American Jedi (2017) Movie Script

(skateboard scraping)
(gentle ambient music)
- [Interviewer] Could you
ever be a Jedi, do you think?
- I mean, I know what it is,
Star Wars, the idea of it,
but what is it practically?
What do you actually do?
- I feel that it is
a good belief system,
but I do not personally believe
that it could be a religion.
- Jedi is anti-Christ.
- Like, it's not just a
fandom, it's this unique,
amazing pop culture thing that
has been going since 1977.
- Is it silly?
We're in the middle of Comic-Con
with more people dressed up
in Star Wars outfits than
I've ever seen in my life.
- Most of us have tried the
Jedi mind trick at least once.
- If Jediism became a lot like
Catholicism, Christianity,
or anything else, I think
I'd be a little worried.
- I think the whole idea
of a Jedi as religion
is rather weird.
- Jedi as a religion,
I think is great.
If people wanna believe
in that, go ahead.
- I can see where
people get into it
as a much deeper sense of being.
- Are you worshiping someone?
Are you following a Jedi master?
How do you become a Jedi master?
Is there a Yoda level person?
- There ain't no Darth
Vader in the Bible.
- I think people turn away
from organized religion
because it's too structured.
- With Star Wars, you
have people that have
watched the movie 50, 60 times.
They haven't read the Bible
twice and yet they'll tell me
I'm fanatical because
I believe my Bible.
I say they're the real fanatics.
- I think that
Jediism as a world
religion would be awesome.
- It could happen, I can
see people becoming Jedis.
I mean, look at
Harry Potter, and
people play Quidditch all the
time like it's a real sport.
- Hey, it's for them,
good cause to pursue.
- Questions, I have
so many questions.
Maybe I might be a follower.
- I don't think any reasonable
human being could be a Jedi.
- I would love to be a Jedi.
(dramatic ambient music)
- [Narrator] A 2001
census recognized Jediism
as an official religion.
620 Serbs identify as Jedi.
15,000 people from
the Czech Republic,
21,000 Canadians,
70,000 Australians.
In the United Kingdom
over 400,000 people
declare themselves Jedi,
making it the fourth largest
religion in the country.
No such census has
been taken in America,
but Jediism continues to grow.
- When people come to
the Jedi community,
it's not about who they
are when they join us.
It's about who
they aspire to be.
- And we're gonna
ask some very deep,
probing, internal questions.
And we wanna see
what's their reaction.
- What do you have to give and
what do you have to give up?
- [Narrator] This is
the story of three Jedi
on their path to knighthood.
- I'm Opie Macleod
and I'm a Jedi.
The dishes are still
in the sink, huh?
Big surprise, good job.
Way to stay on top of it, Jedi.
That's a pretty good
impression of my mom, too,
just so you know.
- [Opie's Mom] Opie is my son.
His real name is
Kevin, I call him Kev,
but to everybody else he's
Opie, always has been.
As a matter of fact,
he used to ask me
to go pay to change his
name to Kevin Macleod.
At church, he asked the
minister, when he got up there,
"Don't call me by my name."
So when Larry read off his
name, Kevin Trout, he's...
"I told you not
to call me that!"
But he got teased so
much about the Trout
that he wanted to change
his name to Macleod,
because he liked the Highlander.
But now he's just Opie Macleod.
- You know, a Jedi
eats with dishes,
they gotta clean the dishes.
Yeah, Luke Skywalker, I guess,
had C-3PO to handle his dishes.
I don't have C-3PO.
Han Solo was always cool
but I just wanted to be
in that swamp with Yoda.
That was awesome.
I love the teaching.
I love...
I loved how Yoda's introduced
as a crazy old hermit,
and I love the idea of that
someone can be so
confident in themselves,
so assured of their
abilities and their knowledge
that they can act the
complete fool and not care.
That grabbed me when I was
a kid and it's always stuck.
- [Opie's Mother] He used to
get in trouble quite often
because he would always
go and help other kids,
even if a kid was
on the bad side.
He thought by befriending him,
he could turn his life
into the good side.
Except for a time
when he was trying to
change the wrong people and
those people changed him.
(somber ambient music)
- I was thinking
about getting a tattoo
to signify the first
stages, because it...
One, it was signifying kinda
how all Jedi start out,
with that fictional idea,
that fictional inspiration,
the idea that you wanna
be wielding the lightsaber
and you wanna be moving
things with your mind,
you wanna be battling the
dark forces of the galaxy
and saving the day.
(tattoo needle buzzing)
- [Opie's Mother]
What's that say, Jedi?
- Jedi Knight.
- Jedi Knight?
- [Opie] Yes, Knight.
It goes all the way around.
- [Interviewer] What do
you think of the tattoo?
- I'm not much on tattoos.
Firstly, I hate needles.
He basically
dropped out of church,
'cause he used to go
to church every Sunday.
- It did become kind of
that negative view of God.
God, I believe in God.
I don't like him.
- [Interviewer] What's your
main reason for hating God?
- Seeing friends get hurt,
seeing innocent people get hurt,
innocent animals,
for no reason, like,
it didn't make sense
to me why a good person
or someone who's doing
good in their lives
would all of a sudden come
across someone that was like me
and my friends at the time,
who were doing bad things.
Why would a deity place
someone in that path?
- They saw somebody and they
went over and beat the kid up.
Apparently, he was supposed
to beat him up too, you know,
to be part of the gang.
- [Opie] So I got arrested
and the judge sentenced me
to serve one year
in Camp Louis Roth,
which is a
correctional fire camp.
I had no idea what
I was getting into.
- He didn't really wanna be
there and he kept trying to say
get me out, get me out,
I'd say I can't, you know,
you've really messed this time,
I can't do anything about this.
So, you're gonna have to
change, it's you this time.
- We start off with confusion,
mistakes, negative karma.
But all of that, there's
not one single mistake
or delusion that cannot
be removed through wisdom.
- Before I went in, I'd seen
the re-release of the trilogies
in the theaters, and that
was kind of sitting on me
that entire time.
And I kinda of felt
like part of training,
you have a brick
in your backpack
and you have to climb
up this mountain,
and you have to do it in
a certain amount of time.
And I just kept thinking
like, it's Yoda on my back,
I'm in Dagobah, feel
the Force, you know,
I was just using that
to kind of push through.
You know what, if
that worked for me,
there's gotta be a
real Jedi out there.
There's gotta be a
Jedi Master out there.
So I went online, I
ran across this site
that presented it in a way
that made it seem viable.
Here's stuff in the fiction,
but they're presenting it as
if they're saying go live it.
And that's when
it kinda first...
Why can't I be a Jedi?
- Jedi is a code, it's
a system of honor,
it's protocols of behavior.
It's a way of
viewing the self, and
the universe, and others.
In what, to me, looks
like very beneficial ways.
- [Opie] This is it, I
found what I'm looking for.
- There is a moment
when it occurs to Luke
that he might become a Jedi,
he might seek that role in life,
he might go into the training
and it's very arduous
and would ask a lot, but
he begins to see that
as a possible option for himself
and to have at least enough
initial faith in himself
that he can see it could happen,
and this is an aha moment,
this is a real turning point.
- Film can expose the values
that we have as a culture.
And how we, as individuals,
also carry forth
our world view all the time.
(dramatic orchestral music)
- Joseph Campbell
worked with symbolism.
He was looking at the
mythic imagination,
how a picture is
worth 1,000 words
and movies are all pictures.
And so, we bring our
interest, our attention,
and we meditate on
a series of images
and walk away feeling like
more has been communicated
than just the storyline
of the film, and it has.
And so, the imagination is rich
in this particular art form
and that is part of why
Jediism is more powerful
and more compelling
and ultimately perhaps
more rewarding than some other
recent religious movements.
- I think that when people do...
When they create these,
you know, stories, movies,
whether it's a novel or a film,
that it's not meant to
be taken externally.
It's meant to be a story
for our own hearts.
- Most folks who go to
movies really love it
when I talk about... Star Wars,
Star Wars,
because they've had that
experience of sitting there.
And, really...
