Star Wars fans have been known for years as obsessives who will go to great lengths to explain every minutia in the galaxy far, far away. Every single piece of Darth Vader’s armor has a detailed background, down even to the name of the medical center where his various operations were performed. There are timelines that trace history from the Big Bang to the a period decades after the battle of Endor. There are lists of what books and comics to be read and it what order. In other words, Star Wars is a lot like religion.
It’s so much like religion, in fact, that Star Wars has some canonical, apocryphal, and deuterocanonical works. And every fan has their own list of what counts as canonical. Officially, everything created after the Disney purchase, plus the original and prequel trilogies, are considered canonical, but a good chunk of fans don’t adhere to that orthodoxy. I mean, who cares about the Captain Phasma novel? It’s unimportant to the overall story. Average fans probably don’t even care the Clone Wars or Rebels shows, let alone The Book of Boba Fett.
The other day I saw a video on YouTube that asked a very important question: why doesn’t the original trilogy mention characters like Ahsoka or baby Yoda? If they were so important to the overall story, why weren’t they mentioned at all? Why did Obi Wan believe Luke to be the last Jedi when 114 of them had escaped the Emperor’s purge? Why did Yoda only say there was one other one? Are you telling me the great Yoda didn’t know about Ezra Bridger?
Like a rational person, you’re probably thinking “Of course the original movies didn’t mention characters that hadn’t been created yet.” And you’d be right. The video rightly points out that Star Wars canon is insane and doesn’t make any sense. It’s full of contradictions, retcons, and outright mistakes. There’s no way to reconcile the entire canon because each part was produced thinking only of itself and what came before. That there was no planned overarching story is obvious from the beginning. First, Darth Vader killed Luke’s father, then he became his father. Luke was in love with Leia and vied for her affection before becoming her brother. If the first and second films can’t agree, how can two dozen stories somehow form a coherent vision?
But this post isn’t really about Star Wars, it’s about Christianity. At the end of the day, that the Star Wars canon is contradictory and stupid doesn’t really matter. None of it affects my life except to take away a few bucks and some hours of my life. And if I decide to think of the Legends books as canonical, it’s not going to hurt anyone. But the Jewish and Christian canons, now that has real-world implications.
A good number of Christians believe the Bible, as is commonly published today, contains the words of God that present a factual account of the past. I know not every Christian sect believes this, but some version of it is the most predominant view. I was raised a fundamentalist Baptist, so we held to the most extreme view. The Bible was historically and theologically accurate. God created the universe in seven literal days. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were people. A couple million Hebrews left Egypt during the Exodus and wandered in the desert for 40 years. Saul, David, and Solomon were actual kings. Jesus was a historical figure who was born to a virgin and he actually spoke every red letter in the Gospels. Even when they say different things. And don’t get me started on Revelation; I don’t have enough time to show you all of the charts.
I bought in to this belief so hard I went to a Bible College and studied to become a missionary. I preached it to adults and taught it to children for years. But, like the Star Wars canon, the Evangelical understanding of the Bible doesn’t make any sense. There is no overarching story because they’re making it up as they go along. Multiple writers have differing beliefs and agendas and they aren’t all working towards a common goal. Some believe in multiple deities and others in monotheism. Some seem to follow El Elyon and others Yahweh. New Testament writers don’t seem to know any of the stories of the life of Jesus, especially of his divine birth.
Adding to that, you have a couple thousand years of tradition added to the supposed perfect truth. Things that are not obvious from the text are considered orthodox. But what is orthodoxy? It’s something some guys made up a few hundred years after the fact. It’s the original cinematic universe that you can’t think too much about or it all starts falling apart.
Unlike Star Wars, the Bible has a lot of relevance in our lives. People who believe the first day ever happened before there was a sun are making choices that affect the entire world. People that believe they have a god-given right to some land because a guy wrote it down in 500 BCE will do anything they have to maintain their power. People who believe in a deity that delights in burning millions of people forever are teaching your kids how to think.
I honestly can’t say what I really believe in right now. I’m kind of afraid of outright saying I don’t believe in anything because it’s hard to overcome your programming, but whatever I believe, I know the idea of a canon of scripture with a coherent story and theology doesn’t make any sense.