In desperate attempt to draw adherents, German church conducts a Star Wars service

December 20, 2015 • 10:45 am

This is pathetic, but clearly shows how quickly religion is on the wane in Western Europe. It’s been dying there for some time, and now pastors, seeing its death throes, are trying a new form of CPR: using new movies as themes for services. No, it’s not enough that people get dressed up of a Sunday and park their butts in pews: the church is encouraging them to dress up like Darth Vader. As CBS News reports:

About 500 people heeded the call and attended the service, some carrying light saber props or wearing Darth Vader masks. It was more than twice as many as usually come to Zion Church on a Sunday.

“We were very happy to see so many people in the church today,” said Protestant pastor Lucas Ludewig said after the service.

. . . With the film’s theme song – played on the church’s organ – still echoing around the rafters, the 30-year-old said he came up with the idea of the “Star Wars” service while talking with fellow pastor Ulrike Garve, 29, about how much they were looking forward to the seventh instalment in the franchise “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which opened Friday.

But here’s the money quote from Pastor Lucas:

“It’s great that there are subjects that people are interested in. They trust us to make them part of the church service without making it too Christian or too Star Wars, but to find a good compromise.”

Without making it too Christian! Now there’s your admission of what this stunt is really about.

I strongly suspect the kid below just wanted an excuse to dress up in public. The thought that so doing would bring him to God is laughable, especially in view of what some of the attendees said:

Churchgoer Jonathan Wonneberger, dressed as a Jawa trader, described the service as a welcome change from tradition.

“You don’t have to take everything that’s religious too seriously. Of course you have to treat it with respect, but when there’s a global event like Star Wars, it’s ok to jump on the bandwagon,” he said.

Scott McGuire, sporting a Chewbacca costume, said he planned to go see the movie later.

“I think the whole question of God is very interesting, but getting up early on a Sunday is one of those things. But for something like this, I’ll go,” he said.

A boy dressed as the Star Wars character Darth Vader attends a Star Wars themed church service, at the Zion Church in Berlin, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. About 500 people, some carrying light saber props or wearing Darth Vader masks, attended the service, more than twice as many as usual on a Sunday. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) AP PHOTO/MARKUS SCHREIBER

Think of the possibilities! A Mad Max Mass! A Terminator service (“You’ll be back,” the preacher will say)! And services based on those perennial favorites, “The Sound of Music” (sing along!) and “The Rocky Horror Jesus Show.”

48 thoughts on “In desperate attempt to draw adherents, German church conducts a Star Wars service

    1. I’ve seen people use “the Force” as a good, baggage-free example of the supernatural, one which is both simple and unattached to any religion.

      Of course, some of the folks who call themselves “Jedis” and put that answer on a religious survey aren’t just kidding around. “An energy field created by all living things, that surrounds and penetrates living beings and binds the galaxy together” equals (at the least) “vitalism.” It’s just one small step towards another version of God.

      1. Yeah, vitalism is creepily close to the Christian conception of the holy spi*it.

        Mormons love the validation of the afterlife in the images of the Jedis who reappear and comfort their friends after they die. It fits in perfectly with their conception of visitation from angels and with their idea that they are married eternally to their spouses in an afterworld they govern.

        1. How strange that they seem to think their views are “validated” by admitted works of fiction. Of course, that’s all part of the familiar apologetic strategy of appealing to what seems appealing or familiar and pointing out that this could be evidence for “God’s voice” prompting them over onto His side.

          1. Yes, “God’s voice” is another way of talking about the holy spi*rt, who speaks via internal nudges of familiarity, affirming one’s personal relationship with g*d. So, it’s an apologetic strategy and an experiential “proof” of g*d that is difficult to deny, as it mistakes one’s sense of recognition for communication with the divine, but since it represents a natural process in the mind, is felt as empirically true.

        1. Really? I didn’t know that. Interesting if true, because Anthroposophy is some weapons-grade bullshit.

          I have friends who are sympathetic to Anthroposophy and they seem to have a lot of trouble accepting my claim that no, the ‘etheric force’ is not natural just because they state, over and over again, that it’s natural. “Natural” does not simply mean “good” or “real” or whatever else they think capable of shutting the discussion down by getting me to happily agree. Substantial disputes do not disappear through the magic power of vocabulary.

          “There is an energy field which is created by all living things, and it surrounds and penetrates living beings and binds the galaxy together.”

          “No, sorry, there’s no good reason to think that’s true: vitalism as a theory died a long time ago.”

          “It’s not vitalism.”

          “Oh well then, okay! Now that my objection is removed, that’s all perfectly plausible!”

            1. NEW WORLD ORDER!!!

              Interesting link, but as you’re aware it’s not exactly a credible source. The guy thinks anthroposophy invokes “demonic spirits (who) have led countless globalist leaders in the inner circles of the United Nations toward their vision of spiritual evolution and universal oneness.” A far-right Christian conspiracist who sounds suspiciously like a Bircher. Other than similarities between The Force and New Age/Eastern versions of Spirituality (which are easy enough to see, though the site’s got some nice quotes here,) Lucas’ connection with anthroposophy itself seems pretty tenuous. Basically, he’s a member of a group which has another member which includes the Rudolph Steiner Foundation .. and this building is near his property.

              When I mention that the “golden era of homeopathy” was undoubtedly Nazi Germany, they grow silent as well.

