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David CO

Star Wars, Organized Religion, and BSA

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I have been considering the discussion on a recent topic about Star Wars and feminism. I don't think the SW movies have become a springboard for feminism so much as they have become an attack on organized religion.

The original trilogy presented the fictional Jedi religion as a good and civilizing influence on the SW universe. The prequel trilogy presented it as clumsy, ineffective, and morally ambiguous. The sequel trilogy discredited it and burnt its temple to the ground. Luke went from being an idealistic young man, eager to become a Jedi master, only to become a despondent old hermit who has lost all faith in the institution he once loved.

 

 

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attack? or recognition of human fraility and self discovery of the complexities of the universal force including man's interaction within and surrounding it. Or is it just a story with no hidden or deeper meaning except that which we decide to infuse ourselves.

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

I have been considering the discussion on a recent topic about Star Wars and feminism. I don't think the SW movies have become a springboard for feminism so much as they have become an attack on organized religion.

The original trilogy presented the fictional Jedi religion as a good and civilizing influence on the SW universe. The prequel trilogy presented it as clumsy, ineffective, and morally ambiguous. The sequel trilogy discredited it and burnt its temple to the ground. Luke went from being an idealistic young man, eager to become a Jedi master, only to become a despondent old hermit who has lost all faith in the institution he once loved.

 

 

I originally felt that way about The Last Jedi, but upon reflection, I feel that analysis is inaccurate.  Many see Luke as a righteous hero, destroying the Jedi order, but Luke was not the righteous hero who burned the temple to the ground... he was the wayward son who misguidedly burned down his faith.  Yoda shows him at the end that he was wrong, that the liturgy of the Jedi faith had gotten corrupted over time and a return to fundamentalism was in order.  That burning down the tree was good, but not for the reasons Luke did it.   In the end, Luke's faith is restored and he sees the need to keep the church alive, which is why his last act is one of great sacrifice.  Seeing the books in Rey's drawer at the end shows us (and of course this could all change in the next film, because when you have multiple writers, things can change and don't have a clear narrative in place) that this is a kind of reformation.  

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

Luke went from being an idealistic young man, eager to become a Jedi master, only to become a despondent old hermit who has lost all faith in the institution he once loved.

Luke was also the last practitioner of the religion, if that’s what we’re calling it. He had no one else to practice with, study with, or share ideas with. I daresay that the last member of any faith might suffer similar setbacks in their devotion.

The prequels, despite being largely garbage, showed the true Jedi community in action, from a governing council down to a school for children. But they also showed how any institution can become blinded or corrupted.

To me, the Star Wars universe is far more a realistic look at human and alien frailty than an indictment of organized religion.

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I'm not sure what the Jedi "religion" would be.  There is the Force (which actually has been registered as an official religion in the UK, where they have official lists of religions, unlike here), but that can be used by both the good guys and the bad guys.  So maybe the Jedi religion is a belief in the "positive use of The Force."  But is that really a religion?  In the religions I am aware of, everybody can join.  You just have to profess the right belief, go through the right ritual (if applicable), and maybe other incidental things like paying some money.  But membership in the Jedi is not open to all, in fact it is open only to a select few:  Those who can use the Force.  Uncle Owen, Han Solo, Admiral Akbar and Chewbacca are (or were) all good people... er, good individuals, but they could not be Jedi, because they didn't "have it."  That doesn't sound like a religion to me.  And if it is, it does not really seem to be an "organized" religion. 

Plus, whatever questionable things he may have done through most of the movie, didn't Luke fully redeem himself in the end?  It sure looked that way to me.

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I called it a fictional religion. I never implied that it is real.

In the context of the movie, they referred to it as a religion in the first film. So I used that for the lack of a better word.

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17 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

There is the Force (which actually has been registered as an official religion in the UK, where they have official lists of religions, unlike here),

Urban myth that one!

It is true that in the last census a number of people put variations of Jedi down as their religion. However for statistical purposes this was put down as "no religion". Presumably as those putting it down were taking the proverbial!  Data is available to download from here. Being shown on stats output doesn't make a religion "official", it's just an official recognition by the government that it exists and is taken into account for setting policy.

Actually I found a scan through that sheet quite instructive. While it doesn't have the numbers on it for each entry it does show the staggering number of religions and sub divisions of each that exist in what is one relatively small country.

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25 minutes ago, Cambridgeskip said:

Urban myth that one!

It is true that in the last census a number of people put variations of Jedi down as their religion. However for statistical purposes this was put down as "no religion". Presumably as those putting it down were taking the proverbial!  Data is available to download from here. Being shown on stats output doesn't make a religion "official", it's just an official recognition by the government that it exists and is taken into account for setting policy.

Really? Wow, I really thought that was true.  And it's not a new thing, it goes back probably 25 or 30 years.  I guess it's a particularly persistent urban legend.  Thanks for clearing that up.

25 minutes ago, Cambridgeskip said:

Actually I found a scan through that sheet quite instructive. While it doesn't have the numbers on it for each entry it does show the staggering number of religions and sub divisions of each that exist in what is one relatively small country.

Especially interesting given that yours is a country that has an official religion.  (Or is that an urban legend too?  I don't think it is.  I know that the Queen is considered the head of the Church of England, which sounds pretty official to me.)

