Helpful hints for filling out the paperwork “Starting a New Religion” Helpful hints for filling out the paperwork “Starting a New Religion”

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There are difficult things to think about when it comes to starting a new religion. Getting started with filling out the paperwork shouldn’t be one of the difficulties.

Hi. I’m Rabbi Brian. I’ve been assigned to provide you with assistance.

Today we will be looking at “Starting a New Religion, Section 1Eª 1-5: God and some basic information related to the divine.

I hope my guidance will help you help the world through the powerful institution of religion.Sections 1-4: God

  1. God: Basics        ☐ other: Box A: Number of deities:
    ☐ monotheism
    ☐ other: _____________
    Box B: Spelling
    ☐ God
    ☐ G-d
    ☐ G-D
    _____________
    Box C: Tribal/Particular names:
    ☐: _____________

The Western world standard is monotheism. I suggest, if this is your first time making a religion, defaulting to one God—unqualified monotheism. Trinitarian monotheism, intellectual monotheism, ethical monotheism, and polytheism are recommended for the advanced user only.

Suggested standard spelling is “God”—gee-oh-dee, initial capitalized.

For those wanting a differentiation from other religious groups, options abound here.

On the form, in Box B, you will see you can choose to use a dash in lieu of the “o.” So, “G-d” instead of “God.” The standard explanation for the dash is that the dash avoids the desecration of God’s holy name when the paper upon which the word “God” is written is destroyed.

I’ve also heard other folksy explanations. Some, pointing to Hebrew’s lack of capital letters, tell adherents that it is more proper to write “G-D”—but, obviously, this is just salespersonship. Some suggest the dash is a reminder of the dash in our lives—that what happens between our date of birth and our date of death is directly related to how much God we have in our lives. I’ve also heard a cute explanation that we ought to have more “oh”—as in “oh, my”—in our lives.

Not on the form, but one that you can write in is spelling God with a silent aitch between the “o” and the “dee.”  This alternate spelling—“G-o-h-d” (still pronounced God)—avoids some of the automatic associations and previous baggage people might have with the standardized spelling of God. (Anecdotally, the addition of the “aitch” in a name has Biblical roots, see Genesis 17.)

Many have enjoyed the use of foreign languages and alphabets. Like writing in Hebrew  יהוה or יי.  The resultant heightened sense of group identification by so doing comes in tandem with a slower rate of congregational growth—as people need to learn the new script.

Use Box C to fill in your choice (or choices) of less generic names for God. Choices include, but are not limited to: Adonai, Allah, Great Spirit, Heavenly Father, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Yahweh, Jehovah.

 

  1. God: Qualities
    Box A:
    ☐ Omniscience (God knows everything)Box B:
    ☐ Omnipotence (God has limitless power)
    Box C:
    ☐ Omnipresence (God exists at all times, in all places)
    Box D:
    ☐ Omnibenevolent (God has perfect, unlimited goodness)
    Box E:
    ☐ Male
    ☐ other: __________☐ Female


    >

All but advanced users should mark each of the above in section 2 about God’s qualities, and then select male.

While the opening chapters of Genesis make it clear that God created the first human creatures both male and female—in the image of the divine, like God, gender non binary, both male and female—for ease of use, simply ignore this or misconstrue that the verse means God separated humans between genders.

Personally, I like the quote by Soma, an early Buddhist nun, who wrote in a poem, “What’s a few inches of meat compared to the immeasurable?”

 

  1. God: Characteristics☐ Angry/Zeus—willing to smite, vindictiveBox A:

    ☐ Kind/Santa—wanting to love everyoneBox B:

    ☐ Vindictive/Vice-Principal—taking notes about Box C:
    your behavior and will deal with you later
    ☐ Distant/Great Clockmaker—not very involvedBox D:

    ☐ <Box E:
    advanced users only> Other: __________

What’s God like?

Pick from one of the four normative, patriarchy character avatars for God in North America. You will want to consider the geographic location of your membership: groups situated in the eastern parts of the United States tend towards belief in a Critical God, southerners an Authoritarian God, midwesterners a Benevolent God, and the west coast a Distant God.

I suggest that only the most advanced users pick “E: other” as it creates great need for explanation.

  1. Connection☐ Other: __________
    ☐ Direct revelation
    ☐ Lost scroll
    Affirm you indeed found a scroll: ☐ yes / ☐ no
    ☐ Academy
    Affirm you are able to print certificates:  ☐ yes / ☐ no

4.           Establishing Connection

All religions need to establish how they came to speak for God, and yours is no exception.

