Religions are composed of two elements: a faith and a duty. Faith without duty is just abstract philosophy; duty without faith is more akin to military service than anything else. I find the idea of religion to be quite appealing; the idea of believing in more than can be actually perceived seems powerful to me. Unfortunately, the faith required by many existing religions is too extreme for me. I can't bring myself to break with reality that far. Water into wine, lives without sin, most miracles break my suspension of disbelief. On the other side, some religions whose faith I could accept come bundled with duties that strike me as too onerous. Dietary restrictions, daily prayers or even celibacy (intentional) are all far too much work for me. Life should be fun, not tedious.
Faith: Faith is a wonderful idea- a belief in something that is either obviously not so, or that you have no reason to believe.
Duty is also appealing- the responsibility to something other than yourself, larger than yourself.
Being a part of something bigger than the individual, that can outlive any single person is a sort
The sorry sad fact of it is that people suck. Nasty, lazy, irresponsible, selfish and rude are the best things you can say about people on average. A quick review of history, with all the rape, cheating, cruelty and murder found therein, isn't much of a positive report. On a more immediate basis, people don't RSVP, don't return invitations, don't show up on time or remember your birthday. They don't return the things they borrow, they don't fill up the gas tank and neglect to put a new roll in when they finish off the toilet paper. There is no denying the fact that people suck
And don't kid yourself- this isn't an us against them sort of thing. You and me, we
are both people. Think back over the past year-how many times have you been rude or
neglectful of the sort of courtesy that belongs in polite society?
Faced with the clearly flawed nature of humanity, the primary faith of the church is
the idea that your friends, while people, do not suck. Simple enough, eh? If you want to
stretch your believing muscles more, you can expand the belief to cover acquaintances, or even
everyone. Me, I don't go that far. I can believe that the small number of people I've known
and interacted with are different than the millions of evil vermin who have walked the earth so
far, but not more than that. No burning bushes, no thunderbolts. Just a card on your birthday,
message on your answering machine. A leap of faith even the most hardened cynic could make, I
So now you have something to believe in- what about a duty? That is just as simple. Remember
you are a person, and likely as scummy as the other freaks who came before you. Your duty is
to strive to be as unsucky to your friends as possible. Show up when you say you will. Stand for a
round of drinks before you get called on it. Throw a party for your friends, help people have
a good time. Just do what your parents taught you about getting along with people. Simple to
understand, but frequently hard in practice. You aren't expected to get it right all the time- but
you always have to try.
There you have it. The Church of Friendship. Compatible with most other religions, with a faith and a duty that shouldn't be that hard to live up to. What other religions can make attending a bachelor party a religious obligation, or give you karmic rewards for having friends over? Believe the best about your friends, and do your best for them.
So far as I know, the Church of Friendship is original with me. I am indebted to MOlly for helping me work up the definition of religion, and the ideas in generally have benefited from the advice and understanding of my friends, who do not suck. I try every day to live up to the obligations of the church, and I hope I inspire at least some of the people who read this to take up the burden with me. The more people we get involved, the easier the faith will be, and the more pleasant the burden.Send comments or discussion to: firstname.lastname@example.org