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59 minutes ago, David CO said:

In the context of the movie, they referred to it as a religion in the first film. So I used that for the lack of a better word.

They did.  Of course, in the first film they said Darth Vader killed Luke's father, and in the next film Darth Vader was Luke's father, and no amount of verbal gymnastics by the ghost of Obi Wan in the third film can reconcile that.  A certain point of view only goes so far.

Not to mention the terrible thing the writers of the fourth movie (Episode I) did by turning the grand mystery of the Force into a matter of some bacteria-like things that you can measure with a blood test.  By the beginning of the new trilogy, apparently the midichlorians never existed.  Otherwise I have to believe that at some point, Rey would have been approached by a lab technician with a needle and a Band Aid...

Edited by NJCubScouter
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6 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

Really? Wow, I really thought that was true.  And it's not a new thing, it goes back probably 25 or 30 years.  I guess it's a particularly persistent urban legend.  Thanks for clearing that up.

Especially interesting given that yours is a country that has an official religion.  (Or is that an urban legend too?  I don't think it is.  I know that the Queen is considered the head of the Church of England, which sounds pretty official to me.)

Kind of! As our constitution is unwritten and has evolved rather than been created that is not a straight forward question to answer. It is true in so far that England and Wales have an established church in the form of The Church of England and Scotland has an established church in the form of The Church of Scotland. The monarch is the official head of both but in the same way that they have no actual power within the state they have no actual power within either church. Don't even ask about religion in Norther Ireland. You'll disappear down a rabbit hole of insanity that will need you in need of a large drink, a dark room and cold compress round your head to recover from.

Both churches have some official privileges the most important being senior bishops sitting in the House of Lords.

It's not true in that no one is expected to be a member of either church and neither does being a member afford anyone any kind of right.

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3 minutes ago, Cambridgeskip said:

Don't even ask about religion in Norther Ireland. You'll disappear down a rabbit hole of insanity that will need you in need of a large drink, a dark room and cold compress round your head to recover from.

Well, I do recall there were some Troubles...

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1 hour ago, NJCubScouter said:

I'm not sure what the Jedi "religion" would be.  There is the Force (which actually has been registered as an official religion in the UK, where they have official lists of religions, unlike here), but that can be used by both the good guys and the bad guys.  So maybe the Jedi religion is a belief in the "positive use of The Force."  But is that really a religion?  In the religions I am aware of, everybody can join.  You just have to profess the right belief, go through the right ritual (if applicable), and maybe other incidental things like paying some money.  But membership in the Jedi is not open to all, in fact it is open only to a select few:  Those who can use the Force.  Uncle Owen, Han Solo, Admiral Akbar and Chewbacca are (or were) all good people... er, good individuals, but they could not be Jedi, because they didn't "have it."  That doesn't sound like a religion to me.  And if it is, it does not really seem to be an "organized" religion. 

Plus, whatever questionable things he may have done through most of the movie, didn't Luke fully redeem himself in the end?  It sure looked that way to me.

Former Star Wars Addict here. Belief in the Force is considered a religion in the Star Wars Universe.While Jedi, Sith, and Nightwitches can can manipularte the Force, people can believe in it and try to live their lives by the precepts, even if they are not force sensitive. Grand Moff Tarkin and Han Solo both refer to belief in the Force as a religion ( or in Han's case 'a hokey religion.") The books, both the Expanded Universe, aka "Legends," and the Disneyverse have non Force sensitive folks as adherents to the religion. And of course Force Awakens, and Rouge One show folks who are believers.

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Perhaps - but I think it's secondary to dramatic license.

Movies 4-6 were about establishing a Luke as a hero who discovers his greatness by discovering his own abilities.

Moves 1-3 had to show more Jedi's.  That was the wowness factor.  If Luke was great, 100 Luke's would be amazing.  It was the pay off of sorts for going to the movies. Of course, by the end of the 3rd movie, we had to be back down to the primary force actors - Emporer, Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Luke.

Movies 7-9 needed some Jedi drama.  We've seen Luke find his powers under guidance from Yoda & Obi-Wan.  So we couldn't just have Rey go to Luke, get trained and then save the day.  That would be a big snooze.  So, we set up the reluctant Jedi hero Luke and the conflicted Rey.

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19 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

They did.  Of course, in the first film they said Darth Vader killed Luke's father, and in the next film Darth Vader was Luke's father, and no amount of verbal gymnastics by the ghost of Obi Wan in the third film can reconcile that.  A certain point of view only goes so far.

Not to mention the terrible thing the writers of the fourth movie (Episode I) did by turning the grand mystery of the Force into a matter of some bacteria-like things that you can measure with a blood test.  By the beginning of the new trilogy, apparently the midichlorians never existed.  Otherwise I have to believe that at some point, Rey would have been approached by a lab technician with a needle and a Band Aid...

technically he said Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father. ;)

 

One could argue Obi-Wan meant the psychological murder of the soul known as Anakin.  Granted, I don't for a second believe Lucas originally intended for this, but in the context of the film, i see it as legitimate.  :)

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To be fair, Luke is holding a lightsaber in his hands when he asks an unarmed Obi-Wan, "How did my father die?"

How would you have responded in that moment? Hopefully not "I chopped off his legs and an arm, then left him to burn to death next to a river of lava."

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