With the release of the new Star Wars adventure, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, thousands of people are rushing to their local theaters to watch the continuing space saga that began almost four decades ago with Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and left audiences in wonderment in 1983 when the ending credits for Star Wars, Episode VI – Return of the Jedi scrolled across theater screens nationwide. Among those who are anxious to see where the storyline picks up, one group in particular seems to have developed a keen interest in the movie, that group being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Mormons.
A Thursday, 17 December 2015 Deseret News article reports:
According to Google Trends, Utah leads the nation in searching all things Star Wars. During the past week, Utah residents have done more Star Wars related Google searches than people in any other state. Adding to that, Utahns are about 25% more likely to Google “Star Wars” than their closest competition: Californians.
Utahns also top the list for Google searching the character of Luke Skywalker. In fact, the Salt Lake City metro area tops the list of metro areas nationwide that Google searches about the Jedi Knight.
According to a Wednesday, 23 December 2015 Desert News article, some people believe that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, whose active membership makes up 41.6 percent of the state, are so fascinated by the Star Wars space saga because a “unique theological openness to Star Wars and other sci-fi stories make the difference.”
There is also the myth that evolved after Stars Wars, Episode VI, Return of the Jedi hit Utah’s rental shelves in the mid-1980s that the Jedi Master Yoda was based on Spencer W. Kimball, who served as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1974 to 1985. President Kimball was well-known for encouraging Latter-day Saints that it was not enough to merely belief in their faith, but to “do it,” and even to “do it now.” The familiar catch phrase that the Jedi Master Yoda uses is “Do, or do not.”
Matthew Bowman, the author of “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith,” and associate professor of history at Henderson State University, also shared his thoughts as to why he believes Mormons love Star Wars in the Acts of Faith section of The Washington Post on 21 December 2015. And Mormon fantasy author Shannon Hale told the Boston Globe, “Mormons believe a lot of things that are pretty fantastic — we believe in miracles and angels and ancient prophets and rediscovered Scripture — so maybe it is almost natural for us to dive into these other stories.”
In addition to the high box office numbers amassed by Mormon movie goers, several LDS artists have used their talents to create Star Wars tributes. Such LDS artists include The 5 Browns who perform John Williams’ beloved theme in an amazing arrangement by Greg Anderson on 5 pianos at once.