John Williams is my Religion
I am a Jedi, like my father before me. Seriously.
When I lived in England in 2000, there was a movement to claim â€œJediâ€ or â€œJedi Knightâ€ as oneâ€™s religion on the census. Some did this because theyâ€™re a little odd and actually think they can move things with their mind (like Silent Bob?). Some did it for a joke. Some did it to protest the dearth of available options on the census. The Church of England likes the question there so that they can convince people that theyâ€™re still relevant in what is often called a â€œpost-religiousâ€ nation. But agnostic is not the same as atheist is not the same as Satanist â€¦ though the â€œOtherâ€ category lumps everyone in together. Add to this the rumor that was making the rounds, that any write-in answer offered by enough people would become a bona fide option on the next census, and in the end, an impressive 390,127 listed themselves as Jedi, my father and I among them.
To contextualize this, by the way, the same census found that only three religions claimed more followers in England and Wales â€“ Christian, Muslim, and Hindu. 0.7% of the English and Welsh population are Jedi, a greater percentage than Sikhs, Jews, or Buddhists. In Scotland, a lower number (14,052) and percentage (0.277%) identified as Jedi, though enough to make it the third largest religion in the country. Meanwhile, true to their epic trilogy roots, the people of New Zealand boast 53,000 Jedi, or 1.5% of the population, making it the second largest religion.
Now, being married to a demographer, Iâ€™m in a household in which census â€œgamesâ€ arenâ€™t at all kosher. All the same, I could wax political and express my hope that one day, the United States will be led by a Jedi President. Jedis, we learnt in Phantom Menace, are the intergalactic diplomats, Jedis donâ€™t give in to fear or hate, and Jedis actually feel othersâ€™ suffering. However, if the Jeremiah Wright controversy is anything to go by, Iâ€™m guessing the Anakin Skywalker or Count Dooku controversies could prove devastating.
Instead, though, after watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull today, I think I must be honest that Jedi is not my religion. More accurately, John Williams is. The Indy movie was fun, sometimes stupid, yes, though sometimes very good, and it was a joy to see Harrison back in action and having fun. But the highlight was hearing Williamsâ€™ soundtrack in a theatre again. All week Iâ€™ve been humming it in my head. When I used to drive to exams as a student, Iâ€™d play it and the Superman theme to get me in the mood. I was proud and yet also touched to hear both Luke and Leiaâ€™s Theme and Yodaâ€™s Theme at my friendâ€™s wedding (before the ceremony) this last week. When I play the Halloweâ€™en clip from E.T. in my Mass Media and National Identity class, strictly speaking I donâ€™t need to keep it playing to the Flying Theme, but I always do. I find it hard to leave a room with the Star Wars theme playing. And so on.
John Williams may not be God, but he is a musical deity. And hearing his music play in a theatre is a form of communion. Moreover, while there may only be a few hundred thousand Jedi in the world, I wonder how many millions of childhoods the world over were in effect scored by Williams?Tags: Indiana Jones, Jedi, John Williams, music