Saturday, March 26, 2016

Merchandi$ing the Force

MAINSTREAMING THE MYSTIC FORCE
Part 2 –  Merchandi$ing the Force

Read Part 1: Star Wars Awakens

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.
~ Jesus, Acts 26:18
Exhibit: Star Wars X-Wing X-mas sleigh 2015.
In the background is the
Death Star moon[41]

The next generation of Star Wars toys, collectibles, books, and apparel is in range.
StarWars.com is thrilled to announce that Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will land in our galaxy on September 4, 2015, at 12:01 a.m. — “Force Friday” — with stores around the world opening their doors at midnight for a special celebration of all things Star Wars.
It will be a day long remembered. “Every lightsaber, every action figure, every LEGO set tells a story for generations of Star Wars fans, and this global event is a celebration of those stories. We’re excited to be part of the countdown to this enormous movie moment…”
~ StarWars.com
[40] [bold added] 

By Gaylene Goodroad
Star Wars merchandise for children, Christmas 2015

THE ‘FORCE’ ARRIVED FOR CHRISTMAS
Consumers around the globe will note how 2015 became ‘a very Star Wars Christmas’ for retail outlets everywhere, as fans piled in movie theaters in December to watch the latest Star Wars adventure, The Force Awakens, which reunited characters from the original Star Wars Trilogy and introduced new ones to the current generation. Giant Yoda dolls, Stormtrooper action figures, Millennium Falcon toy models, Darth Vader cookie jars, X-wing knife blocks, and even Death Star waffle irons filled the store shelves. “May the Force be with you,” trumped “Merry Christmas” as even greeting card vendors tapped into the Star Wars Force frenzy.
Exhibit: A very Star Wars Christmas card 2015[42]

Forbes online reported that Disney, who purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, would generate considerably more money from the licensing of Star Wars merchandise than from box office sales already over $2 billion in just three months since the release of The Force Awakens in December of 2015:

Analysts predict Star Wars merch will generate some $3 billion in sales in 2015, and $5 billion over the next 12 months. Disney kicked up its marketing to a higher level Sept. 4 with Force Friday, an engineered shopping day pegged to the launch of a new line of Star Wars toys. It produced holiday-esque sales that bettered Amazon’s Prime Day and neared Black Friday levels, even without any deals, according to Adobe. There were 15 million visits to websites selling Star Wars products between September and November, Adobe says. It helps that Disney licensees have expanded the range of merchandise to goods traditionally targeted at girls, including cosmetics (a “The Dark Side” mascara by Covergirl) and jewelry (a Stormtrooper necklace at Kay Jewelers). Even fast-fashion mainstay Forever 21 has a line of Star Wars sweatpants and shirts. “… it seems clear that Star Wars merchandise is moving millions.”[43][bold added] 

The most recent estimates, put the Star Wars franchise net worth near $10 billion.[44] While moviegoers and consumers continue to tap into the Force, smart marketers have cashed in on lucrative licensing agreements with Disney.

Exhibit: Darth Vader and Stormtrooper toys[45]
“May the Force be with you”
The now famous greeting, “may the Force be with you,” was first uttered by former Force skeptic Han Solo, (cargo pilot of the Millennium Falcon) to Jedi Luke Skywalker, in the first installment of the Star Wars Trilogy (episode IV, A New Hope) in 1977, as Skywalker prepared to embark on the fated mission to destroy the Death Star in his X-wing fighter jet—utilizing the Force to do it.[46] General Jan Dodonna (Alex McCrindle), military commander of the Rebel base, whose plan it was to penetrate the Death Star's vulnerable defenses with Starfighters, rallied his Rebel Starfighters with the same dark blessing, “Man your ships! And may the Force be with you!”[47] General (formerly Princess) Leia (Carrie Fisher) blesses young Jedi neophyte Rey (Daisy Ridley) with “May the Force be with you” as Rey departs on a mission to find the now elderly Skywalker who is in hiding on a remote rocky island planet (The Force Awakens).
Exhibit: “May the Force be with you” keychain[48]

But what does this greeting mean? What is really being said? First, this replaces a greeting found in Scripture, which serves as a blessing. The best example is found in the story of Ruth when “Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, 'The LORD be with you.' And they answered him, 'The LORD bless thee.'(Ruth 2:4) In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul ends his letter with words such as “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (See: 1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 4:23; 1 Thess 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18; 2 Tim. 4:22; Rev. 22:21.) The Lord is being replaced with an impersonal Force. How many children are growing up never knowing the blessing found in these Scriptures, but knowing by heart the words from this movie?

