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Archive for the ‘Men / Phalanx’ Category

As a counselor and a pastor… and as man, rites of passages are very important to me.

Throughout history and across people groups, rites of passages have been culturally vital ways to communicate to members of the community that they are taking on a new role within that community – boy to man, worker to leader, girl to woman, servant to warrior, etc.

The medieval noble families moved their sons from children to page around age 7, from page to squire around age 14 and from squire to knight around 21. The Massai tribes “capture” the boys from the women’s side of the village and declare them men and then train them to kill a lion; when they kill the lion they move from “runner” to “warrior.”

Today in America, we have essentially nothing cultural that communicates when a boy is accepted generally as a man.   The consequence? We have hundreds of thousands of males who are not confident that they are a man. The boy looks around and sees those he thinks of as men, but none of those men are making it clear that they think of him as a man… and many of those “men” doubt it deeply about themselves as well. Where can we find them? One option is to look outdoors.

I remember helping my father pile firewood in the wheelbarrow. I was there with him. He dropped the tree, cut it up, split it, loaded and hauled it, and stacked it. Probably around age 4, I was helping him to some loading. Then one year he had me push the wheelbarrow full of firewood (and incidentally, nothing will teach someone temper control like a one-wheeled wheelbarrow, right?).

Then one year he handed me a splitting maul and had me start splitting. I knew my father saw me differently. Maybe not a man, but not a boy anymore either.

He saw me as responsible, wise and strong enough for the edge.

And then, around age 17, he handed me the eye and hearing protection and with no preamble, talked me through using the chainsaw. I spent that day with him training me on various cuts and techniques (my father was a forestry professor). I went to be knowing that night that my father thought of me as, to an important degree, a man.

… but the message was plenty clear. In fact, I remember my father referring to an adult male the he apparently thought of as “less than a man” with the phrase “I wouldn’t trust that guy with a chainsaw.”

In the ancient Hebrew scriptures, in Deuteronomy chapter 6:7, the men of Israel are instructed to teach their children the truths of God not just a few hours one morning a week… but all the time…  “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” [1]

We cannot relegate these vital truths of life and death, God and Christ, sin and redemption, love and sacrifice, temptation and forgiveness to the voice any other man, even if he is our pastor. We, as fathers, must remember that responsibility still lies with us.

When, in today’s nonstop busy world with buzzing phones, are we centered and quiet enough to talk to our children about these things that really matter?

Over logs being tossed into a wheelbarrow, and after that wheelbarrow, despite the boy’s best effort, has tipped and dumped the whole load… or find the activity you can engage with, adding with intentionality to your child’s responsibilities, and talk.

These are when these conversations can happen without feeling awkward and forced. These are when the world’s problems are solved. These are when our sons might know that they are men. This is when our kids can hear that we are proud of them for no other reason than the truth that they are our children, even without words sometimes. This is when our children might know that they are, ultimately, not ours, but God’s.

In an effort to help us men out, I have created “The Gauntlet – A study that works even for busy dads and sons along the Deut 6 model.” To learn more or to find out how to purchase one, look at the resource page or email at chrismlegg@gmail.com.

How I handle these rites in my family might offer some ideas as well.

I also have done a rite of passage for an adult man that has some fun ideas in it.

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Hermeneutics

Here we have a very simple look at a topic that all too few Christians understand.

No, not Herman… or even the study of Hermans.

It is the art and science of studying The Holy Bible (and I suppose other holy books as well).  It is called “Hermeneutics” after the Greek god “Hermes” – the messenger of the gods.

There are dozens of different ways that people create a process for good hermeneutics, but the general principles are typically very similar. I like the words that Dr. Howard Hendrix used:

  1. Observation
  2. Interpretation
  3. Application

Observation

Again, in simple terms, “observation” is engaging with what is on the page.  This is the who, what, when, where and how.  It involves context, imagination, and details.

This step is vital and can take the most time, and it is often the most overlooked.

Check out the account in Mark 40:35-41 of Jesus calming the Sea of Galilee. 

