A Case for the Supernatural

C.S. Lewis’s Peculiar Argument for the Supernatural

For my whole young adult life, I had struggled with the existence of God. I always called myself a Christian; I was raised in a Christian home. But my dad instilled into me from a very early age the idea of asking questions and having curiosity for the reality of existence itself. Though many trends came and had gone from me in my growing up, this one part of me was just always there. I have thus always had a love for philosophy to some degree–to a point in which my own theology was subject to my philosophy.

That has changed now. I don’t really give much in the way of philosophy anymore; I don’t find I really need to since the Bible speaks on all matters relating to life. And seeing Christ as the beginning and end of all problems answers the philosophical questions (this subject I will soon explore in a separate article). However, before now, when I did indulge philosophical wanderings, who is one of the most likely figures that such a young person like myself would flock to to satisfy my philosophical desires? There are many, but few so likely as Clive Staples Lewis (better known as C.S. Lewis). For what is likely the vast majority of my young twenties, C.S. Lewis’s thought dominated my own thinking. He does not play as prominent a role today in my faith, but he will always be treasured in my mind as a blessing from God to someone like myself.

Thanks to his Mere Christianity book, I was pretty much solidified (at least intellectually) into the Christian worldview on a basic level. It gave me such a rich foundation on the philosophical power of Christianity. Today, I take a far less philosophical approach to Christianity, coming from a reformed tradition, and so I wish to therefore take this time to quickly mention for the record that I do embrace what is called the Presuppositional approach to apologetics (an approach Lewis did not take) and am not here trying to promote a purely rational, philosophical approach to Christianity’s truth. Christian truth is founded on the conviction of God’s divine revelation in Scripture, and I rest in that.

However, though I am a presuppositionalist, that does not mean I cannot appreciate good, rational arguments for the truth of Christianity. It is always good to learn new things, especially things as thought-provoking as what I am about to explain here and that is simply C.S. Lewis’s peculiar case for the existence of the supernatural.

The Origin of Religion

This blog article may be understood more or less as a commentary of one of Lewis’s books since that is the book, and in particular one of its chapters, that I am going to be deriving the entirety of the material of this article from. It is chapter one of C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, one of his most underrated books, in my opinion.

Lewis begins the chapter asking himself a hypothetical question that if, when he was an atheist, anyone had asked him why he did not believe in God, what would his reason be? Lewis spends the next couple pages giving his answer. In short, his answer would be what the typical answer to doubt the existence of God is, which is the problem of pain and suffering (that is what the book is about, after all). There is too much death and evil and suffering in the world, the atheist Lewis argues.

When he’s finished with the answer, he then goes on to critique his own answer. How does he do this? Your standard apologetic reaction is probably that Lewis began pondering how he knew evil in the first place. While he documents in Mere Christianity that this was a huge reason why he could no longer support an atheistic philosophy, this argument is surprisingly not how he questions himself here. In fact, such an answer is not at all addressed throughout the entire book.

Instead, C.S. Lewis asks the question, “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that.” on page 3 of the book.

That certainly is a strange question to ask. Is it not so obvious? Even I myself when I was surprised by that question thought it was silly to ask. How does simply asking how men, in their foolishness, would conceive of a universe so full of death actually be in the hands of a powerful and good spirit, offer a single foundation-shaking argument to the atheist question of evil and suffering?

But the more I thought and read his argument on the matter, the more it struck me that C.S. Lewis was onto something I don’t think most apologists, even in the strictly rational, evidential world are aware of. Lewis begins quickly by shedding doubt on the obvious rebuttal from the skeptic; that the simple answer is our ancestors were cavemen–buffoons with not even half the scientific and progressive discovery of life we have today. Of course when they see lightning bolts, they may attribute to it some kind of god activity. Today, we know better. Easy answer… Or is it?

Lewis’s response to this is to say that the ‘nightmare size and emptiness of the universe’ was already known then just as much as it is today. In other words, the skeptic’s argument depends on the cognitive understanding of death in relation to their scientific understanding. The less they knew of science, the more they delved into mythology, says the argument. But when we step back, we see that the scientific understanding is irrelevant since the entire argument rests on the fact that the universe is filled with cold, overwhelming emptiness and death and suffering. It was known then just as it is today. It is therefore too simplistic and inconclusive to come to this position.

Lewis further details that many modern science books (in his day at least) asserted that the men of the Middle Ages were foolish enough to think the earth flat, but he rebuts this by saying that Ptolemy disproved this theory during this time. Our ancestors were not so foolish as we like to make them to be. In fact, so much of what we know today is built on the foundation they built. One might even say they were far more sophisticated and perceptive than we are today. What Da Vinci was able to do without a calculator is demonstrative that they were likely far smarter than we are. They simply did not have the technology then to do what we can now.

Therefore to dismissively imply our ancestors were ignorant and foolish is simply inconclusive and ahistorical . Lewis furthers this point by saying that not only is this insufficient, but that in light of our medical technology today compared to what they had then, our ancestors were contrarily far more aware of the reality of the dense darkness of the universe and yet religion dominated even more then. Lewis hence concludes that “religion has a different origin”.

The main point to be taken from Lewis’s argument is that we live in a world dominated by a philosophy of materialism. That is to say that all of reality that we can know can be made sensible purely by material and not non-material means, including religion. Anything that is not material is non-existent. But if religion does have a different origin, it cannot be explained by the materialist.

If such a simple answer as this will not work, the answer must be sought elsewhere.

The Experience of the Numinous

Lewis begins, therefore, to delve into the origin of religion. We are going to focus primarily on the first stage (but inquire somewhat into the others). He lists three elements in all developed religion, but in Christianity there is a particular fourth one not found present in the rest of religion. The first one is what Lewis says, quoting a professor in his time, the “experience of the ‘Numinous’”. Lewis goes on to explain what this is. I will briefly explain it here.

