Star Wars day: religion and penguins

I’m not a fan of science fiction, so I must be the only living American who hasn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies (nor have I seen Planet of the Apes or others of that ilk). Nevertheless, pinch-blogger Matthew Cobb—apparently a fan, though I won’t hold it against him—has informed me that today is Star Wars day (“may the fourth be with you)”, so for the greater geekhood I’ll mention two items.

The first is that there is a Church of Jedism. Basing a religion on science fiction may sound dubious, but not really: have you seen the theology of Scientology? Check out the website above and this Guardian article which documents the church’s growth.  The tenor of the faith may be lighthearted now, but just wait. . . tax-exempt status is next.

And, we have a March of the Penguins in honor of Star Wars day two years ago:


  1. Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I see that this so-called Church of Jediism advocates an end to discrimination, violence and poverty. What nonsense! We here at the Church of True Jediism will stamp out these infidels at the Church of Jediism! We will lop off their apostate heads with our light sabers! We’ll turn their galaxies into deserts with our death stars! These heretics will feel our wrath!

  2. Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The penquins were so cute.

  3. Pray Hard
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    That just helped my Friday go much better.

  4. Marta
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Wha? You haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies? My god. It’s like I don’t even KNOW you anymore.

  5. elsburymk14
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I find you lack of faith in Star Wars disturbing.

    There is no escape! Don’t make me destroy you. Jerry, you do not yet realize your importance. You’ve only begun to discover your power! Join me, and I will complete your training! With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy.

  6. Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Favorite comment on the Guardian article:

    “This is not the thread you are looking for.”

  7. Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I finally found someone else that hasn’t seen any Star Wars movies apart from myself. Never saw the attraction, personally. I haven’t seen any Lord of the Rings trilogy either, but that’s because the Tolkienheads are the world’s most irritating people outside of republican presidential candidates.

    I have, however, seen the original Planet of the Apes, and it is absurd to be sure, but with a great ending.

    • Fabien
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      “True”/good science fiction is found in books anyway.
      “Tolkienheads” that like the movies probably have neither knowledge of fantasy nor of movie-making (documents attest that Tolkien would have disliked these movies a lot…).

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      I saw the first Star Wars movie, and it was okay for its time – the FX were good, though the plot was – let’s say, aimed at a juvenile audience. But they went downhill from there…

      Love the crack about Tolkienheads 😉

      • chebghobbi
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:23 am | Permalink

        Surely if you’ve only seen the first one, you can’t legitimately say they went downhill afterwards? Give TESB a shot, seriously.

        • David
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          PARTS IV, V, AND VI are all brilliant, the new ones are rubbish, as is the re writeing of history with the new remastered editions.
          Only a smelly poopyhead would consider the originals juvenile, so there.
          Bad parenting,adoption, absent fathers, almost incestuos relationships, effeminate robots, oppressed peoples, genocide, triple breasted aliens(ok i will give you that one), interspecies friendship, murder, betrayal rebellion, redemption and a ripping yarn to boot.
          its tragic that there are people who havnt seen them

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            That may be the first time that insult has been used on this site. 🙂

            Anyway, regarding your list of ingredients, it’s not what is done, it’s how it’s done, that counts.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          This is kinda OT, but oh well….

          I thought the FX of the first movie (specially that first shot where that enormous cruiser flew overhead the camera and just kept on becoming bigger and bigger) were impressive. The characters were kind of stock, and R2D2 and C3PO were really annoying. The Jedi Mind Trick (‘these are not the droids you’re looking for’) was intriguing, but we didn’t get to see much more of it.

          I caught bits of subsequent movies on TV and it seemed to me that the ‘quaint quotient’ had increased, if anything. Yoda and Jar Jar Binks, need I say more.

          I think I have a very low tolerance for characters who are written to be quaint or cute. I just prefer satire, irony and black humour.

          • David
            Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:42 am | Permalink

            I dont count the 2nd 3 films, the recent ones, jar jar binks was terrible. you neednt say more
            The originals were done brilliantly imo. in the context of 1977, the opening, and indeed the rest of the film, were astonishing sfx. at nearly 50 years of age (and a juvenile whem i first saw them) i still watch them every so often and still enjoy them immensely. Im always suprised when I meet or hear of someone who hasnt seen them, and want to invite (or kidnap) them round for all three movies back to back.

  8. raven
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    So why not?

    We’ve seen a lot of religions created in the light of modern history. Mormons, Branch Davidians, FLDS, Moonie-ism, Scientology.

    They are all pretty gruesome and malevolent.