Who is in the account?  Jesus, the disciples, and other boats on the Sea are there.

Jesus is sleeping.  It is in the evening and likely dark.  Did you ever picture this account as being in the dark, with other boats around (I didn’t find a single piece of art with multiple boats in the painting)?  Perhaps not. That is the cost of not observing well.

Interpretation

This involves understanding the author’s original intent. In order to do this, one needs to examine cultural setting, audience, literary genre, etc.

This is a dangerous step.  Here is the temptation to read our own meeting onto the material – to find what we want to find, not what we find.

This is the danger of exegesis versus eisegesis.

Engaging exegetically in scripture means to seek, as honestly as we possibly can, to ask what the passage and the author originally intended… what does it actually say to us?

So often, we decide what we think and then we go to scripture to find defense for our views (this is often also called “proof texting”). This is called “eisegesis”.

As a psychologist, I know that none of us are capable of fully removing our preconceived notions, but we have to do our best to do so.  This is especially true when we are looking to the Bible to talk to us about something that is dear to us!

My most recent posts were about the roles of women in leadership and service roles in the Church.  I am about to publish a series about the place for self-defense in the life of a Christian, as I understand it.  I have written articles on premarital sex, homosexuality, marijuana usage and tattoos (among others) and tried to bring what I see in the Bible to bear in those topics and others.

I admit that it is hard to do my best to remove from my thinking my preconceived ideas for each of these!  Ok, so it is actually impossible for us to completely divorce our thoughts from our previous views.  However, it is seriously incumbent upon us to seek to do so our very best.  Anyone who says this is easy must be delusional… or lying… or I guess, so different from most of us that I cannot comprehend it.

However, as with the self-defense one, I spent most of a year reading books, studying scripture and talking to various people with various views before coming to a conclusion.  I pledged to God that I was prepared to put aside all ideas that I felt I had about defending my family and myself if I was convinced that His Word called for pacifism.

Once we are convinced that we have a good understanding of what the original author intended, then we are able to grasp what cosmic truths are in the scripture.  What are the eternal ideas that we find there?  What, if anything transcends the era, culture, people, etc. in which the words are seated?

If there is anything, we can bring that Truth forward into modern time.  Once we do, there is just one step left.

Application

Application is nothing more than the process to take those truths and make them real in our own lives – as guided by God’s Living Spirit in our lives.

It is this Spirit that illuminates the very Bible that He also inspired.

This Spirit is what makes the Word of God “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).  This is not a musty old, outdated religious book.  It is God’s revealing to us about Himself and ourselves.

Once we know what we ought to do (or not do), we must submit.  This final step is sometimes the hardest for our rebellious souls.  We don’t like the answers we come to, so we do what we want instead.

Are you having a crisis of faith?

Likely there is behavior that you want to engage in that you think the Bible forbids… or maybe there is just a mindset – what the Bible labels as sin or goodness or purity, that you don’t want to agree with.

So something must go:  your way of thinking and acting or what you believe.

For more about this, check out  https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/howard-hendricks-4-bible-study-steps.html

 

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So that works as a transition to women in an elder role:

 The church I am in right now doesn’t have anyone with the title “elder” – but we have a leadership board and we ask the church to select them based on the traits listed in I Timothy 3.

This is the decision making body of lay (not staff) leaders. They are elected by the church membership each year. The only quality of the elder that we do not emphasize for them is the teaching aspect. We ask that each of them be able to share the gospel through their own testimony and to have the ability to handle the word of truth well, but they do not have to be in a teaching role.

(this is actually why the Baptist church historically reserved the title “elder” for teaching pastors, as I understand it)…

We do encourage women to accept the roles as well. Some years, no women are voted into the roles, but most years, at least one is.

So, engaging with the room created by the material above, (including the wording of “husband of one wife” notes) we certainly see women in roles of leadership throughout scripture.

Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Esther, Naomi, Anna, Hannah, Abigail, and others are described as taking positions of leadership and perhaps most significantly, as prophets (Acts 2:17-18/Joel 2:28-32)

17    “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

There is even good reason to think that Paul gives the title “apostle” (which just means “sent” in the original language) to a woman named Junia. Of course, as always, there are multiple reasonable and justifiable others ways to interpret this passage, but it is worth listing here as well. (Romans 16:7)

So, if the I Timothy passages were cut and dry… if Paul had written “No women can be an elder” or “only men married to their first wives are allowed to be elders” or something like that, then these other passages would have to be interpreted differently. However, since Paul left room, there is room for the others, too.

Please understand that I think it is possible that this is precisely what Paul did intend.  I think it is possible that Paul did mean to prohibit women from being in this particular role… but I also think he may not have.  Many are convinced he did and I appreciate and respect that view.

Of course, there are other passages in which Paul sure indicates his feelings about women (or wives) in authority over men (or husbands?) (1 Timothy 2:8-15)… some think this is about women “usurping” that authority… and it would make sense that an elder is some kind of authority over others in the church, but over the years many have offered other ways of looking at all of that… and what if a church decides not to have official elders at all? Is that disobedience to the scriptural teachings?

There is a lot here. I personally think there is less space scripturally for women to have the roles of elders (because of the seeming authority connected to them as shepherds of the church), but once again, I still agree that there is enough room for it to be acceptable if a church to determine to interpret these passages otherwise, or to structure the church and leadership in such a way as to protect these concepts.

How about women as “pastors”?

To me, this one is the easiest of all, though perhaps for different reasons than others.

I just do not see in scripture that the title “pastor” is an official job or officer title.

I admitted that I am not that far into my research of church “officers”… and I am personally not convinced that deacon and elder are meant to be “offices” so much as “roles” myself, but “pastor” seems to be a gifting and the word itself just means “shepherd”.

I think that at some point, many evangelical churches began to see the title “pastor” as some kind of biblical office… and of course, now it is a job title.

Different “pastors” may have totally different job descriptions, of course.

I completely understand the applying Paul’s teaching about women (1 Tim 2:8-15, I Cor 14:34) to the job description of women (though I am a little befuddled at times as to when a woman would be allowed to speak or not – Sunday School? Small Groups?  Children’s classes if there are men in the room?)

It does feel at times like all applications of these teaching end up being arbitrary because of how different the church experience is now versus at the time of Paul, but I always appreciate us making every good-hearted attempt.

I am not totally convinced yet that we should be treating “deacon” or “elder” as specialized officers in the church (rather than roles), but moreso, I do not how we came to see “pastor” as some kind of officer…

And especially I am confused by how “pastor” and “elder” came to be connected – especially to be seen as identical – as if often common in the Baptist world, for example.  I get that elders are supposed to be able to teach, but do all shepherds in the church teach?

This is a distinction between job title and job description, in my mind.  Even if I were convinced that women not teaching in church was a correct application in the activity that we call church today, I do not see why “pastor” in a job title that didn’t include teaching would be forbidden.

What am I missing?

Further passages that offer challenge to the “no teaching at all” application include I Cor 11:4-6, when women are referenced as praying or prophesying, (see also Acts 21:9) so these are two roles that Paul seems to accept (though their head should be covered – always strange to me since the Jewish tradition is the opposite, but he explains the motivation).

Given that I think the correct understanding of the term “pastor” is as a gifting or a role in the Church rather than an office, then I also think there is even less of a good case to make to prohibit women from having the title “pastor.”

What makes sense is the idea that in many churches today, the “pastor” is the title given to the leader of the church – as in, the highest authority figure in the church. Given Paul’s admonition against women being in authority over men, it makes sense that IF the highest authority position is “The Pastor”, then that position would be held by a man. However, what about in an elder/committee run church?

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imagesCA6E2P0ZSometimes you hear people say that they are in a boring marriage.

They aren’t stimulated intellectually like they once were.

They aren’t as excited about spending time with their spouse anymore.

They just feel like they are both going through the motions, stuck in a rut, and just
fulfilling obligations.

Their heart just isn’t in it anymore…

It didnt start that way… how did it get that way now?

