Spirituality

Star Trek, Star Wars and The Urantia Book


Jim Watkins

There is a saying that goes “politics runs downstream from culture.” I would further state that culture runs downstream from people’s belief systems, what we would call the mores.

It is not an overstatement that our entire U.S. Space program and our current wave of IT environment was almost entirely prompted by Star Trek in the late 1960’s, and as NASA and the U.S. Space Program reached its peak interest by the time of the moonwalk in 1969. Mankind is hardwired for exploration, and the significance of our space program rippled through and ushered in a race for technology that is unique to our generation above all others throughout man’s million year history. We own this period of tech advancement and the results of ‘Internet of Things’ is what we see today with humans walking around staring into their smartphones and being in constant communication with everything.

Twitter, and other social media platforms have allowed us to read each other’s thoughts, for better or worse, and now we don’t know what to do with it. You can’t close Pandora’s Box, and this has naturally led to social anxiety on a grand scale, challenging all precedent, which reflects our collective emotional immaturity in being able to handle modern life.

1 out of 1000 people in Los Angeles is homeless, or soon will be, according to a recent NPR article.

It wasn’t that long ago, relatively speaking, when cars were almost non-existent, being first introduced to humanity merely one hundred years ago. As in most of rural American you were inclined to see more horses than Ford pickups, but this dynamic changed very quickly, and the result is we now have a nation of clogged freeways where every day over 100 million Americans are literally stuck in their vehicles for up to three hours a day in their cars going from work to home.

In ways we could not even conceive, man’s societal progress has easily surpassed even our own expectations, to a fault. We are victims of our own consumption.

But in order to facilitate this progress, mature, reasoned, even wise intelligentsia is a mandatory requirement. What good is it to have all of this tech if it ultimately becomes destructive to our moral fabric?

And I want to get back to that point, in a moment. 

What is most striking to me about humanity is we have always sensed we are not alone. Our religions teach us there is a curtain behind which we cannot see, where there are celestial decisions being made on our behalf. We have Deity and we have these teachings of Jesus about “a kingdom,” and people are receptive to this idea.

The kingdom is core to Christ’s teachings.

In the same way, one of the most appealing aspects of Star Trek and later, the enormous success of the Star Wars franchise, is the assumed idea that there is abundant life, even other civilizations, or a “force” out there just waiting to be explored and found. And as our telescopes get better, with it are the better our chances of discovering other life forms and new civilizations.

Our media is rich and abundant with stories of UFO’s and ET’s, of ancient aliens and lost civilizations. This explains why James T. Kirk and Obi-Wan Kenobi are iconic heroes to three generations of viewers.

Star Trek normalized intergalactic relationships; Star Wars took the bold next step and told an ancient story about a galaxy far, far away. The Star Wars Jedi even spawned a religion with over 120,000 devotees who adhered to the Jedi code.

Do you know what the Jedi code is? 

Here is Star Wars creator George Lucas, from a script of production meeting he had in 1977 with the original production crew of the Star Wars production team.

This is how Lucas describes the Force.

“The force is found in all living things and  flows from us, uh, controls individuals. 

Check. 

We have free will. We have a destiny if we want to follow it. We live for a reason and must discover what it is. 

This thing about the force, you know, in all living things and surrounds us is really, the core of the force, I mean, you got the dark side of the light side. One is selfless, one is selfish, and you want to keep them in balance. What happens when you go to the dark side is gets outta balance. You

get really selfish and you forget about everybody and you ultimately lead yourself because when you get selfish, you get stuff or you want stuff and when you want stuff and you get stuff, then you are afraid somebody’s gonna take it away from you, whether it’s a person or a thing or a particular experience. Once you become afraid that somebody’s gonna take it away from you or you’re gonna lose it, then you start to become angry, especially if you’re losing it. And that anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. Mostly on the part of the person who’s selfish because you spend all your time being afraid of losing everything you’ve gotten instead of actually living, or joy by giving to other people. You can’t think about yourself, and therefore there’s no pain. But the pleasure factor of greed and of selfishness is a short lived, experience, therefore, you’re constantly trying to replenish it. But of course, the more you replenish it, the harder it is to, so you have to keep up. In the end. You’re actually afraid of the pain of not having that joy.

 So that is ultimately the core of the whole dark side, light side of the force. Uh, and everything flows for that. Obviously the Smith are always unhappy if they never get enough of anything they want, mostly worth, mostly their selfishness centers around power and control. The struggle is how be able to let go of all that stuff.

