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Popeye. © King Features Syndicate DivisionMeditation 233
The Church of Popeye

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In an apparent error of judgement, I answered, in Ask the Patriarch 50 and 51, two queries from people wanting to know what religion they were. Unfortunately, these published replies, deliberately vague and noncommittal as they were, have opened the floodgates to any number of others who need help in determining their own religion.

And in truth, the answer has to be, "I don't know. It's something you have to determine for yourself."

A common theme is, "I follow what Jesus said, but I don't believe he was the son of God." And somehow, I am supposed to determine a religion for the writer.

But someone making that statement could be legitimately atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, even Christian (to the extent that the Episcopalian Bishop, John Shelby Spong is a Christian) or a member of any of 10,000 "New Age" religions. And that is not an all inclusive list.

One person who wrote, said she was involved with local pagans, gnostics and practitioners of green magic.

I really don't know what those words mean in this context. They probably mean something to those who apply the words to themselves, but I don't know what that is. To me, Gnosticism is a sect that was eradicated nearly 2,000 years ago[1]; pagan describes what you are not, rather than what you are[2]; and green magic... I don't have a clue what that is and I don't care to find out. The only magic of interest to me is that of Penn and Teller.

Thus there is no way I can give an appropriate and applicable name to her particular religion.

Anyone else who asks the question "What religion am I?" is just going to get the link to this page.

And the answer to that question, for anyone who does not have a name for their particular set of religious beliefs, is:

"For the lack of a better term, you are a member of the Church of Popeye.[3]

Named in honour of Popeye the Sailor Man, renowned for that profound philosophical insight - 'I am what I am.'

And, as a member of Popeye's Church,

You are what you are."

And if this does not satisfy you, continue on to the discussion.



  1. This is incorrect.[4] Certain of the heretical sects which were obliterated in the Middle Ages can be linked directly to Gnosticism.
  2. The prime definition of paganism is to be of a religion other than Christianity, Islam or Judaism. However, those who call themselves pagans use other definitions. There are so many varieties of paganism that the word, in itself, tells you nothing about what the follower believes.
  3. Popeye and the Popeye image are © King Features Syndicate Division, and use here in no way indicates endorsement of the Church of Popeye by King Features or by any licensed users of Popeye.
  4. I recently discovered real Gnostics still exist today. The Mandaeans, followers of John the Baptist, still practice a form of Gnosticism with an unbroken lineage of 2,000 years.