Last Jedi as religious fiction

My title may be a bit misleading. “Religious fiction” usually means a specific literary genre which is overtly Christian and conservatively evangelical. I suppose stuff like Touched by an Angel was religious fiction. I don’t mean it in that way, but I can’t really think of another phrase. My basic point is that The Last Jedi is, and reminds the audience that Star Wars has always been, about a speculative, magico-religious way of life. I’m talking about the Force, of course. TLJ isn’t just about Force-users; it’s about Force-believers. And it is totally necessary for this movie to investigate the ideas underlying this religion in Star Wars.

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Reading as Triangulation

You ever wonder how reading actually works? I don’t mean the most fundamental kind of reading — you know, looking a word and knowing what it means. However, there’s actually not much difference between the two kinds of reading. What I do mean is the kind of reading where you finish a poem and you know what it meant — not what it said, but what it meant. I find my students often don’t know the difference. So I’m pretty good at explaining it. I thought it might be interesting to talk about it. At a simple level, the way you read a poem is the way you read a tarot card or a painting or a situation. It’s all about triangulation.

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Taken from my childhood home's yard in 2014. You can't actually see the cemetery from here, but it's between the viewer and the ridge with the red trees, basically behind the house (not mine).

Heathen Wizard Enjoys Gospel Music

It’s a bright, sunny day in early May. Highway 460 is revealing delights I, who grew up along it, have never imagined. Soon-to-be pumpkin patches vie with tiny post offices for our attention. My wife and I are driving nearly two hours, from my empty childhood home, to visit my mother in the hospital. We’ve had a  hard few days. I was in the hospital for some routine tests, which came at the end of days of fasting. Yesterday I thought my mother was dying, and we drove over three hours to see her, then two, at midnight, through deer-crossed night roads, to sleep. And we are discussing how lovely and remarkable old gospel music is. This is odd, because I am a vaguely heathen chaos magician and my wife is a Buddhist-flavored atheist.

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