Everyone who knows me even casually knows that I am eagerly awaiting the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Yet I am concerned about several aspects of it. One in particular is the hinting that Luke Skywalker may be portrayed as a Grey Jedi. For those who don’t know, in Star Wars Legends lore, the Gray Jedi are those who don’t follow standard Jedi doctrine. Often they try to find a middle ground of sorts between the light and dark sides of the Force. There’s been a couple “gray” Force users in the Star Wars Rebels show who illustrate this perspective of the Force: Ahsoka Tano and Bendu.
The concept of the gray Force users has always bothered me. Something about it seemed “off”. I didn’t always know what, but as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve figured it out. It relates to the real life beliefs of various faiths around the world in the energy field known by several names including: the Life Force, chi, ki, or simply the energy.
Beliefs around the Life Force vary from faith to faith, but the basics are very similar to the Force of Star Wars: it is an energy field, created by and connecting together all living things. It can be sensed and even controlled to an extent, giving one the ability to accomplish tasks and influence events they otherwise might not have been able to.
As a Wiccan and a Tai Chi practitioner, I believed in the energy, and practiced sensing and controlling it for various purposes. After becoming Christian, I found I couldn’t abandon my belief–I had seen far too much evidence for the energy, experienced too much to discount it. I wrestled for a long time with whether I could be Christian and still believe in and use the energy–I have come to believe that indeed, both views are compatible, and perhaps even attested to in the “works of power” mentioned in Scripture over and over again, and which Christ and Paul both teach and encourage the early Christians to practice.
Yet this view is not popular among Christians. Many view the Life Force present in so many Eastern and Pagan faiths as heretical in the extreme. They see the Life Force and they see an absence of morality. Let’s put aside for a moment that many of these faiths also do have a deity or deities in their belief structure which would provide morality above and beyond the morality of the Life Force. What I wish to illustrate is that the very belief in the Life Force brings with it certain moral implications that are actually quite in line with Christian faith.
Let us look at what is considered by many to be the best Star Wars movie: Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. In ESB, Luke trains under Yoda expecting to learn how to be a great warrior–what Yoda emphasizes instead is the nature of the Force, the philosophy of the Jedi, and the responsible use and control of the Force. This seems curious at first glance and yet it actually follows quite naturally.
In both Star Wars and real life the Force is intimately connected with life. It both is created by and connects together all life. This means that while there will be a certain element of violence, even killing, many such acts will be against the nature of the Force. There also is a common belief among faiths which include the Life Force in their beliefs that actions have consequences, and that there are positive and negative energies. Positive energies are associated with compassion, joy, love; negative energies are associated with anger, fear, despair, hate. If one practices compassion, self-control, honor, joy, love, etc. one will build and attract positive energies–if one practices anger, fear, despair, hate, greed, lust, etc. one will attract negative energies. This generally leads most people who believe in such faiths to hold to a standard of morality that would be respected by many the world over.
So I think that the concept of the gray Jedi is dangerous–the Jedi believed what they believed for a reason. Obviously, the prequel Jedi were flawed–the policy of non-attachment comes to mind as something also not in accordance with life, and therefore the nature of the Force. So there’s definitely room for some tweaking–but to abandon the Jedi view of the Force altogether is a mistake, and a misunderstanding of its very nature. I deeply fear that it would also feed the fears of many Christians of faiths that believe in the Life Force. Hopefully, my fears are proven wrong, and Star Wars will continue to give lessons that even Christians can learn from.