It’s a common quip that Mormon nerds love to make analogies between their church and Star Wars. Short of some of the generic ideas about faith in the series, though (“I don’t believe it!” “That is why you fail.”), I haven’t actually seen much commentary from anyone linking the two.
Now, Star Wars is not exactly deep theology, but after the release of the dreadful prequel trilogy, I did notice that the overall story arc meshes with our understanding of history pretty well. In short, the original saga tells the story of a Restoration, while the newer three episodes go back to tell the story of the Apostasy. In Episodes IV-VI, truths and powers that had been lost by persecution and rejection are slowly brought back to life as a new generation of heroes are called upon to start the work over. Episodes I-III go back to show us just how those truths and powers were lost. In fact, I started making this connection when I saw Yoda and Obi-Wan talking, and Yoda confessed that the Jedi Order was weakening and was not as close to the Force as it had once been. I immediately pictured a late-first century meeting of church leaders to discuss the growing distance of the Spirit from their organization. When the Jedi were exterminated in Episode III, I saw Apostles being beheaded, run through, and crucified head down.
This is hardly a point-by-point metaphor. Obviously, there are huge differences between Star Wars and church history. However, with this basic template in mind, more than few solid correspondences can be made:
|Church history figure||Star Wars character||Shared traits|
|Joseph Smith||Luke Skywalker||Conflicted young man from an obscure, pastoral setting is called upon by events around him to rise up and form a new order—a restoration of an older, lost order|
|Moroni||Obi-Wan Kenobi||The last human survivor of the lost order, he disappears from the setting until the founder of the new order is ready, whereupon he delivers early messages to the young man and begins his training|
|The priesthood||The Force||A supernatural power that had been lost with the destruction of the old order, which is bestowed on the new founder and which he learns to use from the survivors of the lost order. Requires faith and effort to operate. Is treated lightly by nonbelievers|
|John the Baptist/Peter, James, and John/Elijah, etc.||Yoda||Legendary masters of the old order who train the founder of the new order|
|Paul the Apostle||Mace Windu||Powerful leader of the old order whose strength greatly preserved and advanced the work of the cause. His execution was a major tragedy in bringing about the end of the old order.|
|Brigham Young||Han Solo||Masculine convert to the cause, he defends the founder of the new order and becomes an invaluable aid in the early success of the work|
|The Early Christian Church/The Great and Abominable “Church”||Annakin Skywalker/Darth Vader||The focus of the mortal events in the saga. Pure and miraculously powerful at first, becomes corrupted over time and ends up a warped image of itself, ironically becoming the embodiment of what it initially stood against *|
* I realize that conflating these entities as I have, suggesting that the early Christian Church “became” the Great and Abominable Church, is simplistic to the point of inaccuracy. Certainly they existed separately from each other, but this linking was necessary to make my metaphor work. An even bigger problem is that Vader “repents” and saves Luke (here, the prophets of the church). So, according to the analogy, will the Great and Abominable Church repent and save the restored church at the end of the saga? Not likely. One could fudge a bit and say that this is like much of the world coming into the church, but that’s very thin. Still, this is the best I have so far. I’m very open and will welcome any better resolutions to this problem. Can Annakin and Vader, perhaps, represent different things entirely?
Ultimately, regardless of the difficulties, this also explains why the original trilogy was so much better than and better loved than the dopey new one–the triumphant story of the Restoration is so much more inspiring than the tragic story of the Apostasy!