Friday, July 30, 2010
OK, it's actually a little more complicated than that. First of all, it wasn't Star Wars per se, it was actually the prequel trilogy. (Wouldn't you know it?) And it wasn't the prequel trilogy per se either, it was Star Wars fans talking about the prequel trilogy. And it wasn't my faith in God per se, it was my faith in apologetics. But losing my faith in apologetics was a big step towards losing my faith in God.
So, Star Wars fans talking about the prequel trilogy destroyed my faith in apologetics, which contributed to me losing my faith in God.
Are you with me so far?
Apologetics, if you're not familiar with the term, refers to "the discipline of defending a position (usually religious) through the systematic use of reason." Since I was Mormon, the specific branch in which I engaged was Mormon apologetics, "the systematic defense of Mormonism against its critics."
As I've mentioned before, I was engaged in apologetics on the internet for awhile. For about five years, from 2000 to 2005, I went at it 'most every day on internet forums. I knew the arguments backwards and forwards; I used the ones that I thought worked, tweaked some of the weaker ones to make them a little stronger, and came up with a few of my own too.
I wasn't trying to convince or convert anyone though. It's just that with the internet, there was so much information available. It was easy to discover that the "official story" -- the orthodox story -- was sometimes not true, at least not true in a simple, straightforward way. But maybe lot of things were true -- maybe -- "from a certain point of view," as a wise man once said.
To me, apologetics was a way of trying to get at that "certain point of view." Essentially, it was just a matter of trying to create enough intellectual space for belief. Once that room was created, then belief, through "the Spirit" or whatever could, possibly, take root and flourish. That's how it was working for me.
So that was an important part of my life and faith for five years or more. But Mormon forums weren't the only ones I frequented on the internet. Among the others was a certain Star Wars forum. I was less active there, visiting only a couple of times a week and not posting every time I visited.
Anyway, after the last of the prequel movies, Revenge of the Sith, came out, some of the regulars on that forum engaged in a conversation that I found quite bizarre. They attempted to reconcile all the contradictions between the original trilogy and the prequels.
A couple of examples I can remember off the top of my head are Leia saying to Obi-Wan (in the tape she hid in R2-D2) in A New Hope that he had "served her father in the Clone Wars" when her foster father was just one of thousands of senators (and her secret biological father was Obi-Wan's apprentice), and Leia telling Luke in Return of the Jedi that she had a few vague memories of her mother even though Padmé died just after giving birth to them.
And these people on the forums were saying things like "The Jedi were working against the Chancellor on the side of the Galactic Senate, so in that sense they were serving the Senate, and Leia's father was a senator..." and "Maybe Leia had Force memories of her mother, like the Force gave her those memories even though she was too young to remember in the ordinary way."
Both of those explanations are, of course, silly. The real reason Leia said those things is because George Lucas doesn't have a fanboy's dedication to "canon," so he just made stuff up as he went along. Obi-Wan had "served Leia's father" because in the first movie, Lucas hadn't thought through the politics yet, and Leia was a princess and Obi-Wan was a Jedi knight. Who is the father of a princess? A king. Who does a knight serve? A king. As originally conceived, Obi-wan the knight had served Princess Leia's father, a king. Q.E.D. Later, Lucas simply changed everything, as is his right.
And I don't think "Force memory" is even a canon "Force power." It's just something somebody on a forum pulled out of their butt to try to make sense of a change in the story. Lucas changed the story because he decided it was better for Padmé to die in childbirth (of a broken heart, FFS -- let's all pause here for a collective eye roll) than to live for three or four years afterward.
So I was both amused and bemused by their efforts at reconciling the trilogies, by their rather desperate reaches for consistency in the series. I couldn't see the point when there was such a simple, obvious explanation in every case. And I decided to tell the perpetrators so. I started writing a post telling them they were nucking futs.
I was going to tell them that they were taking a bunch of fictional BS and treating it as if it were real, and the reason there were so many contradictions was because it was made up as it went along, and there were simple, easy explanations for everything they were twisting and turning and wrenching to fit into a preconceived narrative, and only a fool could believe any of the things they were saying when the obvious answer (IT'S A MADE-UP STORY!) is staring them in the face, and the whole endeavor is pointless and stupid, and -- Oh. Shit.
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