The supposed presence of this ubiquitous Force not only serves as the foundation of all martial arts systems, it also glues together the themes, galaxies, and characters of the entire Star Wars enterprise. The two are permanently intertwined financially and spiritually.

For example, Skywalker’s drab tunic is nothing less than a karate gi (martial arts uniform) embellished with knee-high moon boots. His lightsaber; a light-up Japanese kendo stick.[49]
Exhibit: Martial Arts Gi and Luke Skywalker's tunic[50]

Darth Vader’s space uniform and black helmet were actually fashioned after an ancient samurai warrior. Kenobi, Yoda, and Skywalker become martial arts teachers (senseis) to younger adepts, like Rey, who is destined to train with the seasoned Jedi master, Skywalker, in order to further develop her inner power, the Force (ki or chi).
Exhibit: Ancient Samurai Warrior and Darth Vader[51]

$ELLING THE DARK/LIGHT $IDES OF THE FORCE 
Another facet of the Force is a major tenet of Taoism, which forms the core of the martial arts, is the idea of splitting of the Force into light and dark sides. It is also the central thrust of the Star Wars cosmos. The familiar “Yin and Yang” symbol is the graphic depiction of the Tao. Wikipedia defines this religious concept simply and accurately:

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang... describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t'ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung), as well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching. 

Duality is found in many belief systems but Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness that is also equated with the Dao. A term has been coined dualistic-monism or dialectical monism. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts….[52][bold added] 
Selling Star Wars tissues Christmas 2015

This pantheistic or monistic (i.e., “all is One”) belief is at direct odds with the God of the Bible who is above His creation and transcendently separate from them. All is NOT “One” (i.e. God).[53] This unbiblical philosophy cannot be joined to or blended with Christianity in any way; the two belief systems are not compatible.

The Tao is parallel to the concept of the “Way,” which is an Eastern religious path to self-enlightenment (godhood)—a path the Bible refers to as the broad way leading to destruction (Matt. 7:13). Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6). There is no other “Way” than Christ. He alone is the supreme God. The Tao (Dao/Do) is prevalent in every martial art form and is captured in each peculiar style named with the “Do” ending; i.e., Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee), Chun Kuk Do (Chuck Norris), Aikido (Morihei Ueshiba). Karate-do literally means, “the way of the empty hand” (i.e., the Tao/Dao/Do). This is why most martial arts uniform patches feature the yin and yang symbol in some form.
Exhibit: The Tao (Yin & Yang).
Note the white and black, light and dark
[55]

The Tao forms a critical thread that is woven throughout the Star Wars universe, as well as being central to the martial arts. Without it, the entire edifice crumbles into ruins. In this bankrupt system, there is no right or wrong; truth or error. This evil relativism utterly destroys the Gospel of Jesus Christ which claims that Christ died to save mankind from sin, which is the unrighteousness nature within every human being. Mankind cannot save itself, nor the cosmos for that matter.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him… and by Him all things consist… And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself(Col. 1:16-20).”

The Tao (yin and yang) also denies the veracity and sufficiency of the Word of God. God’s Word is truth (Ps. 119:160; Jn. 17:17).

Note these apparent Star Wars opposites (The Tao) that feed into the same universal Ki-Force field:
  • The Galactic Empire – The Rebel Alliance 
  • The First Order – The Resistance 
  • Darth Vader – Anakin Skywalker 
  • Kylo Ren – Ben Solo 
  • Imperial Stormtroopers – Rebel Soldiers 
  • Chancellor Palpatine – Grandmaster Yoda 
  • Grand Moff Tarkin – Princess Leia Organa 
  • Tie Fighter – X-wing Fighter 
  • The Death Star – The Rebel Base (Ice Planet Hoth) 
  • Supreme Leader Snoke – Master Jedi Luke Skywalker 
Selling Star Wars cotton swabs Christmas 2015

Mentoring Moral Relativism
Since everything is supposedly connected to this universal Ki-Force, some characters find themselves on both sides of the Force at various points in their life. Anakin Skywalker (Luke & Leia’s father), is seduced by the Dark Side of the Force and becomes the evil Darth Vader (James Earl Jones).[56] Ben Solo (Han and Leia’s son) is also seduced by the Dark Side and becomes the wicked Kylo Ren (Vader’s grandson). That is why it becomes necessary for a new, empowered Jedi (this time a young woman named Rey) to hone her natural Jedi skills (via the Force) and restore balance to the galaxy—under the advanced training of Master Jedi, Luke Skywalker, who had been in hiding since Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side (The Force Awakens).

