I remember it like it was yesterday. It was early June 1977. I was 20 years old. I had completed my sophomore year in college and was home for the summer working as a laborer for a construction company.
All of a sudden, everyone was talking about Star Wars, the new movie that had been released at the end of May. The movie had quickly gained momentum and was breaking box office records.
Star Wars was about a 19-year-old farm boy, Luke, who was expected to take over the family farm someday. Luke was itching to get away from the farm and start exploring the universe, but his dad made him feel guilty about abandoning the family farm and leaving it up to his aging parents to continue to maintain.
After his parents were killed by enemy soldiers, Luke joined forces with an old Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and they set out to assist the Rebel Alliance in stopping the evil Empire from taking over the universe.
One of the most interesting things about Star Wars was that it was modeled on the westerns that moviegoers in the 1960s and 1970s had grown up with. In the westerns, we were accustomed to seeing a villain who always used force and violence to take over the land of local farmers. In Star Wars, the villain’s goal was to take over planets that were controlled by local governments.
In the westerns, the heroes were always sharpshooters who rode into town on horses to save the day. In Star Wars, the heroes arrived in spaceships to save the day. In westerns, the heroes used conventional guns with bullets. In Star Wars, they used high-tech guns that could blast holes in buildings.
But it wasn’t just the westerns that Star Wars was modeled on. It was also modeled on the old pirate movies where pirates hijacked and took over waterborne ships with gunpowder-based cannons and swords. In Star Wars, the villains hijacked spaceships with laser cannons and laser swords.
My memories of Star Wars were triggered when I saw the news last week that Carrie Fisher had died. In the movie, Fisher played the part of Princess Leia, a tough, no-nonsense warrior who led the Rebel Alliance against the villain, Darth Vader, and the evil Empire that he controlled. When Star Wars was released, Fisher was 20 years old. When she died, she was 60.
Young men and women were attracted to Princess Leia because she had all the traits and qualities of the ideal modern-day woman. She was smart, attractive, witty, and in control, and she had the courage to stand up to any man, including Darth Vader and the general who oversaw the Empire army.
Fisher also played the part of Princess Leia in two Star Wars sequels: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). While she starred in other movies, she was best known for her role in the Star Wars trilogy.
Fisher later wrote several autobiographical and semiautobiographical books in which she disclosed that she had struggled with drug addiction and bipolar disorder. She was married and divorced twice and had a daughter, 24-year-old Billie Lourd. Fisher once described herself as “an enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a God.”
Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016. She was hospitalized on December 23 after she had a heart attack. There was continuous around-the-clock coverage on the internet and on cable news stations from the time of her hospitalization until the day after her death. The coverage shifted when her 84-year-old mother, former Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds, died on December 28, 2016.
While Fisher’s character in the Star Wars trilogy was a princess, the continuous coverage of her heart attack and death portrayed her as an earthly princess.
I’ve written before about how we live in the age of entertainment that began to blossom after the invention of television and then accelerated after the invention and widespread use of the internet and handheld computer devices.
With the age of entertainment came the glorification and worship of celebrities. While some countries still have kings, queens, princes, and princesses, the entertainment world has its own kings, queens, princes, and princesses.
In addition to being a princess in the Star Wars movies, Carrie Fisher continued to be a princess in the world of entertainment. When she died, thousands of messages were broadcast by people on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Fisher’s fellow celebrities also issued glowing tributes to her life. Film clips of her performances were featured on television, YouTube, and hundreds of news and gossip websites.
It’s an unfortunate truth that for those people who have a limited or nonexistent belief in God, their primary focus is on the things of this world. Instead of believing in the Divine King, the Prince of Peace, and the Queen of Heaven, they believe in the kings, queens, princes, and princesses of this world — celebrities who have been elevated to a position of royalty by the media. These celebrities are worshipped as though they are gods and goddesses.
Last month on December 8, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Unfortunately, most Catholics know more about Carrie Fisher and her fellow celebrities than they know about the Immaculate Conception.
I anticipate that one of the questions that our Lord will ask each of us when we die is “Can you name each of the people you attempted to introduce to my Father?” At that moment, our Lord will give each of us full knowledge of every individual we ever attempted to introduce to His Father. While some of us will be able to name hundreds, there will be some who will not be able to name a single person.
We have no way of knowing what was going on in the heart, mind, and soul of Carrie Fisher before she died. We can only hope that someone had introduced her to the God that she was unsure of and that she had turned to Him for guidance and support. There had to be people who were close to her who knew that she would be “happy to be shown that there is a God.” But did they ever attempt to reach out to her and introduce her to Him?
If no one took the time and effort to show her that there is a God, then nothing that she accomplished on this earth will have any meaning in eternity.
You and I have a very important job to do on this earth. That job is to attempt to convince as many people as possible that there is a loving God who desires that every one of us join Him in heaven after we have completed our temporary assignment on earth.
May Carrie rest in peace.