I used to wonder how things got that way for them.
Now I think I know.

First, my answers to this aren’t going to include all of the regular aspects of everyday
life that rise up and choke out a vibrant marriage.   I mention some of those in the article about
loving with limited resources that there are many things (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/loving-with-limited-resources/ ).. things that consume our emotional energy  – kids, jobs, money stresses, sickness, burn-out, failure to exercise and much more.

However, I don’t think these alone fill in the puzzle of boring marriages.

But I have to tell you this before I can explain it:

t1larg.bored1One of the reasons that I am a follower of Jesus is that He doesn’t B.S. (can I say that?)  He tells it like it is.  For this reason, I get to listen to His words without having to constantly filter out the Political Correctness (even of His  day) and I don’t have to filter out some kind of incredulous, utopian-istic, humanistic gobblety gook.  Reading Jesus  isn’t at all like listening to Oprah’s guest of the day, or almost anyone in the field of psychology.

Jesus, when explaining how things are, actually explains how things are; when He is  saying how things should be, He explains how they should be.  How refreshing that He doesn’t mix those two things up.

When explaining how things are, too many people tell us how they think things should be.

Not Jesus.

Here is one of my favorite examples, and I think the solution is hidden here:

“ …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)

Catch that?

In most of our touchy-feely feel good self help junk it would be cuter and more prosaic.  It would read:  “Wherever you heart is, there shall you put your treasure…”

See the subtle difference?  The non-Jesus way  makes it sounds like our treasure follows our hearts.

Today, the only measure of sincerity our culture accepts is emotions – the heart.  I shouldn’t do anything unless my “heart is in it” right? That wouldn’t be sincere, or authentic, or some other such absurdity.

Imagine that we have now made sincerity and authenticity (two static and stable things) dependent on emotions (mercurial, dynamic, and constantly changing things)!  Screwtape was right in thinking that the “horror of the same old thing” has taken hold.

Sincerity is about being what you seem and claim to be… and so is authenticity.  These are raw choice.  I cannot fully choose what I feel (I am, of course, responsible for what I do in response to what I feel and even responsible to create the right environment for feeling what I want or ought.)  Emotions are largely our biochemical and  soul-level reaction to our situation.

I cannot choose to feel desire – I can only choose to create the conditions to encourage  it or avoid it.

My choices have the power to lead my emotions.

The truth is that my heart follows my treasure… as Jesus said.

Now, Jesus was talking about investing treasures in eternal things – in His Kingdom.  However, I think He is also revealing a general truth that can be applied here as well.

If your heart is not in your marriage, then, I assume that it must be because you have  stopped putting your treasure there.  Your heart has no treasure to follow.

Remember when you were dating and you would spend hours thinking about your girlfriend,  and hundreds or thousands of dollars pursuing her, and dozens of hours doing sweet things for her?  Remember how hard it was for something to divert your attention from her?  Remember the poems, the letters, the love-notes, the creativity, or even just the dates?

These are treasures…

Time

Money

Attention

Creativity

Thought

Strategizing

Sacrifice

Pursuit

Listening

yawningSo, if you are in a boring marriage, recognize that it is because you are a boring husband who is investing so little treasure in your woman that your own heart isn’t even inspired toward her.

Solution?  Plan a weekend away.  Plan it for at least a month from now, but don’t tell her until you have to.  Make it all about her getting what she loves the most.  Remember her favorite places to go, things to do, etc.  Stare into her eyes as you plan it and try to remember what she loves the best.  (this idea works for wives too)

Do it right, spare as little expense as you can, in time, strategy, and money.  Start writing a card and write one thing you are thankful about each day in preparation for your trip.

Enjoy the experience of your heart chasing your treasure, even though she doesn’t even know about all the planning.    If your treasure is in it, your heart will follow.

If you need some thoughts on planning, look over at some of the other articles for ideas.

And hey!…
after you plan it, post here and let us know where you went and rate it for us…
remember, We are all in this together.

