Force Push

Truth - What we believe directly affects how we experience the world. Have you ever noticed how drastically different your worldview can be from just about anyone else? Your entire understanding of how the world works, your purpose in being here (if there is one), and what it all means (if anything), can be in stark contrast to the person next to you. Belief is a powerful thing. It shapes the truths we accept, the things we know to be facts, and the opinions we ascertain as valid. Whether you believe in the sentiment of live long and prosper, the force, a higher power, science, or none of the above, something guides you. It's your force push.
 
"The Light — It's Always Been There. It'll Guide You."
Maz Kanata (Lupita N'yongo) in Star Wars: the Force Awakens

It's the season of family, friends, peace on Earth, and religion. It may be the first one that implies the last one as well. Where do we get our belief systems from? Family is the most influential catalyst by far, followed by institutional education, the media, etc. Initially people adopt the spiritualties of their parents until they form their own opinions, experience different things, or come into contact with new ways of understanding the world. College has been proven to show a liberalizing effect that causes students to generally be more accepting of diversity and diverging opinions. The classic college story is the fashioning of various religions during college years and/or becoming  an atheist, agnostic, or embracing spirituality but not religion. Then there are those who go through the collegial gauntlet and come up with their amalgamation of a religious belief system. Whatever it is that you believe or don't believe, that is your prerogative. I argue however though that everyone and I mean absolutely everyone has a personal religion. That religion word is something I hold steadfast to. Personal religion is your belief system that belongs to, is believed in, and practiced by you and you alone.
 
You know those infamous sci-fi zealots who don the garb and memorabilia of their favorite worlds. That can be someone's religion. It's no different than those whose religious ceremonies include lucky charms, gorging themselves on buffalo chicken dip, and yelling at massive TV screens cheering for their professional sport teams. Apply the same concept to Directioners, Apple fan-people, and those who believe in the infallibility of science. Scientism has become more and more prevalent and just like the traditional renderings of religion, is equally valid. Some people have a serious issue in calling science a religion but if that's how you navigate the world, understand experiences, and everything in between, then it performs the same function. Religion is a deeply individual thing just like we all perceive what happens to us differently. People can take in the same information and interpret it differently because of the framework through which they process it. Religious tolerance and pluralism is complicated because it gets down to the individual where we are supposed to strive to respect the thought processes of all including Scientologists, Pastafarians, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Wookiees alike. It's about respecting people's humanity, plain and simple. That's the force push.
 
For me personally, my college experience and indoctrination into the ideologies of critical social theories, social justice, and advocacy, changed me drastically. As a Christian, particularly one of the Pentecostal denomination, God has always been part of my worldview. My entire understanding of how things work is through that hallowed trifecta. The one thing that didn't align during/after college was the exclusion, persecution, and condemnation of people because of their identities. Queer identities, different religions, and other identities being preached from the pulpit as destined for a hellish track didn't sit well with me. Because God is love and the only charges we have as people is to love our neighbors and believe in Jesus as a personal savior, that's what I resolved to do. I still go to church but I believe in love, in valuing the humanity of all people, and shining my inner light so that others may shine as well. That's my personal religion, and the force pushing me. What do you believe?

Star Wars: the Force Awakens Review: 4.5/5 Stars
It's the seventh entry in one of the most lucrative film franchises of all times and the start of a new trilogy of movies. This film is worthwhile from start to finish. It pays homage adequately to its predecessors while establishing characters with strong emotional intensity that leave you invested in their outcomes. From the opening exposition to the cataclysmic climax and sequel setting falling action thereinafter, the movie is truly a masterpiece. It has access points for both diehard fans deeply entrenched in the lore of its predecessors, while remaining grounded enough for new viewers to join in without getting lost. Some of the allegorical references may go over the heads of those who do not know the intricacies but as a standalone film, it's awe-inspiring nonetheless. The new cast stands their own in the presence of movie giants. Their conflicted depictions of characters thrust into their perpetual war of good and evil are so believable, particularly Daisy Ridley's "Rey" and John Boyega's "Finn." Other than appearances by other notable characters, they are the definitive best part of the film. This is definitely a must see, not only to stay up to date with all the incoming pop culture references but because it's a damn good film. X

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