There are essentially three stages of the Numinous, according to this. The first stage of the Numinous experience is merely the fear of physical danger, and this is not a true experience of the Numinous. The example used is that of a tiger. The natural reaction to the idea of a tiger in the vicinity is often becoming startled and fearful. This is what we may call the fear of physical danger.

The second stage is what Lewis describes as “the fringes of the Numinous”, and that is the idea of, instead of hearing of a tiger, you hear of a ghost in the vicinity. Assuming one believed it, one would feel fear, just like before, but yet different and Lewis describes this fear as ‘uncanny’ or simply as Dread. It is not of physical fear, since a ghost, having no physical form, cannot inflict physical pain. Yet one fears it simply because it is a ghost.

The third stage would be considered Awe, and it would be triggered by the feeling that instead of a tiger (Physical Fear) or a ghost (Dread) it was a mighty spirit that was so far beyond you in every way. It would strike you with awe.

What is Lewis getting at here? His simple point for this present moment is that this pattern of the experience of the Numinous has haunted man for his entire existence. Man, unlike the rest of the animals, has a peculiar “sixth sense” if you will, in which he concludes that the universe was haunted by spirits. Lewis traces a long history of poetic literature throughout all mankind, all the way down to the very holy Scriptures themselves, the evidence that men have been haunted by the Numinous experience.

What then is all this to prove? Remember, the materialist says that all that we know about reality, and all that is true is physical in nature. Anything that is not physical is not worth believing and cannot exist in reality. This is their fundamental reason for their rejection of religion and the supernatural (in other words, the Numinous). But if this is true, how then did the idea of the supernatural come into existence? How can what is purely material spawn what is inherently immaterial?

This is where things get truly interesting as Lewis deals with this issue. Lewis writes:

“Now this awe is not the result of an inference from the visible universe. There is no possibility of arguing from mere danger to the uncanny, still less to the fully Numinous.”

Chap. 1, Page 8.

In other words, the “Awe” is not something you can infer from the physical, material world. The skeptic would agree, but far from favoring his view, it actually provides at the very least, a two-edged sword. Because insofar as it is not able to be explained by material means, it is likewise not able to be explained away by material means. It has no origin in the material, and hence the material has no claim to its truthfulness. As soon as the materialist tries to explain away the supernatural (the Numinous) he must rely on non-material means. If he does not, he is already presupposing some form of supernatural means or otherwise ‘non-material’ means of its existence. Lewis writes:

“Most attempts to explain the Numinous presuppose the thing to be explained–as when anthropologists derive it from fear of the dead, without explaining why dead men (assuredly the least dangerous kind of men) should have attracted this peculiar feeling. Against all such attempts we must insist that dread and awe are in a different dimension from fear.”

Chap. 1, Page 9.

Let’s remember that Lewis is approaching this case as if a skeptic himself, using materialist presuppositions to see if they are adequate to explain man’s experience of the numinous. But the very fact that man has any conception of the supernatural actually puts a wrench into the entire idea of it being false. If man is entirely material, man can only make material conclusions about anything. “Not true!” the skeptic may cry, “Human beings have always come up with absurd, supernatural explanations for things that are perfectly explained naturally”. I don’t doubt this as a reasonable statement, but the skeptic is missing the point.

If all there is, as we have described, is merely the physical danger and not the other two stages of the numinous experience, then that means it would be impossible to attain to the other two by the physical dangers. Hence they ought not even be conceivable. There’s no way to get from the physical danger to the uncanny and more still, to the awe. There’s absolutely nothing in a bolt of lighting–in itself–that suggests that it has supernatural significance. To a creature that has entirely materialistic properties and therefore no connectivity to any higher perceptions of such things like lightning, it simply cannot follow that any such creature would come to any supernatural conclusion at all. The other animals certainly do not do this. Only man does. Let us quote C.S. Lewis once more as he explains this:

“You may say that it seems to you very natural that early man, being surrounded by real dangers, and therefore frightened, should invent the uncanny and the Numinous. In a sense it is, but let us understand what we mean. You feel it to be natural because, sharing human nature with your remote ancestors, you can imagine yourself reacting to perilous solitudes in the same way; and this reaction is indeed ‘natural’ in the sense of being in accord with human nature. But it is not in the least ‘natural’ in the sense that the idea of the uncanny or the Numinous is already contained in the idea of the dangerous, or that any perception of danger, or any dislike of the wounds and death which it may entail could give the slightest conception of ghostly dread or numinous awe to an intelligence which did not already understand them. When man passes from physical fear to dread and awe, he makes a sheer jump, and apprehends something which could never be given, as danger is, by the physical facts and logical deductions from them.”

Chap. 1, Page 9.

When Lewis speaks of “a sheer jump”, what he means is there is no purely rational reason, and therefore no material reason for why man would ever make supernatural conclusions in the first place. Hence, the question the materialist should really be asking is not, “Why are men religious?” in the skeptical sense of ‘why are we so stupid as to be religious?’ but rather he should be asking, “How can it be that if man is but a natural being that there is any conception of the supernatural at all?”

At first sight, it seems as though the skeptic has a substantial argument against the idea of religion and spirits and supernatural existences. But in further, closer examination, his very own question poses a serious problem for his claims. And once more, if there was ever a time in which the supernatural idea of a wise and good Creator was least popular in history, so far from it being modern man, it was ancient man that should have far less likely have believed such preposterous things in light of the overwhelming death he was surrounded by and so little technological and medical amendments to such illnesses.

Lewis finally concludes on this point by leaving the question open to interpretation (yet with a slight sarcasm towards the materialist conclusion):

“There seem in, in fact, to be only two views we can hold about awe. Either it is a mere twist in the human mind, corresponding to nothing objective and serving no biological function, yet showing no tendency to disappear from that mind at its fullest development in poet, philosopher, or saint: or else it is a direct experience of the really supernatural, to which the name Revelation might properly be given.”

