Comment: Jedi weddings should not be dismissed so readily

By Michael (Akkarin) Kitchen

The Free Church of Scotland recently condemned a proposal to expand the institution of marriage in the country. Due to the wording of the proposals, which will allow for other religious and humanist institutions to perform wedding ceremonies, the church believes it will open the door for Jedi ministers to perform weddings. While they described the plan as "completely nonsensical", we believe there is a legitimate place in society for Jedi weddings.

Temple of the Jedi Order (TotJO) is one of a number of communities that go by the name of 'Jedi'. We do not represent everyone within that community, only our particular order.

A wedding is the joining together of individuals for a lifelong commitment of love and caring. What is important in such a ceremony is the people that are being married, not who officiates the joining between them; the minister is the vessel of their love.

The more people there are to promote and support the love and care between individuals the better!

What makes the love between two people any different when they are married by a Catholic minister as opposed to a Protestant minister? What difference does love know about who presides over the ceremony?

Love is beyond that.

Just as we Jedi would accept, and even provide service for, any marriage, religious or otherwise, so would we hope that other organisations would accept our marriages and services as equal in sincerity and value.

The Free Church of Scotland should not feel that the integrity they see in marriage is being reduced by allowing other, lesser known, groups perform the ceremony. As previously stated, the importance is the connection between the people taking part, not the religious affiliations of the minister presiding over it. The US, where many of our members hail from, has seen Jedi ministers perform marriage ceremonies.

There has been a lot of misinformation and presumption in society about who and what the Jedi are and do. We do not teach that you should train with a lightsaber, nor do we teach people any sort of 'Force powers'. In fact many of us have actually very little interest in the fictional Star Wars universe itself believe it or not. We are a place of academic, personal and religious study with the goal of promoting universal compassion that surpasses the limiting boundaries of prejudice.

At Temple of the Jedi Order our ministerial duties and training are undertaken with great seriousness. Our ministers are entrusted to look after the spiritual wellbeing of the Temple, whether that be in offering advice or counsel or their services in more official engagements.

Among the duties of members of our clergy are the provision of weekly sermons and regular services. The sermons are submitted by clergy on a rotating basis with a slot open for non-clergy members to contribute. The live services are done via TotJO's 'chat' function once a month and on our religious holy days. During these the clergy take the time to offer wisdom and moral guidance.

The ministerial side is only one aspect, however. A large part of the spiritual journey Jedi undertake as members at TotJO is academic and personal. We teach in the areas of comparative religion, meditation, metaphysics and a review of Jedi doctrine and theology. During a student's time here they would be taken on by a teaching master where the depth and scope of their training becomes much more personal.

This is not an automatic process. The time between when a student joins to when the student finally gains knighthood is, at a set minimum, eight months but this is, in most cases, much longer. A journey of spiritual awakening for some and self-enlightenment for others is not done overnight. Some students will study for over a year or even two in some cases. The journey they undergo is as important as their final destination, perhaps even more so, which is why we encourage and stick with our students, answering their questions and concerns as they arrive, to help them along as best we can.

Many of our beliefs are very humanist; we have universal acceptance and understanding written into our doctrine. Just as the name Jedi has been adapted to modernise age-old ideas, so has the name 'the Force', been adapted to modernise the ideas behind our belief. Jedi do believe in the Force. Just as views behind God differ however, so do particular views about the Force. A common theme running through our beliefs however is that it is indeed some kind of 'energy field' that permeates the universe connecting all living and non-living things to one another.

In the most literal sense we are all inseparably 'one', which is why human compassion and understanding to each other and nature are of such importance to all Jedi!

We take our influence primarily from the philosophies that inspired the fictional Jedi knights in the Star Wars franchise. We take the ideals of these characters and apply them to the real world in a way that is personal and pragmatic.

These aspects of our religion make Jediism very syncretistic. Indeed many members don't follow Jediism exclusively but instead combine the elements taught here with their other beliefs to create a spiritual journey that is truly their own.

May the Force be with you.

Michael (Akkarin) Kitchen is a long-standing member at TotJO and heads up the PR and Marketing Department.

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