The Force, The Spirit, and Taoism

I’ve been meaning to post something about this for a while, but I’ve never quite found the proper way to do it. I am still not sure that this is the correct way, but I thought I’d take a stab at it.

I differ from standard Christian doctrine on a number of points, and I have wrestled with that on and off over the years. Currently, I am of the opinion that Christianity is big enough for me to call myself Christian, especially as I do believe I am called to Christianity and that the Holy Spirit is working with me and through me. Whether others believe that is, of course, debatable.

One of the points I differ from standard Christian doctrine on is a persistent belief in the energy field known by a number of names including, but not limited to: the life force, the force, the energy, chi, ki, and qi. There are a variety of reasons I believe in this energy field: from its persistence in cultures across the world (famously in Asiatic cultures, less well-known but still present in others), to training on it in personal counseling sessions; to practice of one of the martial arts built on an understanding of chi, Tai Chi; to practice of various meditations, exercises and rituals that have been made available by Wicca. Suffice to say, I have plenty of reason to believe in this energy field.

But how does this energy field fit into my understanding of Christianity? Well, to answer that I must bring in both the Force of Star Wars and the Tao of Taoism. First, the Tao of Taoism. For those who don’t know, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism are three interrelated theologies prevalent in China. Buddhism is built on an understanding of suffering and enlightenment; Confucianism is largely defined by its legalistic understandings of culture and traditions; Taoism is built on following the Tao.

Taoism also allows for the existence of chi. In Taoism, the Tao can’t be manipulated or controlled, but as Tai Chi and other marital arts demonstrates chi can. The Tao is thus more of a source of guidance and strength, while chi is an energy field that can be sensed and manipulated.

The Force in Star Wars is often a source of problem to theologians, in part because Lucas wasn’t trying too hard to make the Force its own theology. However, what theologians like John C. McDowell have pointed out is that there is allusions (in the core films mainly by Qui-Gon Jinn) of the Force having a will, and thus we can draw the conclusion that there is more to it than simply source of amazing powers and feats–it also has a moral imperative. The Expanded Universe of novels draws a distinction between the Unifying Force and the Living Force; The Clone Wars TV show draws a distinction between the Cosmic Force and the Living Force. Suffice to say, that the Force can be understood as having different aspects and at least one of those aspects has a moral imperative, not just a manipulable energy force.

In a similar manner to these two cases, I believe Christianity and the energy field are compatible. In my understanding, the Trinity, including the Holy Spirit are the Persons we have relationship with, while the energy field is an aspect of the universe as God created it. I believe it is possible to manipulate the energy field without the aid of God–Wiccans call the manipulation of the energy field magic; we can thus postulate that the magi in the court of the Pharaoh who were able to do quite astonishing feats were manipulating the energy field. Any Christian however would only manipulate the energy field under the guidance and with the strength of the Holy Spirit encompassing (remember Moses was able to do much more than the magi). It is worth nothing that many Wiccans also will not cast a spell without seeking the guidance and aid of a god or goddess or the Goddess. While this may not be comfort to many Christians, my personal experience tends to believe that God will use what avenues He can to reach us–I was reached through my openness to the existence of the Goddess as one Goddess with many names, so I tend to believe that seeking the guidance of any god or goddess is better than just imposing our own will on the energy.

Since becoming Christian I have also noticed that the Tao directly translates as the Way. While it wouldn’t be correct to say that Christianity and Taoism are the same, they do  have a lot of similarities and the Tao reads a lot like the Holy Spirit. Since Christ was called the Way as well, I do have to wonder at the coincidence–God is indeed greater than we know!

So, in conclusion, I know that the existence of the energy field is not standard Christian doctrine, but I have many reasons for believing in it as strongly as I believe in Christ himself. I continue to use the energy in my daily life, and I continue to seek guidance and strength from God in doing so.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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