Inventing Your Own Religion

stan.jpgMany people go ballistic at the very mention of Neale Donald Walsch, the author of “Conversations With God.”   In 1995 Walsch wrote a book about his private conversations with God, i.e. Walsch asked God questions and God replied as a voice in Walsch’s mind.  Walsch wrote down both the questions and the answers as they were happening, or so he claims.  Through Walsch, “God” thereby explains the meaning and purpose of life and what God does and does not do in regard to humans.

I started reading this book some months ago, got through the first three chapters and gave up.  Although I agreed with a lot of it, I decided Walsch’s God was a bit too flaky for me.  Furthermore, he sounded like a Democrat.  No thanks.

However, I’ve decided to give the book another look.  A book that causes that much anger over one’s concept of God must be worth reading.  I have decided to read the book in its entirety, underline passages that I agree with and also those I do not agree with.  I will then write a comprehensive review of Walsch’s book.   It won’t be a hit job, but it won’t be a whitewash either.  Since I am not a member of any organized religion, I have no ax to grind.   Walsch is not the first by any means to invent his own religion and so it pays to be skeptical.  Many invented religions turn out to be weird cults or scams (or both). 

Why do people invent religions and why do others follow them?  L. Ron Hubbard, the creater of Scientology, was quoted as saying that “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.”  If you invent your own religion and convince others that you are a prophet, you reap the rewards of both power and money. 

Last night, desperate for something to watch on TV and finding little due to the writer’s strike, I tuned into an episode of South Park, “Trapped In The Closet.”  This is the cartoon show of grade school kids in Colorado, i.e. Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan.  Stan takes a Scientology test and is identified by the Church of Scientology as “the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.”  The show describes the beliefs of Scientologists as set down by the Prophet Hubbard, and those beliefs are pretty bizarre, to say the least.  In fairness, I would have to say that they are only slightly more weird than the beliefs of Mormons.  Before there was L. Ron Hubbard, there was Joseph Smith.  No matter what fantastic stories a “prophet” might create, there will always be some who will believe and follow.  

At the end of the show, Stan disavows his prophethood to an assembly of believers.  He says, “We all want so much to know who we are and where we come from that sometimes we’ll believe just about anything.”  Well said, Stan.  It’s a good point to remember as I begin Walsch’s book. 

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7 responses to “Inventing Your Own Religion

  1. Good post. I started reading Walsh’s “Relevations” book a few days ago. I agree with many of his views, but I do not like cult-like figures to co-opt such universal concepts.

    Scoentologists scare me. Check out XenuTV.com some time. They force their followers to put filter software on their computers so they will not find out that the CoS is a fraud designed to empty their bank accounts or use their slave labor.

  2. Thanks Johnny. Scientologists scare me too. I’ll check out XenuTV and see what it’s all about.

    Yes, Walsch does co-opt some universal concepts; he is not the creator of much of this revelation, but is merely copying what he’s read elsewhere.

    Update: I did check out XenuTV.Com and it linked me to a good film on Scientology called “The Bridge,” at Google. I am watching it now.

  3. As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I can tell you that if you take Tom Cruise’s recent video circulating the YouTube-sphere and replace “Watchtower” and “Jehovah’s Witness” for “Scientology,” you have pretty much the same thing. There are too many similarities between the two religions.

  4. Joel, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were one of my obsessions a few years ago, since I have relatives in that cult. It is a very weird and destructive cult for sure. The no blood transfusions thing particularly bothers me because many kids have died because of it.

  5. I’ve got my own invention: it’s not mysticism, it’s not spirituality, it’s not a religion, a faith, or a “trust”, I call it an Alliety, when it’s an alliance to understand that you can’t know the gods, and it’s safeguarded musically with the wildest rock music, which I find appropriate spiritually, and food ought to be lively instead of that boring or bland stuff in any church. We should draw wild pictures of gods with freakish hair, on surf boards, even playing electric guitars!!! And we should preach lust, lusts of the flesh: money, power, control, sex, lies, you name it, and preach just how good it makes you feel, and preach that the churches are sucking out our souls and giving us chest pain for far too long, if you’re an atheist I hope you agree. Instead of a church we should open an alliance hall, instead of rules and morals we should preach that religious people are disagreeing, unadmitting and preach the alternative: we should preach that we need to rock, to have character, to party, to jazz out, and to laugh, be hip in town, be made of jewels and even the atheism of Jesus: sheep , a paddock, pastoral poems, playing a flute there, walking uphill there, wearing sandals, being modest, and saving lives by say pulling someone out, or saving them from a fire, or rescuing them from a torture chamber, yeah, and owning gold and silver, wearing silk and jewels, instead of religion. This is what we should preach, the soul, not that boring stuff, we should be pumped up, go wild, and have fun, we need life, this is how to party, and this is a person filled with a happy spirit, and this is what a soul is, not that lifeless stuff! Peace be with you!

    • Max, lately I have been learning some Zen Buddhism, and one of their goals is inner peace and tranquility…to quieten “the mad monkey of the mind.” I think your mad monkey is on speed! 🙂

  6. Having grown up in an evangelical Christian home, I was subject to many fantastic and unique occurrences in church, and although I’ve come to understand for myself that the divine light is universal and not subject to any one religion, I can’t entirely deny the shear power of the experiences I witnessed as a youth, whether that was conjured in the minds of those who were around or there is a penetrating indiscriminate force that responds when called upon in the universe I’m not completely sure,

    understanding now that God requires his anonymity, there seems to be a great freedom from which to create his names sake if you will. and I’m become more and more intrigued in the idea of myth and it’s practical function in regular culture, even more so the freedom by way of creating your own mythology and proposing these ideas in public which is where great art is born. the modern world has seemed to have misplaced it’s innate ability to imagine itself into existence, well (not entirely true) we have industry doing it for us ie… television, movies, iphone etc… . many of our natural feelings and ancient wisdom’s are being lost to a 2 dimensional screen for us to gaze on. the importance of getting back in touch with these things in ordinary life and sparking the debate and dialogue for free form and architectural reality is probably more imperative to us then ever as we go speeding farther down the Beiber, and American Idol culture “road”.

    our need for a deeper understanding of ourselves may hopefully be fully realized soon, so that inventing a relevant religion by which God and man can exist in current space and time can be possible.

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