I lament the decline in monastic orders that have come with rationalism and modernity. I think stories like the ones about the Jedi in Star Wars can remind us of a life of discipline and spartan reverence that has become so rare. William P. Hyland writes for Plough Magazine about the parallels between Jedi in the Star Wars universe and monks in our own.
Most characters in the Star Wars universe are not Jedi. In my own universe, I am not a monk – and I assume most of you are not reading this from a monastic cell. Nonetheless, when we look to Obi Wan or Luke as inspirational figures, navigating the tumult of their times, so we might draw from the ancient well of monasticism in our own universe. I like to think that part of what drew me to Star Wars as a young teenager that sunny Sunday in 1978 was not merely the cinematic allure, but its capacity to help me imagine a spiritual and communal way of life that provides a way of seeing the world beyond its volatilities. Just as we can feel so connected to the Jedi knights of a galaxy far, far, away, I hope that we might find new ways to connect with the monastic traditions which have sustained so many generations of people through times of both peace and turmoil – that we may find a new hope in the goodness of living a life of virtue, community, and dedication.
Some of the comparisons that Hyland makes are obvious, since the Jedi characters were basically patterned to be fighting monks. I like the idea that Star Wars characters can bring attention to the monastic life, though. I will always remember Qui-Gon kneeling in meditation in the middle of the fight with Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. It was a slice of serenity during a tense moment and stuck out to me as one of the film’s more impactful scenes.
→ The Jedi Code and Monastic Vows | Plough Magazine