Welcome, my child. Won’t you put your feet up, let your hair down and abide with me? Ye, and I say unto you, relax fellow dude. If you haven’t noticed, I’m holy now. Really holy. Not five minutes ago I became an ordained Minister of The Church of the Latter-Day Dude, the world’s slowest growing religion. And so can you.
The Church of the Latter Day Dude, or Dudeism, is based on the theory of, to use the parlance of our times, chilling out and going with the flow, taking pleasure in the simple things in life and using the mellowed-out approach of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski as a guide to living full and rewarding life. Yes, it’s a religion based on The Big Lebowski. However, far from being a lesson in mainstream religion piss-takery, Dudeism, with more than 150,000 ordained members worldwide, takes its principals seriously, albeit in a very light-hearted way.
Founded in 2005 by a Chiang Mai-based American journalist Oliver Benjamin, AKA The Dudely Lama, the religion has slowly won a legion of followers, spawned a number of books and has even set up The Little Lebowski Urban Achievers charity through micro-loan organisation Kiva. Just a load of pop culture pomp? Maybe not. According the the website, Dudeism can find its roots in ancient beliefs.
“The originator of Taoism, Lao Tzu, basically said “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” and “mellow out, man” although he said this in ancient Chinese so something may have been lost in the translation. Down through the ages, this “rebel shrug” has fortified many successful creeds – Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, John Lennonism and Fo’-Shizzle-my-Nizzlism.”
So what does it all mean, how do would-be Dudeists put these principals into practice? I defer to the website again;
“The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.”
If you happen to be a special lady and all this dudeiness sounds like some kind of Johnson-measuring boys club, worry not. The term “dude” is a gender-neutral term according to the religion. Here’s a great article on the role of women in The Big Lebowski and indeed the religion – followers are largely male, so time to balance things out dudes.
So where to start? Dudeism.com is the closest thing to a church the religion will ever have I’d imagine. Here you can get ordained for free (this is actually recognised in the US with many a Dudeist wedding taking place in recent years), play some games (the Big Lebowksi Haikutomatic is particularly addictive) and learn everything you need to know about the religion. The Vatican’s website, it has to be noted, is not nearly as engaging.
Dudespaper.com is like The Watchtower for Dudeists. As the official publication of Dudeism, expect some interesting and (perhaps) surprisingly thought-provoking articles such as When Life Hands You Lemons, Tell Life You Ordered Beer.
There are also a number of books, including children’s, written on the subject and mere weeks ago Jeff Bridge’s released a book with his Buddhist teacher Bernie Glassman featuring their chilled conversations on life, love and everything in between. The Dude and The Zen Master, I should point out, isn’t affiliated with Dudeism but it’s being embraced by the church none the less. Abide.