Discordianism

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AMCrenshaw

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James81

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I find it ironic that a religion is centered on the idea of making an ORGANIZED attempt at basing a religion on chaos.

As far as comparisons are made, I think I would need to know more about Discordianism to make a judgement about that. Because it seems to me like most religions main focus is on how the person reacts and lives their life in accordance with their beliefs. most religion seems focused on providing a way to live your life with the moral structure they withhold.

And I don't know exactly how this particular religion does that.
 

indiriverflow

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I find it ironic that a religion is centered on the idea of making an ORGANIZED attempt at basing a religion on chaos.

As far as comparisons are made, I think I would need to know more about Discordianism to make a judgement about that. Because it seems to me like most religions main focus is on how the person reacts and lives their life in accordance with their beliefs. most religion seems focused on providing a way to live your life with the moral structure they withhold.

And I don't know exactly how this particular religion does that.

By being an absolute joke. The rule of Discordianism: eat hot dogs without buns unless it is Friday.
Joke religions are a lot of fun. Hail Eris!

II - A Discordian is Required during his early Illumination to Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog on a Friday; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).

IV - A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.

V - A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing what he reads.

My favorite is the Church of the Subgenius. Kill Bob.

The purpose of these start-ups is to demonstrate the absurdity of the texts they satirize. Although there are nutcases who take this sort of thing seriously.

At any rate Discordianism is a disorganized religion, as you will realize when you search your local Yellow Pages for a local franchise in vain.

You also won't find a bunless hot dog stand, but I believe you can make a special order to accommodate your dietary needs if you really want to be devout.

I wouldn't know-being both vegan and constitutionally averse to following such rules, I eat a hummus burrito without a tortilla. Messy.

We have our own schism, the Church of the Mountain's Daughter of Latter-Day Pranksters. We follow magma as described in the Book of Moron.
 
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Ruv Draba

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Clowning is an ancient and near-universal human behaviour. As well as being amusing, clowning challenges authority, zealotry, idealism, cynicism, bigotry, squeamishness and preciousness. It's also much harder to do well than it looks.

Clowns sometimes form part of mainstream religions, e.g. as in Native American clown societies, but more often they're on the fringe.

A fear of clowns is called coulrophobia.
 

AMCrenshaw

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Are these clowns, specifically, doing religious organizations or whomever any service? You listed general clowning, which is great (I heard about clowning through Native American religion-- drink each other's urine?), but let us here be more specific.

AMC
 

Ruv Draba

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Are these clowns, specifically, doing religious organizations or whomever any service?
Do clowns have to serve institutions? Human expression that forbids the power to challenge, parody and mock institution doesn't seem very human or expressive to me.

Is there non-institutional benefit from clowning? Absolutely. Parody is an humanitarian service. A mirror reflecting our delusions, pomposity and deceit.

(I now have this picture of Ronald McDonald as one of the great clown-slaves of history. He wants to have real fun, but can only sell burgers to ever-fattening children)
 
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AMCrenshaw

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Is there non-institutional benefit from clowning? Absolutely. Parody is an humanitarian service. A mirror reflecting our delusions, pomposity and deceit.

As I said, try to be specific. There is information in those links about what exactly is being clowned, why, and we might wonder if there is a directed objective.



Besides labeling Discordianism as clowning (which does apply), does it have its own philosophic merit? Can we compare/contrast the Discordian philosophy to any others? Is it really just nonsensical fun?

AMC
 

James81

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Besides labeling Discordianism as clowning (which does apply), does it have its own philosophic merit? Can we compare/contrast the Discordian philosophy to any others? Is it really just nonsensical fun?

AMC

Well, it's a viable IDEA in and of itself (and people can ascribe to the idea), but I can't see how you can form a religion of any sort out of it.
 

Ruv Draba

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Can we compare/contrast the Discordian philosophy to any others?
Of course you can, since it's a parody of most of the major religions in the world. It's just that if you make that comparison it's not a terribly flattering one. :)

There is information in those links about what exactly is being clowned, why, and we might wonder if there is a directed objective.
Parody gives us a meta-language for discussing things that can normally only be discussed in their own tongue. It lets us step outside the thought and values underpinning certain domains -- which is perhaps what you're getting at in the first place.

For example, on the subject of Quantum Theory and Consciousness, I found this interview between Richard Dawkins and Deepak Chopra in which Chopra makes the extraordinary claim that scientists hijacked quantum theory for their own purposes. I must say that I'd be a lot more relaxed about that claim if it I knew for sure that Chopra was a Discordian.
 
