Today’s thought I’m going to share with you, is about a building in Modesto, California. The building that houses the Universal Life Church.
You might have heard of it; if you haven’t, in a nutshell, it is a church that says religion and ministry are up to the individual, and in accordance with that idea, will ordain anyone and everyone, regardless of race, religion (or lack thereof), color, social standing, sexual orientation, net worth, political leaning, or affinity for blueberries. Everyone is granted their cloth, by mail or over the internet. I got ordained six years ago. Now, before you bail out and go look for cat videos, Let me state clearly and for the record, Senator, that I am not here to tell you what gods to worship, or even that gods exist. You spend enough time on the subject, you can figure that out for yourself.
I’m talking about all this for different reasons. I mentioned in my first post that there is more than one way do do things. There is also more than one way to look at things. The ULC is one of the best examples of that you’ll ever find.
Many, or even most, people, don’t consider it to be a real church.
What is a “real” church? Here in New York, I could have started my own, perfectly legal and legitimate Church just by filing a Certificate of Incorporation pursuant to the Religious Corporations Law with a County Clerk.
I may yet do that one day. But someone in California has already done that, and I have better things to do, like riding my motorcycle and watching “Incredible Hulk” reruns.
Back to the question at hand, what is “real?” The more philosophy you learn, the more you realize that “real” is a subjective term. According to the Buddhists, the whole physical universe is total bullshit. They say it more politely, but I’m a Biker.
What is “real?” Let me tell you what I think is real:
The spirit of the day when I perform a wedding ceremony; that is real. The duty I have to the couple to see that their union is honored in their spirit, that is real. The time and effort I put into discharging that duty, to celebrate their love and fidelity, and to make sure they enjoy that celebration, that is real. I take these things seriously.
These are acts of ministry. Regardless of any deities that anyone may or may not believe in.
You know what else are acts of ministry?
Handshakes. Being honest with people. Keeping your word. Giving someone a shoulder to cry on, a leg up, a pat on the back, or a kick in the ass. I take these things seriously as well.
And if you’re saying, “yeah, but anyone can do that,” congratulations, you just got the point.
This is why I like the ULC. They base their whole existence on “anyone can do that.” They encourage anyone to do that.
I’m pretty sure half of my friends are ministers. Half of them got ordained to mock what they see as the stupidity of religion, the other half did it to legitimize their religious leanings, and a third half did it to be allowed to perform wedding ceremonies, which can be a decent source of extra money.
There’s a spectrum here. On one end you got people who laugh, mock, revile and dismiss the whole idea. On the other end you got people who see the whole idea as Divine Providence and holy sanction. In between you got a metric fuckton of people with every possible mixture of the other two kinds of people, meeting at total indifference right smack in the middle.
And the Church just keeps on doing its thing, regardless of any of them.
Whichever end of this spectrum you fall on, there’s a lesson there.
And that brings me to why I was thinking of that particular building in Modesto. It’s the Church’s church; the story goes that it has pews, and a pulpit, but no pastor. Anyone who walks in can walk up and deliver a sermon. The idea is that “everyone has something to teach.”
Now that’s something I can believe in. If you can’t, then what the hell are you doing on the internet, which has that premise as its foundation? Are you really going to dismiss the message, just because it comes from an institution people dismiss as a joke?
Guy Gilchrist, modern philosopher, musician, and artist, recently said, “You can’t help the whole world…but you can help your little part of it.”
That, is a very positive sentiment. Words to live by.
Are you really going to tell me they’re worthless because he said them through the medium of Sluggo, in the “Nancy” comic strip he was drawing at the time?
Don’t dismiss a message just because people say the source is laughable. Don’t embrace a message just because people say the source is unimpeachable.
Hell, don’t even take my word for anything. These things can be an indicator of how big a grain of salt you’ll need to swallow any idea, but the best thing is always to look for yourself and make up your own damn mind.
I’ve made up my mind. I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to own this shit. I’ll put a “Rev.” in front of my name, because these acts of ministry, the idea of everyone having something to teach, are “real” things that I take seriously, things I want to stand for, and I will use the title from a church that says anyone can do that, because I say anyone can do that, and I want to encourage others to take something seriously and stand for it. Even if it gets me laughed at.
10 years ago, I couldn’t have said that. 10 years ago, I wanted universal approval and would worry about it. 10 years ago, I didn’t own a motorcycle.
Bikers don’t do things for approval. Approval will come, from the people it needs to come from. I once met a 300 pound Biker who rode in a Viking helmet with two-foot wide horns, a wool vest with an antique Sheriff’s badge on the chest, and his pet Chihuahua riding along on the tank of his Boss Hoss, which is made by shoehorning a Corvette engine into a motorcycle frame. Do you think that guy gave a shit what anyone thought of him? Hell no. He just kept doing his thing, regardless.
That’s the spirit, which inspires me to put the “Rev.” in front of my name.
I’ll put a bunch of alphabet soup after my name, because while I do take some things seriously, I am not always one of them. I’m trying to keep the comedy as intentional as possible here.
This is who I am. The only person who really has to like it, is me. That, is Bikerhood, and that is exactly the same as the Universal Life Church.
There’s a spectrum here. On one end you got people laugh, mock, revile and dismiss the whole idea; on the other you got people who see the whole idea as a Divine Institution and holy sanction. In between you got a metric fuckton of people with every possible mixture of the other two kinds of people, meeting at total indifference right smack in the middle.
And Bikers just keep on doing their thing, regardless of any of them.
And anyone can do that. That is the Truth.
And Truth rides a motorcycle.