How to… be religious, by Guy Browning

PCS get-together at Gene's, 7/9/11

How to… be religious

If religion is the opium of the masses, then it’s the one drug-related issue that’s clearing up fast. Spirituality is the direct, online, serve-yourself way of getting in touch with higher issues and is as popular as ever. Religion, on the other hand, is the old, bricks-and-mortar way of doing it, and it is dying out quicker than your local post office.

One big reason for this is that finding religion is a way of giving your problems to someone else. The reason why so many religious people seem so happy is because they are relieved not to have to ask themselves any more difficult questions. Instead, they can refer to their Holy Book, which is generally the word of God.

There are many different versions of the Holy Book, depending on which reporter was around at the time. You also have to remember that the word of God has generally been translated through 13 different languages. Would you trust the instructions on your microwave if you knew they’d come via the same route?

Religions are all man-made; that’s why there are so many of them. They all have different branding, different packaging and broadly hold out the same promises, mostly of the sort that can’t be held up in a court of law. Like other products, each religion promises to make your soul whiter than white and to shift stubborn stains on your character. Once you pick a religion that claims to be the best, you are obliged to think less of other people’s religions. This gives rise to all sorts of hatred and unpleasantness, which fortunately religion allows you to be forgiven for. All good religions insist that other religions are mistaken – and, of course, they’re all absolutely right.

If you’re confident that you’re part of the one true religion, then you might like to try out someone else’s religion for a while. Of course, if you have any doubts, then it’s best to stay at home and increase the level of your fervour. Fervour is religious alcohol in that it makes you feel better on the inside but look stupid from the outside, and eventually the effect wears off, leaving you feeling worse than when you started.

There aren’t many religions that are made by women. Women tend to concentrate on the spiritual, which is something completely different and doesn’t require the erection of big buildings. In fact, another good way of looking to see what kind of religion you’ve picked is to see how they pick their ministers and how these ministers then treat people who aren’t the same sex as they are. If you have your doubts, simply apply fervour and all will be well.


For more of Guy Browning’s How to series (Live Together, Be Content, Live, Die, Poach an Egg, Go With the Flow, Exercise, Eat Healthily, Cook Something Really Impressive, Be Beautiful, Pass the Time, Be Cool, Be Deep, Grow Up, Socialize, Go to a Party, Flirt, Be Suave, Be Good in Bed, and hundreds more) please click here.