Star Wars and the History of Vatican II

Bp. Vader

I think I’ll share this without much commentary of my own.

On the blog Vestal Morons a … interesting… case is made.

Star Wars and the History of Vatican II
Posted on December 4, 2011 by Remus
The outrageous but bizarrely supportable thesis statement that I lay before you is this: the Star Wars saga symbolizes the history of Vatican II. For those unschooled in the ways of Star Wars and recent Church History, this may not interest you … or will just be incoherent. But without further ado, let me start at the beginning, a long time ago, in an Ecumenical Council far, far away …
[…]

The rest is pretty … interesting.

To bring this full-circle, however, and personalize it, I had always planned that, were I ever forced to be a bishop, my first entrance into the cathedral would be to the accompaniment of the Imperial March.

I chuckled at the comparison made between one of the most annoying characters ever put on the silver screen, Jar Jar Binks and…. go there and find out!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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35 Responses to Star Wars and the History of Vatican II

  1. BV says:

    He did really well with Episodes I-III, but I had a hard time sticking with it towards the end. Maybe I’ll give it another try later, starting with the sandpeople.

    But he confirms what I always felt, Jar Jar is evil!

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I have had entire university classes full of Ewoks and Jar-Jars. As a Padme fan, I am glad she has such an elevated parallel. Too bad Natalie Portman had to work with the worst actor in the entire series..Hayden Christensen, who got the Razzie Award for both movies.

    I do think the writer of the piece discussed here is a little hard on the Popes…

  3. Theodore says:

    Fr Z.

    I like the idea. May I suggest that you step over a series of liturgical dancers as you enter the cathedral.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM9v1noabLY

    Cheers

  4. Dr. Eric says:

    George Lucas made 3 good movies, 2 mediocre movies, and 3 bad movies. He’s no film making genius. This Gen-X/Gen-Y Star Wars fan boy interpretation of everything as relating to Star Wars is immature. I write this as someone born in ’76 who wanted to be Luke Skywalker from the ages of 3-8.

  5. HyacinthClare says:

    I read it until I just bogged down… I think the writer needs more outside interests. I am a convert from 1992. Was the pre-conciliar church all as bad as he says? Are we traddies as dull and emotionless as he thinks? I think he hasn’t been to an EF mass very often.

  6. rfox2 says:

    Except that in this analogy, we would need to equate Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as “sith wannabies” since they would have been entirely complicit, and the willing architects of Darth Vador.

  7. albinus1 says:

    The author of this article commits the cardinal sin of allegory, which is trying to find some kind of allegorical or symbolic meaning for every single detail of the story. I’m almost surprised that he didn’t try to find something symbolic about the trash compactor scene, or about Amydala’s weird makeup and hairdos, or that he didn’t find something in Star Wars who represents Oregon Catholic Press.

    Painting in broad strokes is usually a lot more convincing — and a lot less tiring for one’s audience. I once read an article suggesting that <The Wizard of Oz (the original L. Frank Baum book, not the 1939 MGM movie) was an allegory of the presidential election of 1896. I found that a lot more persuasive than this.

  8. disco says:

    The Muslims frighten easily, but they’ll be back and in greater numbers

  9. Tom Esteban says:

    Stopped reading when he said that traditionalists don’t adhere to the Catholic faith and hinted that SSPX Priests don’t teach Catholic doctrine. I’m not a great SSPX fan myself, but gimme a break. One area I do have huge sympathy with the SSPX is their oft repeated statement regarding their suspended status as Priests – “so we are suspended, but your local Bishop who holds gay Masses and supports abortion isn’t?” It’s no excuse, but it really puts things into perspective.

  10. inara says:

    Fr. Z, if you do, you *must* have the Cello Wars guy play it for you!! (with Chewy on the gong & Vader on…)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgAlQuqzl8o

  11. Daniel Latinus says:

    The article had some interesting points, but the longer it went the more strained the analogies became.

    The conflation of the factionalism in the Church with specifically American political trends (the conflict between the neoconservatives and their opponents) does not help the author’s point.

