Please bow your heads, and pray with me:
â€œOur mother and brother and sister and father who art next to me,
hallowed be thy self,
Your kingdom already here,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is on, well, earth â€“â€“ since thatâ€™s the only place youâ€™ll ever likely be.
Give everyone the respect they deserve
and forgive people for being jerks occasionally
as theyâ€™ll hopefully do the same for you.
And lead us not into screwing over our fellow human kind,
but deliver us from apathy, ignorance and cruelty.â€
Iâ€™m starting my own religion. And in my religion, no blades get near anyoneâ€™s penis.
Iâ€™m not the head of my religion. Iâ€™m not a prophet, Iâ€™m not planning on leading anyone across the desert for a few decades, and I donâ€™t have any magic golden plates or rocks to read.
I donâ€™t look like a many-armed elephant, I donâ€™t have a gaggle of wives and I canâ€™t change water into wine, beer, vodka or anything else.
I certainly hope I donâ€™t get nailed to anything â€¦ ever.
In fact, you are God in my religion. So is the person doing sudoku next to you in class, so is the homeless guy you talked to in Old Town on Saturday and so is your mom.
Because in my religion, itâ€™s the people who cross your path in life who matter, not any list of rules or professions of belief.
You donâ€™t have to be dunked in a pool of water with dead insects floating in the corner, and you can eat cows, pigs and shellfish all you want; you just canâ€™t eat your fellow humans (unless youâ€™re snowbound and starving in the Sierra Nevada mountains, of course) and you canâ€™t sell your daughter into sex slavery, no matter what rules you follow.
Instead of an archaic, translated text, common sense, science and empathy are your holy books, because, lets be honest, dead people knew a lot less about everything than we do now.
And you can throw any book you want on the ground and stomp on it, burn it or use it to wipe your rear, but you shouldnâ€™t throw any person on the ground and stomp on them, burn them or use them to wipe your rear â€“â€“ thatâ€™s just rude.
With that in mind, though, Iâ€™m not above stealing stuff from some dead guys or their religious books because â€œthou shalt not stealâ€ isnâ€™t a commandment in my religion; itâ€™s just a generally decent idea to live by.
So, off the top of my head I can come up with three or four commandments I think are pretty good:
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (yep, stolen).
- Donâ€™t be a jerk when you donâ€™t have to be.
- Respect other peopleâ€™s right to life, liberty, belief and the pursuit of their own happiness (also sort of stolen.)
- Leave the world a better place than you came into it.
- Stay out of Wyoming (you donâ€™t have to, youâ€™ll just be happier if you do).
I could probably come up with some more, but I think you get the idea. The specifics donâ€™t really matter, just the concepts, and youâ€™re free to believe in whatever else you want as long as you hold true to the ideals listed above and donâ€™t put people who disagree to the sword.
If you donâ€™t believe in my religion and choose to defy its commandments, you donâ€™t have to spend the rest of eternity roasting in a fiery lake of sulfur or stranded in some sad, dark outer darkness. That just seems sadistic.
If you do choose to follow them, you donâ€™t get anything after you die because youâ€™re dead and in the ground or in a vase above someoneâ€™s fireplace.
See, in my religion the point is believing in your fellow man and following some loose commandments isnâ€™t to secure an exclusive place in heaven, avoid eternal damnation, get a gift of 72 virgins or make sure you donâ€™t come back to life as a grasshopper. No matter what, you donâ€™t get to rule your own planet; thatâ€™s crazy.
The point of my religion is to treat other people the way they deserve and to try to make the world a nicer place. Itâ€™s not always easy to live up to the standards of my religion because in a world torn apart by different belief systems and by the difficulties of life itself, itâ€™s hard to respect people and work together for the common betterment of all of us.
But with enough faith (in each other), Iâ€™m thinking we can pull it off.
Managing Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdayâ€™s in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.