              1. …And the Nazis actually tested homeopathy rather than risk public health by assuming it works! (They tested the malaria treatment on POWs and recorded the failure. Yet homeopaths still sell their malaria remedy.)

                And today, Edzard Ernst has a post about a Nazi doctor (Rascher) who was friends with a well known Anthroposophist and used one of his medical procedures in horrific experiments.

                “A close friend of Rascher, the anthroposoph and chemist Ehrenfried Pfeiffer had developed a bizarre diagnostic method using copper chloride crystallization of blood and other materials…”

                Anthroposophists are crowing about “decades of experience” with Pfeiffer’s cancer quackery. Um, how many decades? And what “experience”?

              2. Imo both Ernst books Trick or Treatment: the Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine and A Scientist in Wonderland:A Memoir of Searching for Truth and Finding Trouble should be on people’s Christmas/Newtonmas/Humanlight/Solstice lists.

                Science vs. Pseudoscience: Ernst 2, Altmed 0

  1. The Rocky Horror Jesus Show – that could redefine what “Sunday-go-to-meetin'” clothes might look like! That could be interesting…

    1. Darth Vader being almost the epitome of evil in the films (the Emperor is the epitome), isn’t coming to church wearing a Darth Vader mask kind of like coming there wearing a devil mask?

      1. A little, but I presume this German church is essentially Lutheran, and Lutherans believe humans are “simultaneously saints and sinners.” Thus, Darth’s struggle and ultimate goodness at death and reunion with the other Jedis in the afterlife makes dressing up as Darth and coming to service sort of iconically Lutheran.

  2. Perhaps they have found an alternative and sustainable use for churches, which is to use them as movie theaters. I understand that Kung Fu Panda 3 will be coming out later. Also Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. That sounds really good!

    1. I’ve long thought that in modern Europe, it is a horrific waste of resources to have a building that is used for a couple of hours per week. I say, what about a multi-functional building used for language courses and amateur concerts during the week, on Friday chairs are moved aside and carpets are rolled down for Muslims to pray, on Sunday chairs are back for the Christian sermon.
      (Anyway, most inside decorations of modern temples suck. Mosques have stupid taboos, and churches have stupid rigid rules. If Michelangelo were alive today, he wouldn’t be allowed to touch any church and would resort to painting graffiti.)

  3. I bet an Elvis Presley one would be packed

    so at least they are honest that it’s bums in pews and coin in the collection plate.

    what brings them doesn’t matter,it’s just what is current that sells

  4. I remember back in 2006 there was an Episcopal church, I think in the northeast US, that did a “U2 Eucharist.” I thought that was pathetic, but this goes above and beyond.

  5. Here’s my christmas wish: That in my lifetime (or at least in my daughter’s lifetime) attending any sort of religious ceremony in the U.S. for anything other than cultural reasons (think King’s College Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols) will reach these levels of risible absurdity. Yeah, I know, dream on…

  6. There always will be people
    who do not realize,
    the church it is required
    to keep up with the times
    – so did the bishop say,
    who thought it was a trick,
    and soon the priest hold masses
    with Rock ‘n Roll music.

    (Robert Long)

  7. If the regular turnout is 250 I don’t think this church is doing too bad. In the UK most of them struggle to get into double figures.

    The movie they should be doing is ET which is literally based on the story of Jesus. When I first heard about this my initial reaction was ‘WHAT?!!’ but then I thought about it and thought ‘oh yes, so it is’.

  8. This reminds me of Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta’s story about how he “sold his soul on Ebay.”

    In order to make money, Hemant jokingly put himself up for auction on eBay: an atheist would agree to go to the winning bidder’s church or churches (temple, mosque, etc) — and then talk or write about it. He didn’t expect anyone to take him up. To his surprise there was a bidding war and the eventual winner was someone who worked as a kind of consultant for failing churches. They’d hire him to attend church and tell them what they needed to do or not do to get more people in the pews. The consultant thought an atheist’s viewpoint would be valuable — outside the box and capable of objectively evaluating “how the gospel was being presented.”

    The result was pretty much what you’d expect. The secular humanist liked it when churches were comfortable, had lots to do, showed a lot of charity efforts, and preached bland, happy, general good advice on how to get along better with your neighbor and life. And the consultant and presumably the churches took heed. If you want to get people who don’t usually go to church to come to church — do that!


  9. Too funny!

    How about a Star Trek service (“Relig … oops, resistance is futile!”) or a Wizard of Oz mass (“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”)?

  10. “Rocky Horror Jesus Show” LOL that is too funny! I guess Jesus would be in transvestite garb. A horrifying thought indeed. Ha!

  11. This has been done before with Harry Potter
    and Narnia which makes a tad more sense since there are Christian ethical themes in these books, but Star Wars just smacks of desperation.

  12. It’s already almost a full religion on it’s own. In 100 years it will be a major religion and the adherents will scoff at the notion that the original movies were made to sell toys instead of for the express purpose of revealing The Force to humanity.

  13. This is nothing new – I went to a methodist college and the reverend, to entice the kids to think religion was totally hip and with it, habitually used clips from recent movies…ironically even The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which I feel had a very atheist bent to it…shows how theists can fit anything into their worldview hey?)

  14. You don’t have to take anything in religion seriously. Rather, you should not take anything in religion seriously.

    I think this is awesome. More peripheral perjuring or the formal meaning of organized religion.

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