When I was younger Return of the Jedi was by far my favorite Star Wars movie. It starts off with a bang at Jabba’s Palace and finishes with three separate battles. Unfortunately all that excitement bookended some boring conversations on Degobah and in the Ewok village. I always fell asleep when Ben showed up on Degobah and thought that Luke and Leia’s conversation in the Ewok village took forever.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I can see how pivotal Luke’s conversation with Leia is to the series. It’s through this conversation that we see Luke’s desire not just to defeat his father, Darth Vader, but to redeem him.
Leia: But, why must you confront him?
Luke: Because, there is good in him. I’ve felt it. He won’t turn me over to the Emperor. I can save him. I can turn him back to the good side. I have to try.
In spite of all the damage Vader had done in the galaxy, Luke felt compelled to save him, to redeem him. In the end Luke was right and there was enough good in Vader to redeem.
Darth Vader was redeemable but not everything is. How can we tell when something is irredeemable?
Yesterday I wrote about God speaking his truth to us through culture. If we’re willing to listen then God can speak to us through most aspects of our culture. God’s truth can be found in secular movies, books, music and television shows. When, though, no matter how hard we look, will we come up empty?
I wrote yesterday that pornography and graphic, senseless violence are irredeemable. But is that it?
I had coffee with some students and we were talking about movies like Saw and The Human Centipede. I’ve never seen either of those movies and never will. Something like Saw is about finding new ways to kill and torture people. The Human Centipede is thoroughly disgusting and disturbing. I can’t see anything of value in movies like those, other than understanding the depth of human depravity. And we don’t need any help understanding human depravity.
If the kernel of God’s truth is buried beneath layers of filth then it’s probably not worth finding. If we have to dig through so much sex, violence, cursing and depravity to find something of value then we probably shouldn’t even start looking. It’d be like Luke trying to redeem the Emperor.
There’s no exact science to determining whether or not an aspect of culture is redeemable or not. That’s why we need to trust the Holy Spirit, the advice of godly friends and just plain common sense.
How do you decide what is redeemable and irredeemable?