Inspired by the 2001 census phenomenon in which 70,000 Australians identified their religion as “Jedi,” British musician and Star Wars fan Daniel Jones founded the Church of Jediism in 2007. His first book on the belief system, entitled Becoming The Force: 9 Lessons On How To Live as a Jediist Master (Watkins Media, Nov.), is based on the Jedi characters in Star Wars media and draws on new age spirituality, eastern religious traditions, and self-help.
What is your religious background, and how do you describe Jediism?
I was not raised in a religious environment. The closest thing to religious upbringing I had was kind of the philosophy of Buddha, Japanese martial arts, and a little bit of yin/yang from the Chinese traditions. [Star Wars creator] George Lucas obviously did a lot of research into Taoism, Buddhism, and on [author and mythologist] Joseph Campbell when he was looking at how to align the Jedi in the Star Wars universe. What I have found is that he had picked [a] straight line between all those [schools of thought] and esoteric kinds of religions. They are really in touch with the universe and [offer a] grounded sense of reality. With Jediism, and in the book, we are taking those principles that George Lucas already laid out and putting them into a more practical sense.
What responses has the Church of Jediism received, including from other religious organizations?
We get a lot of feedback, mostly positive and exciting, due to how new the movement is. We get feedback from our members on our Facebook group and page. Most people want to have it officially recognized as an official world religion. We do also get a lot of negative feedback from Christian organisations. Jediism can be a religion to some people, a way of life or an applied life philosophy to others. It is down to the individual in what they want to use it as.
Can you give an example of how Star Wars has helped you become a better person?
What it taught me growing up was that the rebels sort of banded together to fight for a greater good. They showed a sense of community and helping one another. Star Wars taught me about being true to yourself and helping your fellow neighbor, and that is elemental in everything that I’ve become.
How do you think the new film, The Last Jedi, will impact the Jediist religion?
I think it is really going to up the popularity of what we are doing. Religion and spirituality habe gotten a bad name, and so what we are trying to do with Jediism is [help] millennials and the people who have lost their faith in the universe become centered to the universe so they can ground themselves. People are going to see The Last Jedi and [the religion will] be renewed and reborn like it was in the 2000s [after] they released The Phantom Menace.
What do you hope people will learn from your book?
I hope that my book will teach people to understand themselves better, to understand where they are and who they are, and to make them just a little bit happier. They will keep on being happier and more positive, and that will radiate to everybody else, and other people will have the same affect.