A few weeks ago, as I sat in church and listened to a talk about faith, my mind began to wander to the Force. How does the Force really work? Is it really as easy to use as the Jedi and the Sith make it look? Is being born with the ability to use the Force enough? Are faith and self-confidence really that important when using the Force? And what part does urgency play? Faith is a belief in something that is unseen, and self-confidence is a trust in one’s own abilities and judgements, and both seem to fit well with what Yoda tried to teach Luke Skywalker on Dagobah. In scripture we learn that we have the power to move mountains if we believe we can do it. So could I really move a mountain? Maybe. But there is my problem. I’m not sure I could do it. It’s just a maybe. So maybe using the Force isn’t that easy after all.
Perhaps it was Billy Joel or Kierkegaard who once said: “We share so many secrets, there are some we never tell. Why were you so surprised that you never saw the stranger? Did you ever let your lover see the stranger in yourself.” Sometimes the stranger we are looking at is in our own mirror. We are afraid to get to know the face that looks back at us because the challenge will be too burdensome to bear.
It was indeed Billy Joel; on the cover of that album he is peacefully reclined, looking into the eyes of a mask. Is it his? Is it his lover’s? We will never know, but the donning of masks is a ubiquitous act that divides us and instills fear in the other. Think about it. Kids on Halloween may be cute, but if you want to make Fozzy Bear creepy, make his face out of molded plastic, poke two eyeholes in it and affix that useless elastic strap around the back. And let’s not even bring clowns into this.
The last time we saw our Jedi Master, he was in triumphant celebration of the destruction of Death Star II. He was also in mourning for his newly-reclaimed father. His journey as a Jedi and as a man was headed in a unique direction after these events. In the poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke is conspicuously absent. We do not know why, but speculation abounds. We do know that Mark Hamill was seen filming at a remote location in Ireland. This location will become part of our enduring fandom consciousness, just as the desert of Tunisia, the glaciers of Norway or the redwoods of Northern California have. We are talking about Skellig Michael, an ancient island in Ireland that was once home to Christian monastics.