Thursday, May 03, 2007

open source religion

Recently I received a comment on an older post about "Natural Islam" and Anarchism and I started to think again about what the overlap between Islam and Anarchism can look like. It made me want to check out Daniel Sieradski's (Jewish) Orthodox Anarchist blog, which I hadn't read in a while. A few clicks afterwards I came across the provocative phrase "open source Judaism" and the more general concept of "open source religion". From there I started reading a little about Yoism which calls itself "the world's first open source religion". After browsing their homepage a bit I realized that I sort of knew one of the founders of Yoism! (We were in the same organization at one point).

Yoism seems an interesting novelty but I'm not sure how "deep" it is. The founders are basically secular folks looking for meaning who decided to take their favorite quotes from various philosophers and scientists and scenes from their favorite South Park and Simpsons episodes, stick them all in a blender, and call it a religion. Their main religious text, the Book of Yo, is a work in progress (and is literally a Wiki).

In spite of converting from one religion to another, I think that due to my upbringing I still have a traditionalist bias when it comes to certain religious issues. Ideally religion is supposed to be something transcendent which guides and inspires humans with certain values, even when prevailing social currents point in other directions. But a religion like Yoism fundamentally incapable of doing that because it naturally sinks to the lowest common denominator. It can't help but be a product of the egos of its members.

But I really don't mean to be totally dismissive of this approach. For a moderate, reasonable example of an "open source" approach to religion (specifically Islam) you could read Open Ijtihad from Ideant (a blog by Ulises Ali Mejias... a pretty thoughtful guy in his own right and husband to Asma Barlas).


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