Create Your Own Religion is an extremely interesting book written by Daniele Bolelli, philosopher, martial artist and professor at the Los Angeles University.
How much success could possibly get a book that addresses the topic of religion from an universal and objective standpoint? To my opinion, and sadly I should say, not much. The reason why I am sure of my statement is that I’m firmly convinced that when it comes to religion, there are two kind of people that divide the majority.
On one side there are those who got a rigid and exclusive relationship with their religion, they set it in stone as the only one to be, they make it indisputable, and they are unwilling to question even the smallest fraction of the assertions that they follow blindly and with their head down. So obviously, they couldn’t do otherwise than considering such a book as offensive, and they would never even dream of turning the first page.
On the other side there are those who totally disregard everything that is religious and spiritual – often seeing them as the same thing – and therefore they don’t nourish any remote interest for such a subject, so they are very likely to ignore a book on that topic.
Who’s left, than, in the potential target of Bolelli? Obviously, the minority, in other words those who possess already a free and flexible spirit, those who don’t have some kind of blinders stuck on their head, and because of their evolutive nature, are not scared to go around things and explore new angles and new perspectives of analysis.
I realise that I started my review by talking about the success that this book is capable to achieve, but don’t get me wrong: my meter of judgement is in no case based on its selling records, because the value of any piece of art should never be measured by the level of success that it reaches. It is just because I consider it to be a great work of brain, that the idea that it could go unnoticed by the majority of the people out there, bothers me too much and it produces some sort of bitterness in me, for I truly think this is a masterpiece that everybody should read, and especially those that belong to the majority I’ve mentioned above.
With this book Daniele Bolelli embraces one of the most sensitive topics on the public ground, and he does that with a very keen approach, using the depth of thinking and of expression that he prodigiously possesses. The author offers various perspectives and angles for the central subject throughout the different chapters, he covers the multitude of facets that a religion is made of, and he sifts the different aspects that make a religion an easy choice that provide futile solutions of salvation for the human spirit, when in reality there is nothing to be saved, only to be lived.
Bolelli does an excellent job with his analysis, he adventures himself into the ambiguous territories of some sacred texts, and he points the finger at the aberrant contradictions upon which some of the most popular religions in the world are based on. And it’s quiet disturbing not to realise that the sum of this contradictions are enough to undermine the entire structure of such religions, and if they’re still standing on since centuries it’s only because no one seems to care to dig just enough as it takes to notice that they’re built on some kind of cardboard fondations.
One thing that I find absolutely amazing about the book is that I can safely state that I agree with every single line of it, so by reading it I constantly feel like saying “Wow, I could have written that myself”, even knowing that I would have never been able to equal the depth of analysis reached by the writer. But I am
pleased by the fact that I can go and say “There you go, this is what I honestly think about religion, written by somebody else in a more detailed, accurate and articulated way that I could ever do”, and this gives me some some sort of comforting feeling, in a way.
Without half words, I feel to say that Create Your Own Religion is the respectful fuckoff of Daniele Bolelli to all those religions and all those thinking models that are based on precise and sterile dogmas, and I cannot help but joining him in the communication of such message, because just like him, I believe that religions are not to be taken as they are, but to be re-invented from scratch, and above all on an individual level.
And by the way, to anybody who would think that this book is for “those who are concerned with religion”, I feel to guarantee that the title does not make justice to the actual content, because with Create Your Own Religion, Daniele Bolelli didn’t write a book about religion, but rather a book about life.
So, whatever your opinion on religion is, if you are any interested in life (and you should be), go ahead and read this book. It cannot do but some good to you, believe me.
Here are some excerpts from the book, among my favorite ones:
On an individual level, one of the healthiest things we can do is to question everything we have ever been taught. This is not motivated by disrespect or by some adolescent desire to be rebellious. It simply is what becoming an adult is all about.
In the absence of direct knowledge, most people end up espousing some simplistic, fairy tale version of what they believe their religion to be about, never bothering to find out that reality is quite a bit more complicated; they are too lazy and unwilling to deal with complexity to want to dig a little deeper. It is easy not to face contradictions if you don’t know about them.
The freshness, beauty and vital energy of the original message dies a miserable death when the message is turned into dogma. And what followers are left to worship is the dried up, mummified corpse of what maybe once was a wonderful idea.
Untested beliefs are not a treasure to conserve, but a cage to escape.
In choosing the values we want to use to create our own religions, let’s always keep an eye on the evidence. Effectiveness is not measured by the complexity of a theological argument, or by how loudly its supporters scream. It is measured in action. Values are only as good as the results they produce.
What better way to silence the potential critics of one’s message than to attribute the message to God? It doesn’t take a Machiavellian genius to figure out that enlisting God to one’s cause is a great technique to gain power. Revelation is a handy vehicle for making God say whatever we want to say.
The impossibility to know the truth from A to Z inevitably implies no one can claim its exclusive ownership, for no single method or doctrine is big enough to capture it all.
Exclusive theologies, on the other hand, embrace the notion of Holy War as the logical outcome of the cosmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
As the fashion industry knows well, there is power in labels. Put a designer label some clothes, and millions will pay insane prices for them. It’s all in the name. Group identities are no different. Embracing them makes you feel special—something that people who are not special badly want. And out of all the possible forms of group identity, none are as strong as religion and ethnicity/nationalism.
A healthy spirit of inquiry begins by looking at reality, examining evidence, and then drawing our conclusions. Faith does the exact opposite. It begins with a belief about the nature of things, and then goes looking for ways to make the evidence fit the belief.