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a study of joke religions

As a genuine and authorized Discordian Pope, as well as an ordained minister of the Church of the SubGenius, and an early evangelist for Pastafarianism, I would be remiss if I did not share this thought-provoking paper by Laurel Narizny:

Satirical and parody religions developed in accord with what Agehananda Bharati calls the “pizza effect.” The original pizza was a hot baked bread exported to America, embellished, and returned to Italy, where it became a national dish; similarly, the first
joke religions cobbled together numerous aspects of popular culture, occulture, and counterculture; synthesized them with postmodern ideas about religion; and are now subtly transforming religion in the United States. Joke religions are, in effect, a synthesis of and a vernacular reaction to both institutional religions, such as Christianity, and the more loosely defined “institutional” occult and counterculture groups, such as neo-paganism.

David Chidester -— the only scholar so far, as noted above, to publish anything more than a passing mention of joke religions -— calls joke religions “authentic fakes.” They are authentic because they negotiate the politics of being human in relation to the divine, which is essentially how I have defined religion, but are also explicit parodies of religion—“simultaneously simulations and the real thing.”


Many people consider joke religions “fakes” because of their use of startling, even offensive, humor. As we have seen, however, religious humor is a form of “deep play” that works to renegotiate ideas about tradition, space, identity, community, and the body,
and uses paradox to further one’s progress toward enlightenment.

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