In other words, with murky distinctions between good guys and bad guys who vacillate between light and dark, Star Wars conditions children to shifting beliefs, vague values, and mystical ways of thinking. Children are being trained to synthesize beliefs and to trade old absolute beliefs and values for ever-changing compromise positions. According to Berit Kjos's review of the Star Wars The Revenge of the Sith, here is how it works:

the main issue here is not Mr. Lucas' personal beliefs. Far more important are the "take-home" images and suggestions that shape the thoughts of his fans. One such suggestion came from the mouth of Obi-Wan, one of the most honorable Jedis. "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," he told Anakin. The apparent implication? Since absolutes belong on the evil side, those who deal in absolutes must be enemies of the "good" side.[bold in original]
Marketing Star Wars ideology via Christmas gifts for children 2015
 

Star Wars is a mythological story that has become a culturally significant fictional fantasy based on eastern mysticism. Teaching this myth to a new generation requires spiritual mentors. In Star Wars these teachers of the Force are actually embedded into the film. This highlights another aspect of Taoism, the master teacher: or sensei. The Japanese word sensei literally means “born before”, meaning a special guide who has knowledge or skill to impart to those who come after. The sensei, in this respect, also becomes a spiritual guide for “the way”; an enlightened custodian of the Force. Thus in Star Wars, the Jedi Master Yoda trains Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). Both Yoda and Obi Wan train the younger Skywalker, who later trains Ben Solo, but Han’s son is seduced by the Dark Side and becomes Kylo Ren, creating a major wrinkle in the balance of the Force.

But Rey, who does not have a last name as of yet, has been safely hidden from nefarious powers on the sandy planet of Jakku. She comes on the scene at just the right time, giving hope that she might restore harmony to the disturbed galaxy. Again, she seeks out the seasoned sensei-sage, Luke Skywalker, who is destined to continue her Jedi training.

Her lineage has been kept a mystery in The Force Awakens, but many movie speculators suggest that she may be Luke’s niece—Kylo Ren’s twin sister (Luke and Leia are also twins). If this turns out to be the case, then she would also be Han Solo and General Leia’s daughter, as well as Darth Vader’s (Anakin Skywalker’s) granddaughter. Viewers will have to wait until the next sequel is released to find out for sure. The plot murkily thickens. By the way, this familial scenario not only fits well within the Tao, but also with elements of Confucianism,[57] which stresses social and ancestral harmony.

Exhibit: Rey with Luke’s lightsaber – The Force Awakens[58]
Every theme, every subplot, and every eccentric character is a plot device that tries to release the pulsating, perpetual tension generated by a disturbance in the Force, attempting to bring the troubled cosmos into balance.

In The Force Awakens, Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow), a rugged space explorer—bearing a striking resemblance to the late Obi Wan Kenobi—conveys his reliance in the ancient Tao when he says to Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on Rey’s home planet, “I've traveled too far, and seen too much, to ignore the despair in the galaxy. Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.[59]

Exhibit: Lor San Tekka and Poe Dameron[60]

This idea of creating a harmonic balance in the cosmos—a ubiquitous energy field connected to and surrounding all things—is a central New Age concept that is also prevalent in Quantum Spirituality. In this occult worldview, the seemingly benevolent blessing, “may the Force be with you”, casts a sinister and ominous shadow. Tragically, the Force sells big. As Berit Kjos concluded in her review of Star Wars The Revenge of the Sith,

Our sovereign, all-wise, all-loving Creator is nothing like the Force. The very suggestion makes a mockery of His holiness and glory! According to Biblical definitions, the Star Wars Force is a different god -- the kind of counterfeit god that the Bible tells us to shun. And like those pagan gods of the past, it comes with an enticing built-in mythology. It may well have the largest group of devotees of any pagan deity throughout history....

The "highest good" God shows us in His Word is His holiness, not the eventual defeat of darkness (a victory which is according to His work and time, not ours). Therefore He calls us to separate ourselves from all the cultural influences that would mar His holy life in His 'born again" children....

Mythical stories that evoke strong feelings distract fans from true realities and bombard them with contrary suggestions that appeal to emotions rather than minds.


In spite of man's unceasing quest for feel-good revelations and mind-blowing thrills, there's only one source of absolute truth: the Bible. 