Direct revelation is the easiest, and yet I suggest that beginners avoid this option because of two hidden downsides. (1) Detractors—With no basis in fact, detractors can simply claim that God revealed to them the opposite of what God has truly revealed to you. This historically has led to people engaging in the most ridiculous (and often dangerous) spectacles to prove God is on their side. (2)  Stigma—The social stigma of being known as an oracle for God can be psychologically crushing.

For these reasons, if possible, I suggest you go with either “lost scroll” or “academy.”

“Lost scroll, found!” is a classic headline. The Zohar, the Book of Mormon, and scroll of Deuteronomy are all examples of lost testaments found. The Zohar—upon which Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah are based—was found in a cave by Moses de León. The 13th-century Spanish Jewish writer claimed the work was the writing of Shimon bar Yochai, from the year 70 CE. The Book of Mormon, originally composed in 600 BCE, was found by Joseph Smith in Palmyra, NY., in the early 1800s while he was digging for treasure. The scroll of Deuteronomy, which begins with the words, “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert east of the Jordan,” was found six hundred years after the events by King Josiah in the 7th century BCE.

While it might seem important that the newly-found testaments from God do not contain any ideas or language that postdate their claimed authorship, followers don’t seem to mind. (I know, amazing!) Also, no worries if the re-revealed testimony has heretofore vanished as long as you check the second box, affirming you really, honestly did find the scroll.

If you aren’t able to find a scroll, you might consider establishing an academy.

Establishing an academy is brilliant in its simplicity. What you need to do is find a few funders to establish the academy, wherein the heads of this academy confer that its graduates are fit to discern God’s will. While this might feel a bit circular in logic, people seemingly accept it without question as long as you can print official-looking certificates.

 

  1. Continuing Revelation

    ☐ Please submit essay:
    “How will your group deal with the need for continuing revelation?”

As we hope your religion will last longer than a few years, it is best to think ahead of how you will know what God’s view will be on things yet to happen.

 

For example, no recorded ancient religion concerned itself with the ethics of stem-cell research. The technology was unimaginable. And the departments of the Heavens would like to know ahead of time how you will be receiving God’s opinion on future matters about which previous revelation does not pertain.

 

Your answer needn’t be logically perfect, as the length of the explanation is of greater importance. Answers should be convoluted so both adherents and detractors become so distracted by the wormhole of questions the answers raise that they no longer care to engage in the inquiry.

 

Here is an example, from Judaism, of how to properly cover the answer in obfuscation. In the late 1980s, Jews wanted to know “What is the proper Jewish way to prepare a microwave oven for use?” (As to why this was a question, heaven-dwelling angels were equally amused and befuddled. They, too, thought plugging it in, possibly with a light application of spray cleaner, would be sufficient.)

The official Jewish answer goes like this:

God answered Moses at Mount Sinai regarding how to make a microwave oven kosher for use by Jews.

To accomplish this logic, one needs to know that God gave Moses more than the ten commandments at Mt. Sinai.

Jewish tradition maintains that God gave to Moses the whole Torah. And while we are using the two-word phrase “The Torah,” we aren’t talking about the Torah as being the five books of Moses, but everything that is in the Bible, even the things that happen after Moses’s death—like the book of 2nd Kings and all the Psalms.

And all of Mishna and all of Talmud, too, were given to Moses.

It’s just that these parts—the Talmud and law codes, weren’t written down until later.

And the Zohar, which we earlier said was written by Shimon bar Yochai, was revealed to Moses. Verbatim. It, too, just wasn’t written down. Until it finally was.

But it was all revealed to Moses.

Including the ruling about how to make a microwave kosher.

Moses transmits all of Jewish law to Joshua. Joshua teaches all of the revealed and yet-to-be-revealed laws to the Prophets—who, in turn, tell The Elders, who then teach the men of the Great Assembly. Those people are the rabbis who finally start writing some of this stuff down, starting in the year 200 with the Mishnah, then in 500 with the Talmud. As rabbis have been teaching rabbis ever since, it follows that the revelation to God at Mt. Sinai would include the subsequent laws as to the rules and regulations regarding microwave ovens.

But that part of the revelation to Moses at Mt. Sinai wouldn’t get written down until the 1980s.

It’s a direct chain from God, who explains that the microwave becomes fit for Jewish use only after it is not used for 24 hours and then has a cup of water put into it rigorously boil over until it empties itself onto the tray.

Some rabbis teach that God told Moses that the procedure of microwaving the cup of water until it boils and empties should be done a second time, with the cup in a new position so that it would be able to make fit for use the spot where the last cup was.

I thank you for taking your time with me. Good luck on the next sections: “choosing the correct type of charismatic leader,” “explaining the presence of evil,” and “the need for external ethic reviews.”

If you have further questions, let me know.

Or, of course, you can also ask God for guidance.

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