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James81

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OK, but it is a religion. How they formed it is not exactly the question here.


AMC


A link directly to the philosophy

I sort of figured that by me saying "I don't see how you can form a religion out of it" would automatically translate into answering all your questions about it (such as, since it CAN'T be a religion, then it wouldn't be comparable to other religions, it would have to be nonsensical fun, etc.).
 

AMCrenshaw

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...Except that it is a religion -- however unlikely you may find it to be -- so it can be compared to other religions. Having established these things, I think we can move on from there.

AMC
 

James81

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I'm actually challenging the fact that it's a religion. that's the whole point.
 

Ruv Draba

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I'm with James on this, AMC. If you think it's a religion please supply your criteria for recognition and show how it meets those criteria. Actually, I'll go further and say that it's clowning under the following criteria:
  • Behaviour mimics and exaggerates other behaviour
  • Thought and action are at odds
  • Action is a performance conducted largely for others
  • Performance is attention-seeking
  • Performers wear masks (in this case, pseudonyms and false claims about themselves)
  • Performers routinely deceive, confront, humiliate their audience
 
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AMCrenshaw

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

I'd need to know on what grounds.

If it is because it is "about chaos" you would have to, as you said, need to know more about Discordianism, what "chaos" is-- the wiki talks about it, and RAW's talks are fairly precise. One should distinguish chaos from disorder.

Otherwise, there is an ethics involved, one that in my opinion resembles anarchic community, tolerance (that is, understanding from the other's POV) of ideas and people, resistance of absolutes, etc. Questioning superiors, things sacred and profane, dominant ideologies-- all through clowning and not-so-serious philosophy (which does, in spite of itself, have an interesting level of sophistication).

AMC
 

AMCrenshaw

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"A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth.[1] It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos, and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,"[2] but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively.

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. It considers psychological and social roots, along with origins and historical development."

As much as they don't want organization, there is a franchise of Discordian ideas; one can read their central texts, including fiction by one of Discordianisms founders, each invent, borrow, and abuse symbols (yin-yang) to further their ideology. Durkheim would say that Discordianism isn't a religion because there are realms for the sacred nor the profane (in Zen Buddhists receive this claim as well). While there is no transcendent God or Being in Discordianism there is chaos, something which to our understanding is entirely other. Rituals include being infallible, and questioning authority, among many others we might be inclined to call silly. But is that fair? Does religion signify cosmic seriousness?

I should also mention the tribal aspect. They believe that every person is a Discordian Pope and so are always in the company of their kin, and interact with self-aware Discordian Popes in rather interesting ways. You might want to go to a birthday or New Year party to see what I mean.

AMC
 
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Ruv Draba

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I'd say that it's clowning under the following criteria:
  • Behaviour mimics and exaggerates other behaviour;
  • Thought and action are at odds;
  • Thought and action are chaotic;
  • Action is a performance conducted largely for others;
  • Performance is attention-seeking;
  • Thought and actions subvert popular ideals;
  • Performers wear masks (in this case, pseudonyms and false claims about themselves) that
    are caricatures
  • Performers routinely deceive, confront, humiliate their audience
Rather than clowning about religion, could it be religious clowning, as for instance we see in portrayals of Hanuman in the Ramayana? If it were then I'd expect to see artifacts common to religious culture (and indeed all culture): people meeting on common ground and setting aside differences to propagate shared lore, values and beliefs. I don't believe that there's any common ground in Discordian ideology, and differences -- especially silly, loud, attention-seeking ones -- are actively encouraged.

Could it be non-religious spirituality though? Well, sure. Why not?
 
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AMCrenshaw

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Religion can't coincide with clowning? I agree it's largely clowning. But the Buddha had a sense of humor, as do many Zen Masters, as does the Dalai Lama (his new book has a joke about the Chinese...), the Native American moral clowns.


* Behaviour mimics and exaggerates other behaviour

We all mimic other behavior, but they certainly exaggerate it!

* Thought and action are at odds

Example please.
* Thought and action are chaotic

No example needed!

* Action is a performance conducted largely for others

Yeah, for the 10,000 kids who know about it. But it's mostly for themselves (which could classify as clowning as well).

* Performance is attention-seeking

Example please.

* Performers wear masks (in this case, pseudonyms and false claims about themselves) that are caricatures

So did Kierkegaard, and I'd agree he was a clown as well as a religious philosopher.

* Performers routinely deceive, confront, humiliate their audience

Example please.

