The Big Lebowski Store was fortunate to sit down with Gary Silvia, the dude who helps out at Dudeism.com and the Dudespaper. Gary updated us on the state of Dudeism and the Dudeist priesthood. Gary is also a first-rate glass engraver. Check out his stuff at The Limber Mind.
TBLS – What’s your definition of Dudeism?
GS – The quick answer is Humanism, in a bathrobe while carrying a White Russian. In my opinion, Dudeism is a humanistic philosophy rooted in Taoist/Buddhist concepts.
TBLS – Tell us about Oliver Benjamin: When did he start the Church of the Latter Day Dude? Is he involved today? Is he still in Thailand?
GS – Oliver started the Church of Latter-Day Dude in 2005. Oliver (Olly) remains very involved to this day, even though by design Dudeism is an open source philosophy it still needs some minders to keep its early years on track. Most times Olly can be found in Thailand, however he tends to travel around a lot, so he could be anywhere at this moment.
TBLS – How many Dudeist priests are there? How many ordinations do you do (per month, per year)?
GS- There are over 350,000 Dudeist priests around the globe, and that number is increasing exponentially. At this time, we get nearly 10,000 ordinations per month. An estimated 100,000 people are becoming Dudeist priest per year currently.
TBLS – How does one become a Dudeist priest?
GS – The ordination process is simple, and relies on the honor system, one simply needs to sign up and take an affirmation. We feel that anyone capable of thinking about what their place in the universe means, is qualified to be a Dudeist priest. We also feel that only those who are truly interested in Dudeist philosophy will be attracted to Dudeism in the first place.
TBLS – Can a Dudeist priest perform marriages? If you have any stories, tell us about priests serving in official capacities.
GS – This is one aspect we are particularly interested in. Yes Dudeists perform weddings all the time now, there are only a few US states that have any issues with this, and we are working to expand Dudeists performing weddings worldwide. We see officiating weddings as the good works we can do for society. With more people looking for a secular wedding, but one with meaning, we see Dudeism taking a greater role in this function.
TBLS – Were you at Lebowskifest this past July 8-9? What kind of presence does the church have at these festivals?
GS – We are certain there were Dudeists at Lebowskifest, and proud we are of all of them. However, there was no official church presence there this year. We do like to turn up at festivals, but the Dudeists who are out there abiding are doing a great job as it is representing the essense of Dudeist philosophy.
TBLS – Do you “prescribe” the movie to the uninitiated?
GS – Yes, however I usually tell people it takes viewing the movie more than once to truly “get it.”
TBLS – Your favorite line or scene?
GS – For me my favorite scene is when the Dude crashes into a dumpster, it literally mirrors an experience I had once. It was that scene to prompt my wife to ask if they had followed me around to come up with the movie.
TBLS – What’s your own life’s philosophy?
GS – I try to follow the Four Fold Path from Buddhism, that and the Bodhisattva Vows from Zen Buddhism. I am admittedly not so good at the “Right Speech” part. Basically I try to enjoy the life I was given, celebrate the joy others find in their lives, and work (is that a four letter word?) toward increasing the chance of others to find joy in their lives.