Nothing really new to report in my own world today so I thought I would talk about religion. And some interesting things I have read about it that are relevant to my own interests. None of this implies that my own atheism is changed. Just some interesting ideas I wanted to explore and share today.
A while back I was doing some browsing on the internet, like I do, when I came across the Temple of the Jedi Order web site. It does a very thorough job of constructing as close to a complete philosophy based on the Jedi beliefs as you can find. And they do make a major point of saying that they are not officially affiliated with Lucas or Disney. That they developed this from the teachings in the films and books, but it is separate from those entities in that they are ostensibly a fictional universe while this is a legal church in the here and now. Here are the tenets of the Temple
In the Force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it.
In the sanctity of the human person. We oppose the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment, including the death penalty.
In a society governed by laws grounded in reason and compassion, not in fear or prejudice.
In a society that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or circumstances of birth such as gender, ethnicity and national origin.
In the ethic of reciprocity, and how moral concepts are not absolute but vary by culture, religion, and over time.
In the positive influence of spiritual growth and awareness on society.
In the importance of freedom of conscience and self-determination within religious, political and other structures.
In the separation of religion and government and the freedoms of speech, association, and expression.
I feel safe in saying that for the most part I follow those. I even went so far as to trying to follow their path for being a Jedi Knight, but lost focus, and they did not do a good job of following up with me. But no big deal, my approach to religion has always been the quote of Groucho Marx:
“Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”
I also came across an article (which is a summary of an interview by the author of a book) the other day which had a very interesting spin on the issue of D&D and organized religion.
“There’s a lot of literature suggesting that fantasy role-playing games or Star Wars or things like this can take on some of the work that religion used to do,” he says. “Not in the sense that people think Anakin Skywalker is a real person, but that these stories give them this sense of psychological fulfillment that in other cultures might have been fulfilled by hearing stories about the lives of the saints.”
Which leads to a thought I had the other day about why I read fantasy instead of more traditional novels. What it boils down to is a need to explore and feel a different world than mine. I mean a traditional novel, set in the ‘here and now’ is still fictional, but does not fulfill the same sense of exploration for me. If I want to explore thoughts about ethics, and spirituality, I would rather do so in the guise of whether Luke Skywalker should really kill the Emperor. To me it truly does ask, and to some extent answer, the same questions that come up in Church.
None of this is meant to minimize or criticize anyone’s beliefs. I think that if you believe in a higher power, and that gives you joy, guidance and inspiration, and does not lead you to hurt others than more power to you. I’m just saying that for me I find that sense of joy and wonder in exploring the myriad different worlds of my many fictional universes.