Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

19 July 2018

Is Star Wars a Religion?

I must confess that it has never occurred to me to entertain the notion that there is a Jedi faith. I am not a huge Star Wars fan, and while I appreciate that there are powerful themes and messages throughout the saga, I had not realised that there is a Star Wars religion – ‘Jediism’. However, in the last week, I have heard 2 people refer to this faith, so I thought I had better check in with Google!

I started with Wikipedia. 
Sure enough, there is an entry called Jediism, described as a ‘philosophy’ and recognised as a ‘religion’ on official census documents.
There is a super helpful website for the Jedi Church.  
“The Jedi Church believes that there is one all powerful force that binds all things in the universe together. The Jedi religion is something innate inside every one of us, the Jedi Church believes that our sense of morality is innate. So quiet your mind and listen to the force within you!
Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.”

Professor of Religious Studies, Robyn Faith Walsh in a fabulous blog on the Huffington Post posed this great question – Is Star Wars a Religion?

What a great way to engage your students in a discussion about religion and faith!
Did you know that in an Australian census (2011), at least 65 000 people identified themselves religiously as ‘Jedis’? In New Zealand, the Jedi Church has once again asked to be included on the 2018 census. Apparently, in New Zealand there are more Jedis than Hindus or Buddhists.

So how do we define ‘religion’? Let your students grapple with that one.
Or maybe you could just look at the question of ‘faith’?

CBR.com movie review by Anthony Couto  suggests that there is a common theme of ‘faith’ in the Star Wars series. “Empire Strikes Back was all about faith. It’s about letting go of facts and logic, about simply believing in something, resisting what education may tell you.”
“Empire and The Last Jedi are all about making mistakes. Thinking you can face something alone, without belief in a higher power, and the consequences that come with a refusal to have faith. Isn’t that what Star Wars is all about, really? While Star Trek concerns itself with logic and rationality, Star Wars takes a different path: one of belief. There’s a reason why Empire, and now Last Jedi, are considered stronger entries in the Star Wars saga. They concern themselves with pondering faith, the message at the core of Star Wars itself.”

According to the Jedi Church website, there is one all powerful force that binds things in the universe together, and accepts people from all walks of life, from all over the universe. I wonder if there is anything that resonates with our students in this statement from the Jedi Church – “as the belief in Jesus defines Christians, how we see the Force defines us as Jedi.

The Temple of Jedi explains that believe :-

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.

In our Shared Syllabus Strand‘Thinking About Religion’ the students are asked to consider such questions as –

What is religion?
What is the purpose of religion?
What does religion do for people?
Why do some people not participate in religion?
Why do some people believe in God and some don’t?
From where do people get their beliefs?
How do beliefs shape actions?
What makes something a religion?
How does society and media shape perceptions of religion?

Surely a study of Star Wars could provide a great provocation for a unit on Thinking About Religion!

In case you are bit like me and can't remember all the Star Wars movies, here is a short video to help!

May the Force be with you!

11 July 2018

NAIDOC Week 2018 - Because of her, we can!

Many schools are on holidays during NAIDOC Week but that doesn't mean schools should miss the opportunity of celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements. The NAIDOC website has some great ideas that could be transferred to another week in Term 3. Some of my favourites are:

  • Start your own hall of fame featuring Indigenous role models.
  • Listen to Indigenous musicians or watch a movie about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
  • Study a famous Indigenous Australian.
  • Research the traditional Indigenous owners of your area.
  • Visit local Indigenous sites of significance or interest.
  • Invite local Indigenous Elders to speak or give a Welcome to Country at your school.
  • Hold a flag raising ceremony.