Mandalorian: Is This The Way? Understanding The Impact Of Our Convictions
Mandalorian: Is This The Way? Understanding The Impact Of Our Convictions
When the Mandalorian first premiered, we were introduced to a concept that seemed pretty foreign. The idea that a Mandalorian was not allowed to take off their helmet. For those who were familiar with Clone Wars, we saw many Mandalorians on actual Mandalore, frequently removing their helmets. Adding to seeing Jango and Boba, who many assumed and associated with Mandalorian armor, it just seemed like a really strange concept and sparked much discussion and debate amongst the Star Wars community. In the interaction between the Armorer, Heavy Infantry, and Mando in the Season 1 episode, “The Sin” we see this telling interaction;
Armorer: Our secrecy is our survival; our survival is our strength.
Heavy Infantry: Our strength was once in our numbers. Now we live in the shadows and only come above ground one at a time.
Armorer: When one chooses to walk the Way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey. How can one be a coward if one chooses this way of life? Have you ever removed your helmet?
Armorer: Has it ever been removed by others?
Armorer: This is the way
So now, with this new iteration of Star Wars storytelling, coming from very capable hands, we have this new restriction that suddenly makes everything else we’ve seen not quite add up. It was confusing to those with more knowledge in the Star Wars canon, and to those just discovering Star Wars, they just accepted as facts. But it was a clear concept that not everyone was on the same page. The concept of this was further cemented in the episode “Sanctuary” in season one with the interaction with Omera;
Omera: How long has it been since you’ve taken that off?
Omera: I mean in front of someone else.
Mando: I wasn’t much older than they are
Omera: You haven’t shown your face to anyone since you were a kid?
Mando: No. I was happy that they took me in. My parents were killed and the Mandalorians took care of me.
Omera: I’m sorry
Mando: This is the way
After they save the village and have a moment of peace, Cara questions Mando’s convictions because it’s clear he is conflicted.
Cara: So, what happens if you take that thing off? They come after you and kill you?
Mando: No, you just can’t ever put it back on again.
Cara: That’s it? So, you can slip off the helmet, and settle down with that beautiful young widow, and raise your kid sitting here sipping spotchka?
Mando had been raised since a child and told that there was a certain way of doing things. A way that was the right way, the only way. He held to it to the point that his convictions shaped his entire life and actions. His convictions also seemed like a mystery to many of the people he interacted with and seemingly did damage to the relationships he could build and the life he could live. Frighteningly enough this same concept applies to the Church, and those who are raised with Christian teaching and understanding. People look at us as holding these rigid restrictions that they don’t understand, and even within our own belief structure, people don’t abide by or follow the same rules or practices. The practices of Christian denominations seem as foreign to other Christians as they do to people on the outside world. We may not require people to wear helmets, but there are people that require women to only wear skirts and dresses, people to never watch movies in theatres, no instruments to be used in worship, only certain translations to be viewed as valid, certain holidays to be avoided, and so many other things. Like Mando most people were just raised up to believe something, and like Mando, most people never really questioned the validity or base of their full convictions or practices.
Romans 14 is the best chunk of scripture on personal and spiritual convictions in my understanding. It’s my guidebook on how I interact with others in terms of their beliefs and mine, and I think it holds so much wisdom for Christians, especially Christians who actually value the importance of unity on the level that Christ urges us. There’s 23 verses in the chapter, so I'm gonna share them all. Buckle up for a chonky heft of scripture.
“1Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
We aren’t responsible to judge other people’s convictions, even if their convictions seem to contradict ours. The responsibility truly lies in knowing what you believe, why you believe it, and why you live it out. We will give an account about what we believe and act on before God, that is a reality we have to prepare ourselves for in our actions. We do have the responsibility to make sure that our convictions aren’t doing damage or harm to others though, that is where the self-examination plays a huge role. If our convictions are doing more damage to others than they are benefiting our own walks with God, we aren’t executing them correctly. We can have convictions without advertising them and condemning everyone that sees things differently.
As they are facing down Moff Gideon for the first time, this dialogue takes place;
Cara Dune: Mandalorian isn’t a race
Mando: It’s a creed. I was a foundling. They raised me in the fighting core. I was treated as one of their own. When I came of age, I was sworn to the creed.
Mando had been taught to believe certain things, and he had made a commitment to follow them. He was ready to live out his entire life that way as he had for the previous 30 years or more. Even when he was dying in the aftermath of an explosion, he was willing to die rather than to remove his helmet.
IG-11: I need to remove your helmet if I am to save you.
