Written by award-winning radio personality Dick Staub, this compelling book is filled with anecdotes from the Star Wars films that serve as a launching pad into rediscovering authentic Christianity. Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters also contains quotes from revered “Jedi Christians” such as Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, the Apostle Paul, G. K. Chesterton, and other theologians, mystics, writers, and philosophers. The author sheds new light on the struggles and challenges of living faithfully in postmodern life and offers a reintroduction to what C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien called the “one true myth,” Christianity.
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About the Author
Dick Staub is an award-winning broadcaster, writer, and speaker whose work focuses on interpreting faith and culture. The director of the Center for Faith and Culture and adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, he is also the radio personality behind the Dick Staub Show, an award-winning, nationally syndicated daily broadcast he hosted for fifteen years. Dick's interviews are a popular feature on Christianity Today 's website, and his daily blog (www.dickstaub.com) draws thousands of visitors each month. He serves on the board of Image: A Journal of Religion & the Arts and plays a strategic role in the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
Read an Excerpt
Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
By Dick Staub
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7879-7894-9
Chapter OneLord of the Force
The Force will be with you ... always! -Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode IV. A New Hope)
Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him? -Disciples, to Jesus (Luke 8:25)
One of Star Wars' great contributions to contemporary belief is the reinforcement of the centuries-old teaching, advanced by all religions, that something mysteriously spiritual is at Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters work in the universe. Star Wars creator George Lucas named this phenomenon "the Force."
The Jedi seeks to master the use of the Force, to be suffused with and fueled by this potent energy that "surrounds us and penetrates us ... [and] binds the galaxy together," according to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yoda expands on Old Ben's teachings, describing the Force as a strong ally and source of power for the Jedi, but warning Luke Skywalker that this power exists in a delicate balance. Under pressure or in dire circumstances, strong emotions can surge: "Anger ... fear ... aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice."
The light-versus-dark dualism of Jedi lore parallels teachings found in Christian scripture. As early as the first century A.D. the Apostle John talked about "walking in the light" as Jesus is in the light and warned against having anything to do with the works of "darkness." The Judeo-Christian tradition tells stories of wonder workers such as Moses, Samson, David, and Elijah, who were so empowered by God that they worked wonders, parting the waters of the Red Sea and defeating a heavily armed giant with a slingshot and five smooth stones (in Star Wars terminology, they would be called "strong in the Force").
"Jedi Christians" believe that over and above the opposing forces of light and darkness there is a Lord over all, including the Force. These Christians call this Lord of the Force God. The first sentence of the book of their sayings (the Bible) reveals that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, an awesome proclamation of a God whose generative power holds the entire universe together. We can liken this, along with the Apostle Paul's teaching that "in Jesus all things hold together," to the Jedi idea of an energy field binding the galaxy together, but only if we recognize an important distinction. In Jedi mythology the highest good is achieved by balancing light and dark, whereas Christians believe the highest good is achieved when darkness is defeated. In this Christian lore, the dark side is not just the opposite of light, but an unequal opponent of God, the Lord of the Force.
You've seen this idea of a Lord presiding over the dualistic struggle in the movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where there are many rings, but "one Ring to rule them all." Sauron and Gandalf represent the dark and light sides, but Tolkien's title reveals his Christian belief that above all the rings and all manner of powerful wizardry there is a Lord of the Rings who rules over all, and who will bring history to a just and good conclusion. Tolkien said of his work, "The Lord of the Rings is a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.... It is about God, and his sole right to divine honour" despite the fact that "Sauron desired to be a God-King and was held to be this by his servants."
The idea of God is not foreign to George Lucas, who in an interview with Bill Moyers embraces mystery over certitude in his understanding of God: "I think there is a God. No question. What that God is or what we know about that God, I'm not sure. The one thing I know about life and about the human race is that we've always tried to construct some kind of context for the unknown. Even the cavemen thought they had it figured out. I would say that cavemen understood on a scale of about 1. Now we've made it up to 5. The only thing most people don't realize is the scale goes to 1 million."
Likewise, the Jedi type of Christian embraces divine mystery humbly, professing a similar modesty about our knowledge of God, who though personal and accessible is also surrounded by what one mystic called "the cloud of unknowing." The church father Augustine agreed: "If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is still humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless." Even though Augustine agrees God is a mystery to us, he reinforces the Christian belief that the purpose of our being is wrapped up in seeking, knowing, and serving the Lord of the Force. Those who succeed in that quest will be exceptional, like the Yoda and Obi-Wan of Star Wars lore, strong in the Lord of the Force and equipped to do God's work in the world.
