Richard’s Dishslicing, stewing and serving it up

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13 MAR 2001

The Gospel according to Luke (Skywalker)

Cooked at 12:47 AM

[slice] Apparently a Star Wars fan sent out a mass emailing to encourage fellow New Zealanders to declare in the upcoming census that their religious affiliation is: Jedi. This BBC article The gospel according to Luke (Skywalker) isn't quite clear about it but the idea isn't new since people like Francis Ford Coppola have suggested the idea to George Lucas as a means to "power." Lucas (thankfully) replied that he isn't interested in power. (Money is good enough, thank you very much.)

But as much as all this sounds like a joke, along comes Jedi Creed to "inspire you into realizing your abilities." The site is populated by posts from the likes of Jedi Relan Volkum, Jedi Winter Heart and Jedi Mitth'raw'nurida who are sketching out a creed, philosophies about good and evil, and even tales/parables about Jedi history. Here's the gist of what they believe:

We believe in the ways of the Force. We hope to help people, and support peace rather than fighting. We only want to do whatever we can do to make the world a better place, even that means for now, that we simply spread that word. ...The path to becoming a Jedi is a path of self-discovery....

... There have been many other names throughout history [for the] Force. The Chinese call it Tao. The Japanese call it Ki. Many others call it God. ... They are all the same. The same power that is in all of us, is always with us, and there to guide us. Only time has separated them and made them seem different.

[stew] All in all, they aren't trying to be an institutional religion but to simply cultivate an Eastern-style religious mysticism. It's syncretistic, drawing on religious ideas from many places, and generally inoffensive. (Who would argue against self-discovery or supporting peace?) It reminds me of what a lot of western people have done to Buddhism, embracing the philosophy of peace and spirituality without all the "weird stuff" like robes and chanting mantras.

That isn't isolated to Buddhism, either. People always pick and choose which aspects of a religion to embrace. It's part of our right as consumers, right?

Christianity is no stranger to being a "shoppers religion." (One ounce of the Golden Rule, please... buy one get one free suffering special? no thanks.) Classic Christianity, however, makes historical claims that a follower needs to accept. That is, an orthodox Christian has to assent to the fact that an ancient Jew named Jesus really did exist, really did die and really did resurrect.

The Christian philosophy stems first and foremost from that historical fact. Accepting it or rejecting it is a personal decision, but it's hard to distill into a Jedi philosophy, no matter how much of a Star Wars fan I may be.

I'd imagine Lucas' take on the whole subject is more akin to that great Star Wars sage: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."