The Allegories of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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Star Wars isn't the only series dipping its toes into the refugee allegory. In an earlier Doctor Who episode, a treaty was struck wherein Zygons — shape-shifting aliens — were allowed to settle in Great Britain if they agreed to appear like humans and live quiet human lives. In this year's "The Zygon Invasion" and "The Zygon Inversion," a new generation of refugees has been hatched, and they don't want to play by the agreements their parents made. They want to be able to express themselves and live in a world that reflects their identity and beliefs.

The two-parter was interesting because although it did sufficiently show the dilemma faced by the host nation, the script was mostly a message to the refugees. The Doctor spent a great deal of time talking to the rebel Zygon, explaining the horrors that follow after the first shot is fired. He also emphasized the value of forgiveness, explaining that it is powerful enough to avert war.

I know that everyone has their own opinion about refugees, and that many of those opinions are half-formed. But the episode asks some questions that we as Christians need to answer. Refugees will come; refugees are already here. It is unlikely that older adults will be involved in terrorist attacks. They know what they left, and they appreciate the opportunity they have. But we have seen that their kids sometimes are susceptible to radicalization.

The question is, what is our response? Whether we're teachers or counselors or neighbors or we just happen to be in the same store as a refugee — what is our heart attitude?

Han's was love. Maybe he was foolish for walking so close to his son. Maybe he should have asked Ben/Kylo Ren to drop the light saber first. But those are peripheral logistics. What came first was love. If our core motivation isn't love, we're doing it wrong. Are we, like Han, truly willing to do anything to save someone who has been seduced by evil?

I'm not sure what Rey's motivation was when she let Kylo Ren live, whether it was pity or hope. Despite her short time with Han, she had become extremely attached, and it was horrifying for her to see his son kill him. But she also knew Kylo's internal struggle — that he wasn't completely dedicated to the dark side, perhaps even after killing Han. Hope stayed Luke's hand against Vader, and it paid off with Anakin's deathbed conversion. Without hope, there is zero chance we will have peace with refugees. And peace with anyone is only possible with hope in God.

When we meet Finn, he understands justice, and he even has enough courage to escape, but his courage hasn't developed yet into self-sacrifice. It is reasonable to want to flee from evil. In some cases it requires that we give up the comforts we have. But it takes even more to willingly turn around and fight that evil because it's the right thing to do and because others need our protection. Rey understands a little that their battle is not against the flesh and blood Ben Solo, but the authorities, the powers of the dark, the spiritual forces of the evil Kylo Ren (Ephesians 6:12). We need courage and self-sacrifice, but we also need to remember who the enemy is.

Switching series, the Doctor's core attitude was forgiveness. The Zygon rebellion, though just starting, had already killed several humans. Would the humans forgive them? Would the newly hatched Zygons forgive their parents for forcing them into a life where they couldn't live as they wished? The Doctor was the first to forgive, not only because he could see the big picture (that unforgiveness leads to war) but because he recalled the horrible mistakes he had made. The wrong he had caused and all the times he needed forgiveness. It shouldn't be too far of a leap to see ourselves in that. Every time we hate or fear or refuse to hope, we need forgiveness as well.

That's a lot of biblical truth for a movie based on eastern mysticism and a humanist TV show. But the source doesn't make it less true. What we need to do with the refugee situation is complicated. There are political, social, and practical implications that will require years to unpack. God gives us quite a bit of leeway in that. But He requires us to start with love (1 Corinthians 13:1), hope (1 Corinthians 13:7), courage (2 Timothy 1:7), self-sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15). These are not suggestions. They are not ideals. Nor are they best-case-scenario options. They are middle-of-the-war-surrounded-by-enemies requisites for those who claim to follow Christ.

Are we willing to accept that?

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Published 12-21-15