Were moved when
they saw the movie
and now they're
sitting in church,
and they get a chance to
connect that experience
in the movies with their faith.
And they say, "Ah, oh, wow."
- One of my best friends
in martial arts class,
he came up to me, he says,
"Did you know Jedi
is a real religion?"
And I told him, no,
you're lying, man.
So I looked it up and sure
enough, it was an actual thing,
people were doing it.
- All the stormtroopers
were lined up in one area
and they had to do
their buckets off shot.
So they took their helmets off
and there was this
one woman there,
her blond hair just cascaded
down and I was like,
oh, my God.
I have to do that.
- Along the path
of enlightenment,
along the path of knighthood,
gender doesn't really
make a difference.
- My name is Perris
Cartwright and I'm a Jedi.
- [Opie] I met Perris in
the online Jedi community,
where she goes by
the name War Beauty.
We've been friends for
about three years now.
Perris is amazing, I've been
mentoring her for the past year.
I nominated her to
test for knighthood
at this year's Jedi gathering.
So, now Perris and
I will be going
through the trials together.
- Being nominated by Opie is,
in my opinion, a big deal,
because he's, arguably, the
longest active standing member
of the entire community
since the '90s.
He helped mold and
shape most of Jediism
into to what it is today.
To have him look
at you and be like,
"You're worthy to be knighted,
"I endorse you with my own
name," that's pretty awesome.
- At some point early
on, you meet a mentor.
There is a guide who is
willing to show you the ropes,
and they're around,
sometimes it takes
some work to find them,
but in mysterious ways,
sometimes the mentor and
apprentice find each other
just because it's
the right time.
- [Opie] Perris has known
of me for a long time.
Believe it or not,
this is the first time that
we're meeting in person.
I think it's always interesting.
Do you shake hands?
Do you wave?
Do you give a hug?
I don't...
I never know.
Parking lot of a Chili's.
The grand adventure continues.
There she is.
- My fucking sandals are
melting to the asphalt,
it's so hot today.
- So, what's up?
- Nothing.
Playing World of Warcraft.
- Sounds exciting.
- [Perris] Yeah.
- As long as you can knock
out the academic stuff.
- I've been writing everything
on flashcards beforehand,
post-it notes, tattooing
it on my wrists like Mulan.
- And there's a lot
in it for the mentor.
The mentor went
through all this before
and values it greatly,
and has a big investment
in the newbies,
the next wave coming forward.
And, of course,
there's an enormous
amount in it for the initiate.
- This is gonna be heavy hitter.
This is the all-star team
that they're questioning.
These are gonna be the
big league questions.
These are gonna be
the questions that
you people would
get for Masters,
and they're gonna
grill us so hard.
- I mean, you go in
there, you be a Jedi.
That's all it is,
that's all it is.
- It might be hard.
I don't know.
- I don't know.
- Yeah, you just act like
you're doing everyday life.
- So, companions along
the way are crucial.
We have company, it
is not that lonely,
in fact, we need to be able
to work well in a team.
- She's a veteran of
one of our recent wars.
She married a military man and
he doesn't get the Jedi path,
he doesn't respect it,
so he has comments.
- Yes, my husband is the
biggest troll of Jediism ever.
Anytime I talk to any
of my friends on Skype
or I'm telling him about
Jediism, he'll just be like,
"Oh, where is Obi-Wan
and your lightsaber, ha."
Probably most people in society
would think that it's weird.
Ya' know it's got the, either
geek or dork or nerd...
Whichever Darth Sidious
or frikkin' Mr.Force Powers,
or whatever.
Ya' know, one's bad and
one's just annoying.
- She's out of the Marines
now and what she does now,
is she's a makeup artist.
She goes around on
different photo shoots
as well as walking
the Jedi path.
I've basically stated by
putting her name forward
that I view her
as a Jedi Knight.
So if she doesn't pass, that
reflects negatively on me
and my standards and my judgment
on what makes a Jedi Knight.
- I'm a veteran, I served
honorably for four years,
but it just wasn't for me.
And the transition from
Marine Corps to makeup artist
was a really fascinating one.
I felt like the Marine Corps
was such a masculine
environment, that I couldn't...
That femininity was
really discouraged,
even by the women there.
And there was a point where
the Commandant wanted to get rid
of skirts and like, pantyhose.
And I hate pantyhose, but
that was just such a...
It felt like such a
violation of being feminine
that I wanted to kind of help
restore some of
that to the world.
And that's why I'm
a makeup artist now.
It's because I like
making things beautiful,
I like making people
feel beautiful,
I like making women
feel beautiful.
To an extent I feel that
there's a lot of weight to pass.
- Perris, what
practice do you have
that enhances your
spiritual well-being?
- Currently, the
practice that enhances
my spiritual well-being
is Shamanism.
- You left the Jedi path and
haven't been a part of it.
You had to go through
a tough ordeal, right?
What was that
ordeal specifically?
How did it make you feel?
- I kind of had a breakup
with the Jedi organization
I had been a part
of for seven years,
and it was really tough.
I came out of it depressed.
And I kinda fell out for a
year from the whole community.
- Do you feel that the
Jedi path is a sexual path?
- I'm not gonna say that
sexuality isn't a part of it,
but I don't feel
like that it is that.
- How do you reconcile your
sexuality with the Jedi path?
Your overt sexuality
with the Jedi path?
- I don't need to reconcile it.
It just is what it is, you
know, it's free love to me.
It's like a universal
love concept,
I don't believe in the tie-down.
- Does that work
with your practices
or is it a conflicting
thing within the practice
and lifestyle of the Jedi path?
- For me, it works.
- What a lot of us liked
about Princess Leia was
she didn't take
anything from anybody.
I mean, she even stood up to,
and talked back to Darth Vader,
who had everybody else
just shaking and quaking.
But here was a very,
very strong woman.
- [Perris] Being a
Jedi, and a Marine,
it's a huge conflict
of interest.
The reality is really gruesome.
It's like putting all of
your best fighting dogs
into one cage at nighttime,
and then whoever makes it out
gets put back into that
cage again the next night.
And that's what the Marine
Corps is, essentially.
It's a great organization
and they do great things,
but it's not peaceful, there's
a lot of things that happen
that are completely
(somber ambient music)
I don't know, I'm not
afraid to tell my story.
And besides, I mean,
people, they look at me...
Three rapes, that's pretty hefty
and it screwed me up
for a lot of years.
Recently, literally, in this
past year, have just kind of
come out of that victim
mentality, kind of thing.
They happened when
I was 18 and 19.
I'm 24, I'm almost 25, that
was a lot of years ago.
And so, people, they
look at me like...
They're either like,
"I don't believe you
"'cause you're so
cavalier about it."
Or like, "How can you
talk so about it?"
And like, "You're not very
sensitive," and I'm like,
no, I am sensitive, that's
why I'm telling you,
is because other people
have been through this,
it's a serious ordeal, it's
like a piece of your soul,
that gets ripped out and
you may never get it back.
But you need to know that.
You wanted to know me,
well, then, here you go,
a piece of my soul
was ripped out
and I probably will
never see it again.
I had to, like, duct tape
my heart back together
several times, because
it just went...
And shattered into
a million pieces.
That's the ugly reality of life.
And no, Jediism wasn't
like a magic wand.
Jediism wasn't some ultra, super
secret way to fix everything.
It was a learning process
and it was like scraping my face
against cement for
a lot of years.
- When a female has been
disempowered by a male's
misuse of power, particularly
in a warrior situation, for her
to be able to step out
of that categorization
and to rise above
and become a warrior
as the Jedi Knighting
process helps do,
then she becomes more than
she was, she becomes more than
what other people were
trying to make her be,
and she becomes an example to
other people, women and men.
- [Opie] After spending
a week with Perris,
it was hard to walk away.
And now I can't help
thinking about another girl
who I trained to become a Jedi.
We were married on the
bridge of the Enterprise.
The Starship Enterprise
from Star Trek.
At the time, the Hilton had
Star Trek: The Experience.
What you could do is
shell out a little
money and you can be
married on the bridge.
So, she was in a Star
Trek-like wedding dress.
