What is Jediism and What Do They Believe?

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Jediism, or Jediknightism, is a religion that has been inspired by the Star Wars franchise. According to sociologist Adam Possamai, Jediism is a subset of popular religion that has emerged in consumer and cyber culture,

“The spiritual actors from this religion consume popular culture and add it to a kind of religious bricolage. This spirituality is part of what I have called hyperreal religion/spirituality (Possamai, 2007), which is a simulacrum of a religion partly created out of popular culture that provides inspiration for believers and consumers” (1).

The Jedi Realist

Members of Jediism refer to themselves as “Jedi Realists” as a way to distinguish themselves from the fictional film depiction of Jedis in the Star Wars movies. According to The Jediism Way,

The Jedi at this site do not pretend to be the Jedi from the movies. We do not have lightsabers, can’t shoot lightning [sic] out of our fingers, can’t make objects fly across the room, and do some of the other amazing movie magic tricks you saw in the [sic] movies” (2).

The Temple of the Jedi Order adopts a similar stance,

Jedi at this site are not the same as those portrayed within the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars Jedi are fictional characters that exist within a literary and cinematic universe” (3).

Instead, the Jedi Realist is someone who has recognized the philosophical value of the Star Wars mythology and has embraced and integrated its outlook and values in her own life.

Jediism’s God Concept

The Force is the most foundational belief in this religion,

The community of Jediism today, those who connected with the stories in Star Wars, share the belief in an open concept of divine power known as ‘the Force’. Many aspire further to the concepts in the stories, living their [sic] lives similarly to that which they connected with in these tales, with many of those who, by extrapolation, are living life as a full Jedi in today’s [sic] world” (4).

According to the Jedi, “the Force is our religion and in that, it is not a question of belief in a God or not, for us it simply doesn’t come into play as we believe the guidance of the Force will bring us to a course of right direction.” This may entail belief in God or it may not, but the unifying factor for Jedis is that they all hold to belief in the Force. Jedis are encouraged to study the Force, work with it, as well as rely on it for direction in their lives. The Force is perceived to be an energy field although it is much more than this as it is also spiritual in nature (5). It connects all living things, animates the universe, and can also be called the “Mystical” or “Holy” energy found in most religions and philosophies. Because the Force is energy it can be detected through scientific experiments and therefore Jedis believe it to be a scientifically proven fact.

Jediism’s Core Doctrines

Jedis are required to embrace The Three Tenets and The 16 Teachings. The Three Tenets (Focus, Knowledge, and Wisdom) are purposed to assist the Jedi community in improving the world around them and fulfilling their own purpose in life as Jedis (6). The 16 Teachings are a range of premises forming some of the foundational aspects of the religion. These include, although are not limited to, being in touch with the Force, maintaining a clear mind, being mindful of one’s thoughts, maintaining an awareness of one’s attachments both physical and spiritual, the need of possessing integrity, and more.

Jediism’s Spiritual Autonomy and Flexibility

The Jedi path, described as a way of thinking, believing, and living, evidences a spiritual autonomy which finds parallel in some other new religious movements. According to The Jediism Way, “we all walk or own path in Jediism” and “none of us believe and interpret the exact same things on many aspects of the Jedi path.” As such, Jediism is a very personal and individualistic religion in which there are many different paths (7). Jediism presents itself as analogous to the foundations of a house on top of which the Jedi can build his or her own structure. The foundation is the Force and the structure is the spiritual path for the Jedi toward the Force. According to Jediism, there are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Jedis in the religion, which is not perceived as an incompatibility between religions because Jediism simply requires one to accept the central tenet of the Force. These members simply merge the Jedi path with their own religious beliefs.

Rituals and Practices

Jediism does not require that anyone engage in prayer, worship, or rituals routine within many religions (8). Instead of ceremonies and rituals, Jedi simply share common beliefs and ideals. However, an important Jedi practice is meditation and yoga. These are practiced in the hope of attaining wisdom and knowledge, and to strengthen the connection between the practitioner and the Force (9). The purpose is to clear the practitioner’s mind of clutter and chaos as well as release oneself from the constant motion of life. Stilling one’s thoughts and clearing the mind allows the Force to speak clearly and freely to the Jedi.

Jediism’s Organization and Membership

The Temple of the Jedi Order claims to be the Jedi Church and ministry of Jediism (10). The Church’s doors are open to all above the age of the 13 who are willing to join. One also need not be religious to join the religion or to accept its doctrines and teachings. The Church functions as a community that seeks to promote goodwill, understanding, compassion, and serenity.

The Church has an organized clergy. Licensed clergy can conduct liturgical ceremonies and services and are expected to engage in clerical outreach. Ordained and Senior clergy are allowed to conduct ordination ceremonies for another Ordained clergy and are also expected to engage in clerical outreach. A seminarian is a Temple member who has been admitted to study in the Jedi Seminary.

However, most of the Jedi religion’s presence is on the internet where it is active across numerous web communities. These spaces provide Jedis with communal benefits as emotional communication occurs via online chat rooms in which people are able to express themselves freely, especially behind pseudonymic masks. According to Possamai,

“In these forums and chat rooms, people do not have to show their faces and can even pretend they are a different gender and age. Some might even have more than one cyber name. These hyperreal religions might have been able to develop due to the fact that people can play with their identities and not suffer from the stigma attached to following a “nerdy” or “wacky” religion. Further, people participating in these cyber activities can do it without any fear of offline discrimination or harassment, as they do not ever have to meet in geographical space” (11).

It is not known exactly how many Jedis there are globally. However, a 2001 census in several English-speaking countries found that many people did identify their religion as “Jediism”. This included 70 000 in Australia, 21 000 in Canada, 53 000 in New Zealand, and 390 127 in England and Wales (12). At minimum, there are half a million Jedis although this number could be larger.

References

1. Possamai, Adam. 2011. “Ramsci, Jediism, the Standardization of Popular Religion ad the State.” In Religion and the State: A Comparative Sociology, edited by Jack Barbalet, Adam Possamai, and Bryan Turner, 245-262. London: Anthem Press. p. 247.

2. The Jediism Way. Jedi. Available.

3. Temple of the Jedi Order. Home. Available.

4. The Jediism Way. Home. Available.

5. The Jediism Way. The Force. Available.

6. Temple of the Jedi Order. Doctrine of the Order. Available.

7. The Jediism Way. Jediism Available.

8. The Jediism Way. Jediism Available.

9. The Jediism Way. Meditation. Available.

10. Temple of the Jedi Order. What is Jeddism? Available.

11. Possamai, Adam. 2011. Ibid. p. 254.

12. Lyden, John. 2012. “Whose Film Is It, Anyway? Canonicity and Authority in “Star Wars”” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80(3): 775-786.

2 comments

  1. I wonder how the practitioners of this religion deal with fast food places calling out their order and it’s order 66?

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