|You all make excellent points...|
- Is there a God, many Gods, or no Gods at all?
- What happens to us when we die?
- How should I live my life?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
Step 1: You can totally do this!
It's a little-known secret, and fun fact, that all religions are made up. It's true! At the beginning of every religious tradition, a person had an idea and a religion was born. Whether that idea came straight from the person's brain or was put there by a deity, nobody will ever know. The most successful religions resonated with other people and became popular. Every great tradition's got to start somewhere. Why not with you?
Before you begin, it's important to understand that just because a religion is made up doesn't make it frivolous or invalid. Religion is a powerful thing, and can make a big difference no matter how it was created. Ask yourself why you want to create a religion. For the purposes of this guide, we'll assume that it's to pursue spiritual enlightenment, improve your own life, and perhaps improve the lives of others around you. If it's to enslave legions of gullible followers, a different guide may be more useful to you.
Step 2: Do your homework!
As mentioned in step 1, you're not the first person to try this, so why reinvent the wheel? Odds are that if millions of people share a religion, there's at least something useful in it for you to learn. Start at Wikipedia, a great resource for theological and philosophical study. Study the major religions of the world, as well as any minor ones that sound neat to you. The more you can learn, the better equipped you'll be to make religion work for you. Here are some religions I've found it enlightening to study:
- The Church Of Satan
Remember, it doesn't matter how ancient or recent a religion is. Whether a belief system was created thousands of years ago somewhere in India, or last Thursday in New Jersey, it's equally worthy of your attention.
|Let's consult "Old Thinky"|
Religion is not professional sports. You don't have to choose a team and wear a uniform to have spiritual beliefs. If you like the teachings of Jesus, but also the Hindu concept of Karma, why not take both? And if you like most of a belief system except for one or two crazy things about it, feel free to ditch those troublesome verses. People of all faiths have been doing this for thousands of years, so nothing's stopping you from doing the same.
By the way, you're encouraged to add bits and pieces of your own invention. This way you can tailor your faith to better fit your needs.
Step 4: Don't neglect rituals.
A lot people like to make fun of the rituals that go along with many religious beliefs, and this is unfortunate. Rituals are very powerful things, as Anton LaVey in particular realized. They can be inspirational, a way to make abstract beliefs stick in the mind and resonate with the heart. People who go to church every Sunday enjoy the fellowship of others, united in the same spiritual pursuit as themselves. In addition, the rituals that worshippers engage in at church and at home are comforting, can stir the emotions, and are a good way to inspire people for the week to come. Even something as simple as taking the time to reflect on your life once a day can be very effective.
Step 5: Remember these helpful tips:
Religious beliefs are as diverse as the world's people, and you're free to make your own choices about what you want to believe. However, you may want to pay heed to the following suggestions, which will make your belief system more robust, and help you get along with others (which is a pretty important thing):
a: Don't be a dick!
This is a generally good life lesson, but it's particularly relevant to religion. If you feel mandated by your beliefs to constantly harass non-believers about how to live their lives, that's not going to get you many friends. In fact, it could possibly get you severely beaten. Allow others the freedom to make their own choices, and the peace to do so free of unwanted conversion attempts. After all, you chose your beliefs freely. Why not grant others the same privilege?
|This looks like an awesome place|
to spend a Sunday morning
If you find someone willing to listen to your spiritual theories, allow them the right to disagree. Telling them that thinking differently from you makes them a heretic isn't a very nice thing to do. Even if you're able to intimidate them into obedience, how confident can you be that they aren't just paying lip service to you to avoid getting killed? Let others improvise using your belief system as a starting point. Heck, you might learn something from them!
c: Remain flexible!
Make sure that whatever beliefs you choose can be easily modified later on. Maybe you're in a hellfire and damnation mood today, but feel more into crystals next week. If you've already decided that your holy text contains the unchangable truth, you've kind of painted yourself into a corner, haven't you? Always remember that your beliefs are at best an educated guess, and might not be completely true. If this line of thought makes you uncomfortable, maybe you should reflect on that for a while.
Step 6: You're done!
Congratulations! You've become actively involved in your own spiritual welfare. You've taken part in, and hopefully made useful contributions to an ongoing quest shared by all of humankind. I hope that your life has a newfound clarity of purpose. And I hope that you and those around you can enjoy the rest of their days content, at peace, and leaving other people the hell alone. Have a great idea? Share it in the comments!