Age of the Geek

Blue Milk and Easter Eggs 

     Last week was that special time of year where we all come together to appreciate the common traditions and beliefs we all hold.

     I am, of course, referring to this year's Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, a four day extravaganza celebrating the 40th anniversary of the legendary pop culture franchise.

     Why? Was there something else going on this weekend?

     I jest. The Easter holiday is important to as many people as Star Wars is, which makes sense considering the parallels that can be found between religion and the pop culture juggernaut.

     Where Christians celebrate Easter Sunday, Star Wars fans have May 4 set aside to pay special attention to the franchise. And while Christmas is designated as the time to celebrate the birth of the Christian savior, thanks to Disney we can also expect a new Star Wars movie to grace our sacred movie screens at the same time.

     Obviously the religious influence on Star Wars itself is front and center, with its most influential characters representing an order of space monks acting as instruments of an all powerful force. While Luke Skywalker may proclaim that the "Jedi must end" in the new Episode VIII trailer, it's doubtful that the Star Wars universe's most prolific order will go away forever. Every census thousands of people declare themselves as Jedi for their religious affiliation.

     Most of these are smart-aleck atheists, but even then there's a lot to be had from the philosophy of Star Wars that one might not find palatable coming from an actual religion.

     The comparisons don't end there though. Even the division of canon has its parallels between Star Wars and the Abrahamic religions. The Tanakh, which most would recognize today as the Old Testament, is comparable to the Original Trilogy, serving as the starting point for two diverging sets of lore (for simplicity's sake, we'll ignore the pre-Judaism origins of the Abrahamic religions). For seven hundred years the Tanakh served as the cornerstone of the Jewish faith, with various myths and traditions branching from that original source material.

     Likewise, the Original Trilogy inspired a rich mythology of books, comics, and video games expanding the Star Wars universe. From the "Shadows of the Empire" to the "New Jedi Order," the Star Wars universe had a fleshed out history far beyond the original films.

     And then everything changed. On the religious side, Christianity cropped up, stripping Judaism down to its core stories and branching in a different direction with a "New Testament." The source material stays mostly the same, but all the extra stuff gets discarded.

     On the Star Wars side of things, the same thing happened when Disney bought the franchise. The extended universe got jettisoned under the "Legends" designation.

     In both scenarios, you even have a new protagonist with a possible family link to the original star taking center stage in the new canon.

     Of course, while Jewish and Christian faiths have managed to branch away from each other while still co-existing, the same can't be said for the "legends" line of Star Wars. Sure, you have your anti-Disney purists out there, reluctant to give up on the old continuity, but they would be more comparable to the pre-Judaism civilizations like the Samaritans than any contemporary examples.

     It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Nothing ever stays the same, but history does repeat itself. Patterns emerge, like there's some kind of force, binding everything together.

 

     Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and believes there must be some way to tie the Easter Bunny to Jar Jar Binks.