Chap. 1, Page 10.

The Moral Experience

Our primary point has been argued, but I thought it fascinating to look into the other parts of the religious or supernatural experience all humans encounter.

The next contention Lewis moves on to is the moral experience. Lewis’s argument is primarily the same. Firstly that if we assume man has no transcendent, spiritual Creator, man is merely the product of natural events, i.e., the physical universe. But if this is so, why is a purely natural creature, with purely natural features producing unnatural thoughts? The physical world itself is not able to explain these.

Just as with the Numinous, or the supernatural, the moral experience also has no physical or material existence and yet it is inescapable to us. It is so much embedded within our thinking that all men feel a sense of guilt within their conscience that they must try and sedate in some way. Here again we run up against any idea that men were merely flirting with wishful thinking and desires to give meaning to their meaningless lives. History records that so far from trying to be vastly virtuous people, mankind is plagued with men trying to escape the moral guilt of their wickedness, going so far as to try and banish morality from their thinking altogether. Lewis writes:

“The actual behavior which the Numinous haunts bears no resemblance to the behavior which morality demands of us. The one seems wasteful, ruthless and unjust; the other enjoins upon us the opposite qualities. Nor can the identification of the two be explained as a wish-fulfillment, for it fulfills no one’s wishes. We desire nothing less than to see that Law, whose naked authority is already unsupportable, armed with the incalculable claims of the Numinous. Of all the jumps that humanity has taken in its religious history this is certainly the most surprising.”

Chap. 1, Page 12.

Lewis then goes on to document the remarkable reality that even the pagan and pantheistic religions, such as Stoicism, cannot escape the reality of the Law. He once more makes a skeptical conclusion; providing two explanations to the phenomenon (while once more, offering a kind of sarcastic remark towards the skeptic view) by saying:

“Once more, it may be madness–a madness congenital to man and oddly fortunate in its results–or it may be revelation. And if revelation, then it is most really and truly in Abraham that all people shall be blessed, for it was the Jews who fully and unambiguously identified the awful Presence haunting black mountain-tops and thunderclouds with ‘the righteous Lord’ who ‘loveth righteousness’.”

Chap. 1, Page 13.

The Fourth Element: The Christian Distinction

Remember that Lewis, throughout this chapter, goes through what he identifies as three elements of religious development. The first being the experience of the Numinous, the second being the Law, the third being the identification and connecting of the Numinous (the supernatural) with the Law and we concluded this with the Jews taking that full step. But why must it only be the Jews, one might ask? Lewis takes quite a leap from that point to concluding it was the God of the Jews who is the true Numinous experience connected with the inescapable Law. Why not Horus? Why not Zeus?

It is indeed the fourth element that makes the Christian distinction and makes it of infinitely greater significance than the rest. The fourth element is what Lewis calls “a historical event”, which I will let him describe:

“There was a man born among these Jews who claimed to be, or to be the Son of, or to be ‘one with’, the Something which is at once the awful haunter of nature and the Giver of the moral law. The claim is so shocking–a paradox, and even a horror, which we may easily be lulled into taking too lightly–that only two views of this man are possible. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, and is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way. If the records make the first hypothesis unacceptable, you must submit to the second. And if you do that, all else that is claimed by Christians becomes credible–that this Man, having been killed was yet alive…”

Chap. 1, Page 13.

The Incarnation of the Son is the fourth element of religious development, and only the Christian faith has this element. It is the historical reality of the man Jesus. What makes the Christian view so distinct, among other things, is it has historical significance. The prophetic fulfillment of holy Scripture, not only in worldly events, but in the Christ himself. He was prophesied centuries before His coming in Scripture and there He is. This reality should give any sane human being immediate pause. It was this that, later when I reflect on my Christian journey, truly caught me and changed me forever.

And as Lewis said, we only have two options about this man. Many want to make Jesus part of their cause, but His entire life, to be truly known, must be understood by those who were closest to Him. Those characters are the authors of the gospels and what they said about Him connect Him emphatically to the ancient Jewish Scriptures as the Messiah, Imanuel, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Logos made flesh. This in itself, the reality of the Incarnation is the end of discussion. His existence cannot be denied; He is the single most significant character in all of history and the truth about Him can only be found in the gospels.

If all that I have said is true, then every person in the world is absolutely under obligation to find out who He was, and more still, who He is. He is of eternal significance and He cannot be simply ignored.

Star Wars: A Symbol of Progressive Power

In his book, How Should We Then Live?, Francis Schaeffer begins with the important declaration that we all have worldviews, we all have presuppositions, and that we all operate on those presuppositions more than we tend to think we do. It was an incredible thing for me to read at first, not having considered it before. And even after I read it, I did not think it was true. I actually held that people, especially people who have a faulty worldview that does not line up with the necessary presuppositions of life itself, operate on those presuppositions while opposing them at the same time. Atheism being a prime example. Denying the uniformity of logic, arguing it is instead a cognitive construct, while not actually living on that basis for a fraction of a second.

But I think there is some key truth to those words. What Schaeffer means is first that everyone has a worldview, and second, that denying that we have a worldview–a set of assumptions–means they operate unconsciously and will eventually reveal themselves at some point, and when they do, they can be either remarkably consistent with reality, and efficient in living, or can be tragically ironic as they are self-destructive of the worldview, and of reality. The more we deny the truth of our worldview assumptions, the more enslaved we are to them, and hence the more pervasive they show themselves in the things we do… such as running movie franchises.

