What the Heck is Discordianism?

If you’ve read my personal blog (Minister Is A Verb), you may have noticed the page called Sources of Inspiration. One such source is Discordianism. As this is not widely-known nor well-understood, mentions of Discordianism often leads to the question, “What the heck is that?!?”

Discordia or Eris was the Greco-.  Roman goddess of chaos. She figures prominently in an early scene in the story of the Trojan War, which is a central part of ancient Greek and Roman culture. You can look up “Apple of Eris” online if you want to read that part of the story. She gets very little mention otherwise in the old stories, so she mostly faded into the background for the past 2 millennia.Fast forward to the 1960s. A prankster named Kerry Thornley and others wrote a book that combined their very tongue in cheek tale of an encounter with the goddess Eris with a bunch of cultural debris of the time, including rubber stamps, odd rules, and other stuff that could be taken as lame or hilarious depending on your state of mind when your read it. They called this little book Principia Discordia and it circulated in badly-made copies until Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea quoted from it in their science fiction trilogy, Illuminatus!

(Feel free to pause here and google the book titles. PD is available for free online; the trilogy is still in print and available for purchase over 4 decades after it was first published.)

So, that’s the background to how an obscure Greco-Roman goddess became semi-famous in modern America. But, the question remains, what IS discordianism?

And the answer is, it depends on who you ask and when you ask them.

For some, it is the most brilliant religion ever to emerge. For some, it is a huge joke disguised as a religion. For some, it is a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion.

For me, as of today, I tend to see it more as a philosophical filter to the sometimes-mad consensus reality.

If, as (some) Discordians say, God is a crazy woman, well, that makes sense to me on several levels. I know that I will never understand women, while I have this idea that I do understand men, as I am one. So, having the Ultimate Mystery seen as a woman fits.

If, as (some) other Discordians say, that chaos is the underlying reality of the universe and the order that appears to us is imposed by us as observers because we think and believe we need order to survive and prosper, then we have some serious re-thinking and re-believing (is that a word?) to do.

If the arguments for a all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good God fail the test due to the existence of evil (and they do), perhaps the answer is to remove those limiting attributes from our concept of God and see Her as a Whimsical, Laughing, sometimes-Mad woman who finds a great deal of amusement in how Her male descendants conned us into thinking they were All That.

Yes, this is a far-from-complete answer to the question posed above. I will explore this topic further in upcoming articles.


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