The Failure of Religion: Santa Claus, Star Wars, and the Kingdom of Heaven

I have a long history with religion. Where I currently am with the existing forms is that those who believe adherently to some form of religion are like children who believe in Santa Claus. Children need the mythology of Santa Claus to articulate to them the complexity of the Holiday Season while adults should have advanced to an understanding of serenity that is free of such mechanisms. Thus, many weak-minded people need religion to hold their thoughts about the world together in context to the mysteries of the universe. For them, they need to believe that there is still hope for them once they enter death that all the sins of their life can be washed away and that they can sit down with Jesus and share some bread in the Kingdom of Heaven, or hang out with Abraham and practice sacrificing their first-born children to some bearded deity skipping rocks across the solar system. Unfortunately for most of them is that they never learn that the kingdom of Heaven is and will always be all around them—just as Jesus tried to explain to people thousands of years ago. Attending a religion or a church is not a country club pass to the ever-after—but then again to the immature mind, it is equivalent to the need to believe in Santa Claus.

Religion does not take my mind where it needs to go, so I have had to part with it in its current form. That is not to say there is no value—I used to believe in Santa Claus and have many fond memories of my childhood while believing in such a thing. And the same for religion—I have many fond memories. But if you grow mentally, eventually you have to step out of those old shoes into something bigger—more universally encompassing. But what is next once such a thing is done? That is the problem that many find—is it in becoming an atheist or some other variation—or is it something else?

That is where mythology comes into play. Religion is simply a mythology and when it stops working, the facts of observation cannot be ignored so to stay true to the mythological stories. One cannot pretend that Santa lives at the North Pole when they know that it is scientifically impossible. They cannot ignore that impossibility and still serve reality just to continue supporting a mythology of Santa Claus living in such a desolate place. So a new mythology must be invented, such as like what the movie Miracle on 34th Street attempted—to explain that Santa bends space and time to deliver gifts to the world in one night.

Santa Claus represents the spirit of Christmas, but the adult mind knows that the season is about more than just receiving gifts. The relationship to the Holiday Season for society is much more complex, and when the human mind is ready for such a concept, they stop believing in Santa Claus and expand their understanding to encompass the more complex nature of the Holiday. At least in theory—thus the same should occur in regard to religion. However, too many people insist that their membership to a particular religion gives them access to the after-life without having to live up to the judgment of their actual lives. In this regard the drunk can enter Heaven because he accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savor—passing off the responsibility of good conduct in life to a third-party sacrifice. Or for the Islamic radical, they believe they can enter the after-life by killing infidels. The Buddhist believes they can enter the spiritual realm by living life as a play and not falling in love with innate forms–the Hindu much the same only being resurrected as a frog, or a cow which used to be a beloved uncle. For those who step back and look at the situation properly, religion is a pretty stupid concept because the mythology of those religions has shrunk with time and knowledge requiring an expanded mythology to renew the importance of the values which religion is supposed to introduce to society. The failure that most people openly participate is the belief that a particular religion will do the trick—what they miss is the essence of what Jesus tried to convey—that the Kingdom is all around them—all the time—but they do not see it. What people must have are the values to unlock those secrets in the everyday life and understand that nothing really dies—but lives forever as an essence. We are all the light no matter what the religion—we are not the light bulb—the gross matter of the mind and body. The mind in command of the body is the essence of that immortality used like a vehicle to navigate through life.

To understand such a thing properly requires a new mythology which is why I am so excited about Star Wars. It is much more than a science fiction series of books, television shows and movies. It is a new mythology designed to build upon the religions of the past for a new era of thought—and it works. Simon Kinberg knows this and is the executive producer of the new Star Wars: Rebels animated series. George Lucas, as a student of mythology for many years and a key board member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation has personally trained these next generation filmmakers and Rebels is the first real step in that new direction. I have known this was coming for two decades—because of my involvement with the JCF. But now it is here and to understand how much potential impact it will have on world culture read the article below. The essence of the summation is that Santa Claus needs to be updated as a mythology to stay relevant to the modern youth—and there are stories which attempt to do that in modern movies and television shows. But the same needs to happen in religion—which for the fearful and unfocused is a terrifying prospect. For them, Star Wars is about to change their life for the better in ways that they have never thought possible. Religion is needed for the human race, but in the day and age we live in presently—it needs a much bigger shoe. For that—Star Wars offers a size that fits for the potential growth of an inquiring mind that is already living in the Kingdom that Jesus always talked about—and knows it.

And for those who didn’t listen to me when Disney bought Lucasfilm, shame on you. You could have almost doubled your investment dollars in just two years. But guess what—an 82% increase in value is just the tip of a mountain of what’s coming behind Star Wars: Rebels. A lot of people are going to get rich—and they will deserve it. The monetary value directly is connected to the intellectual value and the evidence will come in quickly starting in the fourth quarter of 2014. Now for an important article that offers proof of what I have said about religion and Star Wars.

“Star Wars 7” Is Still a Year Away; Here’s How Disney Is Profiting in the Meantime

A bridge to an old favorite

Next month, the studio debuts Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD with a one-hour movie. Early data suggests fans are nearly as excited for the animated epic as they are the next live-action film. According to a quick search at, social networking users were searching for the terms “Star Wars Rebels” and “Star Wars episode 7” once every 22 seconds. Google’s Trends data shows a similar correlation:

The message? Fans don’t necessarily care what channel or type of media it comes in; they just want more Star Wars. In the case of Rebels, they’ll get a story that looks and sounds like the 1977 version of Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope. But don’t take my word for it; listen to the whine of the Tie Fighters in this extended preview:

Star Wars Rebels kicks off with a one-hour movie on Oct. 3. Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm.

What history says about extending the Star Wars franchise
If my experience at San Diego Comic-Con is any indicator, fans will take to Rebels as easily as they did Star Wars: The Clone Wars, another animated epic that debuted with a movie. But in that case, fans had to brave the box office to see Anakin, Obi-Wan, and padawan Ahsoka Tano in a new adventure. Plenty did exactly that.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars took in $68.3 million at the global gate, and earned another $23.8 million in home video sales. Lucasfilm spent an estimated $8.5 million to produce the movie, which opened in August 2008. A spinoff TV show premiered that October and ran for six seasons, the last of which is available exclusively on Netflix.

To this day, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television show remains one of the most-watched animated series in sci-fi history. More than 1 million have rated the show on Netflix. In 2010, the Guinness World Records named Clone Wars the “highest rated sci-fi animation” on television at the time.

New stories mean new merchandising opportunities

Rebels may never be as popular as Clone Wars; but you know what? Disney investors will profit anyway. Just having the show allows the House of Mouse to greenlight entirely new merchandising lines.

Add-ons like these are why Disney brands are responsible for more than $40 billion in annual retail sales, and why its Consumer Products group — which writes the contracts and cashes the checks — has enjoyed five consecutive fiscal years of expanding operating margins. With new Star Wars gear on the way, a sixth seems likely.
Foolish takeaway

October marks two years since Disney announced its $4 billion bid for Lucasfilm. The stock is up more than 82% since, mostly due to the franchise-establishing success of comic book movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy. How much higher it goes depends on fans’ appetites for properties that exist outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None in Disney’s lineup have as much potential as Star Wars.
“I feel the greatest responsibility to Star Wars because I think it’s a religion greater than any other story of the last century,” Rebels Executive Producer Simon Kinberg said in an interview at San Diego Comic-Con. Fair? Blasphemous? I suppose that depends on your point of view. Either way, the pantheon grows when Star Wars Rebels begins airing next month.

Rich Hoffman