I was in a suit and tie but
my hair was done all funky.
And we both loved Star
Trek too, so, why not?
We had created the Jedi
Academy Online website together
through this, and through
our whole marriage, I mean,
we both worked on it
and we both ran it
and we both, you know, put
our time and effort into it.
And through that, I met a Sith.
- Being a Sith isn't
something that you learn.
I don't even know whether it's
something that you choose.
It's something that
kind of happens to you.
You find yourself in a position,
where the system failed you.
- Interesting that Lucas came up
with such Old Testament
demonic imagery for the Sith.
Here is the worst fear.
(electricity crackling)
- Your feeble skills
are no match for
the power of the Dark Side.
- I think that the
struggle that we go through
in terms of choosing
the good or the bad,
the good or the evil within us,
is not to be underestimated.
- [Interviewer] And how
do you wanna be known?
How do you want your name,
your title, or your name?
- Oh, God, just...
- [Interviewer] Just, Sith?
- Yeah, that's it,
that's good enough.
My name is Miles and I'm a Sith.
- What is the Dark Side?
Depends on who you ask.
I wrote a book about it
looking at all the
different definitions
and I still haven't found
the perfect answer for that.
- What do you say to mom and dad
when they come and say
their son is a Sith?
Find out if it's a fantasy
or if they're doing
something else.
'Cause if they're, you know,
hurting cats in the
backyard, then okay,
have a look into it.
Being a Sith is kind of
a full time, 100% thing.
Daily practices,
nothing quite so formal.
It's just every
moment of every day
you try to actively be
connected to what you're doing.
And actively be connected
to what's around you.
- [Interviewer] Would
you say that the Jedis
are more group
oriented than the Sith?
- I would say that the Jedi are
far more group
oriented than the Sith.
For them, being a Jedi is being
a member of the Jedi Order.
Being a Sith is
just, you're a Sith.
In the Return of the Jedi,
I was a fan of The Emperor.
His presence, his
mastery of his position,
and his comfort in his position.
- Your hate has
made you powerful.
Now fulfill your destiny
and take your father's
place at my side.
- Sith is as Sith does.
Makes his own choices and
takes responsibility for 'em.
My idea of good
and evil has more
to do with what do you create
and what'll you allow
entropy to take,
that's where my standing
on good and evil stands.
And on that score, Sith
are often quite good,
because they're the
ones that are done
living with the status
quo, they want change,
they want something new.
- Why are you filming Miles
and all this?
Because he wasn't involved
in all this.
- He's been involved
with the Jedi community
for a little bit, but...
- Since when?
- Before I knew him.
- The first time I met Opie,
I was teaching my sword class.
I was teaching for the Academy
of European Fighting Arts.
- I didn't think he was
involved all this time that
you and Michelle were...
- How do you think we met?
- The sword thing...
When he was doing it out
in the park in Burbank.
- That's where we met.
That's not why we met.
I met him at the
park 'cause he was
doing stuff at the park,
but then we went
over to like islands,
or we'd get something
to eat, you know.
Sit down, and we would talk.
So yeah, we met
online, but then...
Yeah, met face to face,
you know, at the park.
All three of us got together...
- And we had a
wonderful conversation.
Ate up a whole lot of time.
Just seemed to fly.
He's a passionate guy.
I love it, because I...
Talk about a passionate guy.
I just...
I even told him, at
the time, I said,
you are one of
the most respected
Jedi among the Sith, because
you'd make a great Sith.
He didn't like that.
- And...
But at the same time, the
marriage was not going well.
One night I was hanging
out with my friend,
and she was like, "Well, I
wanna go hang out with Miles."
And they have, like a
Renaissance thing going on.
Renaissance group.
And I was like, oh yeah, cool.
You know, that sounds
cool, have fun.
- How dark am I willing to go?
I have an understanding
of myself that
involves things that
culture rejects.
- She was into BDSM.
Not my bag.
So I pick her up
from Miles' house,
not thinking anything of it.
Her back's turned
to me, and it's...
Looked like...
If you took a baseball bat,
and just...
I mean, it looked,
you know, bad.
And that was her thing
that I didn't deliver.
Then I doubt she
could've put together
a bigger sense of betrayal.
(woman moaning)
(whip snapping)
- Had a wonderful time.
We had a falling out
over personal issues.
- My student, who I had
said was a Jedi Knight,
not only tossed
the Jedi path away,
to follow, and
explore the Sith path,
but also slept with a Sith.
A Sith is gonna look
to take what he wants.
- The Jedi have
that great phrase,
"May the Force be with you.
"May it be with you."
Well, if it's in the
trees, and the air,
and between us, and everywhere,
then it's always with you.
Well that's fine.
And Sith go with a
slightly different twist.
"May the Force serve you well."
- He doesn't have morality,
he doesn't care what he...
He doesn't care about
stepping on you,
to get what he wants.
He's not gonna care
that you're crushed,
and your whole life
has been destroyed.
(woman moaning)
(whip snapping)
In my darkest moments,
I made a great
Sith because I had
nothing but hatred,
man I hated him.
I hated her, I hated him,
I hated the Sith path.
F the Sith, man.
I had complete venom.
- He disappeared for awhile,
off of my radar at least.
- All I did was basically
play video games,
computer games, and drink.
That was it.
- And he went through
a bit of a rough patch.
- It hit me hard, and I
let all the practices go.
I didn't do anything
with the Jedi path.
I didn't even try.
You know, it's not like I tried
to deal with any
of it like a Jedi.
I just tossed it out
the window, F it.
- All of us, at some
point, or another,
if we are to grow, must
descend into the darkness.
Sometimes it's brought
about by another person.
- It may not be until a
moment of great tragedy,
that they are actually motivated
to go take the journey.
And this devastating
loss is either
going to kill you, or
kill your old self,
so a better self can emerge.
Well, for Luke Skywalker,
it is the murder
of his aunt, and uncle.
And so it seems we
are out there alone.
- Emotional wounds,
and suffering,
are a very good thing for
the spiritual warrior.
They are what gets
the path started.
- I've been active
in the Jedi community
for 15 years now,
and I've never really
had that recognition
on this kind of level.
This is more than
one group, you know,
this is a community recognition.
So, I'm bringing two bags.
One of 'em is gonna be for
the ceremonial clothes.
It's when a lot of Jedi
wear their Jedi robes.
And things that they feel
represent them as Jedi.
In Star Wars, the
idea of Jedi robes
was they were meant to fit in.
To be a product of their time.
And that's more what I go with.
I try to go with more...
Be good to catch up with Perris.
It'll be nice to see
how she's been doing.
Hannigan, Hannigan,
is going to be there.
I don't know how
that's going to go.
I suppose there's some tension
between me, and Hannigan.
He held onto an
identity, basically
a troll of the Jedi.
He likes to run his mouth, which
tends not to go
over with a group
of people who
consider themselves
protectors, and
upholders of justice.
Nothing really
beats sitting down,
and being able to
talk with people
that you've been arguing
with, and debating with,
and discussing with, and
laughing with online.
To be able to do
that offline just
adds to the sense of community.
(gentle ambient music)
I'm in Chicago now.
I'm going to see Angelis.
I call him Gabe,
and he's the one
sponsoring me, this
year, at the Jedi trials.
- Opie is one of the oldest
members in the community.
He was there before
I was, and so that
already says a lot,
in itself, because
I've been in the community
for a little over a decade.
And so, the fact
that now he's come
back and joined the
rest of the group,
I think is exciting,
because he is one
of those people that
I've always looked
forward, and looked
towards, and saw
as a guiding Force.
So here I have my altar.
I am also a Shaman.
Shamanism, for those
who don't know,
is very nature focused, and sees
the Great Spirit,
or what people would
call the Force, or God,
and that Great Spirit
is in everything, and basically,
you can connect to
it, whenever you want,
however you want.
- The difference
between spirituality,
and religion, is that
religion has a form.
It has set practices.
It often has rules.
It has protocols.
And sometimes these can be very
constricting, and conflicting.
But often, they can be excellent
guidelines to help
us better live
the spiritual principles
that we want to embody.
