Lately, I've been thinking: maybe I should start a church. I got the idea, of all places, from the Wall Street Journal. (See Graeme Wood, "What Hubbard Wrought: The story behind the belief system that attracted Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley," Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2011.)
I could make stuff up, like Joe Smith (gold plates), Vonnegut's Bokonon (boko-maru, grandalloons and karasses) and, more recently (1950), L. Ron Hubbard (Teegeeack, audits and the intergalactic warlord Xenu). I could prosper and grow rich with the Church of REAL Wellness, serving my flock. I could fund a few politicians, demand respect for my beliefs and have laws passed and customs nourished that rendered any criticism of my religion as disrespectful, maybe even blasphemous.
I chould do this but, as Richard Nixon would counsel, it would be wrong. Such practices are typical of religions, existing and fictional. But, it is not my nature to herd compliant sheep, unleash holy wars, erect gaudy temples, brainwash followers or invent insane accounts of revelation and self-glorifying commandments. No, I should instead pursue a different course. I should design a kinder, gentler church, one founded on reason (a first among the genre), exuberance rather than sorrow and fear, athleticism and liberty (another first, for as Ingersoll remarked, the bible "imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart").
I chould do such a thing, but at the moment, I lack what Republican presidential candidates brag about having, a "fire in the belly" for the mission. It takes a lot of work, not to mention creativity, to make up the kind of stuff that goes into a new religion. Also, I'd have to find my own John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley-level celebrities to front for The Church of REAL Wellness. Who wants to spend that much time hanging out in Hollywood recruiting?
Perhaps this will change, and you might yet have an opportunity to convert to The Church of REAL Wellness.
Donald B. Ardell is the Well Infidel. He favors evidence over faith, reason over revelation and meaning and purpose over spirituality. His enthusiasm for reason, exuberance and liberty are reflected in his books (14), newsletter (583 editions of a weekly report) and many speeches.. Write Don at email@example.com