WHAT: How To Become A Jedi Knight
The word ‘Jedi’ usually conjures images of a psychokinetic, lightsaber-wielding poet warrior from a fantasy saga a long time ago, in a cinematic galaxy far, far away. And that’s precisely what they were. Then, in 2001, a group of UK-based internet pranksters urged people to record ‘Jedi’ as their religion in a nationwide census. If 10,000 people did so, they said, Jediism would become a recognized, legitimate religion.
When the results came in, nearly 400,000 people had done precisely that. As a result, Jediism unofficially became the UK’s fourth-largest faith. Subsequently, in 2005, the Temple of the Jedi Order was registered in Beaumont, Texas. Soon after that, it was granted IRS tax exemption. Twenty years after many jokingly claimed the faith as a religious protest vote, Jediism now has millions of followers worldwide.
Some consider their Jedi status little more than an anecdotal giggle at dinner parties. For others, it’s a deadly serious devotion. Essentially, Jedi doctrine is an ideological fusion of Eastern and Western traditions, with core principles that combine Zen Buddhism, Christianity, Shaolin, and samurai culture. Essentially, a religion, or philosophy that offers an open-source spiritual operating system on which any faith can run smoothly.
Jedis advocate environmental conservation, mindfulness, meditation, spiritual growth, living in the now, patience, peace, humility, harmony, separation of religion and government, and freedom of speech. There’s no God to worship. There is just the force: The infinite, timeless Anima Mundi, which connects all living things (a foundational belief that makes Jediism virtually indistinguishable from Taoism).
Anyone can become a Jedi knight. There’s no Holy communion, no Bahmitzvah, and you don’t have to levitate an X-wing fighter from a swamp to earn your wings. However, those wishing to be part of a fun, albeit serious community can always join the official, tax-exempt, non-profit, ‘Temple of the Jedi Order’, home to the official Jedi religion.
In their own words, initiates into the Temple of the Jedi Order must believe in the following:
- The Force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it.
- The sanctity of the human person, and in opposition to the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment, including the death penalty.
- A society governed by laws grounded in reason and compassion, not in fear or prejudice.
- A society that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or circumstances of birth such as gender, ethnicity, and national origin.
- In the ethic of reciprocity, and how moral concepts are not absolute but vary by culture, religion, and over time.
- The positive influence of spiritual growth and awareness on society.
- In the importance of freedom of conscience and self-determination within religious, political, and other structures.
- The separation of religion and government and the freedoms of speech, association, and expression.
Jedi Order members include fairweather Jedis, Starwars fans, right through to ministers and leaders who embrace and apply Jedi philosophy in all aspects of life. To become a Jedi knight simply sign up for an online account and embark on the multi-step initiation program.
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate results in suffering.’ “Consume you it will,” said Yoda.
When writing the Jedi character, it’s common knowledge that Starwars director George Lucas took his cue from Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Therefore, to become a Jedi knight might quite literally rank as the ultimate Heroes Journey. Also, the Jedi religion comes with its own holidays. Whether you get to claim a day off work on religious grounds is between you and your boss.