- The way we do our
Padawan training,
is we feel that it usually
takes about three years.
'Cause it takes about
that long to just
incorporate all the knowledge.
We take this very seriously.
We wanna make sure that a person
is committed to becoming a Jedi.
To serving as a role model.
Being a representative of
who we are, and what we do.
And so that's why
we say it's gonna...
It's not a short process.
In a way, we sort of
consider ourselves,
sort of like the Ivy
League of all the chapters,
so that if you
are a knight here,
you are basically a
knight everywhere.
Thank you for
coming, and welcome
to another meeting
for Chicago Jedi.
I think the most
challenging aspect
is that we do encourage
people to do self-reflection.
Actually look inside yourself,
and recognize what
your strengths, and
your weaknesses are.
There is no emotion.
- There is peace.
- [Woman] There is peace.
- [Gabe] There is no ignorance.
- [Group] There is knowledge.
- There is no passion.
- [Group] There is serenity.
- [Gabe] There is no chaos.
- [Group] There is harmony.
- [Gabe] There is no death.
- [Group] There is the Force.
- [Gabe] The Force is with us.
- [Group] Always.
- [Jedi] When you deal with
binaries, it seems, at first,
that the task is to overcome the
problematic one, and
go to the solution.
It gets more
complicated than that.
We need both
emotion, and mastery.
We need inner peace, of course,
we also need our passions.
In the end we'll need both
sides of these things.
- Looking at the Jedi code,
I noticed that it is just making
a few statements
about how things are.
And not telling us
what we must do.
- There are a lot
of things about
the Christian religion,
that are problematic.
And one of them
happens to be the
way that many churches
regard homosexuality.
And, I can see
someone going from
Protestant, or
Catholic, Christianity,
into Jediism, simply
because of the acceptance,
that they may feel in
Jediism that they don't
feel in the Christian world.
- There is a huge
contrast between
being gay in the Catholic world,
and being gay in
the Jedi community,
and once I realized
my own sexuality
was gonna be an
issue, at first I had
reconciled to that
fact, that okay,
I'm gonna be gay,
but then, because
I'm Catholic, and I
respect that faith,
then, yes, I recognize that I'm
never gonna be with somebody.
I'm gonna just be
celibate the entire time.
Spiritually is a huge
part of who I am,
and the Jedi I saw
as the amalgamation
of all things spiritual.
They accept all of me.
I don't have to hide who I am.
- I think it's
tragic for the church
to lose people because of that,
but I embrace it,
that's why I embrace
something like
Jediism, because it
has potential of showing
us, as Christians,
why we're wrong on the
homosexuality issue.
Especially my denomination,
which is United Methodist.
- Jediism, for all
of its, sort of,
strange origins, is
accepting of people.
It has an openness to it.
Possibly because of
its newness, and for
some people that's
just the right fit.
- My name's Michael Hannigan.
I've been a Jedi for
over 20-ish years.
- So Michael Hannigan
will be coming
to hang out with
the Chicago Jedi,
before going to
the Jedi gathering.
Hannigan is also
testing this year.
- I have probably
been one of the most
controversial people
within the community.
If you talk to people
you either have a,
I love Hannigan,
I hate Hannigan.
There's some in between people,
but most people hit extremes.
And if you take Mace Windu,
from Star Wars movies,
like how he was,
multiply that by 10,
that's pretty much where I was.
- He's an aggressive
He's a unpredictable
He's about attention.
He's about perpetuating
his reputation,
of this disruptive
Force, in the community.
He can, then, I don't
know, take a swing at me,
because, hey now I
get to, you know,
further that reputation.
Oh, look at me, I'm the
crazy guy who swung on Opie.
- There he is!
- One of the things you must do,
if you are on the
path, is you have
to go down and
wrestle with a dark.
You have to go within
and find the darkness.
Now, if you have a
person, or a situation,
who has driven you
to that, you're
maybe even kind of
lucky, because then
you are drawn into it,
you engage with it.
And you learn,
hopefully, how to deal
with it, and how to lift
that up, from yourself.
- Opie, after many years.
- Here we are with their big...
- Here it is.
- Give me a hug.
- What you doing, buddy?
How was the trip?
- 18 hours, not bad.
I got to see a drunk person
spew at my first bus stop.
- [Friend] Lovely.
- Got to see some crazy
ass couple fights.
Nobody's ready to meet me
in real life, in some ways.
Like, they are not
ready for the...
You know, if you can see
me on ones, and zeroes,
on the computer, and
you have a completely
different impression,
versus when you meet
me in real life, and
you see that I'm more
full of energy,
there's no negativity.
I lost my dad.
He died, and I felt more
alone, and wanted to escape.
(fire sizzles)
And the one thing I
liked about, you know,
using drug use, was it
wasn't actually being high.
That part I couldn't tolerate.
But it was the side affect of
having absolutely no emotions.
That way, you know, I
didn't have to mourn.
I didn't have to
grieve, because, well,
you didn't have the
emotion to do so.
In fact, I didn't
have the emotions
until six months after
I stopped using drugs.
So, I'll say I went 2.5 years
being completely emotionless.
(somber ambient music)
- Many of us have
suffered it, and yet
hung on long enough
to be recognized
as being who we are.
Sometimes it's just our calling.
It's just our calling
to go through that.
It's a unique
spiritual experience,
that you are having.
- I think that the
negative energy
is going to be the
delusions that we have,
and the basic
delusion that we have
is assuming that everything
that we see is real.
This is taking
everything at face value.
This is the main delusion.
- Opie and I can have
a reality TV show,
where we live together,
for like a year.
- [Friend] You've already
got my money on both of you.
- And we have this
sponsorship, because
everybody would watch that.
How about this, for six
months out of the year,
we'll go to different Asian
countries for training,
the other six
months of the year,
we'll travel across
the United States,
and we'll bum out on
other Jedi's couches.
Picture Opie and
I going and doing
human weapon fight quest,
for like six months, right?
And then going across
the United States,
and training him
like different Jedi,
and doing the concept.
Like going to Ross' school.
And, you know, sparring
with Ross' people,
and then fighting each other.
- I'm still trying
to get the mental
image of you and him
strangling each other
out of my head, but keep going.
- We'll see what happens.
- [Friend] Opie's
still trying to
get the mental
image of you's two
trying to strangle each
other out of his head too.
- Anytime anybody asks me if
I did this, or I did that,
if I remember it, I
fucking said that, I did.
If I don't remember it, sorry.
I really, truly, don't.
- Everybody's accountable
for what they say online.
- Once I went off on
Gabe, and Amy is the
one that I directly went off on.
- [Opie] Amy is in Moon Shadow?
- [Hannigan] Yes.
- Oh, you're a piece of garbage.
- [Hannigan] I know.
- What's the matter with you?
- You know, have I
been a jerk, a jag off?
I certainly have.
But, all I can do is say, yeah,
I've been there, done that.
This is where I'm at now.
This was me 10 years ago.
This is me now.
If the Jedi path is
not about redemption
and growth, then what
the hell is it about?
- We all need to be redeemed.
The Buddha wasn't
perfect in the beginning.
He started off as
a regular person,
who didn't want
to suffer anymore.
And, if we all thought
that we can't do this
spiritual path because
we're not good enough,
you know, we've already
made a big mess of our life,
then nobody would ever be
able to become a Buddha.
- If you ever go to
the Army, they can
shave your head in
less than 30 seconds.
And it's bald, well...
- Well these are old clippers,
so I like to take it slow.
- Way back in the
day, when the knights
would take their pledges,
and take their oaths,
and go to their things,
they would shave
their head, and they
would pledge something.
For example, for
me, I'm gonna pledge
that I'm gonna be
a stronger leader
within the community,
by doing my radio show,
by teaching my reiki
classes, and by getting
more active within the
greater Jedi community.
- It was interesting
to see that Hannigan
cut his hair for the
trials and the gathering,
and that the hairstyle he chose
was not too far off from
the one I'm sporting now.
- He has me by 30 or 40
more gray hairs than I have.
Which is incredible because I am
about three, or four
years older than him.
