Is Discordianism a Religion?

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, May 9, 2009 | Published in

Religion, whatever it is, is a man's total reaction upon life. - William James

One man's religion is another man's belly laugh. - Robert Heinlein

A question that I've never fully seen anyone address is whether Discordian is or is not a religion. This question is doubly difficult to answer because both terms are almost impossible to define. The word "religion" seems to cover everything from the ancient Abrahamic Big Three to ancestor worship to Scientology. It's hard to give a concise definition that covers everything most people consider "religion". And "Discordianism"... well, it seems like everyone has a completely different definition for that. There are as many different versions of Discordianism as there are Discordians. Probably more since some of us seem to have split personalities and like to change our minds a lot.

So, how do I resolve this conundrum? Well, a basic religion would have all of the following characteristics: belief in the supernatural, sacred and profane objects, ritual acts, a moral code, prayer, an overall worldview, and a social hierarchy. I think most of us can agree on those. But now you can see why it is so difficult to put Discordianism into this box. Let's take them one by one:

1) Belief in the supernatural: Yes, no, maybe. Some Discordians fully believe in the supernatural. Some (like me) think that it's all hooey. And some believe that the word "supernatural" is just a stand-in for Man's current shortcomings in knowledge about the universe. Discordianism does not require that you believe in gods, goddesses, fairies, or wood imps but you can if it makes you feel better. This one is a question mark.

2) Sacred and profane objects: I can't think of any one object in Discordianism that would be considered sacred or profane by every Discordian. Mosbunall feel that the PD is pretty special, but I don't see anyone willing to kill or die over it. No one worships it. There don't seem to be any established sacred places either. I'll mark this one a no.

3) Ritual acts: This is a big fat maybe. A ritual is defined as "an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite". NOTHING in Discordianism is established or prescribed. Things are generally suggested rather than required. Many Discordians like a bit of the Chaos Magick but that is not a prerequisite either. The Turkey Curse would almost fit here, but who actually does that in public?

4) Moral code: Again, a big fat maybe. As I posted the other day, Discordian morality is wide open. "Goddess forbids nothing, but nobody likes an asshole." But some of us like being assholes anyways.

5) Prayer: I'm going to say this one is a No. "We Erisians seldom pray, it is much too dangerous." But there is that pesky word "seldom". Plus some Discordians like to play around with conjurations and invocations in Chaos Magick. In my humble opinion I don't see a difference between that and prayer.

6) Overall worldview: So yeah...

7) Social hierarchy: Big fat stinkin' emphatic HELL NO! One of the reasons Discordianism was started in the first place was to subvert the idea of religious hierarchies. That is why everyone is named a pope from the very beginning. No one voice is more or less important than the other. Ideas are important no matter who they come from.

So where does that put us? Fucked if I know. I'd say that Discordianism is not a religion in the traditional sense. You definitely couldn't get a "Get out of taxes free" card from the US government for your Discordian disorganization. What is Discordianism then? As Saint Alton of Marietta says "That is for another episode."

(5) Comments

  1. Cameron said...

    Well put, I approve of this message, etc.

    When people ask me about Discordianism, I generally like to say that it's a very serious religion, and I also lie and add things in about Sirius being the homeworld of our souls, dogs are the ones who rule the world, whatever can get people to be like "Well golly gosh, isn't that just silly."

    It makes them much more likely to go look at the random Discordian literature online, and it also seems to make them more open to the idea that Discordianism is a joke directed at itself and the rest of the world. (But that doesn't mean it's not deadly serious.)

    May 9, 2009 at 12:11 AM
  2. Rev. Ouabache said...

    Thanks, Cameron. Like I said in the post on the Druze, its good to throw disinformation out there. If it gets more people interested in it, then even better!

    May 9, 2009 at 12:22 AM
  3. popefelix said...

    We do too have sacred places. There's the bowling alley where Omar and Mal-2 had their Revelation, for one, and of course the pineal gland.

    June 2, 2009 at 4:12 PM
  4. Rev. Ouabache said...

    I was told that the bowling alley was torn down decades ago. I think Emperor Norton's grave has replaced it as the Bay Area Discordian pilgrimage site.

    The pineal gland will always be over-rated.

    June 2, 2009 at 5:15 PM
  5. Anonymous

    I agrree with these statements , maybe except that we don't have to kill in the name of sacred and profane objects, it's well enough if you get the feeling of defending your religion's symbols...like the sacred chao which is not necesserily an object but what is an object anyway? you could argue about it for hours...

    March 11, 2010 at 2:34 PM

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