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How we can learn from Han Solo's substitute dream
Since, it’s made nearly a billion dollars, I think I can keep talking about Star Wars. There’s this great part in the 1977 one where Han Solo starts to question Obi-Wan training Luke in the Force. If you didn’t know, the Force was an energy field that connected all living things in the galaxy. As Obi-Wan says, “It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
Right after Obi-Wan explains this to Luke on Han Solo’s ship, Han questions his premise altogether.
Han’s distrust of the force is a famous scene that was probably made more famous when in the recently released film, Han reevaluates his whole relationship with the Force. He confesses to Rey and Finn that the whole thing is true. He’s been converted. He’s changed his mind. He even named his son after Obi-Wan.
But despite his awareness, I’m not sure how much of a conversion Han underwent, in the new flick, he’s up to his old tricks again, living on his own, ran away from his wife, concerned about controlling his own destiny. I think that’s the heart of the myth that Han holds, at least when it comes to Star Wars. It’s not that the Force isn’t real—which I could take or leave personally—it’s that he controls his destiny with his blaster and his ship.
I think that falseness regarding destiny is still something Han believes and it’s something that I think we do. We think we control our own destiny, I think, because we’ve been taught to think that. There is something then that is deeply ironic about our so-called control because the very notion isn’t something which which we were created, not something that awe necessarily organically thought of, but something that was planted in us. It is a piece of thought from the world, it is a dream that was taught to us. The self-madeness that we think we have is not something we’ve manufactured. And it has substituted the very thing that God has given us—our own destiny. It isn’t the Force that binds us together and gives us our sense of ambiguous purpose, is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus inaugurated a new age of wisdom and action. Paul puts it plainly to the Corinthians: we have to reject the seemingly wise ways of the world, and follow in the seemingly foolish Way of Jesus. “Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God… So let no one boast about human leaders.”
I think we all can be kind of Han Solos, hoping to make our own way in the world. Our own way of course is influenced so often by the “wisdom of this world,” isn’t it? Who taught Han to be a scoundrel, a smuggler? Our leaders attempt to persuade us to vote for them with the dreams that they sell us. Our allegiance or rebellion against them still puts us at them at the center of our influence. Two of the big dreams they are selling: security and progress.
On one side of the aisle, you have people telling us that they are doing to protect us from terrorisms and terrorists. They claim have the power, the will, and authority to do it. And that feels good to a lot of Americans because the threats of the Islamic State are real and tangible and frightening. People are afraid and the state is promising to save them. Even the notion of a “nation state” is meant to offer us bordered protection.
But I’m here to tell you that it is only Jesus that saves us and that can keep us safe. Our fear may be understandable, but our Jesus is the healer of our fear. When we include people, even our worst enemies, in the fold, they can experience a life-changing transformation, that simply put a drone or a huge wall can’t provide.
And it’s not just the government that promises us security—arming ourselves, living in the “right neighborhood,” all of these things seem to promise us fortitude, but only Jesus does.
And it’s not just the people obsessed with security that are selling us a false dream. On the other side, you actually have people who are telling you that it is “progress” that will save us. Hillary and Bernie are telling us how progressive they are. The idea is that inclusion, tolerance, and equal opportunity and rights will be what liberates us. The politicians promising us that think they’ll have the cooperation and the money to make it happen, too.
I’m not so sure about the myth of progress as wealth inequality continues to grow, as more and more people are incarcerated, or killed by those who are supposed to protect us. I am not buying the myth that the world is getting better. I’m not sure it is. I’m not running for office, so I don’t usually feel beholden to come up with the earthly ideas that will save us, but I know that our alternative community does offer something else.
And isn’t it fitting? That participation in the church, becoming a citizen of the Kingdom of God, looks like foolishness to the world? I don’t think I’d have it any other way. If the world thought what Christians were doing was in-line with their own logic, I’d be skeptical about whether we were pulling it off. Pay attention to that as everyone tries to cozy up to Jesus to get votes.
Like Han Solo to Obi-Wan, the world won’t recognize our wisdom, but the door is open and available to them too. We might be the very people that include the person who might otherwise thing we are foolish.