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momentConclusions

Many people have argued that this is only a movie. The director can make changes to whatever he wants and it shouldn’t matter… after all, it’s just a movie.

I once had a seminary professor who said that if a preacher is going to take over a new church and then change everything, he should be man enough to start his own church.

To me, I have one real response to that which I will end with in a moment.

For the fans or not?

Here is what I am not sure of – did the director intend to offend the fans or not? With all due respect to all of the other critics who have noted this already… The evidence is that he warned us that “this is not going to go the way you think.”

We are going to burn the sacred texts, which weren’t exactly page-turners anyway, right?

However, could it be that he thought we would like it? There are a bunch of things that were thrown in that felt to me like they were for the fans –

Green milk – blue milk

Yoda as a puppet not just CGI

The waterlogged X-wing

Barely referencing plot about a “labor dispute” (an attack on Ep 1-3)

No Gungans

R2 scene

Han’s dice

Weren’t these for fans? There are many more, but this seems like enough to make me think that he was trying… but just failed.

And here is the final complaint:

Artistic Value

I have heard all of the mocking voices about looking for artistic value in a sci-fi movie. It’s just entertainment, right? Two and a half hours of cheap fun. Eye-candy, right?

Apparently so.

I should end the article there, but I want to make this point.

However, that is exactly a part of the issue. I am not sure if this issue or the deconstruction of Star Wars heroes is the worse aspect of this movie, but both are likely to be painful to the serious long-term fan.

I just recently watched “The Greatest Showman”. It wasn’t the kind of movie I usually like. I am not a huge fan of musicals. I want historical movies to be complex reality – not just a one-dimensional one. However, I loved how I felt when I left the movie. Why?

Because the makers of the movie know the power of movies and embraced the power and art of their movie. They humbly expressed appreciation for those in attendance! The defense remarked by so many “it’s just a movie” expresses exactly the base problem with The Last Jedi.

I will comment quickly on the difference, quickly, between enjoying a movie’s cheap entertainment value (of which The Last Jedi is pretty high) and the appreciation of a movie – its power, legacy, impact, etc.

I am thinking of any number of thousands of great movies that are really meant to be appreciated as eye-candy… there is no history of anything more, or even there is a clear history of pretty much nothing more (think James Bond, Pirates or Fast and Furious franchises – they are exactly what they are intended to be – just a movie… cheap entertainment… just fun).

However, however it was intended, Star Wars became much more.   It really defined a generation. Though not as political or intentionally cultural as Star Trek, it attempted to create a universe in which despite the time and distance, the heroes (who felt like real people) faced the challenges of good and evil and friendship and redemption (in ways that felt real) with the materials at hand (which were believable). This isn’t about being a child at the introduction of it either… it was every bit as amazing to our parents as to us!

Years later, when I took my father to see “Jurassic Park” (one of the few times that effects made something feel as real as they did in Ep 4-6 (Independence Day, The Abyss, Gladiator, Terminator 2, The Matrix and Interstellar were others)), when we walked out, all he said was “well, it wasn’t Star Wars”.

He was 30 when Star Wars came out, so don’t tell me it was for kids only or that people today are hoping to recapture something impossible to recapture.

In fact, read this response by one fan to the statement that what we like about the movie as kids was that it was for kids and what we don’t like about these is that they, too, are made for kids:

“Star Wars is just a kid’s movie” is the tiredest of all the dismissive catch-phrases. Empire was the first “adult” movie my folks ever took me to. I was 7 years old and my mom wondered for months if maybe it had been too soon. From the wompa cave scene for a solid 20 minutes I wouldnt watch the screen but instead watched the movie by looking at the reflection in the glass of the projection room – scared I wouldn’t turn around. And after the movie, Empire was all I would talk about for years until RotJ came out. Kids love(d) Star Wars because it wasn’t made for kids… They loved it because it was Star Wars, expansive, majestic, gritty, heroic, epic. None of which TLJ is.

Ditto.  One of the things we loved about Star Wars as kids was that it WASN’T just for kids, but we got to see it anyway.

I felt some level of it at each of the movies above. Wonder, greatness… art.

