If I remember.

If you saw the The Force Awakens (everyone dogged on that title, but I thought it was fine), then you might remember the rather disappointing conclusion when Rey found Luke Skywalker, handed him his lightsaber, then cut to John Williams music and blue credits. Luke had more dialogue in the previews leading up to that movie than he did in the movie.

Well, fret no more! We pick up at that exact spot in The Last Jedi (I won't spoil how Luke responds to getting his lightsaber back, but it's perfect). Rey wants Luke to teach her the ways of the force so she can become a Jedi knight like her father... er, wait, that was a different Star Wars movie. She wants Luke to teach her to become a Jedi. "I want to find my place in all this," she says.

Where Luke ended up going -- the most hidden part of the galaxy according to him, but apparently not hidden enough -- was an island where the last Jedi temple rests in an old, dead tree. There inside the tree is a single table with a few books -- the ancient Jedi texts.

So fiddle faddle fum, plot-plot and sub-plot, Luke won't leave with Rey, so she leaves on her own to  help the resistance/rebellion without him. Because Luke fears Rey is becoming like Ren/Ben, he decides to burn the whole Jedi thing to the ground. Literally. He lights a flare and walks up to the tree/temple. But before he can torch it, he's visited by a cameo appearance of Oz/Yoda.

Luke hesitates to act on his impulse, so the Green Goblin burns it down for him (in dead-Jedi fashion, of course). Having a change of heart, Luke is absolutely beside himself. You destroyed the last Jedi sacred texts! Yoda replies, "Did you ever read the texts?" And Luke stammers with an answer that was probably about to be, "Well I was going to!" Yoda says, "Page turners, they were not."

The whole Jedi thing has always been an excuse to put magic in a sci-fi landscape. There's nothing mysterious or deep about the Jedi religion; the filmmakers are just making it up as they go. Now the Jedi have ancient texts, and there's apparently only one copy left.

But the texts are not important. Of course they're not. Because being a Jedi is about feeling the force, not reading about it. There's no reason for texts. Remember Obi-Wan's first lesson to the young Luke: "Stretch out with your feelings." In this movie, Luke gives Rey that same advice. So what's the point of having a text if you don't need it? He never even read it! Which is the point Yoda makes with Luke.

Trusting your feelings is the lesson in almost every epic or adventure film I've seen: Follow your heart! Believe in yourself! It's the way of the world, exemplified in virtually all blockbusters. You can say, "Oh, it's just a movie." Sure, I won't argue with that. It's a cash-grab. I pay the money to be entertained just like you do. But all movies have messages, and that under-whelming philosophy is usually that you make your own way and your own truth.

The Bible says the opposite. You cannot make your own truth, and your feelings are not dependable. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool (Proverbs 28:26), and the heart is so deceptively sick that no one can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). You're following a dumb, sick guide when you follow yourself.

The Bible is our only objective, unchanging source of truth. On the days that you don't feel like you know your "place in all of this," you need the text to remind you. You were created in God's image for a purpose, and that is to worship God with everything that you are, giving thanks to Him in all that you do. There is a place for you in His eternal, imperishable kingdom.

But wicked men don't want to be with God. This world is fallen and subject to judgment along with everyone who is part of it. They will be destroyed when Jesus returns "with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12). That's not a truth you can feel. You read about it in the Bible.

For those who are in Christ Jesus, God has promised to deliver you and will give you an inheritance in His eternal kingdom. When this world gets to be too much, you will forget that. When the world looks alluring enough, you will give in to temptation. You would fall with this world if it wasn't for the fact that God upholds you by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

So you go back to God's word to be reminded of the truth. You're reminded of your sinfulness and your need for a Savior. This is what it says will happen to those who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Revelation 7:15-17):
Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve Him day and night in His temple;
and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. 
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and He will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Knowing the truth of Christ fills us with joy, something far more invincible than happiness or chills. You can feel goosebumps sitting in a movie theater with surround sound and lightsaber battles to John Williams music. But God's word is not verified by how you feel. It is verified by the never-ending, never-failing character of a gracious God, who gave us His word so we would know His love and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Okay, and now here's a spoiler. Am I supposed to put that in all-caps? Is that the proper online etiquette for a spoiler alert?

SPOILER ALERT!!

At the end of the movie after Rey... well, never mind... Fin goes to a drawer on the Millennium Falcon to get a blanket, and when he opens it up, gasp! It's the Jedi books! Apparently Rey swiped them before Luke/Yoda could destroy them. You see them for just a flash, but my daughter Annie and I agreed they were the Jedi texts.

Whatever's in those books, the script doctors will make it up by the next movie (unless it's a plot twist they decide to drop). But I'm willing to take a guess: the books describe what the Jedi feel when they experience the force.

That's not what the Bible talks about. As Peter said of the testimony of the Scriptures, "We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:16). We follow the truth.