Someone asked a search engine
do you really need a god to be religious
so let’s look at that. Religions in general require belief and acceptance of at least one god but it looks like it also depends on the definition of religion. It’s getting pretty loose, actually. A university professor in Montreal is doing a religious studies course on the Montreal Canadiens, a hockey team much of Quebec worships on Saturday nights and prays for at mass on Sundays. Vivez les Habs!
Other sports and teams get as much or more worship in the run-up to game days. In the world of soccer/football there’s the Church of Maradona, but Diego is a pretty fallible god for Argentinians to put their faith in, apparently. Soccer he might have been good at, but drugs and alcohol have taken their toll and he’s not immune to controversy. He started coaching the team he once played for but not everyone thinks he’s up to the challenge. (But don’t tell that to his 20,000 plus fans.)
People talk about how religiously they follow television programs and many shows get a cult following that only True Fans ™ can appreciate. I wonder how many conventions are centered around TV series. Why do some shows gain such a following that people would willingly dress up in ridiculous costumes and beg for autographs? It extends to movies and comics, too. I can’t fathom attending anything like that, no matter how much I might enjoy a show or series. I’m sure they’re very fun and entertaining but I think they’re a little too far over the geek threshold for me. I’ll admit to mad love of a show, but I won’t dress up for it. Not in public, at any rate.
Of course, one’s willingness to be religious requires that one also be willing to do what it takes to follow that religion, be it wearing special underwear or swinging a chicken around one’s head to take away sins.
I couldn’t make that up if I tried.
I wonder if there’s a set number of believers required before a cult becomes eligible for religion status, or if it has to do with how long the cult’s been around or if it’s a mixture of both. I’ll bring up the Church of Summum again here, the one that wanted the Seven Aphorisms of their new age faith to get equal treatment alongside the Ten Commandments and went to court over it. They lost, but still, they had the right to try. Here’s the list of aphorisms they wish to live by:
Seven Aphorisms of Summum:
1. SUMMUM is MIND, thought; the universe is a mental creation.
2. As above, so below; as below, so above.
3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.
4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.
5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.
6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny.
7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all levels
Hard to believe something that bland and harmless could cause controversy. Ah well, if everything has its season, maybe “Corky” and his followers just picked the wrong one.
Joke religions ought to be mentioned, too, I think. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster gains popularity anywhere people are opposed to the teaching of intelligent design but they aren’t the first to mock the need to believe in a creative supernatural force in the universe. In the sixties there was a group that followed Discordianism.
This philosophy and its holy scriptures were published in the “Principia Discordia.” Discordianism is a playful mix of Greek mythology (centering on the goddess Eris) and the crazy wisdom tradition in Zen Buddhism. It is unique in that it has no commandments and no fixed rules on how its adherents should behave. Far from declaring that the universe is a stable, orderly place, the Discordians maintain that everything is Chaos with one little orderly bit thrown in just to confuse you. While Discordians maintain that they are a “non-prophet, irreligious dis-organization,” they are just being modest. In reality, they are America’s first viable “joke religion”. As author Peter Lamborn Wilson (member of the Moorish Orthodox Church) said in a recent “bOING bOING” magazine interview, the “joke religions”…”remove the problem of authority by laughing it out of existence.”
I suppose I’ve gotten away from the original question somewhat, but maybe not that far. Maybe “religious” is a merely state of mind, a passion, if you will. I think it’s likely that there is an innate desire within all of us to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, be it a god or something a little less ethereal. We can become passionate about anything we believe in, if we believe strongly enough. Look at PETA and GREENPEACE and other groups where people unite for a common cause and then go and do some seriously crazy shit. Gods haven’t cornered the market where insanity’s concerned but the ones who don’t go ape shit are seriously out to try and do good for animals and the environment. They have faith in the work they do and hope to make a difference in the world while they’re at it. It’s no different than the reason why some people become missionaries and others blow people up.
Okay, so no, I don’t think a god is required to be religious, assuming the word can be used to explain one’s feelings toward something highly valued. Sad that people would put celebrities on the same level others value souls but that’s humanity for you. Chacun a ses goûts.