“I’ve seen him do things I can’t explain.”

The cover to The art of Mandalorian written by Phil Szostak and cover by Doug Chiang

“I’ve seen him do things I can’t explain.”

Din Jarin

These are the words spoken by Din Jarin to Ahsoka Tano about Grogu, an infant, in Season 2 Episode 5: The Jedi of The Mandalorian. Jarin is a Mandalorian and Bounty Hunter and Tano a former Jedi now renegade vigilante. Their commitment to the good that results in their landing as misfits within their socially and politically complex world. And it is this layering of themes such as fall and redemption, humanity and inhumanity, spirituality, stratification, and interaction between young and powerless and those capable that makes Star Wars* a complex and compelling universe to explore. The same can be said for Sci-Fi in general and we see similar themes in the likes of The Expanse**.

Jarin lives in the post-Empire period of Star Wars where the Jedi are incredibly rare, having been wiped out during the fall of the Republic and the ascension of the Empire. He ends up with the infant Grogu in his care. And the infant performs exhibits some behaviour that’s highly unusual. As the viewer we recognise this as telekinesis, as physically moving something without touching it as an expression of one’s focus mind or will. When queried by Tano, Jarin says, “I’ve seen him (Grogu) do things I can’t explain.”

In the real world this parallels the experiences understood as spiritual and which, similarly, cannot be explained. They are experiences reported in religions now experienced firsthand. Yet those reports are poorly explained and easily countered and denied. This is often because those who hold to their religions ‘by faith’ do so apart from experience. The result is that the religious don’t understand the things they hold to ‘by faith’ and explain them poorly while those things make no sense to those who hold to the ‘belief against’ those very same things. Neither those holding to the ‘belief for’ or those holding to the ‘belief against’ have shared experience, language, or attitude to work with. It also doesn’t help that there are numerous examples of those who hold to the ‘belief for’ in Evanglicalism and Pentecostalism as subcultures within Christianity being so clearly unhinged and politicised. It is safe to say that Christianity has blown its credibility along with all the world’s religions. And though there are many seeking to support their religions, there is a growing population of people who have left religion now discovering or rediscovering their spirituality through glimpses of the transcendent. This is as impersonal and as personal, both occasionally glimpsed, not readily available for inspection, and available in a challenging manner through introspection.

This results in many simultaneously deconstructing the b******t of religion while trying to make sense of these experiences, these glimpses of the Transcendent, that they cannot explain. Many are deconstructing their religion whilst making sense of spiritual and mystical experience. And they’re wrestling with themselves as they seek to make sense of these new experiences. They often wrestle against the religions they’ve moved away from and against those seeking to draw them in. Here it helps to understand that what’s important is not the institutional legacies and their explanations. These often involve a leap to a large story on flimsy foundation of such experiences whilst not enabling people to cultivate further experiences. The transition is from experiences indicating the Transcendent as explorable to religious commitments with established beliefs without the Transcendent being explored at all. Instead, within the religions, the attendance of services and exploration of religious texts serve as the primary activities.

It is best then, as deconstructors leaving one or other religion, to stick to the experience and embrace the “can’t explain” than to, too quickly, embrace the explanatory texts and stories of another religion.

* Footnote: Let’s ignore the abysmal recent movie series and agree that they should stop making movies with the series being so much better.
** Footnote: Here James Holden’s interaction with Joe Miller and the protomolecule is an example of this.

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