Spoiler warning: This article may contain spoilers about your belief system. [caption id="attachment_2010" align="alignright" width="300"] Game of sex, death, violence and gratuitious nudity is more like it.[/caption] The characters, locations and events may be fictional, but Game Of Thrones still says a lot about how religion distorts our natural inclinations and can lead people to do destructive things that they otherwise would not. While the invented belief systems of Westeros are different to the invented belief systems of the real world, some disturbing parallels exist. So here are 10 Things I Learned About Religion From Game Of Thrones: (more…)
I don't know about you, but personally I can't think of any better way to stroke your own ego than starting your very own religion and amassing millions of devoted followers. Well, as long as it's a successful religion that is; obviously there's no point starting a religion that doesn't outlast your own mortal lifespan. For a truly enduring sense of self-importance you want your followers to continue worshipping you for at least a couple of millennia and that's going to be difficult if you don't have any by the time you die. Clearly the mythology surrounding Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed make them difficult role models to emulate, but if a B-grade science fiction writer can start his own religion in our own life times then you can do it too. So here are my tips on how to start your own successful religion:
Endow Yourself With Divinity[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"] Having an easily recognizable icon to brand your religion will help too.[/caption] Nobody argues with God. Well, nobody that you need to worry about anyway. So if you want to start a religion, you need to claim some divinity for yourself. The simplest way to do this is to just outright claim to be the messiah from some ancient religion; but many have tried this and failed. A more effective way is to make ambiguous statements like “I am who I am”, and let your followers fill in the blanks. They'll feel very smart for having worked out that you're divine before everyone else, and will spend the rest of their lives spreading your gospel for you thus saving you a great deal of time and effort. Claiming divine inspiration is important so that when you are questioned by the unbelievers down the track you have something to fall back on. Stories of archangels can come in handy for this, and stone tablets engraved with divine teachings have paved the way before you for centuries. More recently, golden tablets have come into vogue. Never mind that the alleged tablets always go missing; that just adds to the intrigue that helps keep your new belief system alive.
In ancient times, people followed lots of different gods. Nowadays, most people just follow the one... which makes it really important which one you choose. After all, your eternal destiny hangs in the balance. But there are still lots of gods to choose from, so how do you know that you're following the right one? [caption id="attachment_2022" align="alignright" width="225"] God is great... there are so many to choose from![/caption] Adults generally don't like it when you point out to them that their god isn't real; it's like saying they still believe in fairies. Which may be true but tends to cause a lot of defensiveness, hostility and resentment; especially when they've built their whole life around following their chosen god. I think it's better to plant the seed of curious inquiry, and let them discover the painful truth for themselves. So here are ten clues that you're following the wrong god: (more…)