July 1, 2011

5 Religions Whose Existence Would Be Completely Legitimate, At This Point

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What is the issue?
The Huffington Post recently ran a crowdsourced-type venture in which readers could create their own religion. The idea’s not bad – not bad at all; all religions have to start somewhere, right? Well, there’s already been a significant response, and I’m compelled to do the same, only here on Thought Catalog. I haven’t looked through the religions thus far created over at Huffington Post; I assure you that any overlap is coincidental.

1. The Church of Apple

Core beliefs: Members of the Church of Apple – or Users – are definitely afflicted with Apple Obsessive Disorder, holding firm the notion that what is Good and Right about the world can be judged on the basis of the following characteristics: 1) if Apple – under direction of CEO Steve Jobs – designed and manufactured it, and 2) that’s actually it. That’s all the Church of Apple cares about. Primarily composed of 20-somethings, aging hipsters, and tech-savvy business professionals, the Church of Apple advocates unrelenting devotion to this American megacorporation, attracting new converts with cute animations, objectively better (than competitor) designs, and an intangible bestowing of perceived elevated social status.

Mythology: Members of the Church of Apple do not have a god per say, rather, like the Buddhists look to the teachings of the Buddha, they take instructions from Steve Jobs’ – who is no god and has declared no higher standing than other mortals – YouTube videos in which he explains new Apple products to be released in the near future. Indeed, Users are devout followers of Steve Jobs – but they do not believe him to be a god. Rather, Users believe Steve Jobs to be thus far the only human to achieve Macvana, or the perpetual state of a sort of transcendent ultraconnectivity with one’s devices, such that The User no longer is said to ‘command’ the device but rather comes to exist as the device itself – the two are now thought to be merely components of an Enlightened whole.

Distinctive practices: Dedicating the majority of their day to interaction with their Apple brand devices; steering their career path in such a trajectory that they’re eventually able to get paid to do something that affords them the ability to both interact with their Apple brand devices all day as well as have enough time to compulsively check gadget blogs, curate articles for their Twitter follower base and Facebook friends; attain various ‘mayoral’ statuses’ via 4square at Apple stores and coffee shops known to cater heavily to Users.

Religious holidays: Product release dates.

2. The United House Of Jon Stewart

Core beliefs: The United House Of Jon Stewart is composed of a wide range of left-leaning, politically minded individuals (Stewartites) who believe that a) politicians and the media are corrupt and as such not worthy of Americans’ inherent trust, b) Stephen Colbert is awesome, c) Jon Stewart is awesome, and d) Jon Stewart should run for president.

Mythology: While stating vehemently in almost all literature available to the public that the House and its members are “tremendously anti-deity, anti-supernatural, anti-mysticism,” Stewartites do indeed worship Jon Stewart, and to a lesser extent, Stephen Colbert. The hierarchical structure of the House is unclear (although some House elites have indicated that Colbert is something of a ‘First Mate’ to Stewart, while others have hinted that there’s in fact a very powerful shadow group that provides direction and funds), we do know that the formal/ public head of the organization is, officially, Jon Stewart.

Distinctive practices: Intense scrutiny of Fox News, CNN, and the media at large; viewing Jon Stewart’s organizational ‘front,’ The Daily Show, on a weekly basis; writing letters to Representatives; writing letters to editors; fraternizing with the Reddit community; voting; blogging.

Religious holidays: Election Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, 9/11.

3. The Church of Latter Day Hipster-Haters

Core beliefs: Composed primarily of People On The Internet, The Church of Latter Day Hipster-Haters’ beliefs can be characterized as such: 1) any attempt by a human between the ages of 7 – 100 to conform to a style of fashion that’s either currently in vogue or slightly ‘ahead of its time’ is bad/ wrong and indicates that the human making said attempt is bad/ wrong, as such, b) people should never attempt to be ‘fashionable’ and should, currently, be wearing loose fitting gray slacks and white t-shirts or white sweaters, according to the weather, c) elitist attitudes are bad, d) Tumblr is bad, e) listening to particular bands can make a person bad, f) if you are between the ages of 20 and 30, you are most likely bad, g) Pabst Blue Ribbon is bad, therefore, h) if one drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon, she is bad.

Mythology: Latter Day Hipster-Haters worship the Sweatpant God, who is represented in their art as an obese, balding man hunched over in front of a laptop, clad in all gray sweats, one hand on the mouse, one supporting his tilted head in a sort of gesture of apathy or boredom. The Sweatpant God is usually depicted next to an open bottle of Budweiser, Sierra Pale Ale or O’Douls. Aside from the obvious fashion implications of the Sweatpant God, he’s also thought to embody the beliefs of conformity to non-hipster fashions and disgust regarding concepts such as Going Out and Socializing.

