Matt spoke to us today, ostensibly about parody religions, but really it was about how you can touch the human soul very deeply through humor. He started by explaining about the heyók?a of the Lakota tribe. They portray many aspects of the sacred, but then they use the techniques of the “fool” to bring unpleasant questions into group discussions. A person can play the role of the heyók?a and complain bitterly of the cold when it is hot or complain of the heat when everyone is shivering with cold. The Kokopelli plays a similar role in the Pueblo tribes of the American Southwest.
With that as backdrop, Matt talked about the Church of the SubGenius, which is a parody of religion in general and the Pastafarians (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) which is a parody particularly oriented toward Christianity. The Church of the Latter Day Dude is masterful modern interpretation of Taoism. In addition there is Jedi-ism that has no particular mission statement at all and the United Church of Bacon which focuses on raising a great deal of money for various charity causes. They believe in practical atheism and ignore the existence of gods. They argue that bacon is demonstrably real whereas god is imperceptible by the eye.
All of these “parody religions” raise the fundamental question of what is the function of religion in society today. Is the function of religion simply to praise god, or is there some other fundamental need that religion serves? The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster teaches of the folly of unquestioned precepts. Certain people in today’s America have recently said that serving coffee in red cups without printing “Merry Christmas” on the cup is an affront to Christianity without even questioning the logic that Jesus did nothing to endorse the color red to celebrate his birth. The United Church of Bacon is very good at raising money for the poor. Jesus taught us to be of service to the poor because the rich were (even in those times) perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Yet many religious institutions, in reality, do seem to be operating to aggrandize the biggest contributors in the congregation. They need (we all need) the heyók?a to remind them periodically of the problems with self aggrandizement. The Church of the SubGenius and the Pastafarians serve that purpose in modern America.
We organize our Sundays so that we have a presentation and then reserve time to discuss the topic. Sometimes even the presenter is surprised by how the ideas strike people’s hearts. We are a small group of very open minded people who think that one of the functions of religion is to get small groups of open minded people together to talk about ideas. If this sounds like you, then please join us on any particular Sunday. Our little building used to be a house, now it is a spiritual home.