Starting a Religion, Part Two

Okay I’m a little freaked out. You’ve heard of the Stanford psychology experiment of 1971 that enrolled some college students and assigned them to be either guards or prisoners? Within a short period of time, the mild-mannered well-adjusted students fell deeply into their roles as either sadistic guard or depressed prisoner and the experiment had to be prematurely aborted.

Well as soon as I jokingly introduced the idea of establishing a religion, my mind immediately latched onto the idea and began deciding what rules would be foundational, what dogma members would absolutely have to agree to in order to belong, what beliefs were indispensable.

Precisely the reason I find myself unable to join any already established religion — because there will always be something that I can’t get behind.

And I immediately begin to justify my choices. “‘Love is the Law.’ No one can argue with that, can they? Everybody knows Love is the highest good. Surely anyone worth being associated with would swear allegiance to such an idea.”

But precisely because it’s an idea that members would be asked to embrace absolutely and without any exception is what makes it feel really dangerous to me, when I step back and look at the monster being built.

What if there was an escape clause of sorts? A mandate to “Think for yourself” or “Everyone is responsible for their own Trip.” Then any rule, principle or directive issued would have to be filtered by each individual through their own mental machinery to see what comes out the other side for them.

And then of course you’d have to have some kind of clause insisting that “Diversity is to be tolerated, encouraged and celebrated” so that when we’re all standing around holding a different result from the same starting point, no one has to feel the outcast or throw theirs in the trash.

It gets fantastically messy real quick.

No wonder the other founders of religion ended up creating such giant cesspools of insanity.

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8 responses to “Starting a Religion, Part Two

  1. Karyn and Elena make it up as they go along – that should work just fine!
    “Be kind. Work hard. Have fun.” This is what I say to the boys as they leave for school in the morning. Could be a starting point?

  2. Be kind, be gentle, be generous and if you wouldn’t want it done to your children, don’t do it to anyone else. That’s my personal philosophy. I’m still a work in progress though so often fall short of these, especially the generous part.

    • These are beautiful and wise principles! I think living to our fullest capacity makes all of us a work in progress, as we learn, change, encounter new things, accomplish new experiments, meet new people…

  3. The religion you’re thinking of already exists. I’m going to post a link and hope that it doesn’t get caught in your spam filter:

    http://www.uua.org/

    • You’re absolutely right and I’ve checked out our local UU church. Philosophically I’m on board, and enjoy the service tremendously. I don’t want to speak ill of the local church, because the people there are great, but it is very small with almost no kids of any age. Their programs for younger children are either intermittent or non-existant, and so I have to fight with my kids through the whole service to keep them quiet (not because anyone expects me to, but out of politeness on my own part) or else I have to find babysitting because my husband works Sundays.

      Every single Sunday I struggle with the desire to go and the unwillingness to deal with my small children issue. I know that if I truly wanted to be part of something, I would go and volunteer to run the nursery and just miss the service for the few years that I was a part of the church, which doesn’t make a ton of sense but neither does my sitting around wishing I were part of something.

  4. Elena, I could join you someday and let my small children run wild with your small children in the back while we pretend we don’t know who they belong to. Of course that would only work until the first wailed “MAMA!”

    • That would be fun! :) I would definitely feel more comfortable with more parents and kids there. The people there are SOOOO nice, I don’t mean to make them sound mean or judgmental, but when you see lots of adults without children in tow, and you’ve just barely got control over your squirming, squealing, whining creatures… well, I don’t have to tell you. Uncomfortable-city.

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