Doctor JJ’s Religion-Choosing Research Up in the Air

28 06 2008

It’s Saturday night. Do you know where your religion will be Sunday morning? (Neither do I.)

First I tried the reality show competition approach to choosing a new religion — because it’s summer and what else is there? — but then I got serious.

A long time ago in an ivy tower far away — two-and-a-half hours by car, if you don’t mind literalism interrupting a good story — I labored over a solitary academic research project called a dissertation.

I learned through ritual trials (and an honest-to-god inquisition!) that the form of such a project is time-honored if not technically engraved on stone tablets, and must include a lot of tedious work on the front end, which amounts to defining a narrow question and then carefully defining and delimiting every term you use in that question, and then laying out criteria against which you will evaluate anything you find, to determine if it answers your question.

I also learned that finding no answer is just as good as finding one — you still get promoted to Doctor You which can then be “lorded” over lesser beings in the Promised Land — and it’s way better than getting contradictory or false results, either of which reflects badly on all that tedious work you did on the front end and sends you back around for some ritual mortification and possible sacrifice of your academic aspirations.

So not surprisingly, that is how I approached this fortnight’s Thinking Homeschooler wiki romp.

(It’s a good thing I already did the dissertation thing when it counted and they can’t rescind my degree for this essay!)

I disciplined myself to do my review of the literature, definition of the research question and design [yes, I said DESIGN and if it’s not intelligent, really, why bother?!] of my methods first, rather than just jump to the fun part, browsing and trying on different religions from the rack, maybe taking a friend to advise me and have lunch with afterward. I tried — and tried and tried — to honestly set out my objectives, criteria and methods for choosing a new religious belief system at this age and stage of my life BEFORE I went shopping and wrote up my choice for you.

And failed utterly. Which is pretty bad, because I am extremely flexible and creative. If anyone could have bent this task into dissertation shape, it should’ve been me.
Um, I.
You know what I mean. 🙂

This was more like trying to list criteria for a new bathing suit I would shop for, knowing full well I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bathing suit of any kind no matter what I wrote in some pandering paper for credit! So my comfortable intellectual process didn’t fit. And it’s not all that comfortable anymore after all these years of freedom from academic stricture. . .

How about seeking the Meaning of Life or at least the Afterlife, in divine comedy then? Click on the link for Botticelli’s elaborate full-color map to what awaits my spirit below! Ain’t research grand — seek and ye shall find.
But I’d rather go up than down, truth be told. Call it research bias.

So maybe go with hard news comedy instead of classical, what we might call reform religion? George Carlin is in the news, and he will be resurrected on Saturday Night Live in a few hours, reprising from the archives his seminal (can I use that word in a blog without being persecuted for my proselytizing?) role as the very first host ever, back in 1975. That’s old enough to seem a bit historic and he’s dead now, which lends gravitas to any words of his I might adopt as divine truth — so would researching his proposed religion count as real? Will there someday be Carlin Studies in colleges of religion and philosophy, are there already?

COD cited one of his religious tenets the other day — Frisbeetarianism — and said Carlin himself was “often right” which seems like witnessing, on top of which, he was an actual corporeal witness to his earthly presence (in Vegas) — and wait a minute, COD is the wikimaster who set this task for us before Carlin died, hey!

To Rest in Peace, Don’t Look Down

Is this a mere series of coincidences or some Grand Design revealing itself to me personally? Believe what you want, but Read the rest of this entry »