What does this have in relation to the new Star Wars franchise, however? I recently watched a critical review of The Last Jedi that pretty much went on a perfect timeline of what happened to me as I saw the movie. I asked a co-worker about his thoughts and he had the exact same reaction as I did. To put it simply, I saw it, and I enjoyed it. I went home that evening, and reflected on it, and it was still exciting. But as time went by, I found myself increasingly, more and more disliking the movie. The experience was as if I had suddenly tripped and tumbled downhill. I try to cling to a branch or rock to keep from falling further. Sure, I was pretty far down the hill, which was bad, but it was better than falling farther, and at least I hadn’t gone over a cliff yet. But then that branch I clung to snaps, or that rock was actually cracked and separated from the base enough that with my sudden weight, breaks it off completely, and I start tumbling again.

I went from, “It was okay” to “it was kind of messy” to “okay, it wasn’t that good” and to “Okay, it was bad” and then finally to “wow that was actually a terrible, terrible movie”. Much like in Scripture, when I would read an amazing passage that reveals so much, such as Jesus’s words in John 13-17, it was like more and more and more and more was being realized the farther I went, and the more I meditated on it. Except for Star Wars, it was in the opposite direction. The more I contemplated it, the worse it got.

Progressive/postmodern thought is a fascinating, if not blatantly confusing form of inconsistent thinking permeating our society today. What it serves to do is to dish out the vision of a Utopian paradise utterly contradictory to its principles by grabbing the emotional strings of the masses, emptying logic and reality in the process and filling them with more emotions to have the package of logic and reality without actually being such. To do this, they seek to change the history of our world all together; the history of science, religion, politics and philosophy, all completely done away with, and in doing so, change reality itself, giving them a whole new basis of truth to then push forward to that Utopian dream. I think this kind of thinking finds itself truly working out in the world of media today, where in Marvel, for example, entire character franchises are being “revisioned” in the light of postmodern thought, destroying what was, for the sake of what wokeness declares will be (whatever that is).

For our current subject, I think no other franchise demonstrates this quite as clearly as the new Star Wars trilogy. The release of The Force Awakens, followed by The Last Jedi is truly the epitome of progressive/postmodern thought carried out as it destroys a beloved franchise to the cancer that it truly is.

Changing History

We will start with how the Progressive/postmodern mindset, changes history. And by that, we don’t mean in some noble set of cliche words that is meant to make an impact on the world. What we mean is that you actually alter history itself, ignore it completely, and base an entire premise on an inconsistent view of what has come before. Historical ignorance is fueled either by genuine ignorance, willful ignorance fueled by ideology, or a hybrid somewhere in between.

The reviews that I watched on YouTube about it all basically said the same thing, and one of those things was how this new trilogy betrays the whole franchise itself. How so? Because you still have Jedi, you still have Sith, star destroyers, and you also have the original cast even; plus you still have that cool intro prologue, with the burst of the theme song, and then the slow turn to some planet and star destroyer that pulls the audience in to see what the significance of this place is. So how can that ruin the franchise? Because very plainly, as has been said many times, the development of the characters, like Han, Leia and Luke seemed to be completely ignored in the franchise (with the possible exception of Leia).

In the original franchise, Luke was unrealistically optimistic and hopeful for saving his father from the dark side, and it paid off in the end. He allowed himself to be tortured by the Emperor, and possibly killed, destroying any chance of killing the Emperor and ending the Empire’s blight on the galaxy forever. He went through all of that so that his father could be saved, and it worked. Why then, when it came to the revelation of why he ran off in The Last Jedi did he seem to completely flip on that? He was about to kill a boy, who was just talking to a Sith lord (a Sith lord we never really get to know anyway). He hadn’t even done anything evil yet.

And even if he was to become evil, again, Luke was willing to throw away his chances of assassinating the Emperor for saving his dad. You mean to say that he wouldn’t take the same sort of risk to save a boy, who, even if he had “Vader tendencies” in his mind, was no where near the mental fortitude of Vader at such an age? That age is a critical moment of teaching a child and influencing them, not killing them. It is a complete betrayal of Luke’s character, and I would go a step further, it is simply ignoring and forgetting Luke’s character entirely.

Then with Han Solo, who starts in the franchise as a lowlife smuggler. He doesn’t care much for anything but money, and then finds himself in a cause to overthrow the Empire and he is given a new, noble purpose in life that changes him throughout the series into a more honorable man, willing to fight for truth and justice. He settles down with Leia even, and they have Ben (whom Luke tries to later kill). Then at the start of The Force Awakens, he is back to his old self again; all that character development just goes out the window. Apparently Han was dismayed by Ben’s turn, and so he went back to his old self. Now I realize, and especially as a Christian, that there are lapses and often times what we might call “back sliding”. That happens, and if they wanted to explore Han recognizing his weakness and temptation into the old life when things get difficult, that would have been great. But again, this doesn’t seem to happen. Instead, lore development is being completely tossed aside, and for what purpose? We will see here in a moment.

Nevertheless, the question seems begged, why then was he so suddenly willing to go after Ben when the chance came? For a man who was running away from his problems, he seemed pretty eager to jump back into the fray without a second thought, and his timing couldn’t be worse. Where was that eagerness when Ben was still a kid? It’s just difficult for me to imagine a man who did all of that (which Rey actually notes to him in the movie, so the movie developers don’t deny it) would come undone so quickly. You took on the Empire; the Roman army; the German war machine in 1940, and saw your friend bring his lost father back to the light side. You mean that none of that built into Han a character able to withstand these hardships? I’m beating my head against a brick wall of course; we all know what the answer to all of this is. The historical development of the franchise is simply ignored and cut away for the sake of “progress”, which actually means for a Utopian, brave new world.

Aside from the characters themselves, there seems to be a huge problem with the lore. Remember, at the end of the Return of the Jedi, the Empire was removed, and so one assumes that a new Republic was established. Shouldn’t that be what we walk into in The Force Awakens? It almost seems like we do, as the Republic is mentioned a few times, but it is so vague that the Republic might as well not even be there. You saw no sign, whatsoever, of a Republic having been established. On the contrary, the good guys are revealed to be “The Resistance”. What in the world do you need a resistance for if you are the established Republic Order of the galaxy?

