The latest Star Wars adventure has landed from a galaxy far, far away and is going global.
But as youngsters dream of becoming legendary heroes such as Han Solo or Jedi knight Luke Skywalker for one man it is more serious than that.
The mega-hit sci-fi series is a way of life for Daniel Jones. In fact, it is his religion.
The 31-year-old started the Jediism religion which now has 500,000 members worldwide who live by philosophies inspired by Star Wars. And he credits it with helping his fight with autism.
He said: “It’s about feeling the force, our connection to the universe. Like the Jedi knights we practise mindfulness, patience, and broaden our minds through reading and learning.
“It’s about appreciating what is around us and finding our creative purpose in the world.”
This week’s launch of The Last Jedi film peaked interest in Daniel’s movement. He said the church’s website has crashed several times with as many as 30,000 online hits a day.
The church claims to have more practising members in Britain than the followers of Paganism, Humanism and Rastafarianism combined.
It may be easy to dismiss Daniel as an attention-seeking crackpot – he owns several lightsabers, always wears black and goes by the Jedi name of Morda Hehol – but he is a thoughtful, intelligent man.
He faced years struggling with dyslexia and Asperger’s syndrome, only finally diagnosed five years ago.
Daniel was just five and living in a town not so far away when he first felt the force of the original Star Wars and the sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He said: “I loved it so much I made my family rent it from the video shop so often that the tape broke.
“I was devastated. It was an amazing day when mum bought me my own trilogy and I could wear my own tape out. As an adult it still ticks every box for me – mysticism, philosophy, technology and science.
“My favourite has to be Return of the Jedi, it has everything in it in terms of becoming a hero.”
Daniel became a legend himself to Star Wars fans worldwide when he established Jediism in 2007.
His homegrown movement was flooded with global media interest and hundreds of messages from movie fans who wanted to know more.
But the basic “teachings” of his church were also a way for Daniel, of Holyhead, Anglesey, to manage his autism.
He found practising mindfulness or “staying in the moment” was a way to shut out overwhelming bright lights and noise of the outside world.
He said: “When you are in primary and on the spectrum you don’t sit down and think ‘I’m not the same as everyone else’. You’re too busy trying to get through the day amid the noise and chaos.
“I was the kid who sat in the classroom at playtime reading or playing on the computer because that’s where it was quiet.”
He met his only friends at primary by swapping Star Wars action figures. Daniel was seen by psychologists and child behaviour experts but his condition took years to formally diagnose.
After leaving school with just two C grade GCSEs in computing, he joined a band, enrolled on a performing arts course and took a job building websites.
But Daniel said full-time employment “just doesn’t work for me because I need isolation and can’t focus in an office.”
Daniel started exploring mindfulness, inspired by Jedi knights, after having a “full-on autism meltdown” at work in 2007.
Jediism is a basic form of Buddhism and expands the principals of Eastern religion such as Taoism which, Daniel said, run through Star Wars.
Daniel, the grandmaster of the movement, has recruited masters, members of the high council, Jedi knights and padawans, who are apprentices.
He said: “It’s not about running around in a Jedi robe. The church is mainly online but we do meet sometimes at conventions and screenings when we will take along our lightsabers or dress up for symbolism.
“We’ve looked at how Jedi knights react to situations without impulse or rashness and how they work hard to feel part of a wider universe and make that part of our philosophy.
“We want to feel connected to our world and encourage people to explore their creative side. In our view, life is short and you have to do what makes you happy.”
Daniel is now a chemistry graduate and won plaudits for his work on his YouTube channel The Aspie World, which aims to educate people about autism.
His movement might be stuff of fiction but there’s no doubt that, just like a real Jedi, he uses the force for the good of all.
Your daily guide to being like Yoda
IF you want to be a Jedi, like Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi, here’s Dan’s day-to-day tips…
Practise thought control like Yoda. Banish negative thoughts by pondering something that makes you feel positive.
Be like Obi-Wan and take up an ancient art of self-defence such as karate and tai chi – good for physical and mental agility.
Be as bright as a Jedi. Broaden your intelligence through reading so you can take part in any conversation – or at least back up what you are talking about with a little knowledge of your subject.
From: The Sunday Mirror Online