What are the chances that Fringe Month would actually reflect myself outside of faith? Andrew on the Fringe. I have made numerous discoveries, faced serious challenges, and I think we’ve grown stronger as a community through this month’s experiences. Thanks for hanging with me.
All of that said, I still haven’t made good on my promise to showcase a few religions on the fringe of mainstream belief as well as some I just wish I had time to cover. Below is a brief list of such traditions. I have accompanied each listing with a short description and a website for more information.
Pastafarianism: Religious Satire
The Pastafarian group (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) rose from a letter written to the Kansas School Board essentially challenging the school system to teach alternatives to Intelligent Design. The author of the letter and founder of the Pastafarians, Bobby Henderson, proposed that a Flying Spaghetti Monster actually created the world. This movement has gone on to represent a challenge to mainstream religious literalist and criticizes any faith that takes itself too seriously. I originally slated February for this movement, however I could not find a Mentor. It’s okay though, the Baha’is were great!
Website link: http://www.venganza.org/
Developed in Japan since about 500 BCE, Shinto is rare in that there is no founder nor religious scriptures. The tradition revolves around the existence of kami, spirits which make up matter and concepts such as rain, mountains, and fertility. Kami, in most cases, are one’s ancestors in spirit form, thus Shinto centers in the home to honor the spirit and memory of past loved ones. Shrines are found throughout Japan that honor such spirits. Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, is chief among the kami.
Website link: http://www.religioustolerance.org/shinto.htm
The Urantia Book: A Recent Development
There’s a lot to digest here, so I’ll give you a passage from the website:
The writings in The Urantia Book instruct us on the genesis, history, and destiny of humanity and on our relationship with God the Father. They present a unique and compelling portrayal of the life and teachings of Jesus. They open new vistas of time and eternity to the human spirit, and offer new details of our ascending adventure in a friendly and carefully administered universe.
The Urantia Book offers a clear and concise integration of science, philosophy, and religion. Those who read and study it believe that The Urantia Book has the capacity to make a significant contribution to the religious and philosophical thinking of people worldwide.
Website link: http://www.urantia.org/en
Unitarian Universalist: All Together Now…
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a religious organization that combines two traditions: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. They consolidated into the UUA in 1961.
Both groups trace their roots in North America to the early Massachusetts settlers and to the founders of the Republic. Overseas, their heritages reach back centuries to pioneers in England, Poland, and Transylvania.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Jewish-Christian roots. It has no creed. It affirms the worth of human beings, advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth, and tries to provide a warm, open, supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion.
The First Reformed Church of SpongeBob Squarepants
SpongeBob Squarepants is a favorite cartoon in our home. My kids would string me up if I didn’t include this, um, faith.
The First Reformed Church of SpongeBob Squarepants was formed in 2004 as a response to the need for the doctrine of progressive, liberal absorbents to be clearly set out. The original Church of SpongeBob is open to all absorbents, no matter how fundamentalist or liberal their views. We in the First Reformed Church believe there is a need to further define our doctrines, and have created this denomination as a meeting point for those with similar views.
Besides YAP, there are 7 Fundamental Attributes that can be realized by studying the Scriptures. The Absorbent should strive to employ these attributes in their own life.
Simplicity - SpongeBob knows that simple games are the most fun.
Trust- SpongeBob trusts in the basic good of everyone
Self-confidence- Even though he has failed before, SpongeBob is confident in his ability to successfully succeed.
Commitment - SpongeBob is so committed to Opposite Day that he violates his own tenets.
Integrity - SpongeBob’s words and actions are in sync, he does what he says he will do.
Generosity - When SpongeBob makes money, he has to find ways to “get rid” of it, and ends up giving it all away.
Tenacity - SpongeBob does not give up, even though he has failed his boating exam 37 or 38 times.
Website link: http://churchofspongebob.tripod.com/about.html
There are so many other faiths and traditions to explore, but so little time. I hope I have piqued your interest in digging on your own through the various ideals that make up our religious and philosophical landscape. If I did not include your faith tradition, don’t feel bad…mine isn’t included either.