Aspiring Jedi Christian, you hold in your hands an endeavor of love; an attempt to recover the lost sayings of the Jedi, so to speak, in this Christian setting; selections from the collective wisdom of faithful followers who for centuries have pursued the Lord of the Force. May the Lord of the Force be with you.
Excerpted from Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters by Dick Staub Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
PART ONE: THE LORD OF THE FORCE.
Chapter 1: Lord of the Force.
Chapter 2: The Lost Sayings.
PART TWO: SEEKING.
Chapter 3: Believe.
Chapter 4: "Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try."
Chapter 5: Wake Up. Be Healed. Be Saved.
Chapter 6: Seek First.
Chapter 7: Will One Thing.
Chapter 8: The Seeker Is Sought.
PART THREE: KNOWING.
Chapter 9: Enter the Cloud of Unknowing.
Chapter 10: Don’t Miss the Big Reveal.
Chapter 11: Meditate.
Chapter 12: Go Deep in a Shallow Age.
Chapter 13: Aim High and Let Grace Fill the Gap.
Chapter 14: Trust the Lord of the Force.
Chapter 15: Know and Love the Word.
Chapter 16: Obey the Word.
Chapter 17: Believe to See.
Chapter 18: The Lord of the Force You Are Not.
PART FOUR: FIGHTING.
Chapter 19: Changed.
Chapter 20: "Always Two There Are, a Master and an Apprentice".
Chapter 21: Renounce the Dark Side.
Chapter 22: Prepare for War, Live for Peace.
Chapter 23: These Weapons Are Your Life.
Chapter 24: Use All Your Weapons.
Chapter 25: Be Strong! The Battle Is the Lord's!
Chapter 26: Receive the Power.
Chapter 27: Power in the Blood.
Chapter 28: Flee the Dark Path.
Chapter 29: Love Your Father.
PART FIVE: SERVING.
Chapter 30: Make Your Masterpiece by Living It.
Chapter 31: Loving, Transforming Presence.
Chapter 32: Counter Culture Like an Alien.
Chapter 33: Better World, Better Way.
Chapter 34: Preserve, Repair, and Make Beautiful.
Chapter 35: Live Simply, Pack Light, Hold Loose.
Chapter 36: The Least of These.
Chapter 37: Pursue God in the Company of Friends.
Chapter 38: Forgive, Forgive, and Again Forgive.
Chapter 39: In Age Is Opportunity.
Chapter 40: Another Chance.
Chapter 41: Touch the Sky.
What People are Saying About This
"Dick Staub's tour through the spirituality of Star Wars is inspiring and fun. Anyone, like me, who grew up lionizing Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia should read this book. It will both carry you back to your childhood and support your spirit as you make your way through adulthood."
Lauren Winner, author, Girl Meets God and Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
"For years Dick Staub has been digging into popular culture to expose the threads of spiritual gold that run through it. Star Wars is his mother lode, and with eloquence he echoes Master Yoda announcing to young seekers, ‘Already know you that which you need."
Jeffrey Overstreet, film columnist/critic, Christianity Today and Paste Magazine
"Dick Staub is a Christian warrior sage who unashamedly trains and equips the present generation for this one true mythic battle."
Marty O’Donnell, audio director, Bungie Studios, winner, Rolling Stone Magazine’s 2003 “Best Game Soundtrack” of the Year (for HALO)
"Star Wars seems to have stolen our message, wrapped it in science fiction, and changed entertainment. Dick Staub challenges us to take it back, wrap it around our everyday reality, and change people's lives."
Rand Miller, CEO, Cyan Worlds; cocreator, Myst, Riven, URU
"Like a Jedi master, Dick Staub delivers sharp, counter-intuitive insights that the next generation seeks. Prepare to discover a force far greater than any you ever imagined."
Craig Detweiler, author, A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture
"Few public figures have as much experience brokering the conversation between media culture and Christianity as Dick Staub. Both pop culture artists and inquisitive Christians know that his reputation rests on his ability to speak to both audiences, to keep it real."
