The Atlantic

Why The Last Jedi Is More 'Spiritual' Than 'Religious'

The new Star Wars film dramatically breaks with the franchise’s reverence for tradition when it comes to learning the ways of the Force.
Source: Walt Disney

This story contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.        

For at least two generations, the Star Wars saga has served as a kind of secularized American religion. Throughout the series, the Force is a stand-in for a divine power that draws on a number of mystical traditions, representing the balance of good and evil, the promise of an ultimate unity, and the notion that those learned in its ways can tap into the infinite.

In the latest film, though, the theology of this secular belief system shifts. From through , learning to master the Force required faith, ritual, and ancient wisdom—all of which are hallmarks of institutionalized religion. But in , a grizzled Luke Skywalker dismisses the Jedi mythos, and presents a more modern take on theology that accords with the” trend that younger Americans to be less interested in organized faith but more open to spiritual experiences. Rather than being brought into the tradition, Rey, Luke’s would-be trainee, must find the Force within herself.

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