Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jedi Knight Academy Opens In England

George Lucas' Star Wars franchise has had enough worldwide influence over the last 30 years (Geez, am I old!) that it was inevitable, I suppose, for a new "religion" to be created out of its pop culture philosophy. The UK Church of the Jedi has been up and running for some time (its symbol looks curiously like an intergalactic fishhook). Now two members have created a Jedi Knight Academy in Britain.

Based on the widely circulated Jedi Handbook, the pair is touting the group as an alternative religion. According to The Register:

The plan is the brainchild of Daniel Jones, aka Morda Helol, and bruv Barney (Jonba Hehol) who helped start the first UK branch of the "church" in their native Anglesey and have now set their sights on a Home Counties community hall for the centre of the UK's first Jedi academy.

Leading the worship will be 21-year-old Master Ajec, who has not revealed his real name, according to local press reports. Accolytes will be expected to have a copy of the aforementioned code before attending chapter meetings at which they'll either wear Obi-Wan Kenobiesque robes or the black trousers and black t-shirt which make up Jedi civvies.

Morda Helol explained: "We are not extremists, we are not psychotics and we are not a cult. This is a treatment plan to better your life. It is exploiting the best parts of your life. You can follow it completely or at you own pace. We open our doors to anyone."

Training to become a Jedi Master can apparently take up to two years, during which time disciples will have to master the lightsaber, study technology, martial arts and meditation and "learn the importance of neuro-linguistic programming" - something which is reckoned to act as a substitute for Jedi mind-control powers.

According to Mr Helol, he's had offers from Brazil, France, Spain and the US to establish similar chapters. He declared: "This is going worldwide."


According to another article in the Welsh press, singer Charlotte Church might be a potential donor to the project, although the inflated hyperbole sounds like it has more hot air than light.
“There are 12 different things which are taught by the Church, but people learn about each stage as they progress,” said 21-year-old musician and minister of the Anglesey Order, Daniel.

“A person starts off as an apprentice. He or she receives the Jedi book of teachings and must pass an exam to become a Padawan, which is the next stage in becoming a Jedi. We see it as educational.

“If Charlotte Church joined us, she would be sent our Jedi Handbook, which she would have to study in order to pass the first Jedi exam, and she would also be advised to go and buy a light sabre and a black robe. We can’t give out free light sabres to everyone who wants to join, but we might send one to Charlotte.”
. . .

“We started practising the teachings from what we found on the internet, but they were lacking in structure, so we decided to make our own proper website and thought we would try to get some members,” said Daniel.

“We have one church in Surrey where we use a building for weekly sermons and are waiting for another in Holyhead.”
The Jedi Church has 400,000 members worldwide. The Anglesey Order currently has a congregation of 30 and the word is spreading.

“In the beginning, only our friends were in the congregation, but it is growing as we find more like-minded people,” says Daniel.

“We have no deity – no God as such – but we do have our own scriptures and modern, down-to-earth sermons which people can relate to. And of course we always say: ‘May the Force be with you’.

“Our church services last for a couple of hours. We have essays on the Force submitted by our members which are read out, followed by a sermon and discussion.

“Every member of the congregation has an input. We also have classes, such as self defence using light sabres.”


400,000 members? Really. Hey, if L. Ron Hubbard can con Scientologists out of their hard earned cash to eventually find out the truth about Xenu, more power to these guys. If you're going to invent a space opera religion, at least the Star Wars guys have better source material. Even if Jar Jar Binks is involved.

5 comments:

A.C. said...

I suppose that means an order of the Sith can't be far behind.

And just imagine the internet flamewars they'll have in a few hundred years, debating the accuracy of those six historical dramas made back around the turn of the 21st century!

sixfingermonkey said...

I've been reading this site for a little while now. I actually thought about this the other day before reading the posts.

What if there was an appendant Masonic organization based on Star Wars? Or wouldn't that be possible? Just wondering....

Chris Hodapp said...

Possible, it is.

Ben Overmyer said...

The philosophies of the Jedi are admirable enough to warrant serious study. However, it's supremely silly to found an entire religion on a fictional organization.

If they took everything "Star Wars" out of their dress, ceremonies, and rituals, the "Jedi" would be just a curious hybrid of Buddhism and Taoism with a sprinkling of Eastern and Western martial arts.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. But as both a freethinker and a Star Wars fan, I can't condone turning the Jedi into a codified religion.

2Φ3Σ27Φ (\)λ√λ22Φ.·. said...

I think most Jediism practitioners are off target in trying make a religión out of the fictional Jedi Order from the Star Wars saga. But to tel the truth The Jedi teachings would make for an interesting appendant Masonic Organization, or at least a fun side degree for Master Masons.