Of course, this is a thirty year span. A lot can happen in that time. I can accept that. Perhaps the Republic has had a lot of political turmoil that has led to serious internal cracks in the foundation, possibly atomizing parts of the galaxy, faction warfare and so forth. I get it, and that’s fine, but that still does not answer the question as to why there is no Republic presence anywhere to be found. A Republic divided is still a Republic. In the United States, things are becoming increasingly more divided, but we still manage to have a presence all over the world. And “General Leia” (as she wanted to be called) was part of the resistance. Shouldn’t she be at the head of leadership in the Republic? Even if it is just being the high commander of a Republic fleet. Again, this is ignored.

But as if the Force Awakens wasn’t itself challenged with historical consistency, the Last Jedi suffers even more, showing just how corrosive and serious the Progressive mindset can be, by forgetting the history of the movie that came right before it, which, in terms of the movie’s timeline, seems to have only been roughly fifteen minutes to a day (give or take on when Rey meets Luke to when Po launches the resistance attack on the First Order). When we last left the gang, the giant planet gun was blown up, which I think was a very key strategic base of operations for the First Order. A ton of resources had to go into building that thing, and it got wiped out. Not to mention there was apparently a massive First Order presence on that planet when it went out.

Then we come to The Last Jedi and the resistance is still on its heels, desperately so, and Po is poised to launch a giant resistance attack on the First Order fleet, led by the guy who, some fifteen minutes to an hour ago (assuming no break from the first movie to the next) was running for his life from the exploding planet, and he was originally headed to Snoke when he did, not heading a large First Order fleet on a search and destroy mission.

Rey’s character, who is supposed to be the new main protagonist of the franchise, also seems to suffer development problems in a historical sense, and with this point, we really show how Ron Johnson basically flipped J.J. Abrams the bird for all the work he put into the Force Awakens. In the Force Awakens, it seems very clear that Abrams is setting up a trilogy that will explore the origins of Rey. She seems to be a nobody, living on a desert world. Then she can fly the Millennium Falcon in some truly amazing ways (I did love that scene, by the way). Then we learn she’s force sensitive in a way that is shocking.

There are clear hints that there is more to this nobody girl than meets the eye. The Force Awakens sets up a mother of a sequel, with a cliffhanger that got me excited for the next movie. In The Last Jedi, just how much Ron Johnson cared about Abrams’ work in the previous film was symbolically portrayed when Luke takes that lightsaber we were waiting for him to grab in The Force Awakens and tosses it over his shoulder in a humorous jab at the tease. Now admittedly, when I saw that for the first time, I laughed with the audience. But again, when we later reflect on the movie, we realize it was not only bad, but insulting. It betrayed that cliffhanger; I can’t imagine Abrams saw that scene with any sense of compliment.

This jab would be what carries the movie. The whole time Rey spends on the island is utterly confusing in itself. I was waiting to see the immense training she would undergo with the legendary Luke Skywalker, the struggle to grow that makes the character interesting. We all love that stuff. And I had thought that with Rey staring down into a dark pit, we would finally get something. It was teased so well. But once she goes down (and is able to swim despite living on a desert world) we instead get this extremely confusing, never truly explained scene that seems to indicate the consistent theme through the movie, which is to forget the past. Who cares?

Well I can say I cared. I wanted to know who Rey really was. Kylo in his conversations with Rey also tells her to leave the past be, and the movie seems on board with it, and her past becomes a mute point. It’s irrelevant by the climax of the movie.

Then with Luke being left alone on the island, he is visited by Yoda in some spiritual sense. Let’s paraphrase the conversation once more. Yoda appears to be telling Luke to forget the past by destroying that tree with the sacred writings of the Jedi. “Needs it, who does?” says Yoda in essence. Because the past doesn’t matter anymore. Now Yoda has embraced postmodernism. What matters is what is before us. Of course, I don’t deny that in some sense we need to let go of the past, but there is a difference between letting go, and completely forgetting. As Schaeffer says in his book, dwell on the past, and you’ll lose and eye. Forget the past, and you’ll lose both eyes.

As can be seen, the progressive/postmodern worldview of Kathleen Kennedy plays itself out as her leadership causes the future of the Star Wars franchise to not only forget its franchise origins, but with the help of Ron Johnson, The Last Jedi forgets the history of The Force Awakens. For what purpose? For the purpose of wokeness, for the purpose of progressivism. The past doesn’t matter anymore, it’s how we will shape the future, and give to future generations in terms of categories of thought to move further into the future. “Let the past die” as Kylo says. Yes, that seems to be working out very well for him. We will explore further these implications when we conclude, but for now, the next part of how the worldview of Progressive/postmodernism foreshadows its end result in the new Star Wars franchise.

Changing Reality

As I said before, there are (in my view at least) two stages of promoting the progressive worldview. The first is to propagate a revisionist perspective of history, which then essentially disconnects us from history. Once that is accomplished, one can effectively establish in the minds of the masses a new reality. Change history, change reality. It’s that simple. How then, does the new Star Wars trilogy betray reality?

I was tempted several times to talk about these glaring problems as I reviewed the historical problems of the new Star Wars trilogy. I resisted, in order to put them in their proper place, which is here. I go back once more to the plot problem of the absence of a Republic presence, despite establishing one at the end of the Return of the Jedi some thirty years ago. Now that is a long time, and I grant that. But instead of exploring how things got to a point where the Republic seems to have lost all control and influence on the galaxy, we’re left with a gaping hole of information that no one in development seems remotely interested in explaining to us.

