Sunday, December 18, 2016

342. The Faith of Chirrut Imwe

Before we get started here, the obligatory spoilers alert.

I saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, yesterday. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fine way to spend an afternoon. One particular character stood out for me, Chirrut Imwe, played by the actor Donnie Yen. Imwe is a blind and he has an intense connection to the force. I get that the Asian mystic character is a horribly overused trope, but Imwe felt a little different.

The thing that stuck with me was Imwe’s faith. Throughout the movie when the group gets into trouble, he can be found saying to himself, “I am one with the force. The force is one with me.” He’s also not treated like a pariah for saying those things. The movie doesn’t make him sound kooky or one-dimensional. He’s a blind, kick-ass warrior who can fight the stormtroopers with the best of them. He also happens to have a deep connection with the force.

Near the end of the movie, he decides to walk out into the middle of a firefight between the rebels and stormtroopers in order to flip a switch to allow a communication to go through. He walks out and repeats to himself, “I am one with the force. The force is one with me.” Eventually he gets the task done. However, he’s killed soon after accomplishing that task.

I feel like spiritual lives are grossly misrepresented in movies. People are either bible-thumping street corner preachers, or they’re pious prudes. I don’t care for most objects related to a faith life. They all seem tepid, flat, and goody two shoes-y. There is no wrestling, no struggle, or if there is a struggle, it feels like a sitcom.  You don’t get a middle ground. You don’t get to see people’s faith in action during the struggles they face in everyday life. Granted, Imwe was referencing the force and not Christianity in his mantra, but it felt like he could have been saying the Rosary.

On top of that, Yen delivers some funny lines in the movie. He has a personality on top of his spiritual side. He smiles, he has a nice partnership with Baze Malbus. He’s not one-dimensional.

I’m not all that familiar with the greater Star Wars canon. I don’t know the ins and outs of what Imwe was exactly referring to when he talked about the force. It is a greater power though. Something above the day-to-day goings on. It shows that we’re not alone in the midst of it all.

That’s what faith has grown to mean to me this year. Sometimes it’s just as little as holding onto something in the midst of some pretty crappy situations. You don’t need to be perfect to have faith. You just need to have it.

I doubt I am ever going to get into a battle with stormtroopers. I don’t think I’ll ever learn martial arts, and I doubt I’ll ever be great with a crossbow. But I’d like to think having faith is something I can do better at.

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