While catching up on various blogs and websites dealing with the fantastic in the blogosphere I came across a news item at SF Gospel. It touched on a conflict between a religious group and an employer on appropriate attire in the workplace. What sets this conflict apart from others that have taken place in the past, as in the case of Muslim women wanting to wear coverings for their head and face, or Sikh men wanting to carry their ceremonial daggers, is that this particular conflict moves beyond the major world religions to involve a new religious movement. In this case it is a controversy involving the hyper-real spirituality of The Church of Jediism in the UK. Hyper-real spiritualities are those which draw upon aspects of pop culture, particularly science fiction, horror, and fantasy, as a metaphor in the construction of new religious identities.
This specific conflict is between Chris Jarvis, a member of the church and a practitioner of Jediism, and and the employer JobCentre. The issue of tension was over Jarvis's refusal to remove the hood of his Jedi robes while at work.
Those interested in exploring hyper-real spiritualities in more depth should consult Adam Possamai's Religion and Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament (Gods, Humans, and Religions) (P.I.E.-Peter Lang, 2007), and his lecture proceedings article "Yoda Goes to the Vatican: Youth Spirituality and Popular Culture." Possamai is also currently editing a multi-contributor volume on this topic, a handbook on hyper-real spiritualities for which I have written a chapter on Matrixism.
Previous discussions of these topics here in related posts include: