How do you know when a time is right for your idea? How about when someone else comes up with something similar?: Atheist ‘mega-churches’ take root across USA, world. For the past three months, I’ve been thinking about starting a church evangelizing egoism and excluding no one, and here is the something similar. I’m reading this as a publicity stunt, but we’ll see. That’s definitely not what I’m about.
What I want is a mission devoted to the idea of doing better. Just that. The doctrine is mine, Man Alive, et very cetera, but I’m a lot more interested in praxis than dogma. If you cross a soul-enriching music performance with a mind-enflaming motivational seminar, you’re halfway to seeing what I see.
Picture a real live church service somewhere, once a week. My ideal location would be a big bar on late Saturday afternoons, to put the idea of choosing admirably in mind just when it might be needed most. That can be simulcast by Ustream or Spreecast, so the whole world can join in, one mind at a time.
But: I’m digging living on the road a lot, so I would love to take this show on the road 15 or 20 days a month, too: Full-day hotel meeting room seminars with a ton of rotating content and drawing on local talent as well. If you think about the way seminar mechanics do major-city blitzes — TV spots and infomercials leading up to the show in three or four locations on successive days — that’s the kind of road show I’d love to mount. An operation like that could produce one or two new hours of tight, professional video every day.
What does victory look like? How about an operation on the scale of the big boys, like Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen? That may be too far to reach, but we are entering the age of Garage-Band Televangelism, so anything is possible.
The creed? On top of everything else, there are these two principles:
1. I don’t go to your church.
2. I am not arguing with you.
All I want to talk about is doing better, being better, becoming every day and step-by-tenuous-step a better person — in your own eyes. Whatever else you might believe is your business, and I don’t want to take it away from you. But if I won’t challenge your faith, I won’t spar about it either. If you came to fight, please go away.
I started thinking about this subsequent to a conversation with Anthony Johnson. He said to me, “You should start a church,” and even though I rejected the idea, it gnawed at me. I have a very low opinion of churches, and the bigger they get the less I like them. I made a joke about the sleaziness of televangelists when I sat down with Jim Pruitt, but the idea has been rolling around in my head for months.
The issue is this, discussed in Chapter 12 of Man Alive: Human beings worship. We can argue about the means and objects of worship, but it remains that we all do in fact worship in one way or another. And, as is argued in the book, the cardinal virtue of the fully-human life is the worship of the self by the self as the highest possible value in the uniquely-human life.
Does that idea need a church? I’m thinking it does. Certainly it hasn’t done well without one.
There’s more. I’m officiating Dream Johnson’s marriage in February, and I anticipate doing more weddings. I’ve not been asked to speak at a funeral, but I know I will be, and I deeply admire the style of eulogy Orson Scott Card invented for Speaker For The Dead. I think the baptism ceremony, minus the religion, is a beautiful commitment to the life of the child, and it also makes sense to celebrate a child’s graduation into Fathertongue, into free moral agency. A church is a community of like minds, and I like the idea of building a community of people who live by human values.
So: Am I daft? Or is this something you would like to see in your own life?
In the latter case, actions speak louder than words. At a very minimum, I need a site in Greater Phoenix once a week that I don’t have to pay for, a place to grow from. I have an Amazon Wish List of gear I can use. And it wouldn’t be a church without an offering plate. If this idea takes root, we’ll take it tax-deductible, but for now anything you can do is purely a donation.
What’s in it for me? Judah Hoover asked me that question months ago, and I don’t have a great answer for him. It sure ain’t the money. If I wanted money, I’d mount a sales training or real estate investment show and make bank. But the reality of my life is, broke or flush, I eat off of plastic plates.
I am rich in ideas and indifferent to every other form of wealth. But I love the human mind, everything it can be, everything it has been, everything it will be. My goal is simply to take the ancient idea of self-adoration and plant it in richer soil, cultivating it to its full Splendor.
If that’s something you’d like to be involved in, say so. At the absolute minimum, your own life will be better, thus assuring you perfect success in your efforts at evangelizing egoism.