Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Post-Postmodernism and Jediism

Recently, I encountered an an article in which a practitioner of "Jediism" won the right to wear a "hoodie" over his head in public. According to this article, a Jedi was removed from a job center in Sussex England because he refused to expose his head at a job center. This quickly became a religious freedom issue:

Chris is a member of the International Church of Jediism - based on the sci-fi films - whose doctrine states that followers should be allowed to wear hoods [1].

Yes, there exists an International Church of Jediism that is based on the Star Wars fantasy world created by George Lucas. Their basic tenets are:

There is one all powerful force that binds the entire universe together. It is "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together". This is a concept that most religions of the world concur with. Some refer to it as their deity, some refer to it as a life force, but the one thing nearly all religions agree with, is that there exists a single unifying force.

There are 2 sides to the force, the dark side and the light side. "Beware of the dark side... The dark side leads to fear. Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering". Good versus Evil is a common element through most religions. The issues of good versus evil, right versus wrong permeate through the doctrines of all religions. Most religions attempt to state what is right and wrong, to establish their moral code. Sometimes religions make codes that don't reach a great consensus. Outsiders, and sometime insiders, begin to judge their religious code by something more powerful, something more innate, an innate ability to know what is right and wrong. This is the Jedi's belief, that morality, good and evil, are all axioms of the force, and that we must listen to the force so that we will know the right thing to do.

Can good exist without evil? The Jedi believe that good and evil are only axioms of the all powerful and unifying force. The force contains all that is good and all that is bad. We all are free and sentient beings who have the capability to do good or evil. It is our choice of direction that determines if we do good or evil. The existence of good and evil is necessary for freewill.

So in summary, listen to the force, and beware the dark side! [2]

After reading this article, I asked myself this question: How can a religion exist based solely on a fantasy universe? Is this satire like The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Apparently not. Mmm... spaghetti...

A Post-postmodern World?

I wonder if religions like this demonstrate that we are moving beyond Postmodernism into a new way of looking at "truth." Although "postmodernism" is a complex term to define, it is essentially a way of looking at truth--specifically that no absolute truth exists [3]. So if no absolute truth exists, competing religions, philosophies, art, and literature all express truth relative to their adherents. An expression of Christianity may be true for one person while Albert Camus can truthfully argue that it may be absurd [4]. Both positions can exist as truth in a postmodern world. Still, how can a made-up fantasy world be seen as truth--even in a postmodern context?

I wonder if we are moving beyond postmodern epistemological relativism into a new age of whatever you want to be true is true? Shows like The Ghost Whisperer are supposedly based on the "actual" experiences of James Van Praagh and Mary Ann Winkowski[5] and many viewers believe that this show is a reflection of "the real world." Should we expect more religions like Jediism?

-Safari Bob

[1] http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2893669/Jobcentres-sorry-for-the-spurn-of-the-Jedi.html

[2] http://www.jedichurch.org/jedi-doctrine.html

[3] http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html

[4] http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/00/pwillen1/lit/absur.htm

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Whisperer


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Something, something Something Darkside, something something something Complete!