THERE’S A RELIGION for its time and place…It fits right in there, helps us abide through all the strikes and gutters, the ups and downs of the whole durned human comedy. It really ties your life together.
And the religion for our time and place is Dudeism.
Of course, nihilists and reactionaries will probably dispute that—when they’re not throwing marmots into your bathtub or coffee cups at your forehead. That’s why you need to know how to respond when someone who is un-Dude asks you what the fuck you’re talking about when you tell them about Dudeism.
Now, it’s a basic tenet of the Dudeist ethos to just say “Fuck it,” or “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man,” when someone micturates upon our faith. But we’re talking about unchecked theological aggression here, drawing a line in the spiritual sand, Dude. Across this line you do not—also, Dude, “faith” is not the preferred nomenclature—“worldview,” please.
So, What the Fuck am I Talking About?
Lost my train of thought there. Anyway, in defending whether Dudeism is really a religion, worldview, or what-have-you, a Dudeist must first address a very basic question: What makes a religion? Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a religion? Or is it that along with a pair of testaments?
Well, Dude, we just don’t know. Religion is a very complicated thing. A lotta scriptural ins, a lotta ritual outs…a lot of ecclesiastical strands to keep in your head, man. There is a lot about religion that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us. It can be quite stupefying, in fact. But there are some basic tools that can help put you in a unique position to confirm or disconfirm whether Dudeism is a religion.
First off, it’s good to define what in God’s holy name we’re blathering about when we say the word “religion”. A wiser fellah than myself once said that “religion” has its root in the Latin word “ligo,” or “to bind together.” That’s a good place to start, I guess, because the tenets of Dudeism do indeed bind its diverse adherents together in one big round robin.
But there are other ways that can help you explain how Dudeism is a religion, and in English, too. Here are just a couple.
All Right, Let’s Get Down to Cases
The beauty of Dudeism is its simplicity. Once a religion gets too complex, everything can go wrong.
That’s why the “To What/From What/By What Means” method of identifying a religion is a great way to summarize the Dudeist ethos for your un-Dude friends.
From what is Buddhism trying to liberate us? Suffering
To what state of being is Buddhism trying to bring us? Nirvana
By what means does Buddhism attempt do this? The Noble Eightfold Path.
Isn’t that fucking interesting, man? Now let’s apply it to Dudeism:
From what is Dudeism trying to liberate us? Thinking that’s too uptight.
To what state of being is Dudeism trying to bring us: Just taking it easy, man.
By what means does Dudeism attempt do this? Abiding.
Now, that’s fucking ingenious, if I understand it correctly.
If You Define It, It Is a DREEMMS
But what do Dudeists believe? Well, although you have your story and I have mine, there are certain things that bring us together and root us, like the aitz chaim he, in a shared community.
To help me clarify what I’m blathering about, I’ll use the seven dimensions of religion identified by Ninian Smart (another wiser fellah than myself): Doctrinal, Ritual, Ethics, Experiential, Myth, Material, and Social…or, in the parlance of religious studies, DREEMMS).
Doctrinal (the systematic formulation of religious teachings in an intellectually coherent form): Like Zen, Dudeism isn’t into the whole doctrinal thing; we prefer direct experience of takin’er easy, and often contemplate two indiscernible Coens to achieve that modest task.
Perhaps the closest Dudeists come to having a systematic formulation of our religious teachings is: “Sometimes you eat the bear, and, well, sometimes the bear, he eats you.” Is that some sort of Eastern thing? Far from it, Dude.
Ritual (forms and orders of ceremonies): Dudeists are also not into the whole ritual thing, but there are some things we do for recreation that bring us together, like bowling, driving around, the occasional acid flashback, listening to Creedence. Some Dudeists are shomer shabbas, and that’s cool.
Ethics (rules about human behavior): Although this isn’t ‘Nam, there aren’t many behavioral rules in Dudeism, either. However, we do recognize that we may enter a world of pain whenever we go over the line and we are forever cognizant of what can happen when we fuck a stranger in the ass.
Experiential (the core defining personal experience): Abiding and takin’er easy.
Myth (the stories that work on several levels and offer a fairly complete and systematic interpretation of the universe and humanity’s place in it): The Big Lebowski is our founding myth; just as the Christian Gospels, based on the Jesus of history, provide a portrait of the mythical Christ of faith who “died for all us sinners,” the film, based on the Dude of history (Jeff Dowd), presents the mythical Dude of film (Jeff Bridges) who “takes it easy for all us sinners.”
Material (ordinary objects or places that symbolize or manifest the sacred or supernatural): That rug really tied the room together, did it not?
Social (a system shared and attitudes practiced by a group. Often rules for identifying community membership and participation): Racially we’re pretty cool and open to pretty much everyone…pacifists, veterans, surfers, fucking lady friends, vaginal artists, video artists with cleft assholes, dancing landlords, doctors who are good men and thorough, enigmatic strangers, brother shamuses…And proud we are of all of them.
Those we consider very un-Dude include: Rug-pissers, brats, nihilists, Nazis, human paraquats, pederasts, pornographers, fucking fascists, reactionaries, and angry cab drivers. Friends like these, huh, Gary?
Although Dudeists may lack three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax, we do share the great spiritual insights espoused by many great Dudes throughout the ages. As our Dudely Lama once wrapped it all up for us:
“Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.”
Knowing that, now you can die with a smile on your face without feelin’ like the Good Lord gypped you. And that’s what Dudeism’s all about.
See ya later on down the trail.
Arch Dudeship Dwayne Eutsey is currently founding a Dudeist monastery for Irish monks: The Brotherhood Shamus
Dwayne can be reached at [email protected]