Mando: Try it an I'll kill you. It is forbidden. No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the creed.
IG-11: I am not a living thing.
Mando’s response to his conviction was his own. The same ways ours should be. If you have a conviction about something spiritually/biblically, then by all means follow it. You feeling stronger, or less strongly about something than others do doesn’t mean you are being attacked or attacking others. It just means your perspective is different. Is there a possibility you could be wrong, or that they could be wrong? Absolutely. But the important thing is that you are actually living out what you perceive as conviction. People will often make assumptions about your convictions in life as well. They will assume that because you associate with Jesus that you are backwards thinking, ultra conservative, hateful, closed minded, and ignorant. They will assume that you are automatically against them and every other person that doesn’t believe as you. The big thing is that you take into account that others will have their own opinions about you and your convictions before you ever speak a word. You need to be able to live and interact in a way that shows who you truly are in your convictions, and prove them wrong if that’s the case.
In the first episode of season 2 we meet Cobb Vanth, a charming marshal who just so happens to be wearing Boba Fett’s armor (Also if you’ve never seen Justified, Deadwood, or Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Timothy Olyphant plays the same cowboy in every show, and I love it). Cobb knows he’s falsely wearing Mandalorian armor, and when he sees Mando, he takes the full step of those assumptions.
Cobb: Never met a real Mandalorian. Heard stories, I know you’re good at killing. And probably none too happy to see me wearing this hardware. So, I figure only one of us walking out of here. But then I see this little guy, and I think maybe I pegged you wrong.
That’s honestly how so much of the world sees Christians, they see the crosses, bibles, t-shirts, Facebook feeds, or car fish things (do people still do that?), and just assume that they aren’t going to make it out of the interaction without being attacked. That’s also how Christians see other believers of contradictory denominations. I’ve spent a hefty chunk of the latter half of 2020 hanging around Tik Tok, and the Christian end of Tik Tok is literally just Christians attacking each other over their contradictory convictions, and the occasional VeggieTales videos. But I'm at the point now where I recognize certain toxic people by face, and the minute I see them on my screen, I instantly swipe before a word leaves their mouths. We have a lot of damage control to do. By no means am I saying we abandon or water down our beliefs. By no means am I saying that we ignore our convictions. What I am saying is that we have a biblical responsibility to other believers and non-believers alike to handle our convictions with grace, love, and consideration.
Point in case, the scene where Bo Katan rescues Mando and Grogu from the watery trap. Once Bo Katan removes her helmet, Mando goes right in.
Mando: Where did you get that armor?
Bo Katan: This armor has been in my family for three generations.
Mando: You do not cover your face. You are not Mandalorian.
Mando had a conviction, covering your face is a requirement for being a Mandalorian. One Bo Katan didn’t share. Rather than state, “Oh, you remove your helmet. Personally, I hold to the concept that Mandalorian’s shouldn’t show their face, but seriously thank you for your generosity in rescuing me and my child.” He instead goes right to “You are not a Mandalorian.” The calloused condition of thinking that just because someone doesn’t share your personal conviction that they are automatically invalidated. How many times have you heard people say things like “You’re not a real Christian because ___________.” Rather than try and understand someone else’s perspective and convictions, we simply categorize them as lesser. Elevating ourselves by tearing down others. Mando wasn’t the only one to do this though, based solely on Mando’s one statement, team Bo Katan did the same to him.
Axe: He’s one of them
Koska: Dank Farrik
Mando: One Of What?
Bo Katan: I am Bo Katan of Clan Kryze. I was born on Mandalore and fought in the Purge. I am the last of my line. And you are a Child of the Watch.
Mando: The Watch?
Bo Katan: Children of the watch are a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society. Their goal was to re-establish the ancient way.
Mando: There is only one way. The way of the Mandalore.
Team Bo Katan and Mando had every reason to work together. They had every reason to unite. They had every reason to be able to accomplish bigger things together. But in the breadth of one conversation, they were willing to choose sides and ignore unity over close minded interactions over convictions. This is so frequent and constant in the church world. My first ministry job was in a para church ministry (meaning a ministry that works alongside churches) running a Bible camp. We worked with all denominations, branches and sects of Christianity and many people who had no affiliation at all. But it was crazy to me how early we indoctrinate the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality. I would literally hear 7-year-old kids ridicule each other over denominational attachments that they had zero understanding or grasp over. “Ew, Timmy’s a Methodist. We’re Baptists!” Knowing that these kids had zero understanding of what either of those denominational attachments even meant. Not just kids though, as I grew into pastoring college age students and adults in churches, the same discriminatory walls and biases existed with still no more understanding. I heard an older adult woman in my congregation say she didn’t want to partner with another denomination to feed the homeless. I just stared blankly. Like why would someone’s individual doctrinal issues stop you from wanting to feed the homeless? So, then I spent like 2 months preaching on what different denominations believe, and surprise, most people in our then Baptist church had no idea what Baptist doctrine was. They just knew someone didn’t ascribe to what they did, so they had to be wrong.
