RTOD 29MAR2008: Jediism – Religion?

Random Thought of the Day – Jediism – Religion?

Hello again! Yes, I am aware, this took some time to get to. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much in the vein of random thoughts. This one kinda side-swiped me today.

Today, I was on MySpace and there was a video available to watch, “Art of the Saber.” It was a short (five minute) film about two Jedi/Sith battling it out. It was done by a group of younger people in their teens about six years ago. The special effects were strictly the additions of sound, slo-mo, and the “glow” of their lightsabers. I watched it several times, and posted a comment. After posting that comment, I remembered my thought almost 8 months ago. I found that New Zealand’s census has a lot of people entering “Jedi” or “Jediism” as their religion, which New Zealand counts as “Answer Understood, but not counted.” I also remembered having a website that had some principles and teachings to follow Jediism. (And that is the actual spelling.) Since I was thinking of it, I decided to look it up. I couldn’t find it, so I web searched it. I didn’t find the first two sites I was looking for, but I did find four more! Wow! This is pretty much for real!

Okay, so now we get to where it becomes a topic for contention. All of these sites claim to be the “True Order of Jedi” which is attainable for basically anyone willing to learn their teachings and submit the time to do it. However, worldwide polls show that less than a quarter of people asked do not think Jediism is a religion. Who’s right?

For the side of “Jediism isn’t a religion, it is simply a pretend thing for people to play with,” I am going to start with this: Jediism is not officially a recorded religion in most parts of the world. Texas has a fully licensed and registered ministry for Jediism, but not many other places are officially accepted or accredited. It is also not a long-standing religion, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Muslim, etc. It does not have a world-wide leadership setup, whereas most current leadership is headquartered somewhere that is globally recognized. It does not have a functioning book of texts, generally accepted by the religion as a whole, and goes by interpretations of the Star Wars movies to create what it considers to be text to abide by. Some of the religious sites even claim to be able to eventually impart psychic ability as a part of extended and long-term following of their program. Not saying it’s true, but it does sound a bit fantasy-ridden. There are very few official points of gathering for the Jedi, making it even less obvious as a religion, after all, if I wanted to post a complaint to the Jedi Order, where would I send it to? There is no internationally-accepted head of this religion, and very few ministers of it. There isn’t even a higher being of some sort! What? No God(ess)(s)? Blasphemy! How can you have a religion that doesn’t have a higher being of some sort!? So, using these arguments, Jediism really cannot be a religion, right?

For the Jedi’s side, I have to say “Wrong!” (In a very loud, obnoxious voice) First off, if Scientology can be a religion, wide-spread acceptance and INSANE costs of entry not-withstanding, why can’t Jediism? First off, the very basis of Jediism is the many religions of the world in one big smelting pot, boil out all the major differences of the religions, and pour out the pure basics: all sentients have an internal knowledge of right and wrong. Following good will give you boosts in life, increasing happiness and allowing an all-around good feeling of those around you. Following bad may give you short-term large gains, but comes with long-term suffering and fear, making you do more wrong to stay safe. Ultimately, every religion has their version of this in one way or another. So, why is it so wrong to remove the excessive customs that come with long-entrenched religions? A Jedi believes that they are defenders of good and right in the Galaxy (or your local borough), and are trained to follow that, using intelligence, logic, and self-control to allow the same rights to everyone. The Jedi, as even stated by one of the sites I found, says that ANYONE of ANY religion can become a Jedi, and you don’t even have to buy any funny clothes or anything! There is no special prayers to learn, only that you learn to quiet your mind, and focus on what is “The Force,” which many religions believe truly exists, but doesn’t call it that. In many religions, all creatures are connected in one way or another, either by food, energy, spirit, what have you. In Jediism, they have a simple name for that energy, and base their entire life on the respect of that energy. They even have a generally accepted primary code, even if it is modified slightly between sites and practices, it is generally the same for all.  And, most sites dedicated to Jediism use the basis of Jedi Realists, which is someone who follows the teaching of the Jedi, but does it not expecting to lift rocks and X-Wings, and be able to manipulate things with their minds easily.  Some even advocate the learning of a martial art, simply because of the discipline it instills, but also, if you truly want to wield a sword, you might as well learn the proper way to do it!

Now comes the hard part, for some. Is Jediism a religion? My personal, and honest, opinion is: Why Not? What makes it so different from saying you are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Scientologist, or anything else? Following the guidelines from the one site I found, I can easily be a Roman Catholic Jedi. My one friend, who claims to be a Satanist, but not for evil, can be a Satanist Jedi or a Sith of some sort. All I need to do is feel that, along with my heritage and current “official” religion, feel that there is an energy that runs through us, sustains us, penetrates us all, and that, as a Jedi, it is part of my life’s job to help maintain that balance of good. Personally, I think I already try to live like that. If that simply adds a title to my life, then I guess I am a Jedi already.

Let me hear your opinions!  I am happy to hear them!

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