With Episode 7 to be released in less than 48 hours, I got a galaxy far, far way on the brain.
In rewatching the prequels and the original trilogy, a few storylines have captured my imagination in ways they haven’t before. The content of Jedi philosophy with its negative view of attachments is something I’m doing some thinking about. It is this storyline which leads to the downfall (and redemption) of Anakin Skywalker. I am pretty sure Lucas and others in the Star Wars intelligentsia (which now includes the Pastor-Director, J.J. Abrams) see the Jedi as flawed in some parts of their philosophy. Their pressure on Anakin to let go of certain attachments was wise in any respects, but it also, in part, led to Anakin’s turn to the dark side. In addition, the Jedi are rightly critiqued to have their own political attachment to the Republic. (And this is something Yoda probably realizes at the end of Episode 3, hence his exile to the isolated Degobah system.)
This discussion about attachments is something I’ve taken an interest in as a Pastor, not just a Star Wars fan. In moving in and out of people’s lives in my church and community, it’s become clear that a simplistic doctrine of sin doesn’t include the attachments we all are tempted by.
What is an attachment? I would define attachment as the basic story or narrative that inspires the human heart and drives the human heart. This attachment or story takes the seat in the heart, which is the control center of the human person. It begins to direct one’s thinking, feeling, doing, dreaming, willing, etc.
Another way to describe an attachment is that of an ‘ism’. An ism is closely related to ideology. What is an ideology? It goes back to the notion of story, but it is one’s filter on reality. The world and its agents, causes, effects operate in line with this ideology or ism.
The way this affects my pastoring is that much of my work has to do not with pointing out explicit sinful actions but rather showing people their blind spots of how they are captured by an ideology. Their attachment to this narrative is what they use to give them assurance, rest, and a sense of justice. It is a means to bring healing to their woundedness as broken creatures.
There are two ways which I decipher if someone is beholden to this kind of attachment. The first way is someone stating their embrace of a particular ism: feminism, patriarchalism, liberalism, progressivism, conservatism, pragmatism, rationalism, etc. When I try to counter someone’s ism, it is assumed that I am an adherent to an opposing ism. (So, a critique of feminism means I embrace patriarchalism.) Such a binary view of reality betrays a person’s radical adherence to an ideology/ism.
A second way of deciphering someone’s attachment is how they react when I bring up Jesus, Scripture, or the gospel. I’ve had one individual in particular in the two to three years I’ve known them always give me the stiff arm when I say, “Let’s see how the person and work of Jesus affects our viewpoint on this matter.” This individual, who is a professing Christian, always sees me as employing some sort of Foucaultian power play. Their hostility to basic Christian orthodoxy, even as a professing Christian, shows that there is an unhealthy attachment. They embrace an ism and not even God’s Word or gospel is influential enough for them.
This has now snuck into my preaching praxis. While getting into the particulars of our vocations, I now also get into the particular attachments that capture the human heart. People on ‘both sides of the aisle’ have told me after a sermon that they were offended or prodded in their heart on these issues. If that is happening then that means I am probably doing something right.
God has revealed in Jesus and Scripture a truer and better story which gives us truer and better attachments. We get a truer and better sense of justice, ethics, villainy, victimhood, gender, etc.
My job as the Pastor-Director is to point my people to the Script and the vision of the Playwright so that God’s people might display their passions in way that is coherent with the fruit of the spirit.