Bo Katan didn’t like being told she wasn’t a real Mandalorian, but I find it funny she was quick to dish out that same statement when Boba Fett joined the frey.
Bo Katan: You are not a Mandalorian.
Boba Fett: Never Said I was.
Bo Katan: You are a disgrace to your armor. Boba Fett: This armor belonged to my father.
Bo Katan: Don’t you mean your donor?
Sure, she had some personal grudges against those bearing the voice and face of the clone army, but she was quick to be just as judgmental with someone who wasn’t in the same position she was.
Our convictions don’t have to divide us. Yes, we will disagree, and no, we may not even be able to understand why people see things the way they do, but that doesn’t mean we have to cast them aside. I’ve studied scripture for 26 years. I’ve got a degree in it. I’ve been in full time ministry for 20 years. I’ve worked in para church ministries and 4 different churches, and I still can’t understand how half the people that read the same Bible I read can arrive at conclusions and understandings so far from what I do. The fact remains as Paul states way back in Romans 14:1-9, people are going to see the same source material and arrive at different understandings, but it’s our job to be secure in where we are and know we are good as we stand before God. If you only associate with people with the exact same perspective as you, you will live a lonely life, and heaven will be incredibly isolating for you. I’m not saying accept false teaching, I'm not saying believe a false Gospel. What I am saying is, give grace to others in areas that aren’t Earth shattering so we have a chance to arrive at deeper community and unity within the Body of Christ.
When Mando sought Bo Katan out to help rescue Grogu from Moff Gideon she made this statement: “Don’t believe everything you hear. Our enemies wanna separate us. But Mandalorians are stronger together.” Please know that Satan seeks to divide us. A divided church is messy and chaotic, a unified church is unstoppable.
Beyond just understanding the need for grace in our convictions, we need to honestly be able to examine why we believe what we believe. We need to know if we are basing our convictions on tradition or truth. Traditions are shaped and passed on based on personal preference, truth is unshakable. So much of the conflict among believers is based simply on tradition disguised as truth. When Mayfield helps Mando squad find Moff Gideon’s coordinates, he uses his leisurely drive time to bring this home to Mando;
Mayfield: If you were born on Mandalore you believe one thing, if you’re born on Alderaan you believe somethin’ else. I don’t know. Seems to me like your rules start to change when you get desperate. I mean look at ya. You said you couldn’t take your helmet off, and now you got a stormtrooper one on, so what’s the rule? Is it that you can’t take off your Mando helmet, or you can’t show your face? Cause there is a difference. Look, I'm just sayin, we’re all the same. Everybody’s got their lines they don’t cross until things get messy.
Mando’s world was shaken a bit when Bo Katan shone some light on the fact that not every Mandalorian believed as he did, and in the process of him getting that understanding, things were changing on Mando’s conviction level. He wasn’t being a hypocrite, he was growing. If your convictions change, and you know you stand clear conscious before God and His Word, then party on. If our convictions only change to suit our circumstances, as Mayfield was insinuating, that’s a problem. If our convictions change based on our circumstances, they are excuses, not convictions. That’s why we have the responsibility to test ourselves and allow God to do it as well. “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” - Psalm 139:23-24. Just to leave you with these 4 takeaway concepts:
Know what your convictions are.
Know why they are your convictions.
Know how your convictions affect others. And for the last one I'll leave you with this one and a scripture that we all need to constantly apply to our lives.
Be able to discuss them in a loving manner.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” - 1 Peter 3:15 Just tacking on “This is the way.” At the end of a situation doesn’t actually make it the way for everyone else. We need to be able to explain to people our convictions, but to also be able to do it in a way that doesn’t feel like an assault and actually leaves the person we are sharing with feeling valued and that our personal beliefs aren’t an attack on them. Hiding behind traditions, rules, or convictions without examination, consideration, or communication is simply that, hiding. When we can share our convictions in a loving manner because we have examined them ourselves, we can not only strengthen ourselves, but others. This is the way.