AMC
 

Ruv Draba

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Sorry AMC, I'm a compulsive post-editor and was updating as you replied. I've explained what I think is the distinction between religious clowning and clowning about religion, above. I think that examples of much of what I've claimed can be found in your own links. But equally I invite you to supply counter-evidence showing that people identifying as Discordians substantially change their private lives to pursue their Discordian beliefs.
 

AMCrenshaw

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They don't have a church recognized by any state so I can't give you that kind of evidence. But at an interreligious dialogue I met two Discordians (who've inspired this thread) and they claim it changed them. It made them less angry, less shy, more capable of understanding difference. I met the one man through the Phil Berrigan Institute for Nonviolence, and I was surprised to learn that RAW got him interested in psychology and philosophy and Discordianism helped shape his ideas about authority. Also, I've gone to their Discordian parties a couple of times, which consist of beat-box karaoke, political debate, and booze. Don't know I'll go again...

The common ground in Discordianism is that all are infallible. That nothing we know is True, even when it's true. Yes, people disagree. But I think we all know a lot of Christians, for example, who argue and discuss and disagree about Biblical interpretation, theology, etc. Why should Discordianism be different?

BTW, I too am a compulsive post-editor. For example, thanks for the link to that interview. I have a lot of respect for both authors, of course when they speak about what they really know. I don't understand how Deepak could say scientists hijacked quantum-jargon, and I think it revealed how behind-the-times he is in that respect...


AMC
 
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Ruv Draba

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I have a very broad view of what can constitute spirituality, in which I include gardening, boxing, scuba-diving, stamp-collecting, egg-laying and jazz. I certainly won't discount Discordian karaoke from such a list though as with gardening etc... I think that it's not what you do but how and why you do it that makes it spiritual.

But religion in all regular uses is associated with sacred tradition; a clownish parody in which nothing is sacred and there's no tradition clearly subverts that usage. Humorous it may be; spiritual it may be, but since its whole point is to confuse people about what religion is, the act of accepting it as a religion guarantees exactly that confusion, just as calling clown-doctors GPs would confuse us about what medicine means.
 

AMCrenshaw

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But religion in all regular uses is associated with sacred tradition

Except when we talk about religions like Zen Buddhism or Taoism in which sacred and profane are of little importance. When you speak of traditions, you admit and leave out that both clowning and parody are a part of the Discordian tradition. Besides that, it's sometimes difficult to say exactly what is tradition and what's not in a religion so new as Discordianism. It makes it more difficult when the religion's main tenets encourage schism.

but since its whole point is to confuse people about what religion is

It's whole point?

Where this particular assertion falls flat is in the people who do practice Discordianism and would argue: "Of course we confuse people about what religion is. Why are they so sure their version of religion is True? Furthermore, it's not that we confuse people about what religion is absolutely, but about Absolute Truth in general."

AMC
 

Ruv Draba

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Except when we talk about religions like Zen Buddhism or Taoism in which sacred and profane are of little importance.
As Wikipedia explains Taoism:
Livia Kohn divided it into the following three categories:
  1. "Philosophical Taoism" (Daojia 道家). A philosophical school based on the texts Dao De Jing (道德經) and Zhuangzi (莊子);
  2. "Religious Taoism" (Daojiao 道教). A family of organized Chinese religious movements originating from the Celestial Masters movement during the late Han Dynasty and later including the "Orthodox" (Zhengyi 正義) and "Complete Reality" (Quanzhen 全真) sects, which claim lineages going back to Lao Zi (老子) or Zhang Daoling in the late Han Dynasty;
  3. "Folk Taoism". The Chinese folk religion.
Several commentators argue that Buddhism is not a religion, especially those sects whose notions of sacred are fairly numinous, but then there are arguments like this one or this, to explain why it is. I'm in agreement. I don't personally know a Buddhist who lacks a deep sense of the sacred. It just happens to encompass everything living -- which may be so big that Western eyes don't always recognise it.

But there are some people who describe atheism as a religion too -- which just speaks to the fact that people will find ways to see it differently. If you don't like my definition, please feel free to return your unused portion of it for a complete refund* (*minus shipping and handling charges). But if you're going to substitute another definition of religion that includes (for example) Discordianism and (maybe) Star-Trek collectibles then I'd like to know what you'll do with that it that you couldn't already do with another term like 'spirituality'. Sell tax-breaks maybe? ;)
It makes it more difficult when the religion's main tenets encourage schism.
If by 'difficult' you mean 'downright impossible' then yes. :) This would make Discordianism not a culture but a counter-culture -- the sort of thing that can only exist when it has a culture to oppose. I'd argue that at minimum, a religion is a cultural construct, able to stand on its own legs.
 
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