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Home > Culture and Society

Losing their religion

Sean Walsh

1 October 2003

A little birdy (that Tit on Liquid News) tells me that it was J-lo's spiritual guide who told her to call off the wedding. Up until a a day or two ago, I would have assumed Jenny was a good catholic girl, that she'd popped down the block to her priest, and he'd made some dark mutterings about Affleck having been in 'Dogma' ("No, Jenny, I wasn't offended - it was fucking awful.")

But no! She's a believer in Santeria, a 'weird voodoo religion' ((c) all the papers). It's an African faith that mingled with Catholicism, using the saint structure to preserve 'orishas', emissaries of Olurun, the one god. There's some dancing and sacrifices, and she should be under the aegis of an Orisha, who'll act as a tutelary spirit. Word on the street (well, a defunct message board) says that she's a 'hija de ochun', a daughter of Ochun (a.k.a Erzile, Yolorde, etc. Some kind of Ishtar/ Hathor/ Astarte analogue) . Ochun's all about love, money, dancing, fertility and prostitution, the aptness of which proves more or less scientifically that Santeria is correct.

Thinking on this revelation brought Madonna to mind, who, as we all know, is a Kabbalist, Cabalist, Qabbalist, or somesuch (I think she split from the Roman Catholic church over that whole 'having sex with a black christ' dispute). Recently, she's attempted to interest Britney in the Sephiroth (Yes, thank you, that is what they're calling it nowadays). I'm a little hazy about the details of her belief, though. If she's not in it out of a commitment to Judaism, then one has to surmise...

Anyway, as public service, I had a good hard think about belief systems that could be used to liberate rich pop stars from the burden of their worldly possessions. It seemed sensible to exclude religions with an authoritarian head (The only possible exception are schismatic Catholic churches, as that means you consider John Paul II an Antipope, which sounds cool. You might also get to hang out with Mel Gibson...


Stuff like Confucianism had to go, too: it seems temptingly exotic, and could help crack the expanding far-eastern market, but it's way too explicitly against popular 'do what you feel in your heart' ethics. 'Hard Atheism' was also out: its stoic resignation to the ills of life until such a time as the pain is alleviated by the unstoppable march of science leaves those who are 'a bit psychic' in the cold. It also pisses off fundamentalist countries like America.

So far the following are the best bets for 'ancient wisdom' mixed with 'exotic thrill' and a suggestion of 'practical ritual which can, literally magically, help my flagging career':

Zoroastrianism: Essentially, nice Ohrmazd vs. nasty Ahriman. A bit dualistic, but takes a fine crack at the problem of evil. Also really, really old, which scores points. The Magi (whence 'magic') had their foundation from Zoroaster, so a thumbs up on practical mysticism. Plus that whole Nietzsche Zarathustra thing means that it can be easily secularised.

Gnosticism: World created by mad demigod believing self to be one true god (see Old Testament). True wisdom ('sophia') hidden, but Jesus might help you find it/her. Great solution to problem of evil, and tied up with esoteric mysticism, much like Kabbalah. No two gnostics seem to believe the same thing, and there are some ancient scrolls. Score!

Scientology. Doesn't even fall short on ancient wisdom, for who is more ancient than Xenu...



Much, much more likely to sue if we set up a copycat organisation.

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