It’s hard enough to avoid Star Wars spoilers for a week: Imagine avoiding them for over a year.
That’s exactly where some Mormon missionaries from the Wichita area found themselves, and they’re just getting caught up.
“It’s cool I get to come home from my mission and have a Star Wars experience,” said Mallory Adams, 21. “It’s for everyone, all ages. It’s just creative.”
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go on a mission between the ages of 18-25. The mission lasts 18 months for women, two years for men. Sometimes they proselytize and serve overseas, other times it’s in different parts of the United States.
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On the mission, they don’t watch television, go to the movies or use the internet for anything other than communicating with family.
For women just returning from the mission field, that meant missing out on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” For men, that meant missing out on both “Rogue One” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And now, there’s a third movie to watch, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Adams grew up on Star Wars, even dressing as a Jedi in the fourth grade for Halloween. Her father loves Star Wars too. While on his own mission as a young man in Chile, he was given special permission to watch one of the movies when it came out. Adams didn’t get the chance to see “Rogue One” while on her mission in southern Florida, but did buy unique Star Wars shirts for herself and her brother.
Brett Nelson, 21, said he talked to people all the time who had seen the most recent Star Wars movies while on his mission in Tacoma, Washington. Waiting to see “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens” was torturous, he said.
And when he finally got the chance to catch up on them, “it was amazing,” he said.
“It was almost worth the wait.”
Some believe that Mormons as a whole have a deeper love for Star Wars than others. Some think that’s because Mormonism teaches that people have a divine potential, as do members of the Skywalker family. Both the religion and the movies have a strong sense of spiritual good and evil.
“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,” Mormon fantasy author Shannon Hale told the Boston Globe.
Some wonder if parallel themes in Mormonism and Star Wars were intentional: After all, “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back” were produced by Gary Kurtz, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Others have even compared Mormon missionaries to the Jedi, tying the Holy Spirit to the Force and training in Mormon temples to the training of padawans in the Jedi Temple.
Adams said she isn’t sure why Mormons love Star Wars so much. Perhaps it’s just because it’s exciting, clean entertainment, she said.
Cassie Daley, 20, said she thinks Mormons might like Star Wars because they believe in the Holy Spirit being at work in the world, much like the Force.
“(We) think that God is not just a creator of us and this world, but numerous worlds,” Daley said. “It’s cool that in Star Wars people live in the galaxies. … There’s so many cool themes going on that Mormons share with Star Wars, so we really relate to it and see those truths in a different light in a sci-fi kind of form.”
Daley also grew up watching Star Wars with her family. On her mission in California, she sometimes felt disconnected from the conversation when others were talking about “Rogue One.”
Ultimately, Daley said the mission was worth missing out on Star Wars.
“As a missionary, I think being disconnected from the entertainment media is good, because our purpose is to bring others to Christ and focus on the Gospel,” she said. “Missionaries leave all of the cool things, even Star Wars, for something greater, but we know that entertainment and things will always be around.”