A Systematic Universe


In 2014, after acquiring the rights to Star Wars, Disney made a controversial decision. They rebooted the canon of Star Wars.   In books and comic books thousands of Star Wars stories had been told.  All of these stories were all part of the extended universe and were part of the greater Star Wars story.   However, this extended universe was a bit of a mess.   There was not always a lot of thought given, especially in the early 90’s how the various novels and comic books connected to one another so the “official” Star Wars timeline was a bit all over the place.  There were also contradictions between various sources and this created levels of canon to determine when there was a contradiction what was the right understanding and what was wrong.

 Disney decided to clean up that mess and start over.   The movies and TV shows formed the basis of the Star Wars story and everything else that came afterwards would fill in the universe.  This was the same idea of the original extended universe but this time it was done with a lot more care.  The Star Wars story group now provides a lot more oversight to help keep the universe coherent and connected.  While there will always be some Star Wars fans who will always lament the old expanded universe no longer being the “official” Star Wars stories, I think this new approach is great.  

One of the reasons why this works so well is that a lot care is being made to make every new piece of media fit in seamlessly.   A good example of this is the character of Iden Versio.   This character was created for the Star Wars Battlefront II video game and she is also feature as part of a tie-in novel to the video game. This character is a great example of how the Star Wars story group has worked to systematically craft their stories into a larger universe.   The Inferno Squadron book is a prelude to the video game and it begins at the end of the original Star Wars.  From there Iden meets a character that was first introduced in another book called Rebel Rising and one of the secondary characters in the book is a secondary character from the Clone Wars TV series.   The video game story begins with the battle of Endor found in Return of the Jedi.  From there it directly crosses over with events found in The Shattered Empire comic mini-series.  This integration is so complete that Iden’s ship is visible in a comic book that was published two years before the video game was released.   Finally, the video game story ends by leading right into the opening scene of The Last Jedi.

It all comes together so that it feels like the story of Iden Versio is a puzzle piece that has perfect spot that it fits in the larger Star Wars story.   I appreciate that, learning from the mistakes of the extended universe, the Star Wars story group is seeking to create a systematic fictional universe where everything fits and is integrated in a non-contradictory and supportive way.  There is a lot of wisdom to this approach and it is something that Christians have been doing for a long time.

 A class that is commonly required by Christian seminaries is systematic theology.  Just like the Star Wars universe is being built so that all of the stories fit into the broader picture, systematic theology is approaching our faith beliefs and making sure they all fit together.   The point for resetting the Star Wars extended universe was to do away with problematic contradictions to create a stronger and more engaging fictional universe.   The point of engaging in following a systematic theology is to resolve problematic contradictions to create a stronger and engaged personal faith.  

There are several faith contradictions that are commonly held.  An example of a common one is that there are many people who simultaneously believe that “everything happens for a reason” and also believe that “people are created with free will.”  These beliefs are incompatible.  If everything truly happens for a reason then there is no true choice, or if we truly have free will then we can choose against the reason things happen.  Systematic theology challenges us to wrestle with these beliefs and align our beliefs so that they all fit together in a unified system of beliefs that is coherent and supportive way.  

What our theology should be aligned with is important.  For the Star Wars universe the movies and the TV shows are the prime source.  Everything springs from and is ultimately connected to and through those sources.  In the relaunched extended universe intentional care is being taken to ensure that none of the books, comic books, or video games contradict or go against what is shown on the screen.   In the same way our theology, our beliefs about God, should not contradict the  Bible.   The scripture are the prime source for our beliefs and they are the standards that are theology must be tested and measured against.   Just like creating a cohesive Star Wars universe begins and ends with consulting the primary source material, creating a systematic theology begins and ends with consulting the scriptures to make sure our beliefs align with it.  

As a Star Wars fan I am truly excited that about the future of stories that are going to be told in a fictional universe that has been created in a more systematic way.  It will allow for better and richer stories to be told.  In the same way as a follower of Jesus, I have found the process of thinking through my beliefs in a systematic way to be helpful in creating a deeper and more meaningful faith experience.  May you be willing to examine your own belief, study the scriptures, and come to hold a more systematic theology.  

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