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 I have to say the hair is standing up on the back of my neck superstitiously like June Allyson’s did in the Glenn Miller Story and I might have to call this my calling . . .



12 responses

29 06 2008
Nance Confer

I see that there is already division within your religion — “there are two primary sects: ultimate and disc golf” — and like so many of these, I do not know the difference. Or care! 🙂

Does this mean you will be swearing a lot more?


29 06 2008

Let us not be distracted from divine truth by such earthly misunderstandings. (Other religions give that lofty reply, why shouldn’t I?) 😉
Not that the faithful need it but for you doubters, whom I pity and will pray for, here is irrefutable evidence for Frisbeetarianism:

Historical Truth from Day One to Day Done

My new religion was “conceived” in 400 BC, which surely qualifies it — above party-crashing youngster faithful like Catholics and Protestants, not to mention Mormons — to answer that 3 am phone call from the beyond calling us home.

Hagiography of Our One True Prophet, Saint Elihu

“There seems to be two quite different accounts of the origin of Frisbee. . .
[But TRUE Frisbeetarians must believe the following story; it proves as false all faiths in America that appropriate our sacred icons and symbols for unworthy money collection, yet all things somehow work together for the good of those who love our mysterious lord, the perfect disc. Sorry, can’t help waxing rhapsodic about my new religion at the slightest opportunity!]

One derives from the name of a Yale student, Elihu Frisbie, who in 1827 supposedly expressed his dislike for *compulsory chapel* [shudder] by snatching up a collection plate and skimming it some 200 yards across the chapel green.”

— 25 August 1957, letter to New York Times Magazine, pg 6

Theological Litmus Test Question in My Faith

Are science fiction flying saucer movies heresy, or hagiography?

29 06 2008

Heresy or Hagiography would make a good dissertation title. It would work just as well for a comedy album, hmmm . . .

29 06 2008

Nance, our faithful also are split by belief in the Ultimate Answer to “what happens when we die?” and here’s a scholarly site where you can continue your study of that . . .and see that my way is right!

The only major division between the sects came from the question of what the afterlife holds for the members of the Church.
The Great Elihu Frisbie held to the Orthodox view that,
“A Great Wind lifts the Frisbeterians high and away, to the safety and peace of a rooftop”;
when the upstart BakingCo from Bridgeport came forth with his new teaching that at the end of a good Frisbeterian’s life,
“Dog just comes and takes you away”.

29 06 2008
Nance Confer

Of course! Dog did it! 🙂


3 07 2008

Funny-peculiar that this showed up in the NYT Style section today? (We must be prescient!)
“It’s Not Easy Picking a Path to Enlightenment”

6 07 2008

Outside our wiki essay parameters, here’s a religious direction I’d like to learn more about in real life, something some call “complexity theory.”

Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason & Religion

* SPECIAL Event Date: Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 7:00 pm
* Location: Baxter Lecture Hall
* Speaker: Dr. Stuart Kauffman

In this controversial lecture based on his new book, the world-renowned complexity theorist Dr. Stuart Kauffman . . . believes that the science of complexity provides a way to move beyond both reductionist science and dogmatic theology to something new: a unified culture where we see God in the creativity of the universe, biosphere, and humanity. Kauffman explains that the ceaseless natural creativity of the world can be a profound source of meaning, wonder, and further grounding of our place in the universe.

His theory carries with it a new ethic for an emerging civilization and a reinterpretation of the divine that will change the way we think about the evolution of humanity, the universe, faith, and reason.

Stuart A. Kauffman is the founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics and a professor of biological sciences, physics, and astronomy at the University of Calgary. He is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His [earlier] books include “The Origins of Order” and “At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity.”

From his essay (which sounds Obama-like to me in my current state of consciousness):

“The Biosphere and Human Culture are Ceaselessly Creative in Ways that Cannot be Foretold.”

. . . Yes, we give up a God who intervenes on our behalf. We give up heaven and hell. But we gain ourselves, responsibility, and maturity of spirit. I know that saying that ethics derives from evolution undercuts the authority of God as its source. But do we need such a God now? I think not. Nor do we need the spiritual wasteland that post-modernism has brought us.

Beyond my admired friend Kenneth Arrow, natural parks are valuable because life is valuable on its own, a wonder of emergence, evolution and creativity. Reality is truly stunning.

So if you find this useful, let us go forth, as was said long ago, and invite consideration by others of this new vision of reality. With it, let us recreate spiritual community and membership. Let us go forth.

Civilization needs to be changed.

6 07 2008
Nance Confer

Reality is truly stunning.

**And the more we learn, and struggle to even vaguely understand, the truer this is.

**Ice on Mars? Identifying the single gene that causes a problem and being able to remove it? Even the more mundane, like cars that don’t need gasoline. All stunning.

**Stunning enough for me anyway. 🙂


6 07 2008
JJ Ross

And how much more “pro-life” can you get?? 😀

“natural parks are valuable because life is valuable on its own. . .”

And the larger idea is that groups of lives have complex and changing creative value beyond one life on its own, beyond the sum of individual animal life units — interactive values like fairness and forgiveness and love. Modern religion is compatible with pro-lives thinking imo, much more so than with “pro-life” quasi-biology. The Golden Rule as expressed in any religion, is pro-lives interacting in ethical ways, not pro-biology for any individual “life” to merely exist.

6 07 2008

I could’ve used “complexity theory” in this post, along with creation science and change theory? 😉

And the comments are a grab bag of “reality” bending . . .

8 06 2009
Never Mind Jews, Blacks, Immigrants, Gays: Kill the Pagans! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Dotor JJ’s Religion-Choosing Research Up in the Air (this one’s especially good for the comments and links, among which you will find: […]

21 07 2010
New Fodder for Our “Choose a New Religion” Essays! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] responded first with It’s not just a religion, it’s an adventure and then Doctor JJ’s religion-choosing up in the air while Nance wrote Thinking about choosing my religion, and a good time was had by all. (Good as in […]

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