    It’s time for some new ones that are more benign. Some of the new Paganisms, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Jedism will work.

  9. David
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Han Solo shot first.

    • elsburymk14
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink


  10. darrelle
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Seems like it should be “Jediism” instead of “Jedism”.

    I lived in Germany when the 1st Star Wars movie came out. For about 1-1/2 years I had to endure the hype until finally it reached theatres in Germany. I saw it in a beautiful old theater in downtown Landstuhl. Theatre was packed, had to sit in the front row. Scrunched down in my seat, head back to try and see the whole screen, when the opening scene plays out. It was AWESOME!

    • Marta
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      “It was AWESOME!”

      I think I love you.

      • darrelle
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Thank You!

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    If you dig Kurosawa, consider “the hidden fortress” – also samurai iconography.

    Now consider where some of the ideas for Star Wars came from, for instance – the story is entirely told from the perspective of the robot pals, as in HF it is told from the two serfs.

    Anyways, there’s more reason to see SW than just lasers and flash.

  12. elsburymk14
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

  13. Jim Thomerson
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I was very impressed, and enjoyed the first Star Wars movie, in spite of its use of the ‘force’ as a major ingredient. I have seen it in bits and pieces several times since. Every time I see it, I see little details which I had not noticed before. You could spend time worse than watching it once.

    I also enjoyed “Galaxy Quest”, a comedy spoof of Star Trek.

    I’ve noticed that scientists either really like science fiction, or have no use for it.

  14. MadScientist
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Jediism? Forget about that – His Noodliness is the One True Pasta.

  15. Marella
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    You call that a penguin parade? That’s not a penguin parade!

    I’m not a fan of science fiction

    I think I must have got lost and wound up on the wrong bl-website, anybody know the way to Russell Blackford’s blog?

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Watched the video that Jerry linked to. “May the Fourth be with you”. Aaaargh!

    But I’d say the Church of Jedism would be far more credible than Scientology, at that. It’s my belief that L Ron Hubbard wrote all that stuff just to see how totally insanely ridiculous he could make something and still have (some) people believe it.

  17. sensevisual
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be “that one”.


    • J.J.E.
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree. It is space fantasy.

      • chebghobbi
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

        I always considered it ‘space opera’.

        • Pete UK
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          Long on “spoken” recitatives, short on arias.

  18. Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The Jedi are an opressed minority, despite waving our hands and saying “You will listen to our lobbying.”

    According to the 2001 Census, 70,509 Australians declared their religion was Jedi.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      I seem to recall there was a campaign to ‘write Jedi in the census box’, presumably as a metaphorical protest against established religions, so a very large percentage of those may have been frivolous i.e. non-religious Aussies who couldn’t care less about Jedi-ism.

      That interview you linked to with an Aussie ‘Jedi Knight’ was a bloody good laugh. “Did ‘The Passion of the Christ’ beat ‘The Phantom Menace’ at the box office? I don’t think so.” If all the Jedis are as tongue-in-cheek as that guy, I don’t think there would much to worry about. Of course in any fandom there are a few deranged individuals who take it ultra-seriously, often to the embarrassment of the rest.

      Just looking at a few websites (because there are several ‘Churches of Jediism’), a couple of things occur to me – will there now be a holy war between them to decide which is the One True Faith?; and – will Lucasfilms send out the traditional Hollywood lawyers letters and shut the whole religion down?

  19. Grania Spingies
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    There is a realm of difference difference between the people who put down “Jedi” as their religion on their census form (usually atheists who haven’t realized that they’re atheist) and the people who actually give money to the Church of Jedi(which is already world-wide).

    The latter really does already bear all the hallmarks of a religion, with a doctrine, places where you can given them your money, “levels” of Jedi-hood and bizarre tenets of “faith”. And all of this based on their personal interpretation of a space opera.

    If you care to peruse its codes and aphorisms, they read like a mish-mash of mysticism, Bhuddism and epic nerdhood.

    I’ve nothing against being a massive nerd, I’m one myself. But there is a realm of difference between fiction and reality, and one of the main tenets of this new cult is already in the business of insisting that this isn’t so.

    They may be a hell of a lot more benign than most of their competitors, but there is something distinctly unpalatable about turning your love of sci-fi into a religion and then charging gullible people money to learn the “truths” you insist are self-evident.

    • ivo
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Yes, my impression from their site is that they’re not so lighthearted as one may think. The levels, the stress on training, the miraculous “method” for drastically improving your life overnight… all this stuff stinks of a new Church of Scientology.

  20. Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

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