Force and Faith: An Unfinished Trilogy – Life, Redemption and Legacy

Force and Faith: An Unfinished Trilogy – Life, Redemption and Legacy

Force and Faith Sabers Square For all of George Lucas’ flip-floppery on whether there would ever be a sequel trilogy, the form of the story demands that a third installment be created. It asks for it, it begs for it, and it demands it. The Skywalker story is not complete. From one point of view, we have Anakin’s rise, fall and redemption. But we are missing the story of his legacy. Every one of us will leave a legacy – a story that can only be told after our death. So, from my point of view, we have Anakin’s life, his redemption and – and then, nothing. The Skywalker baton was passed on to his son, but what he did with that legacy is a story as yet untold. Life, redemption, legacy. A trilogy that can be reflective of every life. At the dawn of time, our primordial ancestors clawed out of the water to achieve a higher form of evolution. In a succinct phrase, Stephen Hawking said in one Pink Floyd song: “For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination: we learned to talk.” The story of humankind began with its emergence on the world stage, and our procession to becoming the good stewards of this planet. And yet, that is not its fulfillment. There is a third act in the development of humanity that was intended from the very beginning: to rise above this mortal coil and achieve that which is above, to reach the full potential for which we were created. In a book that is well-loved in my Church, and admired quite broadly throughout many denominations, Fr Alexander Schmemann wrote in For the Life of the World the following:

All rational, spiritual and other qualities of man, distinguishing him from
other creatures, have their focus and ultimate fulfillment in this capacity to bless
God, to know, so to speak, the meaning of the thirst and hunger that constitutes
his life. “Homo sapiens”, “homo faber”…yes, but first of all, “homo adorans”. The
first and basic definition of man is that he is the priest. He stands at the center of
the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from
God and offering it to God.

As a preliminary note, I want to say that this is not an androcentric statement, but a teaching about all humankind. This is a text written in the early 1970s, when such language, though not familiar to us, was thought to be inclusive of both genders. So, looking at the statement, it shows that humankind has first learned how to think (homo sapiens), and then learned how to do and make things with the acquired knowledge (homo faber). But now, and yet somehow more basic, humankind has been drawn closer to its creator in order to become a worshiping being (homo adorans) and to fulfill its highest calling.

The Jedi are a fine example of the heights of humanity. They create their temples and lightsabers, and know that their power and legacy is not in the exploits complete or the things they create, for, as Yoda says, “my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere!” Luminous beings are we! It is not about the specimen of a body we leave behind, but the progress we offer (or try to offer) the rest of humankind – our brothers and sisters. This is the third act of humankind – to think, to make, and to rise up and take our place as citizens of something larger than we ourselves can create – the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is a good example very early on in the saga timeline for us to examine for a moment. In the showdown between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul, we see a quick progression in three parts that changes the galaxy. Master and Padawan find the enemy and engage him, hoping to end his terror. At first, in this duel of the fates, the Jedi are on the attack. They push Darth Maul back on his heels for a long time. As the combined strength of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is separated, the Sith makes his move. The gains made by the duo are halted. As was famously spoiled on the soundtrack listing, Qui-Gon meets his end at the point of a red saber. It seems as if hope is lost. From their initial gains, the second act of the fight seems that the end is near also for the student. In this struggle between two opposing forces, the Dark Side enjoys a premature victory. As Kanan Jarrus would say several decades later, taking away his companion “was a mistake…Because now I have nothing left to fear.” Obi-Wan defeats the evil master with renewed strength. This abbreviated example of a trilogy is indicative of the wider story: the Star Wars saga is incomplete, and we need to see the triumph of the legacy of the Chosen One through his offspring.

The nature of the saga calls for a trilogy of trilogies, and here is how I would break that down:

Prequel Trilogy: Good is on the wane, but still in charge.
Original Trilogy: Evil is in power, though is ultimately defeated.
Sequel Trilogy: Triumph of the good while suffering the death pangs of evil.

The progress of the different trinities mentioned is actually a journey back to the raison d’etre of each individual thing:

When we meet the young Anakin, there is a great potential bound up in that small child. So in his legacy, we find the fulfillment of his inherent promise.

In humankind, we come back to the purpose of our creation: to be in close communion and companionship with the creator. The Duel of the Fates is a microcosm of the movement that has been woven into nature. As the Jedi battle the lone Sith, it seems as if the ordeal will not be overcome, though the greater good is ultimately triumphant.