Tom Beaudoin, author, Virtual Faith: The Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation-X and Consuming Faith
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I recently purchased and began reading a copy of the book. As a Christian I was excited to find some connections to my favorite movie and my faith. I believe there are a few interesting, insightful, and inspiring points throughout the book made my Staub. However, I will say that I do not believe that as a whole this book accurately reflects a connection between a religion derived from an eastern philosophy with that from the west. It would be much more fitting to see Jedi beliefs compared to Buddhism or Zen. There are similarities between every religion, but the link to Christianity and Jedi beliefs are too much of a stretch. Staub even states himself that the main difference between Jedi and Christianity are the balancing of the light and dark forces on page five. Christianity focuses, too much in my opinion, on overcoming darkness and defeating Original Sin, meaning that all people are born sinners and need to learn not to sin. From what I¿ve gathered from the movies and books I¿ve read, Jedi believe all force-adepts are born good and must learn to harness their goodness to fulfill their duty as servants of the galaxy. Meditation and mindful prayer regarding the fluidity of man and nature, a Jedi philosophy, as opposed to being messengers of God¿s word, a Christian philosophy, is so much more similar to Buddhism or Zen that I believe that a match between the two is just too much of a stretch. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is seriously thinking about using Staub¿s writings as a guide to understanding Christianity.
Surprisingly thoughtful approach to the Star Wars series. Uses the films as a jumping point into deeper theological reflection, including frequent references to great Christian thinkers like Augustine and Kierkegaard.
Dick Staub introduces a new term into the Christian Lexicon, through his book, Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters. The term 'Jedi Christian', in my opinion, seeks to recapture the aspect of Christianity that has been lost among the masses of a Popular and increasingly Technological Culture - that of awe, power and mysticism. The term becomes a lens by which we can view the truths of our Christian walk, and those truths are a lens by which we can view the world of the Jedi - making correlations and distinctions between fact and fiction, fantasy and reality and ultimate issues of eternal weights and measures - the prime issue being illuminated through aspects of Jedi lore... that the life of a genuine follower of Jesus Christ should be filled with awe, power and love. Then it is even in the mundane that miracles take place on a daily basis and when we encounter those situations and circumstances beyond human control... it is through Christ that we are no longer powerless. Dick Staub calls us back to an authentic faith: one filled with Love, Power, Awe and a Sound Mind. And it is only through this vibrant relationship with Christ do we, as believers of The Way discover that we can truly be changed, impact society and the world in ways others cannot. The character Yoda, makes reference to the fact that we are not what we see, these crude bodies of flesh, but underneath we are beings of light. The person, Jesus, made it plain and yet mysterious when he stated the reality of our lives in him, 'You are the light of the World.' This is truly a challenging book which propels the serious reader - or rather draws upon the heart and mind of the serious reader - to delve into the ancient streams of wisdom and truth to discover the deeper meaning and purpose for living. And it is living from within this purpose that others will be drawn to the Light. I am at once humbled and proud to say that I am a Jedi Christian.
i admit i was a little skeptical about the book and how the author could reconcile star wars and christianity, but as i read, i realized this not a new theology, but a challenge to dig deeper into the word of God, if you look at the core theme we are to live by the fruits of the spirit(light) rather than the works of the flesh(darkside)as a devoted christian who is on a quest for a deeper relationship with God and reviving what we lost in previous generations i wholeheartedly recommend this book, because if we are unable to learn and pass on the word of God in this generation the next generation will be without a guide.
I got the book because I like finding spiritual themes in movies, but I wasn't prepared for just how cool it is. The book is thoroughly Christian, despite the words of another reviewer. It is just reflective of the living Spiritual faith of Christianity's founders, instead of the dead routines of those living in faded glory. This book has made a Christian Jedi out of me, and I will gladly be a Padwin of Staub anytime.
Being a Pastor at a Roman Catholic Church here in America, I believe that our youth have yet to truely find a way to connect with Christ in a way that can show them how much he really did for each and every one of us. Being a Star Wars fan myself, I was amazed at how Staub was able to bring the theological aspects of these great movies into a religious perspective. While it is not to be interpreted as the 'new word,' the book can be a guide for less fimiliar people and die hard fans alike. Star Wars is considered the greatest myth of our time, and the message throughout the movies is simple: Good will triumph over evil. How very similar the message of the bible is as well. I highly recommend this book, Star Wars fan or not, religious advocate or not. It is an insightful look at faith, and is essential for religious scholars and casual readers alike.