Distinctive practices: Commenting on anything that may indicate ‘hipster’ on the internet that that thing is ‘hipster’ and as such it is ‘bad'; dismissing entities (blogs, people, places (entire cities, even), events) as ‘hipster;’ self-loathing via the conspicuous display of hipster-hating while in fact being a hipster themselves.

Religious holidays: Blockbuster release dates, reality television show season finale dates.

4. The Religion of New York City

Core beliefs: The Religion of New York City is composed primarily of 20-somethings who take great personal pride in and posit significant merit to a) living in New York City, 2) how far ‘up’ they’re able to network, and 3) general networking ability, or the ability to navigate at an upward trajectory any scene – preferably art and/or finance – to the extent that one is able to coalesce with the upper eschelon of a sort of conglomerate scene, characterized by comingling with celebrities, artists, as well as various influential behind-the-scenes personalities.

Mythology: Members of The Religion of New York City show faith in a large number of deities, but recognized by all members is the God of the Archetypal New York City Experience, visually represented in their art as a faceless individual (members are encouraged to imagine their own image here) standing in front of the NYC skyline, usually next to various celebrities (both public and behind-the-scenes), gazed upon by an adoring mass of young and attractive onlookers. Moving throughout their time in NYC aware that it’s their Time In NYC, members are known to consistently and repeatedly mentally reference and associate most aspects of daily life with the God of the Archetypal New York City Experience. More specifically, all Members of The Religion of New York City worship themselves, as their experience of the God of the Archetypal New York City Experience is only made possible by the construct and total meta-awareness that they believe in him/her and are indeed members of The Church of New York City. Indeed, one can compare a Catholic’s use of “God works in mysterious ways” to a member of the religion of New York City’s interpretation of a homeless person shitting on their porch every night as “Just part of the New York City experience.”

Distinctive practices: The display of angular conversational tactics employed in an effort to get a sense of the individual’s place in the Religion’s hierarchy; the Sunday Brunch; the consistent re-evaluation of status and subsequent, consistent inclusion and exclusion of other members of the church when decisions are made re: Going Out; consistent “#humblebrag” Tweets indicating who they’re with/ where they are/ what they’re doing; Going Out every Friday and Saturday (minimum); conspicuous display of the attitude that they “love New York City for that,” e.g. upon seeing something totally horrendous, such as a man on the subway strip naked, defecate, and seriously assault random passersby while screaming unintelligibly, they will argue later in the comments section of a blog that they “love New York City for that”; fiercely – and I mean fiercely – attacking those who publicly state that they don’t think New York City is awesome.

Religious holidays: Internet week, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, Northside, any occasion during which parties are held by Vice, Elle and other cultural bastions.

5. The Internet’s Angry Hordes

Core beliefs: The Internet’s Angry Hoards, composed of disenfranchised people with entitlement mentalities and extreme concern for grammar, authorial accountability and political correctness, believe in the following: a) articles that contain so much as one grammatical mistake, typo, or instance of word misuse are bad, therefore, b) the authors of the aforementioned articles are bad and “hopefully” didn’t get paid for that, c) any attempt at describing or relating a philosophical theory is actually an attempt at showing one’s intellectual firepower; a humble way of bragging, therefore, d) the purveyor of aforementioned information is bad and doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about, e) any mention of things which may be construed as not politically correct are extremely bad and deserve cries of “crucify him” and demands to know which editor was the one to publish this egregious breach of ethics, f) anything on the internet that does not comfortably coalesce with their viewpoint is bad, and g) if treating opinion as fact, taking things more seriously than was obviously intended, and seeking to identify fault is unsuccessful, 5th grade-style ridicule becomes the modus operandi.

Mythology: French toast. Seriously – the Internet’s Angry Hoards worship french toast. Don’t ask this contributor why. Little else is known about their deities.

Distinctive practices: Refreshing blogs they “can’t stand” repeatedly, reading every article and commenting that they don’t care about the article, and that, in fact, no one should care about the article; ‘hanging out’ in YouTube video comments sections and getting into weird arguments with other YouTube commenters; commenting in a rapid-fire manner on a number of different blogs quick-hit, one sentence lines such as “you’re an idiot,” “what a waste of time,” and “oh my god, I’m so fucking sick of [blog],” etc.

Religious holidays: Sick days, state holidays, days that meme cycles start. TC mark

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