Creating a religion and making it stable and enduring is far more difficult than most people realize. It's not truly a "do anything you want" smorgasbord. But we can stick with the culinary imagery for a moment. Think of what makes a sandwich. Bread and filling at minimum, right? No, with wheat allergies, bread is no longer a given. But a wheatless sandwich is still recognizable as a sandwich. What makes it a sandwich and not a casserole? If you plop a row of food down: a dish of a filling between 2 slices of bread, a scoop of pasta and filling and sauce, a filling stuffed into a split bun, a filling rolled into a lettuce leaf, a scoop of vegetables in sauce with a crunchy topping, a filling stuffed between 2 slices of meat - you can easily pick out the ones that are sandwiches no matter how different they look or what ingredients are used. A sandwich is a filling and something to hold that filling together.
So, using that imagery, a religion is the filling and something that holds it together, and a hoagie is as much a sandwich as a wrap or a monte carlo or a club sandwich. It has a basic, recognizable form. I feel very confident in saying that all human religions have a basic, recognizable form that allows us to go - "oh, that's a religion!"
Numenism has the opportunity to be consciously and with awareness learn from other religions, to see how they fared and what worked for them and to look at and examine those practices and beliefs and traditions and see how they would support (or not support) the message Numenism is being created to convey.
We can look at their technologies and learn from their errors and successes.
And we aren't limited to other religions. We can incorporate modern knowledge, science, philosophies, and methodologies and apply them to those older practices to shape and hone them to best suit what is Numenist. By the time we've studied, deconstructed, analyzed, and reincorporated a practice from an older religion, it has become uniquely ours.
When Numenism was formed, back in 1946, it was a study group to help explain and cope with the aftermath of the Atom Bomb, to live in a world where such a horrific thing was created by man, and therefore allowed by God to exist. The people who started Numenism couldn't reconcile their Biblical teachings with such destruction. They explored many different religions trying to find comfort, answers, and a way to keep living in a sane and just manner.
It is an on-going and lengthy process, deserving of deep thought, debate, scrutiny, testing, polishing, understanding, and sharing. Everyone who wants to be a full part of Numenism must therefore understand, going in, that Numenism isn't an old religion with all the edges smoothed off and centuries of tradition and thought already loaded in and supporting it.
Numenism is new. It's full of sharp edges and points. Nearly everything is up for debate and change.
Nearly. We do have some immutable ground rules upon which we are building the rest of the framework, and we're pretty sure at this point that the foundation we've chosen is sparse but stable.
That foundation consists of these statements:
1. There is a generative, creative force that brought us and all we perceive into existence.
2. Immersing ourselves in this existence and questioning it is our purpose
3. Community, connections, family, and friends are important and to be cherished.
To elaborate a bit more:
1. That creative, generative force is not necessarily a god, a single entity, or even an entity. We call it, because we're human and need labels and names and such and "creative, generative force" is long and unwieldy to say all the time, "Dea Nutrix" or the Good Nourisher" or the "Nourisher" or the "Great Good" or sometimes just "GG". A few people enjoy calling it "the Force", but it's not really like the Force in Star Wars. There are no images, no anthropomorphization, of this, and we discourage anthropomorphizing until we know more about it. It would be kind of embarrassing, don't you think, to assume this force looks one way (say, a bearded white guy) only to discover it's really more like a Horta?
We do use symbols. Our favorite ones are Cookies, Moebius strips, Infinity loops, and cornucopias.
2. This universe exists. It's full of wonders and marvels and mysteries. Denying it, transcending it, ignoring it - these all seem blasphemous to us. No, we study it, immerse ourselves in it, take joy in it, learn about it, play with it, and experiment with it. It's amazing.
3. We aren't in this alone. Our friends, family, neighbors, like-minded people, not-like-minded people, all of us are here. We are part of this and all of this is part of us. So immersing ourselves in other people - helping them, being helped by them, caring for them, being cared for by them, arguing, debating, testing - we do this together.
This is why we say Numenism is an open source religion - everyone who is Numenist contributes by sharing their observations, experiments, thoughts, ponderings, ideas, etc. With these three statements, we can build, rebuild, add on to and take away from, and alter, and grow Numenism to be what it needs to be. It's a wiki religion with an editor (the elders). It's a open source that works when things are balanced and honest. It's a fusion of experiments, theories, and data.
If you want answers, Numenism doesn't have them; but if you want to ask questions and explore possibilities, then Numenism might be a way to go.