Two nights ago I saw Rogue One, a logic-defying adventure to be sure (never assault a planetary defensive grid without a sound plan), a western space opera with one of the grandest shoot-outs in cinematic history (the AT-AT Walkers against ground troops was an obvious and welcome nod to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), a movie that at its core explores the concept of war. It's the perfect holiday film.
Actually, it's the perfect Christmas film. Really. In the Christian tradition, Christmas, specifically the birth of Christ, is at its core an act of war. The Christmas story shows us God as never before. God closes the unfathomable divide between the eternal and the mortal, draws close, puts on flesh, and rolls in the mire. Here comes the Lord of Hosts, the Full Metal Savior.
Saviors show up when saving needs doing, and saving typically involves combat. According to the Bible, the incarnate god/man - AKA Jesus the Christ - grew up, learned the family trade in his dad's carpentry shop, and then, in his 30th year, chose twelve novices to start a planet-wide insurgency. They wore swords and sandals and preached a revolutionary faith built upon twin pillars of grace and truth. Enemy number one: a fallen messenger named Lucifer. Jesus' infant cries were in actuality an epochal calling-out. As if to say, "I've come. What's Hell going do about it?" Christ the cosmic rebel. That's worth thinking about a second time.
ROGUE ONE'S Jyn Erso and a band of freedom fighters face seemingly insurmountable odds during the entire film and without a sound battle plan, and that's where the analogy between it and Christmas obviously breaks down. God's son came with the greatest ground game possible. In contrast, Erso and her rogue crew shoot from the hip the entire movie. Imperial walkers against ground troops should be a no-win situation. But bad odds are the rebel's currency and the director's calling card. Spend me some impossible, please. ROGUE ONE does that and more. Rebels do what seems impossible. They assault the unbeatable behemoth, the empire of injustice, evil incarnate. That's what Christ did, and guess what? He won.
So, yes, serve me up some war. After all, it's Christmas time.
December 7th will forever be marked on my calendar. I think of my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer William Coates, who endured horrors in the Pacific. I bear his name. I miss his war stores...about bad coffee and bawdy Naval tunes. If Grandpa took his sense of humor to Heaven, he's likely dancing down streets of gold to the Benny Hill theme song. Now that's a word picture.
Not many WWII vets among us. They are a rare breed. Thank you one and all. FBNF. Miss you, grandpa. You were (and are) a great man. Until we meet again.
"They say that in the Navy
The coffee's mighty fine
It's good for cuts and bruises,
But tastes like iodine!
I don't want no more Navy
Gee Ma, I wanna go home!"