What’s more, the First Order seems to come from left field somewhere and there is seemingly no resistance at all to its rise to power. In the opening prologue of The Force Awakens, Luke’s disappearance allows for the rise of the First Order. I get that Luke is supposed to be a very powerful Jedi, but you mean to say that Luke was the only thing keeping the First Order from rising to power? The prologue says that it “rose from the ashes” of the Empire. That indicates they are a remnant cause, which makes sense. But that still does not explain how they could get to a level that they get with what are clearly limited resources.

It is the resources here that we want to focus on, because this seems to be a real problem throughout the trilogy. You don’t simply declare your organization and then suddenly have masses of armies and an overwhelming fleet. That kind of stuff takes time and resources to develop. And if you are what the First Order is said to have been when it came to power, you will not be able to attain that kind of power without some serious help. If the Republic is the one in charge of the galaxy right now, chances are, the Republic would be making life difficult for the First Order.

Which means that in order for the First Order to actually get to where it is in the span of thirty years, it would have to work from within, taking over the government that has those resources to make a planet gun and a massive military force. Instead it seems that the First Order was its own entity, didn’t hide its agenda and managed to rival the Republic in thirty years. The only way that happens is if they infiltrate the Republic, weaken and cripple it, or the Republic is woefully incompetent to see the rising threat of the First Order.

Let’s not forget that this First Order was able to convert a planet into a giant gun within that thirty years. That in itself would take unfathomable time and resources to do. Again, if the Republic is at a point of internal turmoil that it cannot adequately sustain the First Order threat, then that’s fine, but a little hint perhaps? Instead there is none.

This all seems based on the idea that bad guys don’t need economics or logistics to make things work. And once again, the issue of logistics seems to carry over in a more pervasive way in The Last Jedi. The giant planet gun is blown up, along with I presume a couple thousand if not million troops and military hardware and the First Order seems unfazed by it. If you were to really take the time to watch, for example, a WWII documentary, you would see one of the struggles both sides had was the struggle for resources. You don’t just send masses of forces into an area without considering how well you can rearm them, reinforce them, not just with more troops, but ammo, weapons, fuel for your engines and so forth.

Do you have adequate resources to produce more planes? More tanks, ships and guns? With every battle, whether you win or lose, it costs you resources. You have to think about these things as you go into these situations. Hilter was a bad guy, but he didn’t just pop out of nowhere. He needed resources to build his war machine. The Romans needed resources, and they also needed political and societal stability, which eventually crumbled, bringing the empire with it.

In reality, of course, money doesn’t grow on trees, despite what Alexandria Ocasio Cortez seems to think. But you see, in a progressive/socialist Utopia, why does that even matter? Doesn’t the FED just print money? Let’s just print all the money and give it to all the persons, and then utterly transform our infrastructure in ten years, including building railway systems across the ocean? Debt is only a construct of the mind. You don’t really need to pay it off. Free college, free healthcare, free everything. Why even have money anyway?

Who says you can’t build a giant planet gun in thirty years, despite having no logistically realistic means to do so, nor any resource means to do so? None of that matters, especially when you need bad guys, and not just bad guys, but overwhelming bad guys. Because no one has ever used the idea of underdog rebel fighters trying to beat overwhelming odds before, right?

But you see the real big problem I’m getting at here is the unrealistic portrayal of the bad guys in this movie. They come out of nowhere it seems, you don’t know much about their convictions except that they hate the Jedi, so presumably they have old Empire tendencies. Other than that, there isn’t much. It’s the same threat repackaged. It is a forgettable enemy that serves only the purpose of being a giant mountain for the good guys to take down.

Generic bad guys aren’t really threatening because they are one-dimensional. So instead of going through the trouble of having to develop a more-than-one-dimensional bad guy, you just start the whole gig with them being in power and the good guy has to overcome them. No one knows who they are, no one is supposed to care. Bad guys aren’t interesting at all. They’re just screaming, insensitive jerks.

Am I ringing any bells? If I am, it’s because that’s how the progressive/postmodern “woke” movement sees current society. Society is the enemy. Established institutions are the enemy. The institutions have to come tumbling down. Who were they made by? Don’t know, don’t care; all that matters is that they are oppressive jerks, probably white men, and love money. Why were the institutions made? Don’t know, don’t care, for the same reason as the answer to the first question. They’re made by terrible men, so they themselves are terrible institutions. The historical significance for why these institutions exist, why the western thought is as it is, western society is as it is, developed over the last two-thousand years is utterly irrelevant. They are the First Order, the Empire, and they must be overcome by the new woke “diverse” group of rebels, and of course, to really ice it off, you need the leader of that gang of woke rebels to be a female.

It may be pure coincidence, but I notice that it seems like the women of the new Star Wars trilogy are not only very strong and firm and noble, they have their heads on their shoulders and so forth, but it seems like the men are the ones who are a complete mess and incapable of adequate leadership. Po is a hothead pilot who tries to lead a mutiny, seeming to have an issue with orders, and has an annoying tendency to make inappropriate conclusions that cause serious trouble in the resistance, which, by the way, if the purple-haired what’s-her-face lady simply told Po what they were doing, would have significantly lessened such turmoil.

Kylo Ren is an overgrown brat who doesn’t know who he is. All he knows how to do is be a big power-hungry jerk, an insecure Vader wannabe, who throws a fit when things don’t go his way. Fin is a likable guy, but he’s basically comic relief, the clumsy guy who doesn’t really know what he’s doing (serves literally no purpose in The Last Jedi by the way) but he’s got a big heart, so we like him anyways. Still, no real leadership in that guy. Then the not-important guy they were sent to find, on a mission that wasted up to at least 30 minutes of the film, seems like a likable criminal, but turns out to be a traitor in the end. Then there’s Snoke. After that is the First Order general who is a little crazy as well. Even Luke himself, against all Star Wars history, is a lost soul who has given up on life because he’s actually weak. It’s the ladies that seem to have everything together.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I don’t favor a strong female character. In fact, I’ve wanted a strong female lead in these movies for some time. However, Rey becomes less likable as the movies roll out. She’s become a Mary Sue, having no real faults, nothing relatable about her. Sure, she struggles to know who she is, but that doesn’t stop her from being a master Jedi from out of nowhere anyway. The realism is completely stripped away. Yes, I know that it’s just a movie, but the problem is that when ideology fuels your interpretation of reality, it’s going to affect how you produce art as well. Kathleen Kennedy has said that her main focus starting the trilogy was that they have a female lead and not to honor the franchise, tell a good story, or anything that makes movies and stories good.