In the Star Wars movies (I suspect), we see the life and redemption of Anakin, followed by the fulfillment of the promise of the Chosen One through the continuation of his story in his son.

Regardless of Lucas’ public statements, the saga needs the conclusion to the Skywalker story. It is the nature of things in our real world universe. Things come in threes. Members of the Holy Trinity, Indiana Jones movies. It is the way of maturation and growth, the way of the hero’s journey as each of us moves from our ordinary world through the tribulations of this and into the life of the world to come.

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Please leave comments on this and all my posts – I really look forward to it. You can find me on Twitter at @adelphotheos and email at, occasionally at as long as I am not listening to the latest edition of the Coffee With Kenobi podcast!

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  1. Melinda
    April 2, 2015 at 13:19 Reply

    I always can count on you to get me thinking, James. 🙂 (That’s a good thing, in case you were wondering. 😉 )

    As I was reading this, I was having a religious experience — of sorts. Munching on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As close to a religious experience — in an epicurean way 😉 (to this very day, peanut butter and jelly married between two slices of fresh bread is my very favorite sandwich 🙂 ) — as it can get. It was the perfect lunch to eat while reading your March blog. 🙂

    Legacy. Such a powerful word wrapped up in those six letters. Don’t we all want to leave some sort of legacy to show the world we were here, to leave an imprint? Most of us believe our children are our legacies, and, in a sense, they are. But our children go off to live their own lives — and they should. Should they be expected to carry the torch for us, blazing the paths down which we strode while we were alive? Do we weigh down those who follow us if we tell them, “Follow in your mother’s/father’s footsteps.”?

    I consider it an honor whenever my mother tells me, “Melinda, of all our children, YOU are the most like your father.” He passed away almost 10 years ago, and this is one of the greatest compliments that ever could be bestowed on me. In his quiet way, my dad was a great man. (By the way, I don’t aspire to be great.) He was a kind-hearted soul, the most fair person I’ve ever known, a person who set a wonderful example for others. I am not putting him on a pedestal. He had his faults, too (as do I 😉 ), but they were few, and surfaced rarely.

    That being said, it can be an onus to carry on a legacy. I try to be — for my mother — the person my father was. On one hand, I don’t mind. On the other hand, does that not keep me from being my own person? (Truly, it doesn’t. However, when I’m with my mother, I wonder…)

    I know, James, that a legacy is much more than this. One doesn’t have to be tied to what another person started. This is just where my mind has wandered as I read while consuming my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 😉 Like I said: You always get me thinking. I thank you for that.

    All that being said, I am sooooooooooooooooooooo excited for Episode VII’s release in December. I’m a huge fan of the EU (or whatever it’s called these days), and it will be interesting to see where the film story takes us in relation to what has occurred during the publishing years of Star Wars. Oh, I know they won’t match up. That’s okay with me. I just want to see what Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and those feisty droids are up to, and how the new characters fit into the grand scheme of things. 🙂

    MTFBWY, and Happy Easter! 🙂

  2. Laura
    May 27, 2015 at 16:39 Reply

    I am trying to find a church in Portland Oregon. I googled Schmemann and Portland to see what I could find and I found this.

    1. James Worthington
      May 28, 2015 at 11:48 Reply

      That is quite interesting! Of course, Fr Alexander came up in this post. I have been reading a lot about him over this year, and becoming reacquainted with some things I have read previously. No idea what the Portland connection is, though! For tons of good work on Fr Alexander Schmemann’s writings, check out
      For a good place to find connection to parishes throughout the US and Canada, use the parish directory at
      Anyway, I hope you found the article a tiny bit beneficial, edifying and illuminating. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Laura Wachsmuth
        May 29, 2015 at 10:20 Reply

        That is interesting! I thought Google told me that you were from Portland? Who knows! I don’t know if I am quite ready to make the leap to become Orthodox (my twin and father have been chrismated), so I am exploring the idea of joining an Anglican church most likely — but am not limited to. While not ready to take the plunge (!) was hoping to find a congregation that resinates with Schmemman’s ideas, as I am in the throws of seeing whether or not a move to the Pacific Northwest is in store for me: Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver. Regards, and thanks for your reply even though there is no connection for you to Portland!

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