Rise of Skywalker: Thoughts and Interpretations

The final installment in the “Skywalker Saga” in the Star Wars universe premiered last week as The Rise of Skywalker made its way to movie theaters across the country. The reviews of the film have been decidedly mixed with the bulk of the criticisms levied at the film being that the film hued a more formulaic and fan service-y path, pushing back against the big subversions of The Last Jedi.

Now I am someone who really liked The Last Jedi (and I’ve written about it here) and the things it did differently but… I still thought The Rise of Skywalker was a film that was by and large a success. It was an entertaining ending to this saga that was faithful to the series itself and the kind of story it had been telling across these many decades (and it did not actively ruin things, like the prequels did)(I think if you really lived through the debacle of the prequels, you were able to appreciate Rise of Skywalker because it was at least good).

But I want to go a little bit deeper, both in terms of my thinking about how the film worked as well as some of the interesting themes and ideas that the film explores. I don’t think Rise of Skywalker is just “a fun time/turn your brain off” kind of film. There’s interesting stuff to think about, particularly as it relates to spiritual and religious ideas. And that’s what I want to talk about.

So I’m going to be talking about things that happened in Rise of Skywalker. That means… SPOILERS ARE COMING! SPOILER WARNING! If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to stop and come back to this. You’ve been warned! But if you have seen it, please continue!

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The Last Jedi: A Vatican II for the Jedi

I wrote this shortly after seeing The Last Jedi in theaters at the end of 2017. I’m re-posting it as it initially ran, without adjusting the initial paragraph to reflect the change in time. But everything else should be fine.

It took me long enough–well longer than it took some fellow fans– but I was finally able to see The Last Jedi. I definitely enjoyed it (I still prefer The Force Awakens amongst the new films and would still put all the original trilogy above it too) and would highly recommend it to anyone. What stood out to me is something that I’ve noticed throughout all these films (and something that I’m not alone in noticing). Namely that there was an element to The Last Jedi that is decidedly Christian and, more specifically, Catholic.

Because I’m going to be getting into things that are spoiler-y, I will put the warning here that if you have not seen The Last Jedi you shouldn’t continue reading this.

Also, I’ll put a break here and if you’d like to read more and you’ve seen The Last Jedi, you should continue.

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Percy Among the Conservatives

A lot of things bother me. The world is seemingly teeming with stuff that make me feel angry or frustrated or disappointed or depressed or what have you. Some of these things are very serious, others are much less weighty. But there is one thing — admittedly on the smaller side — that continues to make me mad. It’s the way in which Rod Dreher, The American Conservative and, more broadly, the trad/conservative-ish corners of the Catholic and Christian internet have cornered the market on discussing Walker Percy.

There are some ways in which Percy’s… shall we say, appropriation by these conservative outlets makes at least some sense. To be certain, Percy’s views on abortion are more in line with the (at least stated) views of the right wing of the political spectrum. Were he alive today, I do imagine Percy would be critical of the way in which Democrats and the Democratic Party deal with the issue of abortion. I also think anyone who is Catholic and affiliated with the Church will be at least somewhat conservative (though in the sense of conserving tradition and an appreciation for order… which is something totally different and probably should be referred to as traditional as opposed to conservative).

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