A Brand New Religion

Maybe I’m jumping the gun. Maybe you have to start with witchcraft, evolve to cult, and then, if enough people stop thinking you’re weird, you can be a religion.

The witchcraft part is easy. Cast a spell with your feet or your tires and the local forest. Do this every day, like a prayer, or a nervous tic. When people want to talk to you about politics or food shopping, you talk to them about trees. Single-mindedness is key. Fervor, that’s the word. You need a fervor.

Most religions spring up around a need, personal or political. For example, the Romans are fucking awful. We need some idea that isn’t the Romans. Or, this pork is poisoning everyone, we need some way to let people know they really shouldn’t eat the pork. Humans definitely love religions, and modern humans love them so much that even when their familial or cultural assigned religion is clearly inadequate, they shop around for another one. “Western” humans love to cultivate “eastern” religions, and vice-versa. Often they invest in ideas that are very old, because everyone knows how wise humanity was in past millenia.

I too have sampled a few of the current religions on the buffet, and while each one has SOMETHING to recommend it (e.g. don’t kill people), I also think, basically, don’t take the brown acid. The point isn’t to have some religion, or to continue some tradition. The point is to live a better life.

Also, a tree never bullshat me.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking, “Dude, (because you talk that way) you’re a pagan,” or “Animism is older than all the monotheistic religions (because you read a lot).” But, no. I’m not talking about those things, fine as they might be, and charmingly disparaged by contemporary religionists, too.

What we need now is a change of ideas.

I’m also not talking about a religion of science, although this comes closest to what I’m proposing. We’re living through a time when a large proportion of humans is eschewing science, mainly, I think, because they don’t understand it, but also because the people pushing science forward mostly don’t wear robes, chant incantations, or generally cultivate the trappings of the established religions.

Humans want spirituality, but WTF is that?

I have a definition for spirituality that I think distills the essence of the idea without resorting to supernatural phenomena or calls for blind faith. What we want, after all, is an eyes-wide-open faith.

So here we go. Spirituality describes the connections between things that we are unable to perceive with our senses. For example, human love. I love my wife. She loves me. It’s a thing I feel, but can’t see. That’s an extreme example though. Let’s stretch it a bit. We feel connected to our home towns, to random people with whom we share affinities or common experiences. Those connections are spiritual, intangible, and sometimes entirely ineffable.

What I’m proposing is a religion that honors the connections between all living things, with all the pseudo-magical tripe stripped away. We don’t need funny words or songs to practice this religion. The rituals are things we already do, like hike, bike, run, and sit on a rock feeling the wind across our faces.

Also, this religion has no priests/shaman/prophets, etc. Not necessary. You are the shaman/sheman/theyman. Hierarchies only ever lead back to ego-driven abuse of the rules, of which there really aren’t any. This is an anarcho-socialist collective. You’re in if you say you’re in. Actually, you’re in, even if you say you aren’t, because you’re alive, and on some level, that’s the only requirement.

Strike that. Even if you’re dead, you’re likely feeding your organic mess back into the matrix. You’re still in.

I call this new thing: Connectivism.

Here are some of the basic ideas (which you can ignore):

1) Everything is connected. Everything we do affects all the other things around us, and so the striving, in Connectivism, if there is any, is to make good choices about how you’re affecting all the stuff.

2) “Nature” doesn’t revolve around us, like some subservient pre-Galilean sun. The flora, fauna, and fungi are not waiting for us to define them. We are not separate. We are small and the world is big. To whatever extent possible, we need to shrink our sense of ourselves and grow our sense of everything else.

3) The more we can connect with things outside ourselves (and outside our houses/condos/apartments/lean-tos) the better our life is going to be and the better the whole infinite contraption is going to function.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the whole thing. Nietzsche said something like, “Language makes common, that which is uncommon,” and so it’s important to note that what I’ve said above is only the linguistic approximation of the idea. Do what you feel. That’s probably better guidance. Go to the woods. You’ll know what do when you get there.