(lively orchestral music)
- Well we're at the Skyline
Camp, in Almont, Michigan.
When Jedi get
together we call it
a Gathering of Jedi.
- And so there are the
ordeals, also trials,
and tribulations, tests,
and exams of all kinds.
These challenges, we don't
pick them, they pick us.
- I'm a little excited
to see everybody.
I didn't go to the
gathering last year,
so it's been two
years since I've
physically seen
other Jedi really.
- [Jedi] I didn't
think this place
was gonna be this nice.
- [Interviewer] Oh, what did
you think it was gonna be?
- I thought it was gonna be
a campground, not a resort.
- I am Kitt Tells.
I am the organizer of
this year's gathering.
(lively orchestral music)
- [Organizer] We try to have
a gathering once a year,
where Jedi from
across the nation,
can get together
and meet people,
that probably they've
interacted with online,
since most Jedi are spread out,
except this one
time of year, when
we can get together,
and all meet each other,
and get to know each
other a little better,
and do some activities
that are good
to do when you're
actually with other Jedi.
- Thank you so much for
organizing this, Kitt.
(overlapping cheering
and applause)
- In the fiction, there
are particular Jedi
trials that you must
go through, and they're
actual, you know, they
sort of give an assignment.
In real life, we use
that sort of as a basis
to plan out how we give people
that, sort of, recognition.
- We, the Council, are
looking for candidates
that showed growth.
Growth as a person.
Growth in building
their path in life.
- George Lucas made the Jedi
based on the ancient Samurai.
I get to teach self-defense to
the people in the Jedi order.
- [Interviewer] What's
going on with those?
- Sparring.
(lightsaber swooshes)
- That's cool.
Oh yeah.
(lightsaber swooshes)
Same attack.
- Is that your breathing
getting kind of heavy?
- Yep, I'm an old man.
- I believe your powers
are weak, old man.
- [Council Member] During the
time that we have the Jedi
gathering, I'm
going to ask certain
candidates to show
me certain things.
I need to see.
I want to see.
It could be something mental.
It could be something physical.
It could be verbal.
- Nice.
- It depends on the person.
Uh-oh, this is about
to hurt, isn't it?
- What I want to see is
Hannigan's ability to adapt,
so I wanna show him some
of the things that I do,
and I wanna see him, to
be able to absorb it,
and show he could do it.
Because at the level
you become a knight,
you're ready to become
someone's teacher.
To be able to teach, you
have to be able to learn.
- Yes.
- This keeps going
that way, like
you're wringing out a towel.
I wanna see more fire.
I appreciate that
that's settled, but I
wanna see more fire.
You know, when they do
the form, when someone
grabs your throat, they
don't just do this.
I want you, without killing me,
but with fire, I want you
to grab me by the throat.
I'm prepared.
No, no, grab me by the throat.
I'm serious.
Now you see how you just
grabbed me, and I went...
Like that?
And when you're out
there doing that,
and you're going...
Yeah, I wanna see...
Like mean it.
Mean it, man.
You know when you go like this?
And you do this?
It looks like you're dancing.
- If you're getting
knighted, get up here.
Let's go!
- To an outsider,
ritual looks strange,
sometimes even silly.
The meaning is deep within,
it's an emotional meaning.
Now, it may be easier
to believe in something
that's taking place
in a grand cathedral,
than in some patch of the woods.
But we're not dealing with
mythological creatures,
or gods incarnate,
we're dealing with
people like us that
are trying to help
us by teaching a thing or two.
- Lets go!
- I'm nervous.
Heart's, you know,
starting to get there.
And I'm sure the closer
I get, the more it's
gonna start going, but
you know, whatever.
What am I gonna do not show up?
- Get them moving, make sure
they've got their rocks.
- Yeah, I got my
rocks, I don't know
what they're for, but I'm ready.
- Okay, so last
minute, we're finally
getting ready for our
trials, three years,
it comes down two minutes.
- The Jedi Council
evaluation, trial ritual,
whatever they've got
planned, is happening
right now, and we're
going to meet Gabe,
and them, down the
road, right now.
- They'll probably
torture us, with Hannigan
said this, and Opie
said that documents
that are bigger than the
Encyclopedia Britannica.
I don't know, what do you think?
- I think I'll get more
shit over bringing a beer.
- Ritual magic is evoking
certain emotional qualities
through certain
practice behaviors that
have been found to work.
The labyrinth experience,
sometimes acted
out in the woods
someplace, is showing
that we are capable
of getting lost,
and yet, by getting
lost we are found.
- We're going to be running
people through the labyrinth.
Try and get them to look inward,
find something about themselves
they don't already know.
Or maybe they know, but
they've been ignoring,
or that they're
afraid of, or they
just haven't been
able to deal with.
We're pushing them.
- [Female Jedi] What the
Jedi, in real life, are doing,
is a very mythic journey.
It's reflective of a lot
of the initiatory systems,
where people go through
a series of testing,
and training, and trials, in
order to better themselves.
We see it archetypically
embodied in the Jedi in the
films, and in the stories.
But we see it in actual
action, with real
people doing that similar
process of growth.
- So this labyrinth
represents everything
you have done to get here.
Each stone, each
rock, each tree,
all represents a point in your
life that you have overcome.
Continue to mediate
on who you have been,
who you are, and
who you will become.
- Gabe's gonna bring them
through, one at a time,
this is a kind of
walking meditation,
help them confront their inner
fears, their inner doubts.
The things that can
corrupt, or destroy, a Jedi.
- And so now we
continue through life.
Its many challenges.
Its pitfalls.
- At its best,
religion is our human
attempt to reach out to
God, and to embrace God,
and to be led by
God, which is what
happens in Star
Wars, for example.
The main character
is nothing, if he's
not led by his spiritual guide.
- [Gabe] And see that
stone in your mind's eye.
Feel it, what is that fear?
- Pain.
Emotional pain.
- Failure itself.
- Being alone.
- [Gabe] Why is that scary?
- Because I've been alone.
I know what it feels like,
it's terrifying, it's...
It's a giant, black gaping, maw.
There's nothing.
There's no one.
Not even yourself.
- [Gabe] What do you see?
- [speaks indistinctly]
I left Las Vegas.
- [Gabe] What's different now?
- Instead of letting
other things control me,
I control what I'm doing,
not substances.
It's me.
- [Gabe] It's something
you have caused?
- Indirectly.
To myself.
- [Gabe] How can
you overcome it?
- Acceptance.
And time.
- [Gabe] Do you think
you'll ever be alone again?
- I'd like to think not.
- [Gabe] What can you do
to ensure that you aren't?
- Not join the military
again, that's for sure.
- [Gabe] And now,
take another stone.
And close your eyes.
And see that stone again.
It's taking shape,
becoming a time, a belief
that you connect with
the misuse of power.
Do you see it?
- Yes.
It's the Marine Corps.
- [Gabe] Why?
- Because it is the...
Biggest abuse of power,
I have ever come to
experience, personally.
- And what have you
done to take control?
- [Perris] I stood up,
and I said this is wrong.
- [Gabe] Are you
happy with yourself?
- I am.
- [Council Member] It's their
job to know themselves well
enough that they
can't be broken.
It's their job to
know themselves well
enough that they can answer
what their weaknesses are.
Because if they can't do
that, they're not a knight.
They're not a Jedi
Knight at least.
I'm the person who has
to test their mettle.
My job is to try
to overwhelm them,
with intensity, and emotionally.
Michael Hannigan.
I'm starting to think I haven't
met you, until this week.
Place your hand on the stone.
The other.
Close your eyes,
take a deep breath.
Find the greatest of your fears.
When you remove your
hand from that stone,
you will release that fear.
(dramatic orchestral music)
Say what that fear was,
or say nothing.
- Inadequacy.
- False fear.
That the misunderstandings
about me were true.
That I am truly a destructive...
- [Council Member]
Do you wish to share?
- By the way, rituals
are not believed
in by everybody participating
in them equally.
Total belief is not
required for it to work.
Uniform belief is not
required for it to work.
It is the doing itself that
will produce the outcome.
- It will make it
harder from here.
