Unless you are living in a galaxy far, far away you have heard about the December 18, 2015 release of Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Fans of all ages of the Star Wars movies are excited about this new chapter in the saga. Since the release of Star Wars in 1977, the movies have become one of the most profitable film series in U.S. film history, and have become a cultural institution. Although the Social Science, Philosophy & Religion Department isn’t the first place one thinks of when they think of Star Wars, the department does have some books that tie into the movies’ underlying themes.
The Star Wars saga invokes classic themes of good vs evil, darkness and light, metaphysical power, a mythic quest or journey, and the fulfilling of one’s destiny. In 1999, Bill Moyers interviewed George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, in the interview titled Mythology of Star Wars: with George Lucas and Bill Moyers (read the transcript here). Lucas discussed the mythology of the Star Wars movies, and that he considered Joseph Campbell to be a mentor. Lucas drew inspiration for the hero’s journey from Campbell’s classic work on comparative mythology titled Hero with a Thousand Faces. Copies at Los Angeles Public Library can be found with the call number 291 C188. Other books authored by Campbell are shelved nearby. In general, books on the subject of world mythology can be found starting with the call number of 291.
Lucas also told Moyers in the same interview that he didn’t see Star Wars as “profoundly religious”, but that almost every religion has tried to relate to aspects of Star Wars. Three such examples in the Library’s collection are Roy M. Anker’s Catching light: looking for God in the movies (2004, 791.2 A611, specifically Chapter 8: “Tracking the Force”), Matthew Bortolin’s Dharma of Star Wars (2005, 294.34 B739), and Dick Staub’s Christian wisdom of the Jedi (2005, 248.83 SS798). The dualism in the Force between the Jedi and the Sith have also been compared to yin-yang of Taoism, and the battle between good and evil found in Zoroastrianism (see pp. 68-69 of Ross Shepard Kraemer’s 2001 Religions of Star Trek, 809.2954 S795Kra). Books on comparative religion can be found starting in the 290 call number area; for example, Huston Smith’s World’s Religions 290 S6494 2009.
The metaphysical aspect in the Star Wars movies is “the Force”. According to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Force is “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” (Star Wars, 1977). Those that properly use the Force can perform psychokinesis (the ability to move objects with their mind); either read others’ thoughts or manipulate their minds; and blow up a Death Star with a million-in-one photon torpedo shot. If you want to explore your Jedi potential, search for books in the Library’s catalog (http://www.lapl.org) under the subject heading of psychic ability. If you try your hand at psychokinesis, be sure to start with something small, such as a library golf pencil. Don’t be discouraged…soon you will be moving objects such as library furniture or even your X-Wing fighter in no time! Just remember, a Jedi uses the Force for good and compassion. In other words, to mix in a quote from another Disney-owned property, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Books on psychic ability or intuition are generally shelved in the 133.8 call number area. Here are a couple of sample titles to get started:
133 B623 Barnum, Melanie (2014). Psychic abilities for beginners: awaken your intuitive senses.
133.8 C624, Clegg, Brian (2015). Extra sensory: the science and pseudoscience of telepathy and other powers of the mind.
If you are interested in any of the books on mythology, psychic ability, or comparative religion, visit your nearest Los Angeles Public Library location or search online at http://www.lapl.org. Explore the Library’s collection, we have a really good feeling that you will find something that interests you!