Ep 4 & 5, at least, considered themselves works of art, I believe. Some movies do, and fail, of course… but very few recent movies seem to make the effort. Most just think of themselves as “cheap (not to mean inexpensive) entertainment” or “just a movie” or probably “an easy way to make a few million dollars.”

I would blame this on Disney (and do) but I think that Lucas fell into that somehow during Ep 1-3. I legitimately think in Ep 1, he was making the movie he always wanted to make.

If you don’t believe me, go back and read the original script about trade federations and blockades. However, after the fans backlashed against it, I think 2 & 3 were more of him just creating cheap entertainment and determined to think of SW as something that was “just a movie”.

I will tell you, my only hope for Ep 9 is that Abrams is taking back over. 7 was no masterpiece, but it certainly intended to honor the originals. Abrams showed his genius as being able to honor fans and an original concept when he engaged in creating a new Star Trek with the original characters.

With reference to a great character dismissed. That was a trap.

But he pulled it off – twice.

Will he be able to bring the wonder, or art, or even heroes back to Ep 9? I cannot see how. In the year of “Solo”, (talk about a trap! One of the most loved characters from the original series) I think we may start seeing SW movies not be automatic #1 movies. Unfortunate.

I think this director didn’t start something new… but instead decided to take on something that wasn’t his and change it into something else with little or no respect for any of the previous story, impact, directors or fans.  To him, this was just a movie that he wanted to leave his fingerprints on.  It seems like his fingerprints were the most important part of that equation for him.

Help us Abrams, you really may be Star Wars’ only hope for this generation now.

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Comedy

Here is a trend I wish Hollywood would reverse: if something is funny one time, then 2 or 3 or 4 or 7 times is that much more funny. It isn’t.

This is not just a Star Wars thing. Pretty much all action movies have now adopted this from situation, slapstick and awkward comedies.   A new Spider man bumping his head or falling on his face once or twice can communicate his inexperience in a funny way.   A dozen times is exhausting.

An Asgardian god speaking with some modern English colloquialism might make me chuckle, but when he speaks 100% of the time, even with other gods… and when his sister, who has been locked away for centuries does it… it isn’t funny. It is distracting.

The idea of a fast-infesting little bird/rodent creature on a star ship can be funny (remember, it was funny with Tribbles), and one of those creatures roaring with Chewbacca might be cute. Once. Twice? Three times? Then flying and pressing into a window like a cross between Garfield and Space Balls. It only manages to remind you that this is a movie – cheap entertainment seeking cheap laughs.

There were a lot of cheap laughs in TLJ. There were just a few in Ep 4-6, but most of the humor there was created by relationships, not awkward gags (green milk in the beard?)

The humor was the first thing while I watched it that annoyed me… but now, after thinking about it, it is a lesser evil.

Characters

I will say that unlike some fans, I am not irritated much by new characters with new characteristics.

I think Poe – irritating, prideful, with poorly thought out efforts at humor – is fine. I think Hux – rash, insecure, arrogant, with the tendencies of a “cur” – is fine as well. They are somewhat developed and their exchange at the beginning of the movie feels somewhat realistic to me given their eccentricities.   Would either side have given these two men so much decision making power? No way. However, if I am willing to accept that they did, their stuff doesn’t bug me.

No, it is the introduction of new characters at the expense of established ones that bugs me, and it is the reduction and disintegration of well loved and established ones that exasperates me.

This applies even to characters from Ep 7. Finn was totally wasted in this movie. I wasn’t sure he would amount to much after 7, but 8 finished him as a viable character. Phasma was a complete fail in 7 and 8 did nothing to give her character any relevance.

New characters, like Rose, (I think the actress did fine, though others didn’t; The actress was not the problem) and the purple haired admiral are ridiculous additions. Even if their roles in the movie had carried any value (they did not), they could have been played by established characters.

Examples: The new Admiral sacrifices herself by flying the Calamarian Cruiser into the FO fleet; while Admiral Ackbar dies with a nothing more than a footnote reference. Why not just have Ackbar do it? He is an old fan favorite. Is it because he is male that he cannot save the day?   Maybe there weren’t enough female character heroes in this movie so far. In that case, why not Leia? More on that.