This is what happens when you sacrifice reality for your woke ideology. Reality simply isn’t important anymore. Good story isn’t important anymore. History isn’t important anymore. All that matters is that wamen are great, men are indecisive pigs, untrustworthy and cause all the problems, society is racist and capitalism is evil. You don’t need complex plots when all you’re thinking about is progressive agendas, progressive agendas that are completely and deliberately separated from historical reality itself. It’s not about consistency, it’s about wokeness.

The new Star Wars franchise is the epoch of progressive thinking. It really does become a kind of allegory, or a kind of tale of what progressivism does. The troubling thing is that it’s operating principles have permeated a cancer within established franchises and completely destroying them. What happens when such ideology actually targets real institutions themselves? Real history, real science, real economics? If you want a picture of what the progressive/postmodern worldview intends to do with our world, look no further than what it has done to the Star Wars franchise. It foreshadows what is to come if we continue down this road. The corrosion breaks down the foundations. Great and mighty pillars of civilization come crumbling down, bringing the whole place down with them.

That is the goal of the progressive/postmodern movement. As the saying goes, to build, you have to first destroy. That’s what needs to happen. Natural evolution is a beloved worldview of many of these people. It is “wonderful” that creatures evolve into something else. Of course, the problem with evolution is that it works by mutation, and mutation does not correct, does not perfect, nor does it make more complex. It actually destroys, and that is what this does as well.

The Good News

Fortunately, the end is not so bleak as has been shown here. In biblical history, very often God rebuilds a strong society on the ruins of a formerly judged one. His judgment is always paving the way for something greater. The consistent testimony of Scripture is that every time God brings forth His judgment, the remnant are left (Romans 11:4, 1 Kings 19:18). Remember the story of Noah. The days of Noah are filled with wickedness, and the Lord brought judgment on them all. But He kept a remnant in Noah and his family, and after that was a new world.

In each case, the removal of one civilization was to bring forth something greater. Sounds much like evolution that I just criticized, did it not? With an important difference, of course. God always has a purpose in His removing of great kingdoms from the earth. Evolution does not. In light of that, God is always destroying things that have already gone rotten. He is not causing rot at sound foundations. They destroy themselves, and are rightly judged for it (Romans 1:22-27). It was not God destroying established institutions that brought structure and true order to a plural society, but rather God destroying things that attempted to uproot His established order for society.

The call of the gospel is to repent. Repentance means to change ones mind. The changed mind is not changing to some idea out in left field, rather it is turning back to God. The prophet Isaiah says that we have all “gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Earlier in Isaiah, the Lord is calling His people to “remember the former things” (Isaiah 46:8). In the opening chapters of Jeremiah, it is all about repenting (turning away from sin, and to the Lord). Unlike what progressive/postmodern thought is attempting to do, which is to destroy not only what is, but what was, God is destroying what is, to restore us to what was. The call is to return to God, to our Creator, our origins, to remember who we are. The more we stray, the more we walk in darkness.

C.S. Lewis convincingly argues in his book The Abolition of Man, that a continuous stream of thinking into the subjective, relativistic world that we continue in does not bring us to a greater understanding of man, but of abolishing what man actually is, and any meaningful definition of what it means to be man. Is that not what we see in our world today? Continuing down the tunnel of subjective thinking, we remove ourselves from any meaningful universal order and system (which is God) to give us meaning, guidance and purpose. Hence we are left to make it ourselves, in ourselves and in doing so, men cannot tell if they are men or women, boys or girls, what is real and what is not.

In the Christian message, returning to God in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ restores our fellowship with Him (Romans 5:1-5) and a new life begins in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). That new life is not fully recognized while in this perishing world, but we look forward to it, not to a destroying of all things, but a restoring of all things (Romans 8:18-21) .

Such we will eventually see when all is said and done. In these days, we may see great and greater strife and destruction. Men will fall away, but God has always been faithful. The Bible tells us that these dark times are birth pangs (Matthew 24:8). The image is meant to describe the great struggle and anguish that comes in child birth. But after that is the miracle of life, and a new child brought into the world. The same is for God’s kingdom. We are in great birth pangs, but they point us forward to everlasting life in the kingdom of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let us look forward to that great day in these dark times.

Finding the Balance

Why “Finding the Balance”? Throughout my young adult life, one thing has been commonly put upon my mind as I reflect on important issues in life, and that is simply finding the proper balance to these important issues. This is especially important in topics regarding politics, religion, worldviews, and culture. These are areas that deal with life itself, and can themselves be a matter of life and death. How do we find the right balance to an issue that does not have us falling off the proverbial horse on either side?

Whenever I would consider an issue, I found that there were primarily two positions vying for acceptance. In some cases there were more, but the primary separation was between two parties. Almost as often as I found two separate parties, I also found that I disagreed with both, finding that the two sides tended to have their ups and also had their downs. In some cases, one side had less faults than the other, and visa versa. I am not here saying that I am the standard to judge by which they are right, but the point being made is that where most saw that you are either “left or right” I saw that it didn’t need to be that way.

