As a result, we read in silence. I had a World War II mystery from the library, while my guest in the impeccably tailored suit read the Sunday Bangor Daily News.
The silence could not block out the voices in my head like televised sports did, so I eventually had to give in to one of those voices and ask the question it posed…
“If Darth Vader were an actual person, would he have gone to Hell when he died?”
Now that it was out there, the voices finally shut up so they could hear the answer.
The Devil slowly put down the newspaper and flashed me a devilish grin. “First of all, you get a gold star for acknowledging that your Star Wars characters aren’t real. That’s major progress for you, and I’m sure your therapist will be pleased.”
I gave him the middle finger while I reached for my Snapple with my free hand.
“Secondly, I know those Nuns really messed with your head in grammar school, but I thought the Jesuits set you straight in high school,” Lucifer commented.
I shrugged and sipped my iced tea. “The Jesuits taught me to question everything and not take what’s in The Bible so literally. That’s why I’m able to hang out with you every Sunday, and it’s also why I’m wondering if Vader’s act of redemption was enough to save his immortal soul.”
“You think that killing the Emperor and saving his son’s life in the process erased decades of war crimes?” The Prince of Darkness asked with clear contempt in his voice. “Darth Vader was responsible for a genocide that led to the death of billions. He made his daughter watch the Death Star wipe out the entire population of Alderaan.”
“But didn’t he redeem himself in the end?” I pressed. “By killing Emperor Palpatine and saving Luke, he ended the Empire, the war, and the tyranny. And the prequels showed that Anakin was just this sweet kid, who fell in with the wrong crowd.”
Satan laughed hysterically as he adjusted the knot on his silk tie.
“You mean Anakin gave in to temptation,” he corrected me. “I seem to remember such an action getting Adam and Eve kicked out of Paradise, and dooming mankind to a life more ordinary than originally planned.”
I put down my Snapple and tried to think this one through. I knew Vader had done really horrible things, turned on his friends, and annihilated entire worlds, but didn’t the Nuns say something about our sins being forgiven if we earned that forgiveness?
“I guess he didn’t wipe his slate clean with that one unselfish and heroic act?” I asked.
“Far too much blood had soaked through that slate for it to ever be clean again, I’m afraid,” The Devil informed me curtly. “That’s like saying Hitler gets a free pass because he threw Mussolini into an Italian volcano right before he died.”
I wasn’t sure why it was so important to me that Darth Vader be redeemed, but for some reason, I was suddenly his chief crusader.
“Because George Lucas wanted to give you a happy ending,” Lucifer guessed. “Maybe Jedi Heaven is different than our version. Perhaps Lucas was working out his own Daddy issues and became a billionaire in the process. We’ll never know.”
I sat back and reflected on it all. Did I want to accept that Darth Vader’s redemption would have meant nothing in the eyes of the supposedly forgiving and understanding God I had been raised to worship?
“Maybe the original title of Return of the Jedi was All Jedi Go To Heaven,” The Prince of Darkness mocked. “I can tell you this, though, I would’ve welcomed Darth Vader with open arms, and given him a position of power in my organization. Imagine the terror I could rain down on the Damned with Vader as my right hand man!”
I checked the time. Thankfully, the game was about to start. Small talk with Satan had a way of getting a little too heavy for me…
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