May the 4th be with you (and also with you): Exploring the spirituality of Star Wars
Catholic priest says Star Wars may be entertaining fun, but also addresses religious themes
Perhaps no other entertainment franchise has fans as dedicated and passionate as Star Wars, but what is it that keeps fans coming back to the galaxy far, far away after more than 40 years?
It could be the raw fun of space battles, lightsaber duels and alien creatures, or it could be that Star Wars taps into something much deeper — the human appetite for myths, legends and even spirituality and religion.
"It deals with spiritual questions that are timeless. It deals with good versus evil, right versus wrong, light versus darkness," said Tony Bidgood, a Catholic priest at St. Teresa's Parish in St. John's.
"It deals with people who do well and then fall, and then get redeemed again. It deals with questions about eternal life. Those are universal, philosophical human questions."
Bidgood has been hooked on Star Wars since seeing it in theatres as a six-year-old back in 1977.
While his fandom isn't as intense as some people's – he doesn't travel to Star Wars conventions – the movies, toys, comics and video games still loomed large in his childhood. Like many fans of the franchise, he also carried that passion into his adult life.
"It's not just a fun movie, it's got tremendous depth. That's why I think as an adult so many of us still like it," he said.
Star Wars in sermon
He tries not to go overboard, but Bidgood has dropped a few Star Wars references in his sermons over the years, as a way to give a pop culture example to themes he's discussing. He said the approach is especially effective with children.
One of those themes is the very nature of spirituality and faith itself.
For example, in the Star Wars galaxy, the Force is seen as a mystical guiding power that some characters can harness and live by while others reject the idea outright.
Bidgood said that's similar to issues of faith in the real world, where there are those who stand by their religious faith, and those who are more secular.
"There's this back and forth between those who have faith in the Force and those who are skeptics," he said.
"It taps into the hunger we have for meaning, and spiritual meaning."
With files from St. John's Morning Show