  12. JMGriffing says:

    Interestingly “Ton Despotin… Eis polla eti Despota…” of Eastern liturgical use fits perfectly to the Imperial March. Particularly “Eis polla…”

    Not that I’ve ever tried it or anything.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    As a huge Star Wars fan (yes, even the prequels) I thought this was very clever and very well-done.

    “The Muslims frighten easily, but they’ll be back and in greater numbers”

    My reaction to this line reminded me why I shouldn’t eat while reading blogs! I can just hear the voice of the late Sir Alec Guinness in my head saying that!

  14. Peggy R says:

    I fell in love w/Luke in 1976! I liked the #4-6 movies. I hated #1 & 2. Really awful and pointless. #3 finally got down to what needed to be done to connect to movie #4. I liked Leia as spunky, but Padme as “girl hero” was annoying. The Annakin actor was awful.

    As for Jar-Jar and a figure in the Church….

  15. Inigo says:

    I want a TIE Contraceptor for Christmas.

  16. jarhead462 says:

    I enjoyed this for what it was. I’m not taking it too seriously.
    By the way, Chpter 5 was the best, followed closely by chapter 4. Chapter 6 “sucked” (see- The funny article by Dan Vebber: http://www.filmthreat.com/features/172/ ) I thought that Chapters 1, 2, &3 were horrible.

    Semper Fi!

  17. donantebello says:

    My mother saw SW Episode 4 in theatres several hours before I was born in 1977.

    Perhaps Boba Fett hurtling down into the oblivion of the Pitt of Carkoon (to be slowly digested for 1000 years) could be a metaphor for the Quiñonez breviary and other “more recent” failed liturgical and historical innovations. hehe

  18. Blaise says:

    As a fan of Han Solo and a layman I quite like my allegory.
    Of course it strains the allegorical point but surely that is the challenge the writer set himself.

  19. Lili of the fields says:

    Well, I loved it! Many people, more educated than me, will probably see flaws in this very long analogy, but I found it intriguing and somewhat well thought. I guess I will have to undergo a “special Star Wars marathon” with this article in mind, just for giggles.

  20. anilwang says:

    Hmmm, I wasn’t born until 1969, but I don’t see how the pre-Vatican II Church could be called cold and inhuman. I have only to look at the laity in my grandparent’s generation and compare them to my parent’s generation and then my generation to see that something sacred has been watered down.

    I do think Vatican II was necessary, but it was more to expose the “Spirit” that was already there that needed exorcising (over the next hundred or so years). You can see hints of that “Spirit” in the Orthodox where the “consensus” position on contraception is in line with the 1958 Anglican Lambeth Conference which started the whole contraception abandonment by Protestants. You can’t blame someone who moves the furniture if roaches start running around. The roaches were there, you’re just now forced to deal with them.

    WRT Republicans versus Democrats, as an outsider (Canada) even I can see that there is a huge difference between the two, at least in the modern age. Both carry anti-Catholic baggage, but when it comes to the most fundamental issue, “The Right to Life” (and now Religious Freedom) it’s better to have a weak willed supporter of life than a passionate hater of “The Right to Life” (and now Religious Freedom). Given that you have to make a choice (not to choose is a choice to be weak willed yourself), there is only one choice.

    Unfortunately, Left-Right virus has spread to Canada as well and I imagine many other American influenced countries. I used to be able to vote for Red Tories or Blue Liberals (both are “compassionate conservatives” with slightly different emphases), but now I can only vote for Blue Tories since Red Liberals are out of the question.

    IMO, the decline in the Catholic faith in Canada is responsible, thanks in part to all the Jar Jar Binks the Count Dookus keep creating in CCD and Catholic Schools.

  21. MarkA says:

    I found the piece to be a clever but tedious comparison of the One True Faith with a story about Pantheism (i.e., The Force).

  22. capchoirgirl says:

    I thought it was funny, although parts of it are a bit “eh”, especially that Republicans haven’t done anything to stop abortion. That sort of position makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Republicans have done a lot of good things to support the pro-life cause: parental notification, banning partial birth abortion, stopping a lot of embryonic stem cell research (admittedly, it can still happen with the current lines), etc.

