Saturday, March 27, 2010

What was Star Wars thinking? And what does this have to do with theology?

So I was perusing up the upcoming release schedule for Star Wars books (which I will freely admit is a hobby of mine - I have every non-juvenile fiction work released since 1991 - most in first editions) and it got me to thinking.

The first company to do Star Wars publishing in the past 20 years was Bantaam - and they had a few trilogies (Timothy Zahn's "Heir to the Empire" should be read by anyone who likes Star Wars), then some few stand alone novels, a few short story complilations, and then one side serial (the X-Wing series). Now, some of the stories of this era were. . . lousy. Some of the writing was horrid (and yes, I'm looking at you Kevin Anderson - go back to editing where you excel!). However, the books were by in large fun - you could imagine Saturday matinee movies with the books, or maybe a 30 minute serial.

Around the end of 1999 or 2000 Del Rey took over publishing - and there have been more and more books. And while there have been quite a few stand alone books (normally tie-ins to the prequels or set between them - and a few Zahn, because he is the best author in the Star Wars Universe), and one or two trilogies (Drew Karypshan's Darth Bane series is excellent) Del Rey's big focus has been on massive, sweeping series where multiple authors take up a few books. The first was "The New Jedi Order" - a mammoth 21 book series with at least 8 authors. The next was "Legacy of the Force" - 9 books with three authors. Now they are on "The Fate of the Jedi" - 9 and 3 again.

And while I still love my Star Wars - I find I'm not going back to reread these massive series. Partially they try to take on a more "real" approach - main characters die and the like. They also are basically just massive story arcs, and I don't like it all that much - which is strange, because I tend to love Anime TV series precisely because of the epic scope (Maison Ikkoku is 96 episodes, Fushigi Yuugi is 52 - and they are basically one long story).

But here's the rub - that's not what Star Wars is. Star Wars is fast paced pulpy fun. It's Space Opera - but it's too the point. And the best of the Star Wars books keep to that idea, that image. Star Wars isn't a world of the Epic - it's the world of the archetype and fun adventure. At most three arcs, and then on to the next.

What do we learn from this? Stick to what you are. If you want to excel, if you want to be your best, you need to stick to what is fundamental and not try to become some epic wonder.

Consider your congregation. What are you trying to be? What are your dreams? Are they to be simply a faithful Lutheran Parish teaching rightly and showing love (corporately and individually) as God gives opportunity. . . or do you have "delusions of grandeur" sweeping beyond that? The later might seem successful (Del Rey's sold a lot, a lot of books) but it's not. . . right or real or as good as simply being whom God has given you to be.

The lack of contentment with the realities of one's place in life leads to more tomfoolery than anything else. It's the hook that suckered Adam and Eve in the garden, and Satan still likes to set it in us.

Time for me now, on my day off, to go read some nice, old school Star Wars while letting the dishes soak.

P.S. Is there anything "Old School" that isn't just so much better than the trendy? I've heard Rapper's Delight several times this past week - and it really is just Old School fantastic! Everything is better Old School.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Considering this post -- I'm wondering if I didn't get a whiff of some strange fumes in the kitchen whilest doing the dishes!

scott said...

Eerie. I too have read several of the StarWars books -- and loved Zahn, while quitting Anderson's first trilogy after reading the first two books. My cousin has read almost all of the others, and he passes on some that he likes, but nothing has been as good as Zahn's stuff (that I have come across).

I think you're also right on your other point -- churches often try to be something that they aren't, and in doing so, lose what they were to begin with.

If you goal is to gather around Christ -- to hear His word and eat His body -- then a little church is fine. (I'm not saying all churches are going to be small, but it seems to be the reality in much of our country.) On the other hand, if your goal is to be big, then a church often is disappointed when gathering around Christ doesn't get the numbers they were hoping for. There must be something else to do in order to get those numbers. And, sure enough, there are plenty of other things to do to get people in the doors. But it turns out that those usually aren't Christ's gospel and sacraments.