And of course that’s the problem. And you’re allowed to love people, but you’re not allowed to possess them. And what he (Anakin Skywalker) did is that he. You know, fell in love and then married her (Padme Amadala) and then became jealous and saw his visions that she was gonna die. He couldn’t stand losing her. So in order to not lose her, he made a pact with the devil to be able to become all powerful.

But of course, when he did that, she didn’t wanna have anything to do with him anymore, once you were powerful. Being able to bring her back from the dad. Well, if I can do that, then he can be emperor of the universe. “I can get rid of the emperor. I can do everything. I can make everything the way I want it.” And once you do that, you know you’re, you’ll never be satiated.

And the master knows that everybody below wants his job.

The way to overcome the dark side is through discipline. The dark side is pleasure, biological, and temporary and easy to achieve.

The light side is joy, everlasting and difficult to achieve. Great challenge. Must overcome laziness, give up quick pleasures, and overcome fear, which leads to hate.”

Lucas tapped into the religious aspect of religion and its core premise, the perrenial strugle between good and evil.

You and I know this story, it’s the same story we see in Shakespeares plays. in Greek Tragedy, even in the Life of Jesus to a certain extent, and it’s why we find meaning in it. It strikes a chord.

Again, Star Wars is one of the few films that has been seen by as many as five billion people. Why? because the appeal of its message springs true.

But is this message so different from the revelation? Life forms and higher beings who are behind the scenes trying to create a good universe of peace and goodwill? 

How many times did we watch Kirk and Spock go to a different worlds and teach us a moral tale about what is right, about the prime directive to let life evolve naturally, or lik Star Wars and the battle of Vader and the galactic empire being a force for the Dark Side, how much different is this storyline from the revelations account of Lucifer and Satan taking on Gabriel and Michael who are fighting for the souls of angels and men?

And how many of us had these ideas in our heads when we first encountered the Urantia Book, ideas of a grand universe with real meaning and purpose. In some ways you could possibly argue that all if this talk of space, or ETs and UFO’s and ancient civilizations prepared us for the reception of a kind of religion that might also embrace these ideas openly. 

The greatest appeal in the Urantia Book concept of a purposeful universe is the assertion of absolute order in the structurally efficient system of loving personalities because it is mind – intelligent personality – that is in control of life, not randomness, not emptiness and certainly not accidental causation.

No!

There is purpose in the universe because we are purposeful beings. This is what resonates in the books and films that showcase a living universe, such as in the Carl Sagan book and film Contact, where intelligent life is found on Vega.  This is what resonates in the human soul. This is what will resonate when people take the time to read the Urantia Book.

Today, we have a generation of youth who can no longer be inspired by religion because most religion is the static, traditional religion our parents handed down to them. This is not to say religion isn’t relevant. The message of salvation is vital, but the method of delivery has been obscured because religion is portrayed as political. It is used, wrongly or rightly, as a wedge to divide, when religion becomes about issues.

How can you even begin to have a conversation about the soul when you are stuck having an argument about LGBTQ or Abortion?

Thankfully, the Urantia Book steers clear of issues, instead, it portrays a living universe than has the stories of our future embedded, what is to come, both individually and as a collective race on this world. We have paper after paper that merely expands our ability to understand the universe we call our home.

And the stories are spectacular.

It is said that Star Trek’s creator Gene Roddenberry read the Urantia Book because so many of his ideas about the different life forms seem to echo the Urantia narrative (found in Part 2 of the Urantia Book where our local universe of creation is explained).

I can’t make that claim about Roddenberry, but what I can say is that the idea of seeking out new life and new civilizations inspires hope, just as flying around with Harrison Ford with Chewy seems to inspire possibilities of a better future. 

Today, 70 percent of young people who feel earth is going to end because of climate change; they are plugged in to universal consciousness because of tech and our smartphones, and yet the current generation consider themselves “nones” when it comes to religious affiliation. Add to this the family is not as a high priority as it once was, and you don’t need to have me tell you civilization, despite our marvelous contraptions, is as fragile as ever. 

Never was there a better time for an inspiring message, and yet the Star Wars of literature sits right there, ready to be discovered by billions of people who be thrilled to know there is a reason to have hope, even a new hope in our participation of a future of endless opportunities, and a living vibrant, advancing and sentient human beings, made in the image of a Deity who loves us with an eternal embrace.

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