Last November, I became ordained as a minister with the Universal Life Church Monastery. They only have two tenets: 1. To promote freedom of religion. 2. To do that which is right. It's not connected to any religion, and it even welcomes atheists (who, of course, are fully capable of following the two tenets). So I am now able to perform marriages, funerals, baptisms, ceremonial rights, last rights, and exorcisms. I can start my own church, ordain new ministers, and I can absolve you of your sins. Since I'm humble, you can simply call me Dr. Rusty W. Spell (a title it took me a bit longer to receive than this one). Anyway, I thought I should let readers of my God Blog know. Not sure why I didn't get around to it earlier.
Oh yeah, I remember. I recently purchased this nifty card from the Monastery. I carry it in my wallet with pride, just waiting for someone to muse aloud, "You know, I sure wish I could be baptized." (I prefer dunking for full metaphorical impact, but I will sprinkle if you insist.)
Some might ask, "But Minister Spell..." and I will interrupt and say, "No please, please. Russell Wayne Spell, PhD will do." And then they will continue, "Isn't this a scam? Aren't they just hoping that, after you become ordained for free, you'll want to buy the wallet card and the ordination certificate and the clergy badge and the parking hanger?" Maybe. What's your point?
If it's a scam, it's a scam I can get behind. I think that the people running the Monastery are sincere in wanting their "We are all children of the same universe" message to be heard, so I'm willing to chip in to make that idea more public. And the product delivers what it promises. It gives you permission to do all of these things with authority.
I mean, naturally, I could already absolve you of your sins before becoming a minister. You know why? Because there's no such thing as "sin," at least not as an invisible substance we inherited that can only be dissolved by spiritual magic. At the most, it's a word to describe the things we do that others may not exactly appreciate. When a cat eats a lizard, is the cat sinning? Does a tree branch sin when it falls and hits you on the head? If you like, I can also forgive you for having a survival instinct or the hiccups.
This card and this title, "minister," is meaningful because I say it is. Why is the Pope so powerful? Why is Pat Robertson listened to? What do they got that I ain't got? Getting this little card is the same as the Scarecrow getting his diploma or the Tin Man getting his clock heart. Was the Wizard wrong in giving them tokens of things that was in them all along? No. Tokens are nice. I've done my homework, read all the holy (and unholy) books, wrestled with a million angels, peered into the abyss. The least I can ask for is a 2 x 3.5 inch piece of plastic that says I've been a good and faithful servant of myth and morality. I like my token, and it was worth whatever silly amount of money I paid for it.
Don't forget though: I really can perform weddings and all that. So can notary publics, so whatever, but my thing works too. All proper and official. Yes, sure, they want you to buy the coffee mug, but the free part is the most valuable, and the life quest that eventually led to a "be a minister in less than 24 hours" website is priceless.