Well, it's been a long, hard road, but I'm finally almost finished with Cosmysticism, the new religion I've been working on for the past year or so. And I must say, I'm pretty proud of how it's turned out. It's a delicate blend of love and wrath, mystery and science, history and fantasy. I have some compelling characters, a universal creation myth, and a great ascension-of-man second act. Now all I need is some sort of snazzy post-death scenario to really put the cherry on top.
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you were starving, and you could smell something delicious nearby, but you couldn't find it? That's exactly how I feel trying to nail down this post-death thing. I know I could just crank out some temporary, half-assed afterlife and revise it later, but that seems like a lazy, shoddy way to go about creating a belief system.
Besides the afterlife thing, Cosmysticism is good to go. I spent months studying the top five major religions and some of the more successful dead ones, then I broke them down thematically and charted the elements they shared. Once I had that visual, Cosmysticism's central text, The Book Of Gunther, pretty much wrote itself. It's really great stuff, too. If I were a lost soul looking for answers in this difficult and bewildering world, I'd be eating Cosmysticism up.
In The Book Of Gunther, I hit on all the big topics. Where did man come from? "And Menda looked out over the long sea, knowing that Malthaz guided his every action, and said, 'It is here that Malthaz has placed me, and here that I shall give rise to offspring from my very flesh, plucking them from my leg bones until the Earth is filled with followers.'" (Gunther, 1:03-09) Does Malthaz command the cosmos? "Malthaz rules the cosmos, for there can be none other." (Gunther 3:14) Why do we have guns and violence? "And Malthaz presented a lightning stick, saying, 'Take and use this gift to kill the wild beasts for consumption. But thou may also use it, when necessary, to gain vengeance against thine enemies.'" (Gunther 14:26-28). Pretty good, eh?
The way I've written Cosmysticism (I mean, the way it was revealed to me), each person on Earth corresponds to a star in the universe. We are all literally people of the stars, filled with ageless matter and untold potential. It's pretty straightforward, but with just enough crazy sci-fi touches to get people hooked.
I could've simply said that when people die, they return to their star state, but that would've been so unimaginative. All the popular religions make promises of a grand existence in the afterlife. How can joining the universal consciousness compete with Islam's afterlife of countless sexually available virgins or Christianity's chance to revisit all the kitties you had during your life?
I thought about some bringing in some giant flying saucer that would take everyone to Neo-Heaven on the Eve of the Great Reckoning, but that seemed way too contrived. Talk about your deus ex machina. Besides, it's uncomfortably similar to that Heaven's Gate cult from a few years back. I'm creating a major new world religion here, not a death cult, and I certainly don't want to risk being associated with a bunch of bald, suicidal, Nike-wearing computer geeks.
Maybe I should keep a tape recorder by my bed. You never know, the perfect afterlife idea could hit me in my sleep. Just last week, I woke up in the middle of the night with this great idea about the Sixteen Stages Of Ascendency Into A Higher Plateau, but I didn't write any of it down, and I forgot it all by the morning. Drat the luck!
I can't allow myself to get hung up on this. I'll just go back to the Book and smooth out some of the rough spots about the Handing Down Of The Eternal Laws and the parable of "The Dolphin And The Fig." I'm sure the perfect post-death scenario will come to me eventually. I just need to let it gestate for a while. Once I've dreamed up that killer afterlife idea, the peoples of the world will flock to Cosmysticism like Muslims to Mecca.