In the past, you
were asked to let go.
But now I'm asking
you to engulf.
To embrace the chaos
within yourself.
To embrace the pain.
To embrace all of
the hatred, and all
of the suffering that
has been caused to you.
And that you have
caused to others.
Raise your hand to
the sky with the rock.
Feel the Force.
I want you to focus,
and visualize,
and feel the Force
rising up from the
core of the Earth, through you.
From the very core of
the Earth, filling you,
and pushing the pain.
I want you to push
it into that rock.
Let the Force move
it into that rock.
You may let go of this
burden, once and for all.
When you feel that
you have moved all
of that into that
stone, you may stand.
- For me, the fact that
there is an invisible
world, that is more
powerful than we,
or that we really
tap into, we really
tap into the spiritual
world, and its Force,
that can strengthen us,
help us to come
alive, in ways that we didn't
know that we could be alive.
- This is now stone,
what once was wood,
this is what the Force is.
It is sturdiness,
it is steadiness.
I'm going to ask
you questions next.
Do you swear to answer them
truthfully, and completely?
- I do.
- I do.
- Absolutely.
- Who are you, and
what is your true name?
- Michael Hannigan.
- Opie Macleod.
- Perris Cartwright.
- Whom, or what, do you serve?
- Notice, in the second
part of the trials,
you have something,
again, very typical
in initiation rituals, the
confrontation with the ego.
Where someone who
has more power in
this situation says,
"Well, who are you,
"and why are you even thinking
you can come into this?"
You know, "You have
to prove yourself."
And that shattering of
your elusions of yourself,
is essential to the growth
into a higher level.
- Serve the Force.
- Ki, the universal
light source.
- The world.
- Are you connected to it?
- Always.
- Absolutely.
- Very much so.
- What is your path?
- It's a path of
peace, of healing.
- What is your purpose?
- To mend hearts.
- What is your path?
- The Jedi path.
- And what is that purpose?
- To make the world better.
To be world betterment,
through self betterment,
and to lead others
to that realization.
- What is your path?
- A reiki master.
- And what is your purpose?
- To help those
that were not there
when I was there, and younger.
- Good, you didn't lie to me.
Where do you belong?
- Everywhere.
- Nowhere, but at the
same time, everywhere.
- Within the Jedi community,
where I can do good.
- What do you have to give, and
what do you have to give up?
- Everything.
And everything.
My life.
My skills, my service.
My breath, my
heartbeat, my love.
- Myself, and my ego.
- [Council Member] Very good.
- Everything that
I am, everything
that I stand for,
every piece of my body.
My physical body, and
my soul, my heart.
- What do you want?
- Happiness for everyone.
- What do you want?
- To be a master healer.
- What do you want?
(exhales deeply)
- To be a Jedi.
To be a Jedi Knight.
- Your trial of the
spirit is complete.
- What is going on here,
is a person
would like to be
of use, they'd like
to be a teacher of
some kind, they'd
like to incarnate
some values that they
respect, and they're calling
it being a Jedi Knight.
Okay, that's as
good a name as any.
- So it could be
that in Star Wars
that these things
are meant to be
allegorical, and not literal.
Sometimes when the
person standing there,
criticizing us, or
insulting us, it feels like
Darth Vader is about to kill us.
But we just let it go,
and then we're okay.
- When you get into the
emotional aspect itself,
when you really start
digging deep into
why do I feel the way I
feel about certain things,
these feelings have
meaning, and they have
purpose, and they
came from somewhere.
And that somewhere
comes from inside you.
And digging through
to find out where
they come through,
we set up infinite
roadblocks of
self-denial, and delusion,
and outright lying to ourselves.
We need to work through that.
And going through
that means you have
to face things that those lies,
delusions, and misconceptions
are protecting you from.
They were established to protect
you from some form of pain.
Well now, if you
really wanna come
out the other end, it's
time to own up to that pain.
(gavel pounds)
(dramatic ambient music)
- That's cool.
- You want to see a weapon
I can wield, it's this.
It's not that.
- Here's a weapon, there you go.
That's a weapon.
- I'll frikkin' shanks somebody.
That's my new toy.
- This is your new toy?
- Yeah.
- This is cute, I like this.
- Yeah.
(gentle ambient music)
- Hey Ross, we're
talking about Bruce Lee,
and his aspirin-heroin incident?
- It wasn't heroin,
you're an idiot.
- Everyone knows that Bruce Lee
died of a smack heroin overdose.
- The only one who you
should be smacked is Mike.
- Here, I'll be like Ross.
(group laughs)
- Well that's true of all
sort of religious texts,
not that I'm gonna call
Star Wars a religious text.
That makes me uncomfortable.
- It's an inspired text.
- Inspired text, see yes.
(speaking inaudibly)
(gentle rock music)
- I'm gonna go vape,
and drunk journal.
Don't wait up for me.
(lightsaber swooshes)
- The final trial
that they would go
through is to meet
with those who
have previously been
knighted, and discuss
with them what makes
them think they should
have the title, Jedi.
- When people come to
the Jedi community,
it's not about who they
are when they join us,
it's about who
they aspire to be.
- And we're gonna
ask some very deep,
probing, internal questions.
And we wanna see
what's their reaction.
I want everybody to get
to speak their fair piece.
And let this person
express themselves.
It's never such a
clear cut thing.
It's not like anybody
has midichlorians,
to make things
raise off the table.
If somebody does that, I'm
definitely promoting 'em.
We're not concerned
whether they know
what color underpants Luke
Skywalker wore in episode three.
We're not asking crazy
questions like that.
We're asking them very
personal questions
about themselves, what have
they done in their lives.
What are the things that they've
done that they regret?
What are the things that
they should've done?
How are they making up for
something they did wrong?
Every person's different.
And it's actually
tougher for this group,
because we know them.
It'd be one thing if I've
never met this person.
But everybody who's going
up is somebody I know.
- Hannigan certainly
thrives on controversy.
He brings a lot of
issues to the table,
that we'll have to deal with.
- When I first met this guy,
I was gonna jack him up.
His mouth is pretty
big, and he says
things that will
get him in trouble.
Before we even said hey,
I was gonna lay him out,
I was gonna deck him.
- The person who is
sponsoring Michael,
I would like them
to tell us why you
have nominated him
for knighthood.
- I'm Andy Spaulding.
I've been a long term
member of the community.
I nominated Hannigan,
because he has
also been a long term
member of the community.
In previous years, he
came to a gathering,
and we had a previous
history before that.
And that previous
history was going
to lead to physical
He swallowed his pride,
and he apologized before.
And that started our terms.
Our terms.
- At this time I would
like to allow Michael
to speak for
himself, as to why he
wishes to become a Jedi Knight.
- Was I a hellion in the
beginning, I certainly was.
Did I rattle cages,
I certainly did.
Have I not cared about
the community, no.
If I did not care
about the community
I would've said, fuck
the community years ago,
when I was Bannigan
Hannigan, from every
damn website that
we could imagine.
- You do have a
long, checkered past.
- [Hannigan] Certainly do.
- Why do you want this?
- To be honest, the
questions they asked
me up there was what
happened in the past,
what's going to go
on in the future,
am I gonna raise
some hell again.
Did I do some shit
to rattle cages, yes.
What was the big
thing I was known for?
Get off your ass
and do something.
Don't just sit there
on your keyboard,
looking at ones, and zeroes,
do something about it.
Get into martial arts,
get into fitness.
Do something.
- It's 11:45, we're waiting
for the Jedi council
to call us in.
- I'm tired because
I've been waiting
for like three hours.
Are you kidding me?
- [Interviewer]
What about Perris?
- Perris is somebody that I
met, through the gathering,
she has a certain
presence about her.
One would not say a
princess, like Cinderella.
But more like the
one from Shrek.
So she's like this princess who
likes to kick people's butts.
- I think for Perris,
the interesting question
will be just, why
the move over from
one Jedi order to
another, essentially.
Explain that whole
process, why did it happen?
- She is not online
a lot, and not
dealing with us
online a lot, and so
many of us don't
know her that well.
