Thursday, June 07, 2012

"And Aquaman is His Prophet"

 Readers may recall that some slight but measurable portion of the English population routinely tells census-takers that its religious affiliation is "Jedi Knight."  This is an obvious example of a religion that is, even by its own understanding, invented.  Skeptics, of course, say that all religions are invented, but they miss the point.  The re is a difference between believing that your sacred books are a divine message, your sacred heroes divine messengers, and knowing perfectly well that they are not, and yet choosing to order your life around them anyway.

The Jedi (and Sith, at least in Scotland) are more of a political protest than a anything else; nominal adherents don't actually seem to organize their lives around their invented religion.  But others may -- the Church of the Sub-Genius and the Discordians, for example.  Such, at least, appears to be the premise of Carole M. Cusack's 2010 Invented Religions:  Fact, Fiction and Imagination.  We haven't read it, nor (at $94 for the freaking ebook) are we likely to.

(One wonders, parenthetically, about Scientologists and even Mormons.  Surely they must notice that their very recent faiths have an "invented" feel, and yet adhere to them for other reasons -- community, ethical considerations, or whatever.)

We haven't read Cusack's book, but we did read with interest Fred Folmer's review, at The (newly-redesigned) Revealer.  It's a worthwhile essay, but our favorite part was near the beginning.  Folmer wasn't sure how widespread these "invented religions" really were.  "And so," he writes,
... I did an Internet search for Batman, the first comic book character I could think of (that’s right, my comic book knowledge is terribly deep), and added the word church. Sure enough, there’s a Facebook group for, ahem, the “Westboro Batman Church,” a group that claims to be “a pious church that worships the ONE, TRUE god, Batman!” In addition to a theological statement, in the “description” section we learn that the group’s 10 Commandments were handed down by Aquaman, and that one of the directives is simply “I’m BATMAN!” What’s more, there’s a similar Facebook group for Aquaman, although apparently their theology is still in the developmental stages. The group does, however, identify itself as “the church of our savior, Aquaman.”
Were we at the Egg someday to lose our faith and seek another ... well, never mind.

1 comment:

Turnip Ghost said...

May I reccomend the First Church of Elvis, Presleyterian?