Monday, May 4, 2015

Why the Jedi and Sith need the Book of Mormon

Many Latter-day Saints have written about the unique impact the Book of Mormon has on our theology--how it clarifies and simplifies core Biblical principles like faith, repentance, and baptism, and how it resolves many of Christianity's sectarian feuds. I would like to write about how another conflict could be resolved by the book--the endless war between the Jedi and the Sith.

The light and dark Force-users of the Star Wars galaxy are locked in apparently endless conflict. On one hand, the Jedi believe in setting aside their emotions, perfect self-control, and service to society; on the other, the Sith believe in embracing human passion, seeking power, and putting the self above all others.

Likewise, the Book of Mormon contains conflict between good and evil: Nephites versus Lamanites, believers versus unbelievers, freedom fighters versus tyrants. The basic narrative would resonate deeply with any Jedi and many Sith. But more importantly, there are three basic doctrines that have the power to enlighten the Jedi and redeem the Sith. First, evil weakens personal freedom. Second, we are held accountable to a higher power for our choices. Third, passions should be bridled, not rejected or followed blindly.

The entire Sith philosophy is that unbridled passion is freedom:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.

The Book of Mormon explains why this is not the case: 
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive... down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

In other words, there are mysteries that belong only to those whose hearts are softened, and it is these mysteries that lead to freedom. The dark side, in contrast, leads to the "chains of hell," since the dark side of the Force is more addictive than spice. It is very difficult to stop using the dark side. It takes away your freedom.

It is commonly understood by Force-users that those who die become "one with the Force." They do not speak of this in terms of the common Christian concept of judgment, yet the fact remains that all will be held accountable upon their death.
It was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment.

This piece of knowledge could be invaluable for Jedi persuading people not to turn to the Dark Side. Indeed, in Alma chapter 30, we have a sample of Alma doing exactly that, persuading the followers of Korihor (who did not believe in judgment after death) to turn back to the way of goodness.

Finally, the Book of Mormon resolves the ages-old debate over passion. Many Jedi object to the Order's teaching that passion is forbidden, that marriage is outlawed, but the only philosophical alternative appears to be the Sith teaching that passion should be embraced completely, without hesitation or self-control. The Book of Mormon provides a vocabulary for a middle ground, rooted firmly in the Light:

See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.

Imagine how much more powerful (and emotionally healthy) the Jedi would be if they understood this one concept! They would raise families--resulting in greater numbers of Jedi--and they would have humanity's most powerful emotion to strengthen their use of the Force. Their love for each other and for the world at large would become legendary, and they would be known for their sincere goodness, instead of their pride. In short, the Book of Mormon would completely transform their culture, and prevent many from falling to the Dark Side because they wanted to have passion, but did not know how to bridle it.

So, if you ever have a chance to visit a galaxy far, far away, take a few copies of the Book of Mormon with you.

Addendum: I didn't mention how the Book of Mormon's central message--the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ--would affect the Jedi, because I wanted this post to be more silly than sacred. Obviously, accepting Jesus would transform the Jedi and redeem the Sith more powerfully than any of the particular doctrines above.