- It'll be interesting to see
if she can take
those experiences,
and be able to
translate that into how
she's moving forward,
and her vision.
10 years in the community,
and still doing things.
Already has plans
in the works for
some great organizational work,
work within the
community for girls.
Just a lot of projects in hand.
Knocked out her Jedi academics,
Temple of the Jedi
Order, rocked it.
- Without repeating
what he said, per se,
we want you to give
us as much supporting
information as to
why you would like
to become a knight
in our organization.
- It's a piece of
my spiritual soul.
And, while I'm not
in it for the titles,
or for the recognition, to me,
being a recognized knight,
within the community,
being a knight, within
the physical community,
it's a pretty big deal, and now
I can go out, and
out into the world,
and say, Jedi Knight, it's
gonna have a lot of substance.
You know, Jediism is a pretty
heavily male-dominated,
and sometimes that
soft feminine,
that motherly kindness,
it gets swallowed up.
- Awhile back, I recall a
radio interview with you.
In which you said if
you were attacked,
by an attacker, you would
not defend yourself.
- At the time,
when it was asked,
I was still a United
States Marine.
I was physically,
sexually, emotionally,
and mentally abused,
almost every single
day in the United
States Marine Corps.
It was so bad, for
four years, I literally
went to the Chaplin,
and I was like
I don't know if I
can do this anymore.
I think I need to be a
conscientious objector.
Because I can't defend
myself against this kind
of violence, and it crushed me.
I'm fighting guys who are three
times my size, and strength.
- So you'd have difficulty
in defending yourself,
you don't see that as
any kind of weakness?
- To be completely
honest, I would freeze.
- [Council Member] How
is that knight like?
- It's not.
There was a card that
was pulled, during mine,
that was greatly unfair.
If a random mugger,
a guy comes, yeah,
I'm gonna defend myself
against a random mugger.
But, in my experience,
it's never a random guy.
It's always somebody
that you know,
and it's not only
a physical attack,
it's a complete, and
total, mental terrorism.
I was a little
pissed though, man.
He pulled that shit
out, I was like...
- Opie Macleod was a
person who I heard about.
He was kind of like a
legendary character.
- For you, I think
the biggest thing
will be why the return.
Like, 'cause you have been
away from the community,
in one regards, for awhile.
Haven't been to gatherings
until pretty recently, and...
- Opie is sort of
part of an old guard
that's been around
for a long time,
those that were
involved in the online
activities, long
ago, know him well.
But he hasn't been
as active recently,
and so I think
those of us who are
newer to the online community
won't know him as well.
And so I think his
challenge will be proving
that he's a good
representative for our groups.
- You kind of get this build up,
and it's all part
of it, I suppose.
Walking in there, kind of tired.
Kind of frustrated, kind
of like what's going on?
You know, that's a part of it.
It kind of gets
you off your game.
- When you walk that
journey, you have
no idea whether you're
going to succeed or fail.
In fact, nobody knows.
You could fail.
It is a very real possibility.
- Well I present before
you, Opie Macleod,
and the reason I
believe he is a knight,
is he has done much
in the community.
He has been a long
standing member.
He has been around for
well over a decade.
He has been at
various academies,
and continues at the
Jedi Academy online.
He has presented
much curriculum,
and even a published
author himself.
- Opie, I would like
you to be able to make
a statement, as to
why you would like
to become a knight
in this order.
- Because it validates
a lifetime of work.
Not online, not done
through any sort of
but because they
see something of
quality, and where you're
going, and that you can
handle the responsibility
of that title, and
everything that it means.
- I know Hannigan
quite well, I've dealt
with him for a long
time, and in talking
with him, he said that
your story was just like
his, and you were just like him.
Tell me in what
ways that's true,
and in what ways
that's not true.
- [Council Member] That's
the best question all night.
- Okay.
I am like Michael
Hannigan in the sense
that there is a preceding
reputation with the name.
We both were kids, at a time,
who were hurt individuals.
We had very low
self-esteem, and what we did
is we covered that up
with this big bravado.
Of this...
Yeah, I'm a bad monkey.
I'm a bad man.
Watch out.
No one believed it,
we didn't believe it,
but that's alright, we
just kept going with it.
We're both skinny, white dudes.
(group laughs)
- If you sat on the
opposite part of the table,
if you were sitting there now,
what would you ask yourself?
- There was a time of
complete, utter loss,
and it was not too long ago.
I would ask...
And there was tags
along with that.
There was a little bit
too much of this in it.
Now at gatherings, my vacation,
you'll see one of these
in my hand at most times.
So if I was sitting
there, I would say,
dude you had a pretty
dark moment, where
that's all you did.
What are you still doing with
that bottle in your hand?
The answer, of course, being...
I went through some demons,
and had to face it,
and for me it wasn't an
absence, it was stability.
It was control, it was
learning to come to terms
with what had happened,
my own issues,
and the things that I
was using as a crutch.
And then to kick that
crutch out, and now
I get to laugh at it.
To me, this is laughing
at the dark side,
the weak side, the guy who
was down in the bottle, me.
(gavel pounds)
Thank you guys.
- [Council Member] Thank you.
(somber ambient music)
- [Opie] Jedi council
didn't end until something
like five, 5:30 in the morning.
They decided to just wait
for the knighting ceremony,
and kind of do it as
one big group thing,
while everybody's
standing up there.
It's iffy 'cause
if you didn't pass,
do you really wanna be
standing in front of everybody,
in your nice getup,
all happy and excited,
and then they're like,
"Yeah, and you didn't pass."
- Now we're on our
way to find out who
actually passed, and who didn't.
(dramatic ambient music)
- Upon completion of the
trials of skill, flesh,
courage, mind and spirit,
displaying adequate
knowledge of the code, a Padawan
may then become a knight.
Michael Hannigan,
who has been around us
for a very long time,
and was a different
man, came from
a different side of
the tracks, and now
has proved that he can
become something better.
Next, we have Perris Cartwright,
who comes from a long time
of training, as a Jedi,
and now wants to be with us.
Opie, also a long term
member of the Jedi community,
and also has proved
to us that he has
earned his right amongst us.
Today we are here
to acknowledge what
the Force has proclaimed.
We are pleased to
authorize the knighting
of Opie, into the Jedi Order.
We are pleased to
authorize the knighting of
War Beauty, into the Jedi Order.
We are pleased to
authorize the knighting
of Reven Hannigan,
into the Jedi Order.
- I swear to act with
courage, and integrity,
in deeds, and in words.
- [Both] I will seek
knowledge and understanding.
- I will serve the Jedi
Order as best as I am able.
I swear to provide assistance...
- [Both] To those
who are in need.
- I will work for
justice, to relieve
the distress of the world.
This oath I give,
of my own free will.
- Bow.
I dub thee, Jedi Knight.
I dub thee, Jedi Knight.
I dub thee, Jedi Knight.
- We have given them
nothing, because
Jedi Knight is not a title.
It is not a gift,
it's something someone takes.
Something someone earns.
With hard work, and dedication.
But it is not a prize.
It is not a thing you
strive for, for recognition.
It is a job description.
It is saying that you
will stand up proud,
tall, capable, that you
will help the world,
and that while you will
fall, as we all fall,
you will always rise
again, as a Jedi Knight.
(crowd applauds)
- And then, there
is the celebration,
because we have survived,
we're grateful for that.
Because we have found
connections with others,
a real sense of community,
our loneliness is eased.
Because we are of
service, our need for
a meaning of life is
reinforced, so there
is a great deal to celebrate.
And it is important, at
this point, to be grateful.
- Had some strong feelings
about the process.
I had to defend the
fact that I was raped.
For women who are going
to identify as Jedi,
they're already
strong women, whether
they see themselves
that way or not.
That's not somebody
people randomly attack.
And these guys, they're
not intentionally sexist.
It's very subconscious.
They just don't know.
And so, it takes
somebody who does know,
from experience,
to educate them.
And that's, hopefully,
I can guide trials
where those questions aren't
asked of men or women.
- It was also very touching
to have my own family
out there as well, my
sister joined for her son.
And she saw we do good work.
