An Opinionated Dictionary of Religion


There are over 100 terms in this dictionary.


Here are two  sample terms defined: ‘UFO Religions’  and  ‘Yoga’:


“U F O   R E L I G I O N S”

Noun.   Those religions originating in outer space.


In the sixteenth century, the good-looking Italian cosmologist Giordano Bruno published his opinion that the universe consisted of infinite solar systems with infinite habitable planets housing an infinite array of beings. To his mind, as a devout Christian, an infinite God could conjure these things in a day and a half of creative labor and thereafter manage the menagerie for His entire life.

But the notion of extra-earth beings did not align perfectly with the reigning Christian orthodoxy of sixteenth-century Europe, and so handsome Giordano Bruno and his handsomely bound books were burned to cinders. In fact, no ancient religion dreamed of other worlds or moved beyond its local locale, even though some ancient notions of God included divine attributes like omnipotence and omniscience, which are two bullets on a heavenly resume that should suggest ease in supervising many billions of inhabitants on many billions of planets.

Just as a human being cares nothing for the near endless eons that precede or follow his ninety years of oxygenated existence, so too a human being cares not a whit for the near endless cosmic spaces that surround his square patch of Tierra de Madre, Momma Earth. Hence the adage, coined just this minute by your truly: As with time, so with space.

Theologies in all historic moments only confirmed these prejudices, until century twenty.

UFO was coined in the twentieth century and it refers to an Unidentified Flying Object, presumably piloted by beings from other galactic neighborhoods than our own.

It is one thing to imagine life beyond the third stone from our sun. Most educated people can admit this is likely. It is quite another thing to think that other planetary beings have been flying low over rural New Mexico since the 1940s. Some educated persons believe this but most do not. It is quite another thing entirely to think that extra-terrestrials, ETs for short, are communing with, and abducting, human beings. Most disbelieve this, although some educated persons of stable mind (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial) have testified to its truth. Finally, it is another issue completely when someone draws a religion out of the whole UFO universe. But this was indeed done, beginning in the latter half of the 1900s.

For these many, many UFO Religions, belief in extra-terrestrialism is either a peripheral tenet of the faith (but nonetheless important), or it is a central tenet of the faith. In America’s Nation of Islam (unrelated to Islam, per se), extra-terrestrialism is peripheral, but important. In Raelism, extra-terrestrialism is central.

UFO religions disagree about who UFO pilots and passengers are. Are they golden Gods? Or are they simply messengers of the Gods? Or are they only copper-plated creatures like us? For some UFO religions, ETs are the Gods that earthlings have been referring to all along: these ETs created life on our planet un-miraculously with simple materials and measuring spoons. For other UFO religions, ETs bring divine messages from the Gods (usually warnings about imminent disaster). And for still other UFO religions, ETs are merely religious seekers, not unlike Homo sapiens.

A field of inquiry called Exo-Theology arose in the late twentieth century, attending to ETs.

As with all theologies, exo-theology speculates on something it knows absolutely nothing about, namely—what alien entities from distant galaxies believe about (compose creeds about and debate to death about)—the inner life of God.



“Y O G A”

Noun.  A physical regimen that is also a spiritual regimen.


The body-mind connection was discovered many thousands of years ago in India. Yoga emerged as a physical-spiritual practice that purported to join body and brain together with the incorporeal Mind of all existence, also known as  The All.


In the yogic view, the body is a vehicle and conductor of spiritual insight. It’s even possible that the body was the reason people got the insight that there’s something called The All.

Some scrawny, willowy, anonymous ancient vitamin eater may have gone out for a morning stretch and felt an attending jolt of endorphins spinning through his cranium. That sense of well-being may have had a hand in imagining a higher power at work behind the world of phenomenal things, since the idea of The All would probably not dawn on someone in a moment of sedentary gloominess. It was only a longish short step from there to a system of thought that claimed a causal connection between stretching and spiritual contentment.

While there is no detailed study confirming that the limber yogis of Dehra Dun (India) are happier and possess more spiritual acumen than the inflexible, plump monks of Cluny (France), common sense would tell us that physical fitness facilitates (and fans the felicity of) all human endeavors–from A(ngling) to Z(ig-zagging.

If every religion had included a tenet about keeping slim through an exercise regimen, the world and the world of religion would have been a jollier place, notwithstanding that cheery chubby old St. Claus and that fat grinning Buddha. But you know what? There never was any real Santa Claus. And the real Buddha was as skinny as a whisker weed, having performed in his third decade of life a fair share of eight thousand known yoga poses.

Had the sacred writers placed one yoga-like injunction in the mouth of a Jesus or a Muhammad or a Joseph Smith the very world would be different now.

Gospel of Matthew: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ And then he got into a downward dog pose and held it creditably until the sun set in the dappled-with-damson West.”

Hadith: “And the Prophet said, “After thy ablutions, get thyself into an upward bow, like this.’ And that, O Believer, is the origin of our crescent moon.”

Book of Mormon: “The venerable Prophet said, ‘The full boat pose might be better suited to a Sunday meeting than a fish or a tortoise. And then he performed a perfect full boat on the cracked deck of a bean-green buck wagon.”

The world would be different now, happier, more spiritually inclined, if these passages were real.

Let us say ‘spirit’ and ‘spirituality’ mean emotional equanimity and peace of mind, as in ‘I’m in good spirits today’. The body is the only theater of spirituality that there is. All our sense of spirit comes to us by way of our body. Physicality and Spirituality are one.

Yoga, which means to yoke body and mind to spirit, saw this five thousand years ago.


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