  23. It would probably be a more interesting and more fruitful allegory to tie the persons and groups in the Church to characters from The Lord of the Rings

  24. Cosmos says:

    I’m with “anilwang.” Great post.

    The only thing I would add is that the parody was enlightening in terms of how it portrays “Sacred Tradition” as “inadequate.” I think the author need a more robust understanding of the Tradition.

  25. RobertK says:

    I’ll come in as a Dominican to the music “Duel of Fates”, aka Darth Mauls’s theme. Representing the New Inquisition, with several FSSP and SSPX priests in back of me. Walking into a Liturgisist Commitee Meeting. He He!!.

  26. MarkA says:

    I retract my previous comment (if I could delete it; I would).

  27. KAS says:

    I enjoyed it overall. I thought it was clever even if somewhat flawed. I can see the validity of some of the criticisms above and shall add my own: socialism and capitalism are not handled the same in Church teaching. Socialism in all its forms is roundly condemned as being incompatible with human dignity and Catholicism but capitalism is only criticized for the sins of its adherents and never condemned. One can be a capitalist who adheres to Church teaching because capitalism itself does not oppose the freedom of the person to choose to live rightly.

  28. asperges says:

    I don’t understand the minutiae of Star Wars well enough to appreciate all this in an expert manner. Some of his understanding of pre-Vat II is clearly wrong.

    However I have often thought of the EU as much like false ecumenism and those wanting to demolish the nation states for some sort of pan-European ideal akin to the general “all churches the same now” brigade. The Euro like the New Rite: doomed to failure. I suppose also one could also say the Wall St anarchists (we have their part-time protesters in tents near St Paul’s in London) are a bit like the Charismastics – pointlessly idealistic and ill-focused.

    The comparisons are endless. Fun to pass the time, but not really to be taken too seriously.

  29. bookworm says:

    So, anyone want to try comparing Star TREK to Vatican II?

  30. bookworm says:

    Also, I’d love to see a guest commentary on the Star Wars article by the “other” George Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha :-)

  31. RichR says:

    Seeing as how Star Wars (Epi.IV) was filmed in 1977 (and obviously written years before that), I doubt that George Lucas (a self-described “Buddhist-Methodist”) had Vatican II in mind when he designed the plot line.

    Here are a few questions, if this is taken seriously:

    1) Where does Bugnini plug into this analogy?

    2) If Yoda represents Tradition, Leia represents the post-concilliar Church, and Han Solo represents the laity, then what do we make of the fact that Han and Leia wouldn’t know Yoda if they tripped over him?

    3) If the Ewoks represent Catholic Youth, and C3PO represents the Magisterium, what do we conclude from the fact that the Ewoks hold C3PO captive for part of the movie. Is this WYD?

    4) If Darth Mol represents a satanic prelude to Modernism, and QuiGon Jin is John XXIII, then did Modernists kill Pope John?

    These are just funny musings. Don’t take any of it seriously.

  32. jflare says:

    Well, I guess the article was interesting all right. ..So long as “interesting” includes making a comparatively poor analogy in most cases.
    Granted, I haven’t examined the movies in the depth that he seems to have gone, but I didn’t think he got much of the movie assessment correct, never mind the real-life analogues in the Church.
    The Jedi Council didn’t like Anakin’s love for his mother? Where did he get THAT? They sensed serious conflicts in his overall..being..and certainly saw warning signs in what he might be willing to DO for the love of his mother. But I’d say there’s a world of difference between that and condemning his feelings for his mother.

    His assertion about Windu’s actions didn’t work either. Near the beginning of the scene, Windu makes clear that he’s acting not on his own, not on behalf of the Jedi in opposition to the will of the Senate, but in fact on the will of the Senate themselves. If they never get to the stage of a trial, it’s in no small part because Palpatine IMMEDIATELY acts with force to resist being arrested. Windu responds appropriately.
    Anakin walks into a conflict in which his mind has already pretty much been made up. He’s not inclined to give Windu much of an ear.

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Father Hosington,

    the Problem with the Lord of the Rings is that we have it in written form from its author that he hates allegory…

    That being said, the similarity of Lothlorien to the effect of the Old Mass on one’s heart can hardly remain unnoticed, as also some of Saruman’s stands.