The idea of thinking about nudity and religion has been growing within me, even as I meditate. I know that nudity in itself is not a religion, nor is it what would be proof of a religious impulse. Yet, where there is a deep religious impulse, nudity seems to fit “naturally.” In our modern world where religions have continued to be the battlegrounds and even science has been set to the sidelines where and when there is a contradiction, it is obvious that the only hope for nudity to become somewhat acceptable, is for nudity to be encompassed within a religion. In our modern western world, religious freedom is the norm, even though rarely do those in those religions tolerate those of different religious persuasions very well. In fact, in most jurisdictions, religious freedom is protected by law. And, along with the philosophical religious expression, the outward manifestation of a religion is also protected. Though we may strongly disagree with what other religions are wearing or not wearing, we tolerate their choices in order to protect our choices.
Some religions require a nominal covering of the head for a man, others require a head covering for the woman, and others ignore any sort of head covering as required symbolism. Dress codes are almost always something that is a statement of time and place of a religion’s origins than it is about theology. It is the theology of a religion that acts to validate a way of thought and a corresponding lifestyle as a religion. Here is what I found as a means of determining whether or not a way of thought (belief system) and a way of life (religious practice) is currently being used by the court system of the United States of America:
Three objective guidelines about what constitutes a religion came into focus: (1) It must address fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters, (2) It is comprehensive in nature, consisting of a belief-system as opposed to an isolated teaching, and (3) It often can be recognized by the presence of certain formal and external signs.
I took these guidelines from a lawyers response to what defines a religion (see reference here). Of course, there is a lot of room to maneuver within these three guidelines if one seeks to determine the validity of a claim for religious status. Meeting these guidelines would be a beginning. What is needed in order to be viewed by the larger public as a valid religion likely is more extensive.
After having thought extensively for a number of years, about what a religion could look like in order for it to feel “right” to me, to be an ethical, moral, and natural way of being in relation to the planet, to others, and to oneself. It appears to me that such a theology would be at one with nature, honour the human psyche, and focus on becoming better individuals in order to arrive at a better collective society. My thoughts seem to borrow from the best ideas to be found in other religions and even non-religious philosophies, and have these best ideas blended together as a more holistic theology. Needless to say, because of my Christian, Buddhist, Jungian and Naturist grounding, what emerges draws heavily from these philosophies and lifestyles. I will leave it to future posts to try and paint a clearer image of what I have imagined.