Remember when tens of thousands of people had census takers scratching their heads in 2001 by listing their religion as ‘Jedi’ or ‘Jedi Knight’? Well, in 2007, Daniel M. Jones from Wales (who was 21 at the time) founded the Church of Jediism.
I was really keen to read this book, thinking it would be the perfect Star Wars Day read. As this book claims to be the “first official book of scripture for the Church of Jediism” I was looking forward to learning how its tenets were based on specific Star Wars scenes and hopefully some Yoda wisdom. I wasn’t expecting a book of scripture to be so heavy handed in the creator’s memoir department.
Theresa Cheung has relied heavily on transcribed interviews with Daniel M. Jones. I was leery when the Theresa started telling me about her almost two decades as a bestselling author and then proceeded to include a reference from Wikipedia before the first chapter, but figured I’d keep going and hope for the best. Unfortunately this is definitely not the Star Wars Day book for me.
The nine Jediist Master lessons are:
1. The intelligence of a student
Jediism’s only prerequisite, but here ‘intelligence’ essentially means curiosity and a willingness to learn. The first sentence of the Jediist Prayer for Intelligence quotes Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata – “no less than the trees and the stars.” “The universe is as it should be” sounded suspiciously similar to this quote from Desiderata: “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Then, further along, “With all its confusions, routine and broken dreams, the universe is a wondrous place.” sounds eerily like this from Desiderata: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
2. Personal thought control
In a nutshell, your thoughts create your reality. This chapter’s Jediist Prayer for Awareness steals from the serenity prayer. The Jediist version begins, “May the Force grant me the serenity to observe my thoughts. May the Force grant me the courage to understand my thoughts and the wisdom to know the difference”.
3. Matters of love, life and death
This chapter tells you that “when you die nobody remembers what you said or did but they will remember how you made them feel.” At what point do we call it ‘plagiarism’ and move on?! At least this chapter’s Jediist Prayer for Eternal Love acknowledges Mary Elizabeth Frye’s Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.
4. The Force theory
“Jediism teaches us that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience.” Hey there, French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. You’re in here too!
5. Emotional control and anger management
In which we learn of Daniel’s feelings of humiliation and victimisation at being told he had to remove his hood in a grocery store. I started skimming the book at this point because looking for quotes I already knew got boring.
6. Self-defence and martial arts
Or then again … “The sparrow never lands where the tiger roams.” This is said to be a quote by Daniel M. Jones. He may have said it but he wasn’t the first.
7. Counselling, stress management and control
This chapter has some interesting insights into Daniel’s experience with Asperger’s.
8. Healthy living and material well-being
Healthy food, moderation, balance, “Your body is a temple”, “Pray, eat, love”.
9. Peaceful communication and interaction with diplomacy
Humility, a sense of humour, inner peace, etc.
While I hope there are potential readers who’ll find a lot to love in this book, I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that I’m not one of them. My high hopes for insight dissolved into frustration with this strange blend of memoir and recycled bits and pieces from various religions and pop psychology.
Whenever I start a new book I go into it expecting to love it and look forward to telling anyone who will listen to me all of the reasons why they must stop whatever they’re doing and start reading it immediately. It breaks my heart when I can’t do that and because I was really looking forward to this one I hate this feeling even more.
Thank you to NetGalley and Watkins Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Daniel M Jones founded the Church of Jediism in 2007. It now has over 500,000 members around the world. This is the book his fans have been waiting for. In it, Daniel outlines the Jedi perspective and provides practical tools for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how to use the force in everyday life.
The Force is a metaphor for the universal life energy that connects us all. It can be both light and dark, good and bad. Now more than ever it is our responsibility to overcome the dark side. This book does not aim to convert but to inspire its readers to live a life of meaning and purpose according to the universal spiritual teachings from ‘The Way of the Jedi.’
Become the Force covers:
- Daniel’s own fascinating spiritual journey and how overcoming personal struggles has awakened him to his purpose
- How Jedi teachings can empower mind, body, heart and spirit
- A comprehensive toolkit that will allow anyone to genuinely embrace ‘the way of the Jedi’
- Compelling reasons why the spiritual teachings of Jediism are relevant today
- A comprehensive explanation of Jediism as a spiritual movement (a universal desire for self-awareness, spiritual awakening, peace, love and harmony), rather than a religion.
- Shows that it’s plausible that the Jedi minded among us today might usher in a new spirituality and shift in global consciousness towards peace and harmony that is more powerful than any we can possibly imagine.