But perhaps the real reason the theory has caught on is also hiding in plain sight. Perhaps Master Jar Jar is a safe, inviting caricature of the vision of religion that is ascendant today. Like the selves of our dreams, he’s casual yet disciplined, confident yet gawky, secure yet conspicuous—thanks to a Force generous enough to let Jar Jar do Jar Jar.

Lumpawarroo believes Jar Jar’s tacky yet unrefined immaturity is all an act—a trope, Reddit users quickly noted, well familiar from Asimov’s Foundation series. But for us Americans, tacky and unrefined immaturity is never merely an act: it’s a way of life. If any Force can give us meaning, significance, and power without making us put away childish things, well, we’re listening. That’s the bargain we want to strike.

Beneath everything else yet overarching all, the idea of Master Jar Jar tips us off to the spiritual ends we’re so apt to seek the means for within “Eastern spiritualism.” As nothing more than a surprise Sith Lord, Master Jar Jar is safely, laughably spooky. But as a symbol of our errant view of the art of the spiritual deal, this unlikely villain is something far more dangerous indeed.