JR. Forasteros - May 14, 2017
From Series: "Strangers in a Strange Land"
Great Science Fiction offers visions of a utopian future where humans have achieved peace and prosperity through progress. But Jesus' resurrection challenges the assumption that humans can save ourselves. In this series, we'll examine some of the most famous sci-fi visions of the future against the image of the Church we find in 1 Peter and see how the Spirit at work in us is the true hope of the world.
More Messages From JR. Forasteros...
It didn’t feel right to do a sci-fi series without talking about one of the biggest sci-fi stories of all time – Star Wars! I specifically want to dial in on Episode VII, The Force Awakens, which was the first new Star Wars film in years, and relaunched the whole Star Wars movie empire. It is also one of the biggest box-office hauls of all time. So I’m assuming most of you saw it.
Pretty much everyone who saw it loved The Force Awakens, but if there was a constant critique, it was this: the movies are basically the same. Anything you can say about The Force Awakens can basically be applied to several other Star Wars movies. Talking about good vs evil or the daddy issues that plague the Skywalker family or any other theme – they’re all in all the films.
As a culture, we crave familiar stories – like Star Wars, like the nostalgia wave that’s hitting Netflix.
Everything’s getting a sequel, remake or reboot. We’re looking backwards, reaching for something familiar. That’s a sign that, as a people we feel unmoored. We’re looking for a time when life made more sense because the stories we’ve built our lives on have begun to crumble. We called that story the American Dream and you all know it: if you work hard, you can be anything you want to be. You can achieve whatever you want. It gets more specific: follow the rules, graduate, go to college (being a little rowdy is acceptable), get married, have kids, get a job, work your way up, retire.
That story has taken hit after hit over the last generation.
People my age and younger have seen that the only thing going to college guarantees you is crippling debt – there are fewer and fewer jobs available. We’ve seen in the past decade that not everyone has equal access to the American Dream – that many of us are disadvantaged from the start. Add in a decade and a half of never-ending war on terror, the increasingly sharp divisions about what exactly the American Dream even should be and you have a recipe for feeling lost. Depressed. Cynical.
We find comfort in old, familiar stories. Even our scifi, which is suppose to be about visions of the future, is about nostalgia and reliving a vision of the future from 30 years ago. We want a vision for our future that is framed by our past. We want to be able to say, “Wait, haven’t I heard this before?”
That’s actually what J. J. Abrams intended with The Force Awakens – he knew he was hewing closely to the original Star Wars. He said in an interview,
The Force Awakens was a bridge and a kind of reminder; the audience needed to be reminded what ‘Star Wars’ is, but it needed to be established with something familiar, with a sense of where we are going to new lands, which is very much what 8 and 9 do.
Something familiar that sets us up to go somewhere new. We’ll have to wait until Episode 8 comes out to see if J. J. is right about Star Wars. But we’ll see Peter doing the same thing in our Scripture today. For those of us feeling adrift, those of us feeling lost, uncertain about the future, their kids’ futures, the Story of God gives us a framework to understand how God is working in our world here and now.