Exhibit: Countdown to ‘Force Friday’ Christmas sales 2015[61] 
And He [Jesus] was saying to them [the Jewish leaders],
‘You are from below, I am from above;
you are of this world, I am not of this world’” 
(Jn. 8:23)

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” 
(Eph. 4:30)

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this article series…

Endnotes: 
40. StarWars.com; see; http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-force-awakens-products-to-arrive-on-force-friday-september-4
41. Graphic taken from Tiefighters.com; see: http://www.tiefighters.com/image/37827537093?&cuid=b444395ecbb2b6070e06604f904d86cc
42. “A Star Wars Christmas – Gifts, Decorations and Xmas Jumpers for Star Wars Fans,” Dec. 2015, Alternative Christmas blog; see: http://www.alternativechristmas.co.uk/a-star-wars-christmas-gifts-decorations-and-xmas-jumpers-for-star-wars-fans/
43. Natalie Robehmed, Forbes.com, “For Disney, Biggest Payday On Star Wars Won't Be At The Box Office,” Dec. 16, 2015; see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2015/12/16/how-disneys-star-wars-merchandise-is-set-to-make-billions/#3bfd56cc41a4. See also, Chris Agar, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens Crosses $2 Billion At Box Office,” Feb. 7, 2016, Screenrant.com; see: http://screenrant.com/star-wars-force-awakens-2-billion-box-office-worldwide/
44. Aswath Damodaran, “Intergalactic Finance: Why The Star Wars Franchise Is Worth Nearly $10 Billion To Disney,” Forbes.com, Jan. 6, 2016; see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/aswathdamodaran/2016/01/06/intergalactic-finance-how-much-is-the-star-wars-franchise-worth-to-disney/#17f633652d79
45. Personal photo taken in a major department store in December 2015. 
46. Ibid. STAR WARS (Episode IV) A NEW HOPE online script. 
47. Ibid. STAR WARS (Episode IV) A NEW HOPE online script. See also: http://www.starwars.com/databank/general-dodonna
48. Graphic taken from Etsy.com: see: https://www.etsy.com/search?q=lightsaber+keychain
49. Kendo-Guide.com; see: http://www.kendo-guide.com/kendo_stick.html. A kendo stick is a practice sword that is make of bamboo or wood. 
50. See: http://www.affordablemartialarts.co.uk/ju-jitsu-gis%20martial%20arts%20equipment%20and%20supplies.html
51. Wikipedia; see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurai. See also: http://toysrevil.blogspot.com/2014/12/16-darth-vader-from-hot-toys-from-star.html
52. Wikipedia, “Yin and Yang”; see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang
53. “As In Heaven, So On Earth,” Herescope, July 9, 2007; see: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/as-in-heaven-so-on-earth.html; Gaylene Goodroad, “Metaphysical Mysticism Masquerading as Science - The Rise of End-Time Occultism Part 6,” Herescope, Oct. 4, 2013; see: http://herescope.blogspot.ca/2013/10/metaphysical-mysticism-masquerading-as.html; and The Berean Call (TBC) radio interview (Tom McMahon) transcript, “Should Christians Practice Martial Arts? with Gaylene Goodroad (Part 1),” Nov. 21, 2014; see: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/should-christians-practice-martial-arts-gaylene-goodroad-part-1
54. Ibid. Goodroad, My Life in “the Way”, pp. 5-6. 
55. See: http://daoismbb.blogspot.com/.
56. Ibid, RETURN OF THE JEDI online script. 
57. See: http://www.chineseonthego.com/culture/confucius1.html
58. Graphic taken from StarWars.com: http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-force-awakens-character-posters-revealed
59. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS STAR WARS (EPISODE VII) online script, written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams & Michael Arndt. Based on characters created by George Lucas; See: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens.html
60. See: http://dorksideoftheforce.com/2015/11/27/jedi-council-which-star-wars-the-force-awakens-character-are-you-most-excited-to-see/ 
61. Graphic taken from StarWars.com: http://www.starwars.com/news/the-force-awakens-around-the-world-star-wars-fans-invited-to-join-global-event-on-youtube

Ed. Note: Photos not otherwise attributed come from the publisher's collection of personal photos taken in stores before Christmas 2015. Shopping for anything related to the Bible story about the birth of Jesus proved to be a totally unfruitful exercise! Even the usually ubiquitous Santa took a back seat to the Star Wars Christmas of 2015.