Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The theological questions of Lego Star Wars

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.


Jennwith2ns said...

I like this. It reminds me of my brother, who is a Star-Wars-crazy-person, and reminds me of me as a kid because I always wanted the bad guys to become good. It's a good story and I echo your blessing for your son.

L.L. Barkat said...

What a wonderful thing... I love how children are so full of the Big Questions, asking them freely.

So great to hear about this slice of your family life!

Craver Vii said...

It's a tough thing for me when swordfighting with my smaller son, and he asks, "Which one do you want to be, the good guy or the bad guy?" Usually, I try to go for something like, "Let's both be good guys and we're in training." Or if we're pirates, I would rather both be bad guys.

If you have the lightsabers that make sounds and light up, it's fun to take them outside on a summer night.

Al Hsu said...

Yep, we almost always play that we are both Jedis, and we recently read a Star Wars book that reinforced that "a Jedi uses his skill and training only to defend, never to attack." So we frame things in terms of rescuing people and protecting them from the bad guys. And the whole "beware the dark side" theme has been a great entry point to talk about the dangers of good guys becoming bad, that evil lurks within.

One of the annoying things about the videogame is that there are some puzzles that can't be solved unless you are particular characters, so in order to complete a level, you need to play a dark Force bad Jedi, at least temporarily.

Another neat discussion point has been the relationship of fathers and sons. Boba Fett became a bad guy like his father, Jango Fett. But Luke chose not to be like Anakin/Darth Vader. It's been neat to hear Josiah affirm, "You're a good guy, Papa. We're good guys. I'm going to be a good guy when I'm a grown-up, not a bad guy like Boba Fett."

Anonymous said...

This sounds a lot like redemption, to me. Making all things new. What a great example of finding truth in unexpected places (though for the Star Wars fans, it may not be so unexpected!).