Applying Media Wisdom to THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: Don’t Fall Prey to New Age STAR WARS Myth Conceptions
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor, with Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor
*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2019. We are running it again on “May the Fourth” 2020.
As the final STAR WARS movie hits theaters this weekend, the space odyssey will enrapture fans once more, luring them into an adventure-packed movie that seems relatively harmless. After all, the good guys should win, and the bad guys should be defeated, right?
What’s troubling, though, is both sides’ use of the Force. Even though the Light Side/Jedi try to use it for good, the ritual of connecting to the Force indicates a strong pagan, New Age influence worldview in the movie.
According to the Movieguide® review, the movie contains a strong, somewhat eclectic or mixed, New Age, dualistic pagan worldview viewing supernatural power as residing in a living, impersonal energy “Force” (instead of a Personal God). This New Age worldview also says that, if you get trained in using this “Force,” you can have more and more supernatural power to do good or do evil, and to even heal other people and animals who are wounded.
Furthermore, the movie also contains some Eastern mysticism where the bodies of Jedi Knights using the Light Side of the Force simply vanish when they die. Finally, in one scene, the heroine seems to be meditating silently and concentrating fiercely in order to use the Force to balance a bunch of small boulders in the air.
The use of the Force in this and other STAR WARS movies requires discernment, at best, for media-wise viewers who know how to guard their hearts against New Age and other Non-Christian influences and who may even see some Christian elements in the way the Jedi Knights use the Force to overcome evil.
For example, in the new STAR WARS movie, there are some moving redemptive moments of love, selfless sacrifice and mercy.
Of course, we don’t need New Age movies and television programs, much less atheistic ones, to tell us the importance of overcoming evil with acts of love, mercy and sacrifice. We already have the Word of God, the Bible, and many Christian movies and programs to tell us that. To quote the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
On that note, it’s interesting, and perhaps very instructive, that, in the new STAR WARS movie, the heroine at one crucial point avoids being overcome by the Dark Side of the Force by an act of love and mercy instead of an act of revenge. As Paul advises us in Romans 12:19, “Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to [God’s] wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
That said, however, the use of the impersonal Force in the extremely popular STAR WARS franchise proves how pervasive New Age, pantheistic beliefs have become, especially in entertainment.
A Pew Research Study revealed that the majority of Americans, including Christians, ascribe to at least one New Age belief.
These New Age practices include belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees.
“Overall, roughly six-in-ten American adults accept at least one of these New Age beliefs,” Pew reports. “Specifically, four-in-ten believe in psychics and that spiritual energy can be found in physical objects, while somewhat smaller shares express belief in reincarnation (33%) and astrology (29%).”
The breadth of this acceptance deeply disturbs Steven Bancarz, who was once one of the leading experts in New Age religion.
“To some people, this may sound like typical Christian paranoia, especially coming from an ex-New Ager like myself. This is something I couldn’t have imagined talking about five years ago when I would frequently write about the benefits of mediation on one of the largest New Age websites in the world,” Bancarz wrote on his blog. “This was something I used to both study and practice, and I even wrote an Ebook on mindfulness that got over 30,000 downloads. I thought meditation was a necessary part of life, and any idea contrary to this I would have labelled as unscientific and crazy.”
Bancarz continued, “After all, all we ever hear about are the amazing health benefits of meditation – that it can lower blood pressure, improve your sleep, reduce stress, and can be used as a sort of fix-all pill for life. But the truth is, there is a massive body of research demonstrating that meditation has the potential to cause extreme psycho-emotional damage, both in the short and long term.”
These disturbing results prove the need for further media discernment when it comes to STAR WARS movies like RISE OF SKYWALKER and other movies distributed by the entertainment industry in Hollywood.
Parents must understand how the mass media of entertainment, including STAR WARS movies and programs, influences their children’s beliefs, opinions and behavior.
Statistics from various sources show, in fact, that by the time he or she is 17, a child will have spent up to 66,500 hours with the mass media, from books to television to movies to video games to the Internet, but only 11,000 hours in school, 2,000 hours with their parents and a minuscule 800 hours in church, IF they attend church once a week.
Thus, parents must be cognizant of what media their children are consuming, not just what their teachers are teaching.
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