Our five-year-old son, Josiah, has been playing the Lego Star Wars I and II videogames for several months now. It's a fun father-son activity for us, and we occasionally play with customized characters of "Josiah Padawan" and "Papa Jedi." We now have detailed conversations about the differences between R2-D2 and R4-P17 and the coolness of Mace Windu's purple lightsaber. One morning he greeted us with, "Guess what? I dreamed about Princess Leia." (He has not yet gotten to Return of the Jedi, so at least he wasn't dreaming about her in the skimpy Jabba's slave outfit.)
More significantly, however, Josiah has been peppering us with questions like these:
"Qui-Gon died. Will he come back later?"
"Why did Anakin become a bad guy?"
"Why did Padme have to die?"
"Why did the bad guys blow up Princess Leia's planet?"
"Why did Obi-Wan disappear? Did he die?"
"Why are the stormtroopers bad guys?"
"Will Darth Vader turn back to Anakin? Will he become a good guy again?"
So Star Wars has provided plenty of opportunities for us to talk with him about morality, justice, mortality, the afterlife, the reality of good and evil and the possibility of redemption. After playing through The Empire Strikes Back, I asked Josiah, "Do you understand what just happened? Darth Vader wanted Luke to become a bad guy. Luke said no, I don't want to be a bad guy. That's why he let go, so he could get away."
Josiah thought for a moment and said, "Luke made the right choice. He escaped. He did the right thing."
So Luke's escape from Darth Vader at Cloud City has become a parable for fleeing from evil and temptation. And it's interesting to me that Josiah likes playing Anakin (Boy) from Episode I and Anakin (Padawan) from Episode II, but he doesn't want to play Anakin (Jedi) from Episode III because that's the Anakin that turns bad. He'd rather play Obi-Wan, because Obi-Wan is always a good guy and never becomes a bad guy.
I'm proud of my little Padawan. May the Force be with him. Always.