- [Gabe's Sister] Gabe is
my son's uncle, and he's
the cool one, because
he's into Star Wars.
He's always been kind of nerdy,
so I think, initially,
it was just kind
of a hobby, but now
I think they see
the seriousness, and how
much it really means to him.
- [Interviewer] What
do you think about
your son being a Jedi?
- Well it's something different,
and I feel proud of it, so...
I wish I could've been
younger, so I can join him too.
- I think they share my
same feelings in that they
are very proud that
he's built something
that he's passionate
about, and that other
people can be
passionate about, and
share that passion, and be
supportive of each other,
because if you're a
true nerd, or just
a nerd in general,
you feel lonely.
- It means a lot,
that I can share this,
with my friends, and my family.
- It takes a lot of
guts just to do it.
- [Interviewer]
So you support your son?
- Yes, I do.
- I guess in the
back of my mind,
I always wonder if I'm
making my family proud.
And I see I am.
(gentle orchestral music)
(exhales deeply)
I wanna be able to
leave behind a legacy.
(gentle orchestral music)
I want something to
continue after I'm done.
After I'm gone.
(gentle orchestral music)
- What we don't talk
about in our hero stories,
is after the end, after
the hero moment is done,
and living with
the consequences.
Then the mourning,
then the grieving,
then the loss, then the
pain, then the suffering.
Then all of the
betrayal that comes in.
- The interesting
part about coming up
against the Dark Side, is that
often we are lured,
or trapped, into
engaging with it so
deeply, and so strongly,
that we then are there.
- [Dr. Young] At times it
seems like those who practice
the dark arts win everything.
There are moments
in the film series
when the Empire seems
awesome, and unstoppable.
Sometimes the people
that cheat at life,
get more money, or get the girl.
So there's not always
immediate justice
in the long haul, serving
your better values
is so good for you, you
do turn out the winner.
- Jedi is my life.
And I've been rebuilding it.
And I feel I've been...
I've done it in a
way, even better.
That I needed to...
I had to.
I had to go through the fire.
(gentle piano music)
Where did I go wrong?
How come I didn't
respond like a Jedi?
How come...
I put years of my life into it,
how come it all
went down the train?
Well, love man.
Do crazy things, it'll
mess up your head.
(gentle piano music)
And then I was invited
to a Jedi gathering.
And I was like,
I don't wanna go.
And then I heard
Miles was going.
I wanna go now.
(gentle piano music)
Some people would be
like, I'm going to punch
the dude who slept with
my wife in his face.
That's a natural reaction.
I wanted to go, just
to see my reaction.
- You know, you
can't afford to not
know what you're
doing as a Sith.
Because everyone expects you
to be doing it intentionally.
Whether you are or not.
They expect you to
know what you're doing.
They expect you to have
a plan, within a plan.
So you might as well have
a plan within a plan,
because you're
expected to have one.
You're gonna get credit
for having one anyway.
- If I was going to
place blame on someone,
why not Miles?
And so I went.
Would I hit him when I see him?
Would I Jedi up?
And if I Jedi up, what
does that even mean?
What does it look like?
- Part of the reason why
I went to that event,
was to see what would happen.
You know, I had to own up to it.
I had to face off
with, and decided
whether are we gonna be
at each other's throats,
or are we gonna be friends.
What are we gonna be?
- He walked through the door.
- And I walked in,
and I took a look,
and he was the only
guy I recognized.
And I looked him
right in the eye.
- I looked at him,
he looked at me.
There was a pause.
- And I watched the cogs turn
in his mind for a little bit.
- And I said, you want a drink?
He's like, "I would love one."
- We've been thick as
thieves ever since.
- Redemption is a curious
thing, people become different,
people that were very
set in a certain idea,
or disliked a certain
person, or had a certain
prejudice, can go through
a transformative learning
experience that really
melts some of that away.
It's seeing something
so differently
that it takes no
particular effort.
It's called change.
- I don't think that
we're going to learn
that we can't trust anyone.
That's not what we're learning.
But we need to learn
something about
our own expectations,
what we thought
we were going to get out of it,
that we wanted
things to be our way.
And we're gonna be
happy if it goes my way,
and if it doesn't go
my way, then we have
a right to be unhappy.
- [Opie] Now I hear
something I didn't have.
Someone who understood
that I could talk with.
I can sit down with
Miles, and have
a cup of coffee
with him, and we can
talk about all sorts
of things, we do.
You have to have
something healthy.
It's like the
rules, or something.
- Do they still have the
french onion soup here?
It's like back order.
- Yes.
- Yes.
Through mutual
discussions, Miles ended up
coming up with this
idea to put a YouTube
series together, called
Jedi versus Sith.
So he's coming over today
so we can work on that.
- Okay, yeah, we're
gonna need to move that.
Oh god, my face is huge.
And I don't have any
hair on my face anymore.
- [Opie] We'll see how the Force
community appreciates that.
- Okay.
We're buddies.
Yeah, this is a bit close.
- It's a very intimate setting.
- Gotta get the lean back.
- Where's the...
Guess then if I'm like...
- We all have many great
questions, you know,
where we come from,
where we're going.
How can we relate to
one another, ultimately?
How can we do good,
and not do evil?
If Jediism does that...
Then more power to it.
- In order for Jediism
to become a major world
religion, I think
there would have to
be people who are
following that path,
that become amazing
people, and then
it will catch the
attention of the world.
They will say, "Oh, how did
you get to be like that?"
And they would say,
"I did that because
"I follow the code of the Jedi."
- Inspiring images
are with us from
the very beginning of
the first Star Wars film.
The idea of the numinous,
the mysterium tremendum.
Something so big,
so intense, so much
beyond our grasp, that,
well we have a kind
of mystical experience,
or at least an invitation
to one, if we're
willing to take in
what's really happening
in this story.
What we're up against
is way beyond our means,
so if we're going to
rise to the occasion,
it's going to take
everything we know, and more.
There's where the
transformation comes in.
So yes, the stories
are profoundly mystical
in their implications,
and all you have to
do to join in to the
ritual participation
is buy a ticket to the theater.
- You wanna see a Jedi fight?
- Yeah.
I don't have students,
I have friends who,
by the time we're done with
the process I love dearly.
In fact, it pains
me when they finish.
I don't want...
Because then I have
to let them go.
The last step is you
have to walk on your own.
It's your life, you
have to go on your own.
I don't...
This is my friend, this
is my companion too.
I walked through with them.
I shared in that
experience, we have a bond.
I don't wanna let 'em go.
It breaks my heart, every time.
(gentle ambient music)
- So it's all come
full circle, and
the people who were once
sitting in the hot seat,
are now sitting on the
other side of the table,
to ask questions and
determine if their
fellow Jedi are ready for the
responsibility of knighthood.
- What are your
views on motherhood?
- Being able to
participate in the growth
of a human being,
like blows my mind.
(gentle ambient music)
(speaking inaudibly)
- It's unique to be the
black sheep one year,
and then next year you're
one of the respected knights.
Ms. Cartwright, how's
it different for you?
- I traveled alone
for the first time,
to a gathering, I
normally bring someone.
(speaking inaudibly)
(gentle ambient music)
- This is the hero's
journey, we're all on it.
- I see this as our legacy.
- I'm here to surprise
Opie, he doesn't
know I came here
from California,
to see him for his
first book signing.
(gentle ambient music)
- It's been a ride,
and out of just those
little things of
working on the path,
and living it daily, and kind of
the experiences you
have with the...
(speaking inaudibly)
(gentle ambient music)
- I've seen a big growth change,
we actually have
conversations now,
because as a teenager,
that never happened.
- [Interviewer] So would
you say Jediism brought
your son back to you?
- I would say yes.
(gentle ambient music)
- I feel the Jedi path
is growing continually,
and each year the gatherings
have grown in number.
So next year I really
feel that we might
have to go the way
of a lot of groups,
and start booking
a hotel, and using
the conference rooms
within a hotel.
But it's gonna grow again.
And actually, the
gathering might evolve.
The year after that,
Jedi conventions,
instead of Jedi gatherings.
(uplifting ambient music)
(dramatic orchestral music)