Thursday, August 31, 2006

Start your own religion....

The invention of religions is a universal characteristic of human cultures. An article by Michael Luo in the Aug. 28 New York Times describes an interesting film project attempting to follow one example. Andy Deemer's film project placed advertisements seeking participants for a very real, albeit unusual, social experiment: take $5,000 to start your own religious movement, in exchange for allowing a film crew to follow you around as you try to get under way. It turns out that 40 to 45 new religious groups are emerging a year, compared with just a handful a year a little over a century ago. The New York City area has long been a hotbed for new religions, as well as the staging ground for overseas religious movements trying to make the leap into America. New religions tend to form in urban areas, where it is much easier to gather an initial group. Some of the movements that began in this country in the New York City area include Hare Krishna, modern incarnations of Wicca and an array of guru-centered groups. Other successful movements include Scientology, probably the most successful religion of the past century; Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon; Church Universal and Triumphant, a New Age group; and the Universal Life Church.

After interviewing candidates who ranged from genuine to humorous to bizarre, Joshua Boden (35) was chosen to attempt to establish his "Church of Now", a God-optional religion that lists 14 precepts, including, “The only ‘sin’ is not living fully,” and, “This life is the one that counts; this IS your eternal reward.” The religion has elements of Buddhism, Taoism and New Age thinking. Although some of the beliefs might sound unorthodox and nonreligious (“Laughter is a must!”), Mr. Boden is earnest in his beliefs and his desire to establish a spiritual community. The going as been rocky so far. Potential followers indicated the presentation was not persuasive and authoritative ("Believe this!") enough.

2 comments:

Kevin Trudeu said...

here's an easy guide to starting your own religion!

Llyn said...

I found your blog when I searched the web for "start your own religion". Most blogs on this topic that I've found so far are rather tongue in cheek; poking fun at what you say is a "universal characteristic of human cultures." I followed your link to Joshua Boden's site (you mention him in your blog) because here is someone who was making a sincere attempt to start his own religion, "Nowism". I admire him for his courage in this because it takes a lot of nerve to stick your neck out in that way; to sincerely offer up a potential solution to the world's challenges from a heartful, vulnerable place. I should know because, for many years I have had the desire to articulate my own beliefs and see if I can find a sense of community with others who would like to join me on this path of discovery. I'd be interested in finding others who are sincere in their desire to explore creating our own churches/religions. Write me.

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