Star Wars, Obi Wan Kenobi, and abortion

By Dave Andrusko

Sir Alec Guinness

My children are much bigger fans of the newer Star Wars movies, such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, than I am, which is only to be expected. We saw the original trilogy and if you did, it would be (for many of us, at least) almost impossible for any of the many succeeding films to top the first three.

Those of us old enough to remember seeing the original “Star Wars” (first shown at the theatres in 1977) are familiar with the many “iconic” characters. One of those, of course, was Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi (played by the late, great Alec Guinness).

I knew Guinness best for his unforgettable performance as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Even so I had never read much about Guinness and did not even know that he had written an autobiography, “Blessings in Disguise,” until a few years ago when I stumbled across Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s “Abortion and Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

There I learned Guinness’ own back story.

Here’s the beginning to Fr. Longenecker’s great read:

In 1914 Agnes Cuff, a flighty and unstable young woman with few prospects and little money found herself pregnant. The father didn’t want to be involved. She was alone, shamed, poor and pregnant.

Today she would be encouraged to get herself to an abortion clinic and end the unwanted pregnancy.

Instead a little boy was born.

Fr. Longenecker gives his readers some of the fascinating background details. For example, that “Alec Guinness” were actually his first two names— the place for his last name (and the column where his father’s name would be listed) were blank.

“If abortion had been easy and legal in England in 1914,” Fr. Longenecker writes, “the world would never have experienced the witty, smart, subtle art and the quiet, steady witness of Alec Guinness….…and Star Wars would have had an enormous void.”

But, of course, Guinness’ individual story, while very important, is used to illustrate a larger part. He was important, whether his birth was timely or not.

Among the 60 million+ lost lives just in the United States since 1973, who knows what greatness was lost? “What advances in science, medicine, technology, business, the arts and sport might there have been?” Fr. Longenecker writes.

I would just add that, of course, Fr. Longenecker is not saying that we have to make a major contribution to “justify” our existence. Our right to life is something we are endowed with—even if the legal culture sees otherwise—not something given to us or “earned” by us.

It is ours not because we achieve greatness but simply because we are members of the human family.