Founded in 2005 by Oliver Benjamin, a journalist based in Los Angeles, California and Chiang Mai, Thailand, Dudeism’s official organizational name is The Church of the Latter-Day Dude. As of February 2011 over 100,000 “Dudeist Priests” had been ordained via the church.
Although Dudeism primarily makes use of iconography and narrative from The Big Lebowski, adherents believe that the Dudeist worldview has existed since the beginnings of civilization, primarily to correct societal tendencies towards aggression and excess. They list individuals such as Lao Tzu, Epicurus, Heraclitus, The Buddha, and the pre-ecclesiastical Jesus Christ as examples of ancient Dudeist prophets. More recent antecedents include pillars of American Transcendentalism such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and humanists such as Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain.
The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernized form of Taoism purged of all of its metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of “going with the flow” and “taking it easy” in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. It also aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise in societies which place a heavy emphasis on achievement and personal fortune. Consequently, simple everyday pleasures like bathing, bowling, hanging out with friends are seen as far preferable to the accumulation of wealth and the liberal spending of money as a means to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfillment.
The Church of the Latter-Day Dude launched its official publication, The Dudespaper, in the fall of 2008. A Dudeist holy book, The Tao Dude Ching went online in July 2009. It was renamed The Dude De Ching in December 2009 to avoid being confused with an upcoming book by Benjamin called The Tao of the Dude. The Dude De Ching is a reinterpretation of the Tao Te Ching using dialogue and story elements from The Big Lebowski.[
In August 2011, a “Dudeist self help book” employing life lessons from The Big Lebowski and other sources, entitled The Abide Guide will be published by Ulysses Press. Written by Oliver Benjamin and the Arch Dudeship Dwayne Eutsey, it also contains material by other members of The Church of the Latter-Day Dude.
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