The PuffHo “Religion” section is an endless source of fun, for it’s really a combination of religion, “spirituality,” and self-help, usually with a generous dose of Isalamophilia. Here, for instance, is some of today’s page:
The “How to Live Life Fully” video has virtually nothing to do with religion, but includes these old chestnuts, promoted for centuries.
- Don’t hold back with love; show people you love them.
- Heed the call when opportunity, love, adventure, or purpose calls, even when it’s “scary.”
- Recognize problems as “gifts in disguise.” (As you’ve heard a gazillion times, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”)
- Invest in experiences rather than material objects.
- Give back: life is a gift (from God) so give back to everyone and to the world.
I could add another five more, equally banal; but why do people still make money from recycling these old bromides? How about this one: “Work hard, but play just as hard.” Or “Living well is the best revenge.” Or “No matter where you go, there you are.”
But the piece that caught my attention was the “invent the religion” article, which turned out to be a contest with cash prizes. To go to the PuffHo article, click on the screenshot below:
It turns out that it’s actually two organizations offering a prize (really three, though, as one, whose name you might guess, is lurking inconspicuously in the shadows); and there are three prizes. The two organizations are the 92nd Street YMCA and Krista Tippett’s “I love spirituality” website “On Being.”
The contest rules are on Facebook; simply click on the screenshot below to see the rules (below) and submit your entry:
Note that you can suggest a philosophy instead of a religion, so already there’s a sure winner. It’s the philosophy called “Secular Humanism”. That one already “cuts across boundaries” and “strengthens our sense of community.” Clearly no real religion—one that accepts a deity—is gonna win, because no Muslim will accept a faith that doesn’t involve Allah, Muhammad as his prophet, and the literal truth of the Qur’an. Likewise, no Christian is going to buy a faith that doesn’t give primacy to accepting Jesus Christ as the route to salvation.
So here’s what you do: just gussy up secular humanism with some pretty words about spirituality, and then confect some holidays and traditions (this is where you can get creative) that will replace stuff like Christmas and Eid. How about a pilgrimage to all the holy sites of the world, like Mecca, Bethlehem, and Santiago de Compostela? Oh wait—I forgot that you can’t get to Mecca unless you’re a Muslim. Well, you get the idea.
There are additional rules here, where the website has the amusing name of “woobox.”
I expect someone from this site to win the contest, as we have a lot of creative readers. Here’s more skinny from PuffHo:
In the context of religion, “genius” has been demonstrated over the years by philosophers and religious leaders ranging from Jesus to the Dalai Lama, Curran said [Asha Curran, Director of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92nd Street Y]. The goal of the challenge, though, is to empower everyday people to come up with their own ideas for a faith system that could improve the world.
“Religion explores some of the richest and most profound questions about what it means to be human, from morality to mortality and beyond,” Annie Parsons On Being’s community and engagement coordinator, told HuffPost.
God, I’m so sick of that claim in the second paragraph! Yes, religion explores, poses, and “addresses” the questions about what it means to be human, but—it never answers them! Every religion has its own set of answers, its own morality, and they don’t comport. Give me science any day as a way to really get answers to that question, so long as you properly frame the question of “what it means to be human.” If, for example, you want to know why humans have a moral code, science can at least make some inroads into that question. One thing’s for sure, something Plato realized millennia ago: religion simply can’t tell us what morality we should espouse, or even where we got our sense or morality.
But wait: there’s more!
The challenge encourages entrants to consider not only those philosophical questions, but also hypothetical rituals, holidays and traditions that would make the new religion unique.
The contest has only received a handful of submissions so far — so the odds of winning are still high. One entry proposes that devotees revere artists as the “prophets” and “mystics” of their religion, upholding beauty as the core value.
Another suggests that all the religions of the world come together to unify over the best aspects of each of their faiths.
See how lame those suggestions are? You guys can do better than that! Imagine trying to get the religions of the world to agree on an Über-Faith! Surely secular humanism, tricked out with a few faux holidays, is a sure winner.
Now here’s the ghost in the contest, also from the PuffHo site but conspicuously absent from the announcement on Facebook (my emphasis):
Voting ends on February 14, after which a panel of judges, comprised of several representatives from 92Y and On Being, will choose three winners with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The winners will be announced in March.
The cash prizes are being provided by the John Templeton Foundation and are intended to act as an incentive to participate rather than an investment in an actual religion, Curran said.
Wouldn’t you know it?
To help other readers win, I suggest you submit the name, occasion, and description of a new unifying holiday below.