Jedism. The religion of Star Wars.

Essay by Cale ScheinbaumCollege, UndergraduateA, November 1996

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The Return of the Jedi

So far this semester, we have studied several different sociological theories of religion.

These theories are built on both the known history of religions in the world and the cultures in

which they originated, as well as, appropriately enough, theoretical suggestions of how those religions, and indeed any religion at all, will survive in the future. The theory I find the most true is Stark and Bainbridge's in The Future of Religion, although I like some elements from others, like Berger's concepts of reification and secularization.

George Lucas's Star Wars trilogy, apart from being incredibly entertaining and extremely well-made, gives us a complete portrait of a society (The Empire) and a religion (Jediism, for lack of a better term). Although the movies are mostly devoted to the growth of the characters, throughout the trilogy we see the society change in a drastic manner. This paper will examine the history of Jediism, the current (as of the end of the last movie) status of the religion, and offer some suggestions as to what we can expect from Jediism in the future.

I. The Religion

To examine the future of religion as it relates to society, one must first have an idea of the tenets and beliefs on which the religion is based. Jediism is based solely on belief in the 'force', a 'Universal energy field that surrounds us and permeates us'. (O. Kenobi, SW) Stark and Bainbridge make the point that any religion based on magic or magic-like rituals is fated to die out unless the magic can work constantly and consistently. This, they argue, is why many religions change from promising magic, which is quite verifiable (Did he, in fact, levitate?) to promising compensators, a sort of unverifiable magic. A good example of this...