The Fundamentalism of the Jedi Order and Christianity

"Ahsoka Tano" | Art by RCBrock. Used with permission.
Though the Jedi Council might frown on questioning their faith, Ahsoka Tano has no problem examining it (or anything else that piques her curiosity). If you’re a Star Wars fan, but you’re wondering who Ahsoka Tano is, that’s okay! Many die-hard fans of the series have yet to be introduced to some of its animated components, including the critically-acclaimed Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Chronologically, The Clone Wars takes place between Episodes II and III, featuring the adventures of the Clone Troopers, the Separatists, and the Jedi—namely, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and his padawan, Ahsoka Tano.

Ahsoka is a Togruta who is introduced to us as a young girl. Not unlike her master, she is headstrong, defiant, and spunky, though she does have a side that is both cleverer and softer than Anakin. She is overwhelmingly compassionate and savvy, brought to life by the amazing voice of Ashley Eckstein.

Ahsoka’s storyline is complex, and to some degree, she was always an outlier while training to be a Jedi Knight. Though she is obedient and strongly trusts in the Force, Ahsoka is never afraid to ask questions, which sometimes appears impertinent to her superiors. She questions motives, desires, and even her faith. In fact, in a climactic moment in The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is framed for a murder, and when she seeks help from the Jedi, they do not advocate for her innocence. Feeling forced to run, Ahsoka escapes the authorities’ grasp, but after her name is cleared, she is left with great doubts about the Jedi Order.

I was taught not to question, to obey blindly, and thought that by performing, by being “good,” that I could earn approval.

But Ahsoka doesn’t forget the Force, never confusing its solemn power with those who use it, and though she ultimately leaves the Jedi Order, the burgeoning rebel does not mistake their pride and blindness for a damning flaw in the Force.

The Force is commonly mistaken for simple power. Even Rey doesn’t know what it is when she begins her training with Luke in The Last Jedi:

Luke Skywalker: What do you know about the force?
Rey: It’s a power that Jedi have that lets them control people and… make things float.
Luke Skywalker: Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.

The montage following this exchange between Rey and Luke in The Last Jedi encapsulates what the Force really is, mirroring Ahsoka’s understanding of it. Luke asks Rey to reach deep within herself so that she may sense the living force around her, helping her to see that the cold, the warmth, violence, peace, death, and life all hang in the balance. Johnathan Kana describes the implications of this concept in his Think Christian article, “The Last Jedi’s New Covenant”:

Sometimes old things have to die in order for new things to be born… we see the skeletal remains of a long-dead animal nourishing the rocky soil out of which new plants grow. In an instant, Rey comprehends the way death and decay fuel the cycle leading to new life in the island’s complex, delicately balanced ecosystem, which is but a microcosm of the sacred tension binding the whole galaxy together.

In Star Wars: Rebels, Ahsoka returns as a powerful ally, strong in the Force. Her willingness to question and wrestle with her faith is possibly the reason for her survival after Order 66.  Her faith does not rest in blind adherence, like the Jedi, but on her varied experiences where she tests it, acts on it, and is fulfilled. One of the most lovely and poignant ways this is shown is through Ahsoka’s crafting of two new lightsabers in the novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston. After a duel with an Inquisitor (a force-sensitive minion of Darth Vader) a victorious Tano takes the bleeding kyber crystals from his shattered saber and purifies them. Using the light side of the Force, Ahsoka is able to transform the evil and hatred that were once poured into those kyber crystals, and the result is something glorious to behold. The crystals, when added to her newly-constructed lightsabers, shine the purest white.

The crafting of these broken crystals into something new is one of the most definitive proofs of Ahsoka’s true religion: an unfettered and unclouded faith in the Force. She attaches herself to light, to goodness, and not explicitly to the Jedi, and in doing so, she is able to craft the only pure-white lightsabers in existence.

I can’t help but draw parallels to Ahsoka’s experience and my own religious journey. My first experience with Christianity was fundamentalist and circular in nature: obeying rules because they were the rules, similar to what Ahsoka was taught by the Jedi Order. I was taught not to question, to obey blindly, and thought that by performing, by being “good,” that I could earn approval. I was afraid of a wrathful God who punished sin and kept count of my wrongs. The community I was part of as a child reinforced this, teaching that playing cards, tattoos, alcohol, tobacco, dancing, and skirts hemmed higher than the knee were sinful. I desperately tried to obey these rules, but never understood why God would be angry at me if I did such things.

Ahsoka doesn’t confuse the Force’s solemn power with those who use it.

I, too have been let down by the Christian community, just like the Jedi Order was a disappointment to Ahsoka. I’ve increasingly wanted to distance myself from terms like “evangelical” or “Christian,” mostly because of the political and intolerant connotations. These words conjure up images of angry picketers, the politically ignorant, and those utterly devoid of mercy.

Fortunately, I discovered a genuine, mercy-filled faith in my adult years, mostly thanks to a small, authentic group of Christians. These individuals, by the grace of the true God, have helped me to reorient my faith, to discover a fresh, true Christianity, which I believe takes the religion back to its fundamental form. And because I have been a recipient of the true mercy of God, I understand that no rules, no religious tenets, and no good behavior can truly compare to my debt being paid, my life, after a grave mistake, being made new.

Like Ahsoka, I have made mistakes, I have been wronged, but through all of this, I have discovered a faith that supersedes, that goes far deeper than that of my universe’s “Jedi Order.” Though Christians so often get their faith so supremely wrong, I have learned, just like Ahsoka, that God is not diminished by his followers. The true Force cannot be dimmed by its adherents. It is everywhere, filling us with light and truth, just like the God I believe in.

Christy Chichester

Christy Chichester

Guest Writer at Area of Effect magazine
Christy Chichester is an instructor at Penn State University, where she teaches Composition and Rhetoric, Writing in the Social Sciences, and Sci-Fi Literature. When she isn't teaching, writing, or grading, Christy can be found watching Star Wars, quoting Tolkien, or snuggling with her two pit bulls.
Christy Chichester

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