Black, White and Gray

It is often called a false dichotomy, or a fallacy of false alternatives. If you don’t support universal healthcare, you must hate society, and sick and disabled people, and love big corporations. If you do not support the wars, you must hate the United States, the military and everyone serving. If you support a border wall, you must hate all immigrants. If you don’t support the presidential nominee, you must be in favor of the other. In each of these cases, there is a false dichotomy problem, where not every option is actually considered. Just because I do not support the wars in the Middle East does not mean I think the US military is a bunch of gun-ho, blood thirsty haters of Muslims. And just because I don’t support government-run healthcare does not mean I don’t like disabled people, or very sick people. There are better ways to solve these issues, and I stand for neither of the major sides. Both sides suffer serious imbalances that I cannot afford to help make more imbalanced.

Very often in movies, TV shows, video game plots and various other storytelling outlets, you see things in the plot painted in a sort of black and white scenario, where there is a clear bad guy and a clear good guy. Much like in Star Wars, you have the Light Side and the Dark Side, and it’s very obvious which is which. These are popular story mechanics, but I find that the more interesting stories are the ones that blur the lines, that provide that “gray area” where good and bad are not always that easy to tell, or when the right choice has poor consequences. Why not have three sides fighting for control, with three different views on how to solve the problem? That would cause some real conflict with the main protagonist. Because while one side is clearly unacceptable, two others may be, but which one? This is the sort of thing I try to do in my own novel-writing. In such a scenario, it would be even more complex of a story, and provide a more realistic, if not more interesting plot, because the reality of the matter is that history tells us that there was very rarely (if ever there was) ever a “black and white” scenario, where the good guys were clearly the good guys.

While the Allied powers against the Axis powers were the guys to root for, men like Winston Churchill were not without their great sins and power grabs, particularly Churchill’s dealings with Stalin towards the end of the war, and even before Berlin was captured, all sides were in a race for the city, to be the first to claim the hill. In the French Revolution, one could argue very easily that the population’s revolt against the corrupt aristocracy was just. But they lost all sympathy when they went mad, led by Robespierre in the Reign of Terror.

Even in biblical history, though the patriarchs and apostles were favorite characters to follow, they still had their great sins. The only one who didn’t was Jesus. Otherwise, conflicts are simply not as simple as we make them out to be, not so easily balanced out. It is because of this reality that we need to be careful not to fall too far into leftist extremism, or rightist extremism.

The Narrow Way

It is this necessity of proper balance that I think Jesus meant when He said these words:

[“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”] -Matthew 7:13-14 ESV.

Whenever I read this passage, I have always pictured a man walking down a long, stretched-out bridge, from one side to the other, and the bridge extending across a large canyon. But this bridge has no rail guards to it, and it is very narrow. Too far the left, you fall, and too far to the right, you fall. There is a proper balance that must be walked to get across safely. That is the kind of imagery Jesus is giving us here. So what does he mean? For many years, I struggled with its meaning, but I do believe it carries many applications. The main point is that we must walk this life with the right balance, and an imbalance will cause great trouble and even death.

Take for instance the discussion of the nature of Christ in the fifth century, at the Council of Chalcedon. Two parties were vying for acceptance (it wasn’t so simple, but for the sake of discussion, we will mention just these two), both of which eventually were condemned as heresy. One was Nestorianism, which argued that the human nature of Christ and the divine nature were so divided, that they were indeed separated from one another, arguing that Christ was a duality of persons in one. The other was the Monophysite party, arguing that the divine nature and human nature of Christ are so intimate, that they are fused and mixed with each other.

You see the contrast of both views. The former separates the two natures of Christ to a point that He is two different persons. The ladder joins the two natures in such a way that they become confused, and in essence some kind of mutated hybrid of divine humanity is made. Instead, a balance had to be found, where you do not fall too far into the Nestorian heresy, and then too far into the Monophysite heresy, and so the Chalcedon Creed, which defined the Hypostatic Union of Christ was formed, showing that Christ was truly God and truly man, in such a way that the two natures are not separated, but neither are mixed together.

One of the hardest lines to walk in the Christian life is the walk of faith and grace. Very often we can get caught into feeling that we need to do righteous deeds, and certainly, we are commanded to do, but we also risk becoming too reliant on the law for our position in God’s sight that we fall into legalism. But if we turn that around, and decide to go the other direction into grace, we may go too far and remove the law from any sense of purpose at all, and conclude that because we are forgiven in Christ, we are free to live however we want, and sin however much we want. This also must be avoided.

So the risk here is to emphasize too much of the law, and fall off into legalism, or to emphasize too much of grace, and fall into antinomianism. We must walk that fine balance, which Scripture provides, that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:19-28) but that that faith is a faith that produces works of repentance and growing faith in the Christian life (Ephesians 2:10).

In the triune nature of God Himself, we must understand that God is both One and Many at the same time. But if we emphasize too much of His Oneness, we risk Unitarianism in the form of modalism, where God’s Oneness overshadows His Manyness and hence the three persons become three modes or mere masks that the one God puts on at various times. On the other hand, if we emphasize too much of God’s Manyness, we risk forms of trithesim (three gods) or polytheism. We must have the right balance, a balance that Scripture provides, between the One and the Many of God. In the Trinity do we find true balance of unity.

You see how in these important matters (and there are countless more), we must be able to find the right balance. In essence, what this blog/project of mine is meant to be is to be me speaking genuinely how I feel about issues regarding religion, theology, politics, culture (and as a bonus, I’d like to talk about writing, art and related topics as hobbies I enjoy). The gospel is the primary focus of all my writing, and it is the biblical conviction of finding the proper balance in every situation that drives me. Because as I see the world unfold, I see that there is a scale, and most people end up on one side or the other. We need to remove ourselves from the think tank of the standard talking points of each imbalanced side, and take the biblical view, allowing it to define our categories, our worldview, and to give us the tools to find that straight road, that balance that brings forth life, truth and understanding.