Movies

Alternate facts: New York Times posits 'Jediism' as actual religion in credulous feature

Alternate facts: New York Times posits 'Jediism' as actual religion in credulous feature

Pardon the trite expression, but I just got sick, a little. I got my nausea through The New York Times.

The newspaper once positioned as America's "newspaper of record," the one whose slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print" might well have been carved in stone, that newspaper has just served up a positive puff piece positioning a group of "Star Wars" movie aficionados as a religion.

In the process, they offered yet another installment -- is anyone keeping count? -- of how the fabled institution is more tone-deaf on faith than was Ludwig von Beethoven at the end of his life.

Here now, the "news," or perhaps, "alternate facts, faith division":

The makers of the “Star Wars” franchise on Monday [Jan. 23] announced the name of the films’ next installment -- “The Last Jedi” -- just as “Rogue One” hit $1 billion in global box office. Onscreen, it’s a great time to be a Jedi.
But Jedi is also a real-life religion that drew headlines last month when the Charity Commission for England and Wales ruled that it would not grant religious status to the Temple of the Jedi Order, a Jedi church. So, what is Jediism, and who is in the temple? We caught up with some practicing Jedi to find out.
What is Jediism?
Several Jedi communities exist around the world. Some call themselves religions, though others shy away from the word.
Interest in the religious potential in “Star Wars” first bubbled up online in the early 1990s, Michael Kitchen, one of several directors of the Temple of the Jedi Order, said in a recent interview.
The religion exploded into the mainstream in 2001, when fans in several countries listed Jediism as a religion on their local census. Hundreds of thousands did so. For many, it was a joke. But the phenomenon led others who were serious about Jediism to start considering the possibility of full religious status.

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Box-office religion: What explains Hollywood’s 'holy movie' picks?

Box-office religion: What explains Hollywood’s 'holy movie' picks?

KIRSTEN ASKS:

I wonder why I cannot think of any movies with stories from the Torah, Quran, or other holy texts. Are there any in the works?

THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:

There’s considerable mystery about Hollywood and “holy movies.” Why are they often amateurish or offer ham-handed derision toward beliefs and believers? Why do few high-quality movies respect religion despite the large potential audience? Showbiz wised up a bit when Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) scored $370 million in U.S. box office and became history’s most profitable film with an R rating (due to violence).

Kirsten posted this question early in 2004, which turns out to offer eight notable features with religious aspects. On her specific point, studios know the U.S. audience has far more Christians than Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus, and that factor affects releases globally. Note that any movie drawn from the Jewish Torah equally appeals to Christians, since their Bible begins with the same five “Old Testament” books.

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