When I first read that, all I could think was, Yay! Over 176 thousand people in Great Britain would probably be interested in reading my book! Wonder if there's any way I can fly to London to visit bookstores and claim the trip as a business expense?
My second thought was, This trend actually makes sense to me.
The Jedi teachings delivered by Yoda and Obi Wan in the movies were simple, practical guidelines for living a positive, empowered, compassionate lifestyle. They are not harmful. They do not directly contradict or malign other world religions that have a longer history and a more impressive pedagogy. In fact, Mark Hamill once said, "The idea of The Force is basically 'Religion's Greatest Hits.'"
Curious, I spent a little time clicking around the Internets reading article after article about the growing Jediism movement. It appears that the Jedi Order is thriving in other English speaking countries, including at least eight active Jedi churches in the United States and Canada. Even though I'm not planning to run out and join a Jedi church, I experienced a little bubble of Star Wars fangirl happiness...until I made the mistake of reading some of the comments posted in response to those articles.
Wow. Religion can be a dangerous debate topic in any context. Factor in the fact that Star Wars fans are often maligned (unfairly!) as emotionally stunted, social misfits and I'm sure you can guess that those comments were full of ugliness - cruel jokes, haughty superiority and outright hostility.
Why all the hate? There is no need for anyone to feel offended or threatened. Yes, I know Yoda is a puppet. He's a very elaborate and wonderful puppet voiced by Frank Oz. So what? I once watched a puppet show depicting bible stories such as Noah's Ark and Jonah In the Whale during a week of Vacation Bible School. Does the use of puppetry suddenly make those stories offensive or irrelevant? I don't think so. So why can't we learn from Master Yoda too?
Yoda says, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
There is nothing to fear in a spirituality fueled by Star Wars. Start by considering the concept of the Force, the central core of the Jedi faith.
According to Obi Wan, "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."
Hmmm...sounds like a Jedi should respect the interdependent web of life and take care of the environment that supports it. What could be wrong with that?
In Episode V, Master Yoda expands on our understanding of this mysterious Force. "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by size, do you? Hmm? As well you should not! For my ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
Oh how I love that quote! (And I'm pretty sure it compliments the teachings of every major religion on the planet).
The next lesson is for all the bullies and war mongers out there. Yoda says, "Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." He also says, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack."
This world would be a much better place if we would all focus on the pursuit of knowledge and stop the cycle of anger, fear and aggression, don't you think?
But what about the biggest terror or all? What about death?
Yoda says, "Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is." Which definitely oversimplifies the great mystery of death...but also sounds like a distilled version of the Buddhist teachings on death and impermanence.
Now, I'm not a religious scholar or student of comparative theology. I don't want to go too far out on a limb here. I just don't think there is anything negative or harmful in adapting the Jedi path as depicted in the Star Wars movies out here in the real world. That said, I know that many people will continue to consider Jediism to be a weird, fringe cult no matter how well I argue to the contrary. So, for them, I'll end with one more quote from Obi Wan in Episode VI.
"You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
Publisher: Deeds Publishing (May 21, 2013)
Twitter hashtag: #NSLASlay
Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is available as a print and e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
|Author Trisha Slay
Tricia hopes Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away would be compared to Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. She has said that "If those two books had a Star Wars-obsessed little sister, I'd like to think she would be my novel."
Tricia lives between the Atlanta metro area and the North Georgia Mountains, but hails originally from Ohio...by the way of the San Francisco Bay area. When she is not working on her next book (tentatively titled Sometimes We Strike Back), her interests include: 70s pop culture; unsolved mysteries; Star Wars (original trilogy); historic movie theaters; haunted history; reading (especially YA novels); nutrition/weight watchers/healthy vegetarian cuisine; hiking (exploring the National Forest trails with her guy); yoga/meditation; miscellaneous crafting projects (that rarely turn out as envisioned); and writing letters she never intends to mail.
Find out more about the author by visiting her online:
Trisha’s website: http://trishaslay.com/