Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Right Revd. Dave, at your service

I have been an ordained minister for a year now.

I am not really sure what possessed me to sign up with the Church of the Latter Day Dude, not having seen The Big Lebowski at that point in my life. I've seen it since and it is a wonderful movie, though why anyone thought to devote a religion to it - even one as obviously tongue-in-cheek as this one - escapes me.

It could have been the ease of ordination - filling out a form on-line and then taking the time to print it off. The whole process took less than two minutes, and I ended up framing my certificate and propping it up on one of my bookshelves for all to see.

It could have been the motto of the Church - "The Dude Abides" - which I find comforting in its peaceful acceptance of whatever life throws at you. As a historian, I know that life can throw an awful lot, that its arm is mighty and tireless, and its reach into the deepest layers of muck for ammunition is infinite. As a Philadelphia sports fan, I know that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed, and occasionally a disproportionate amount of it will find its way to me. But the dude abides, man. The dude abides.

Whatever it was, it wasn't any deep-seated religious crisis on my part. Whenever anyone has the poor manners to ask after my personal beliefs, I usually tell them I'm a charter member of the Universal Church of the Ent, so named from a line in The Lord of the Rings where one character, asked which side he is on in the great conflict that animates that story, replies that he isn't on anyone's side because as far as he can tell nobody is on his. My spiritual journey has taken me to a number of places within the generally Christian orbit, and I'm fairly happy with where I've ended up. I do not feel it necessary to burden others with my specific beliefs or try to codify them into law for the limitation of others, as so many people in this country do these days. They are my beliefs, and mine alone.

The dude abides, man.

The odd part about this is that as far as the State of Wisconsin is concerned, I am in fact entitled to perform weddings and other religious ceremonies, and these would be legally valid.

I know.

I called them up and was just as surprised as you are when they told me that. Don't these people have standards?

As far as I can tell, there is no particular format for a CLDD wedding, and I'm not sure if a specific format would be considered contradictory to the whole "abiding" thing anyway. But it would be interesting to find out.

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