Today is "Star Wars Day" — May the Fourth (get it?) — a time of celebration for followers of so-called Jediism.
The religion, so to speak, sprang up as a result of the most popular sci-fi films of all time — George Lucas’ series about the battle between the good Jedi clan and the evil Empire, including Darth Vader, a Jedi warrior who defected to the dark side.
Jedi "draw from a mystical entity binding the universe, called "the Force," writes Matthew Cresswell in The Guardian. "Sporting hoodies, the Jedi are generally altruistic, swift-footed and handy with a light saber. Their enemies, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader and other cohorts use the dark side of the Force. By tapping into its powers, the dark side command armies of demented droids, kill Jedi and are capable of wiping out entire planets."
In Britain’s 2001 census, some 390,000 people listed Jediism as their religion, Cresswell writes, and a spokesman for the "church" said it was growing, gaining hundreds of new members each month — mostly online. It can easily blend with other faiths, reflecting notions found in Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism, for example. Indeed, they believe, Jediism predated the films.
"We can no more understand the Force and our place within it than a gear in a clock could comprehend its function in moving the hands across the face," spokesman Chi-Pa Amshe told Cresswell. "I'd like to point out that each of our members interprets their beliefs through the [prism] of their own lives and although we offer guidance and support, ultimately like with the Quran, it is up to them to find what they need and choose their own path."
But is it really a religion?
"I remain skeptical," the columnist writes. "Jediism belongs in the star systems of Lucas' mind."
Peggy Fletcher Stack
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