By Patrick Smith
How big is Dudeism?
Currently we have nearly half a million ordained Dudeist Priests, and an unknowable number of unordained followers. Of course, becoming a Dudeist Priest is nowhere near as hard as becoming a Catholic Priest — all you have to do is take some vows and fill out an online form. So probably only a minority of that half million are truly serious about Dudeism. Nevertheless, we’re not very strict, as befits a religion based on a character like the Dude. Still, our hope is that as people come to know about Dudeism via The Big Lebowski, they will ultimately learn that it’s not just a fan site, or a joke organization. We truly believe that the Dude represents a practical philosophy of self-betterment and a force for harmony and peace in a fractured world. Of course, that’s just, like, our opinion, man.
Is it growing?
Although one of our slogans is that we’re “The world’s slowest growing religion,” we are actually growing faster than quite a few of them. I think we’re definitely growing faster than Jainism, and Zoroastrianism has been rather on the wane. Nevertheless, we don’t take too aggressive an approach towards growth. Administering a religion that exalts relaxation and non-competitiveness requires taking a rather ginger approach towards evangelizing. We are “abiders” rather than “achievers” and so we take things as they come. But by letting things unfold naturally, I think we can better honor the Dude Way, than if we were to shout about Dudeism on street corners.
The central philosophy, core belief and the structure of the religion…does it have one?
Ultimately, we believe that the Dudeist philosophy is the same as that of many other popular philosophies and religions. That is to say, we share the same core view as Taoism, Buddhism, early Christianity and many Greek philosophies like Epicureanism and Stoicism. When you abandon the fairy tales, silly rituals, and funny hats, the central message of most of the world’s worldviews is this: Just take it easy, mankind. Everything follows from that. Unfortunately most belief systems get encrusted with extra stuff put there by fascists to scam everyone into doing their bidding. It’s a bummer, man. It’s a bummer.
Is the film like the bible, a sacred text?
Nothing is truly “sacred” to Dudeism in the sense that it is incorruptible or unable to be criticized. In fact, many Dudeists haven’t even seen the film. Some even have seen it but hate it! I know, it’s hard to believe. However, we do feel that there may be no better piece of literature than The Big Lebowski when it comes to explaining life, the universe and everything, at least to human beings on this planet. So many cultural touchstones and philosophical elements are contained in the film that if it was found in a time capsule after a nuclear war, we could probably reconstruct society just by watching it. We would need to keep our minds limber to do so, of course.
I’d also like to know what your relationship is like with the film. Was watching it for the first time like a religious epiphany etc? How many times have you watched the film roughly?
Before I saw the film, I traveled the world for years, studying everything, and searching for a plausible spiritual worldview that could really tie my ruminations together. I had nearly given up, when by chance I watched the film one day in cafe in Thailand. And, like St. Paul, I had become blinded on the road to Dudemascus. Suddenly I saw how all the worldviews I had been studying fit together, and I embarked on a mission to turn it into a modern method for making sense of it all. I’m not sure we’ve succeeded entirely, but it’s a work-in-progress. It’s also an open-source philosophy so we encourage people to help us make it to the finals, as it were.
What do you have to do to follow Dudeism? Do you drink white russians as holy communion? Wear dressing gowns?
Although our followers take great joy in incorporating elements of the movie into their lives — like bathrobes, sunglasses, white Russians, bowling and tapes of whale sounds — we don’t feel that any of these things are all that important. What’s truly important in Dudeism is not to be the Dude, or even be like the Dude, but to adopt the Dude’s attitude in dealing with the world. That is: don’t get so unnerved by other people, don’t worry about what people think about you, don’t feel pressure to follow the path that society says is the right one, and by all means, find out how to enjoy your life because it seems to go by nearly as quickly as a mere movie. When the Stranger says “The Dude Abides…I take comfort in that. It’s good knowing he’s out there, takin’ er easy for us sinners” he means that it’s good to know that there’s a simple way we can all be happy, even if we ourselves aren’t heading in that direction at the moment. Dudeism aims to promote that comfortable notion. And to help the amenable find like-minded compeers as they help perpetuate the whole durned human comedy. as they help perpetuate the whole durned human comedy.
By Patrick Smith