Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Old Ben Kenobi

Showed my boys Star Wars for the first time this weekend. We often use this parent's guide to media site as a guide. It recommends Star Wars Episode IV as appropriate for 8-year-olds, my youngest son's age, but we were surprised just how violent it is. Not in terms of blood - though the dismembered arm in the Cantina is pretty gross - but in the astounding amount of human death.

My rough estimate:

Occupants of Death Star: 31,622,963
Inhabitants of the planet Alderaan: 1.97 Billion
Stormtroopers: 50-75
Rebel pilots: 10-12
Imperial pilots: 5-6
Jawas: 12-18
Luke's uncle and aunt: 2
Greedo: 1
Obi-Wan Kenobi: 1

Even a basic awareness of this context makes the celebration at the end feel a little discordant - even inappropriate?

We checked in with the boys mid-way through. You guys okay with this? You know this is just a story, right?

"Yeah - keep playing it!"

I hope my boys absorbed a little of what Ben Kenobi had to say, too.

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

After the movie, I did what we do these days and read the Wikipedia article about Sir Alec Guinness, who played the Jedi Knight. I was drawn to the heading, Religious Conversion, and read this charming story:

"...In 1954, while he was filming Father Brown in Burgundy, Guinness, who was in costume as a Catholic priest, was mistaken for a real priest by a local child. Guinness did not speak French, and the child apparently did not notice that Guinness did not understand him, but took his hand and chattered while the two strolled then waved and trotted off. The confidence and affection the clerical attire appeared to inspire in the boy left a deep impression on the actor.

For years, the article noted, Guinness recited the 143rd Psalm every day. I am interested in the Psalms. They are a collection of 150 poems written around three thousand years ago, many attributed to King David.

While on the train to work, I looked up Number 143 on my phone, and was touched by it, and what it revealed about Guinness, and how it connected with his role as the courageous knight.

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.

1 LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

7 Answer me quickly, LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

1 comment:

j_luthergoober said...

Interesting insight into your mind J. Frankly, I would characterize 143A as the ruminations of a paranoid. I much prefer the intrinsic tenderness and celebration of humanity expressed by the Song of Solomon, particularly Chapter 4.

You know, I've been working to figure out the Timbers-ax symbolism, replete with its supporters militaristic identity and sociopathic "no pity" locution, and me thinks its adverse to the culture of creativity that fair football advances.

Any chance some of us supporters can have a passionate tree-hugger as the team meme next year? To date, alluding to blood, gore, clear-cut, stumpage, and the likes has only produced a .357 winning percentage...

BTW, did you get a chance to view Hud yet?