Go ahead, say it. “May the Fourth be with you.”
Matthew Cresswell at the Guardian looks at some of the religious expressions that have sprung up using the images and language of the Jedi from the Star Wars saga.
Today is Star Wars Day, being May the Fourth. (Say the date slowly, several times.) Around the world, film buffs, storm troopers and Jedi are gathering to celebrate one of the greatest science fiction romps of all time. It would be easy to let the fan boys enjoy their day and be done with it. However, Jediism is a growing religion in the UK. Although the results of the 2001 census, in which 390,000 recipients stated their religion as Jedi, have been widely interpreted as a pop at the government, the UK does actually have serious Jedi….
…This week, Chi-Pa Amshe from the Church of Jediism in Anglesey, Wales, emailed me with some responses to questions. He said Jediism was growing and that they were gaining hundreds of members each month. The church made the news three years ago, after its founder, Daniel Jones, had a widely reported run-in with Tesco.
Chi-Pa Amshe, speaking as a spokesperson for the Jedi council (Falkna Kar, Anzai Kooji Cutpa and Daqian Xiong), believes that Jediism can merge with other belief systems, rather like a bolt-on accessory.
George Lucas said in 1999 that he came up The Force in response to Joseph Campbell’s work on myths in the ’70’s and as a way to introduce spirituality to young people.
George Lucas claims that Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces was a major influence behind the Force’s creation. In it Campbell draws parallels between the world’s myths, arguing that they are all part of one “monomyth”. In an interview with Bill Moyers, in 1999, published in Time magazine, Lucas said he created the Force as a device to awaken spirituality in young people. “Not having enough interest in the mysteries of life to ask the question, ‘Is there a God or is there not a God?’ – that is for me the worst thing that can happen.” However, he said he never intended Star Wars to have a religious following. “I hope that doesn’t end up being the course this whole thing takes,” he told Moyers, adding that he would hate living in a secular world where entertainment passed for people’s religious experience.
So, is The Force a gateway spirituality?