The Church of the Jedi

See on Scoop.itCultural evolution

In the years after the first Star Wars trilogy, a group of dedicated followers built their own religion: Jediism.

Tom Uytterhoeven‘s insight:

You can be dismissive about this, calling it a joke that went out of hand. But I see the dynamics of culture at work, going from old religious wisdoms over movie culture (e.g. using these wisdoms as part of a Star Wars or a Lord of the Rings mythology) to new forms of religion. Even if this is tongue-in-cheek for the members of Jediism, the phenomenon as such intrigues me.

From a theological point of view the main question is – as in the study of pluralism – whether, to what extent, and how divine revelation can be discerned here. In fact, that is a question that circles around in my head since I began thinking about the implications of evolutionary studies of religion for theology. Does an evolutionary explanation of (elements of/the origin of) religion rule out the self-understanding of a religious tradition as grounded in revelation, labelling it an illusion? I think not, but it does ask for a recontextualisation of the concept ‘revelation’ in this age of science. An interesting book that I’ve recently read and, in my view at least, offers some conceptual tools for this, is Gerd Theissen’s ‘Biblical Faith: An Evolutionary Approach’:

If you have other sources on this issue: please post them as a reaction on this blogpost! Thanks in advance 😉

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2 thoughts on “The Church of the Jedi

  1. Dear Tom,
    You might be interested in my book ‘Theology of the Biblical Witness: An evolutionary approach.’ (Muenster: LIT-Verlag 2002). There is a more popular version (Biblical Theology in Outline – see my webpage if you are interested: Here I do not argue for the evolutionary origins of religion in (biological) evolution, but for the evolution of biblical paradigms, thus the content of the biblical tradition in biblical times.
    I think you are aware of at least one of my two books on science and faith (Regaining Sanity and Informed by Science, Involved by Christ (London: Xlirbris, 2011 / 2013), where I treat religious tradition as part and parcel of cosmic evolution.
    It just occurred to me that you indeed wrote a review on Regaining Sanity. Reading it again I was struck by your amazingly conscientious effort to understand my trend of thought and I would like to thank you for that. It would have been good to enter into some dialogue with you. One statement puzzled me a bit where you said that parts of the book are ‘from the heart’ rather than academic. Is that on the economic-ecological part? I have written at least 5 rather substantial books on economic issues. In this book I dealt with the topic more casually, simply presupposing previous research. The other part that would merit some response from me is the relation between conviction in general and a specific religion. But let me leave that for now.
    Once again thank you so much!

    1. Dear Klaus,

      I am terribly sorry for this rather late reply. Hopefully we will meat at the next ESSSAT-conference, to have a talk on this subject. The books you mention seem interesting; I think, by the way, that one of your books is either just been reviewed or on the ‘to review’ list for the ESSSAT newsletter 😉
      As for the ‘from the heart’-bit: maybe I should have expressed myself more clearly on that, since I did not mean to undermine the academic value of your work, but rather inform the reader that the book (Regaining Sanity) does not only offer arguments and informed opinions, but also in some instances shows your commitment to – to use grand expressions myself – the future of humanity. Only those who think that passion for his/her subject is a negative quality for an academic (but who does?), would see my remark as derogatory. Hope this clarifies things a bit!

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