No, that’s not true, that’s impossible……
Search your feelings, you know it is true…..
NO……NO……. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (dramatic emphasis)
Any idea where this dialogue, this great work of literary culture, is from?
That’s right. Its from The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the Star Wars series (and in my opinion, the only Trilogy worth your time, as opposed the unfortunate Prequil Trilogy). Young Luke Skywalker has just found out that the evil character in the ridiculous, menacing black helmet and cape, who breathes through a raspy ventilator mask, Darth Vader, is his father (did I mention that dad had just cut off young Luke’s hand right before this revelation?). So, you might have reacted pretty dramatically if you were in young Luke’s place. Poor kid. On this Father’s Day 2013, we can ask ourselves the question, “Was Darth Vader a good father?”
First, Vader abandoned his family for work (of a certain kind – for a maniacal old man who can shoot lightening out of his fingertips, the Galactic Emperor). Luke and his sister, Leia, don’t get to meet their father until, well, his place of employment (the Death Star battle station) is exploded into a zillion pieces with Dad in it (unfortunate). Dad Vader did a lot of negative and unfortunate things along the way. Vader did not, it is safe to say, have very good control over his emotions. He choked subordinates at work. He took over Cloud City on false pretexts. He altered contracts after the fact (pray I don’t alter it any further, Dad Vader said) He yelled a lot (voice modulation issues). He obsessed over tracking down young Luke, so that he might pass his most unsavory character traits on to his offspring (Dad Vader called it the “Dark Side” – he couldn’t think of anything more creative). Dad Vader even tried to use mind control on the young lad. So, we can conclude that Darth Vader had a dysfunctional relationship with young Luke, at best.
Of course, the funny thing is that Luke, for as wacko as his father was, still loved Vader, and hoped the best for him. We know that by the end of the Trilogy, Luke turns Vader around. Vader stops trying to run his son’s life. He stops being so overbearing. He finally gets his emotions in check. And he finally chooses family over work (tossing the Galatic Emperor down a shaft to his death – better late than never). Luke had great hope that his father could change. He had hope that there was good in him. It just needed a chance to show itself. In the end, the somewhat conflicted energy bond (The Force) between father and son is changed from something evil to something good. Luke had hope, and his hope prevailed!
Star Wars might be the most over the top modern example of a conflicted child/father relationship. We can learn from this drama that hope prevails in our relationships! We may have the most wonderful of relationships with our father. We may wish to spend every day with him. Or our father may be in jail. Our father may be abusive. We may need to keep great distance from him for our safety. Our father may even have died, and is in eternal life, waiting for a reunion with us. Regardless, there is always hope that we may have a spiritual union of love with our dads to match the fact that they helped create us. It is painful when the one who helped give us life does not love us. But, the story of life is long (a lot longer than 3 motion pictures). There will be times when we look at our Dads, and say “that’s not true, that’s impossible.” But it can all work out for the good in the end. And indeed, “we know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28) Who is St. Paul talking about here? You and I, who work for good, and love God.