Let me try to exhibit the root problem that I think has been the greatest pain for the fans. It isn’t about somehow trying to recapture a feeling from childhood. Adults loved the originals, too. I have felt it in other movies as an adult. That is cheap. However, I have spent since 1977 seeing certain characteristics of certain characters grow and develop. They have developed defining traits that make them who they are. They are heroes – and complex ones, mostly. We have watched them struggle through great traumas and come out having grown in their character.

So here is the problem. If you are going to change someone’s character, you need to offer a profound reason for it changing. We all know this.

R2

The only character who, in the few seconds that he is on screen, is R2D2… the one scene with Luke was one of two scenes of great relationship that indicated that the director had some connection to the original universe.  Beyond this scene, though, R2 had no real role in this movie.  I know we now have BB8 to play the role of R2 (as seen in Ep 1-3), but this one scene showed how well R2 could have been used.  Speaking of not used well…

Chewbacca

So, what makes Chewbacca, Chewbacca?

Devotion to Han, short tempered, barely more than an animal, powerful, scary to enemies but fierce against enemies.

Nope. He is a purely comic relief character and has no other role. He doesn’t eat animals alive or at least raw, he plucks, prepares and cooks them carefully but also feels bad about it.  He regrets his decision not to go vegan.

Leia

What makes Leia, Leia?

Utter devotion to her cause and her people; a killer instinct and a sharp tongue. Her strength comes not from the power of being a Jedi, but from her leadership and heart.

Nope. She lets others die for her. She celebrates casually after the death of nearly her entire movement. She has some kind of incredible, never before seen Jedi power that saves her – but she only saves herself and not the rest of her officers.   No clever words, so grieving of Han. Very little of the Leia we know.

Yoda is closer than in Ep 1-3, but still too flippant for my tastes. Not enough to complain about by itself. But the real problem is how he interacts with Luke.

Luke

By far, Luke is the biggest problem of this kind.

What makes Luke, Luke?

Now first, I don’t mind at all these characters changing over time and with proper life experiences.   In fact, I liked a few of the changes to Luke when I was able to interpret them as the effects of being friends with Han Solo for 3 decades (the shoulder brush was the best example of this)…

The throwing of his father’s lightsaber over his shoulder was actually my first warning moment in the movie. The treatment of Luke on the island – drinking the green milk, fishing with a hundred foot spear – the whole simpering silly grumpiness just doesn’t work. A little of it might have felt like the introduction of Yoda… but just a little.

But this wasn’t the actual problem.

Luke is an even more simple character than the others since we saw his strongest traits grow only stronger in the years we knew him from Ep 4-6.

Steadfast faith.

He believes in people.

He believed in Obi Wan though he barely knew him.

He kept believing in Han longer than anyone else.

He listened to Obi Wan in the cockpit of the X-Wing.

He believed in his friends enough to risk everything to save them.

And most importantly of all, even though Yoda didn’t believe in any potential for Vader – he seemed to believe that Luke failing to defeat Vader would doom everyone. Obi Wan was very clear about believing that Vader was irredeemable (“more machine now than man”). None of that mattered to Luke. He believed. IN FACT, it seems apparent that ceasing to believe that Vader could be redeemed would have meant a fall to the Dark Side for Luke!

Nope. Now, he begins to suspect that a student – his own nephew – has some Dark Side in him – more than he had thought… and his first thought isn’t “I can help him.” “I can sense the conflict” or anything based on having been a part of the redemption of Darth Vader… nope. First thought? “Light my saber and murder him.”

To say nothing of the idea that he abandons his friends when they need him – which leads to the death of Han Solo (I guess he owes Han 3 now?).

It is no wonder that Mark Hamill referred to this Luke with “He’s not my Luke Skywalker” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fWELFcwpNs

What he is, is not the Luke Skywalker of Star Wars history.

Next, conclusions…

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