Swami or Rabbi? The choice is yours

Tim Paluch

I attended Catholic school until I was 15 years old. Now I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories about growing up in the private school system – from merciless nuns armed only with meter sticks and a blatant disregard for an eight-year-old’s metacarpals, to your occasional priest meets alter boy meets sexual assault charges.

While nothing of such interest ever happened to me, private school education did at least one thing – it made me realize absolute devotion to religion messes you up.

And while I don’t consider myself much of a religious man, I think I know the ropes well enough. I may have never read the Bible front to back, but I know all about Adam and Eve, Moses and his boat that traveled the Red Sea and virtually everything about that long-haired fellow from the second testament. I always thought, “how hard could it be to be a religious leader?”

I found the answer to that question recently, when I went from 21-year-old college student journalist in Iowa with bad eating and sleeping habits to 21-year-old college student journalist in Iowa with bad eating and sleeping habits who can perform marriages, baptisms and burials.

But Tim, you’re probably asking yourself, doesn’t one need to be a legally ordained minister to perform such duties?

Why yes. Yes one does.

Not too long ago, I became a legally ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.

In case you’re not sure how to become an ordained minister, allow me to fill you in on what you need to do.

First, you’ll need to gather some important items: your classiest outfit (a suit is preferred), your Bible or book of worship, and a large lump sum of money.

Put those items in a large box. Hide the box. You won’t be needing them.

Go online. (www.ulc.net)

Check your mail in 3 days.

That’s right, for the low, low price of zero, you too can take your rightful place in ULC ministry. For an extra $8.95 ($3.95 for shipping and handling) you can have an official ordination certificate sent to you. For another $10, you’ll receive a certificate of sainthood. Other titles to choose from include Archbishop, Baron, Swami, Vicar, Monsignor or Lama, among others.

Do you think if Peter had that opportunity we’d still be calling him St. Peter? I’m thinking we’d know him as Guru Peter. Or Psychic Healer Peter, both available.

$25 and a 75 percent on an exam gets you a Doctorate of Immortality, which could come in handy for us mortals. I can imagine how hard the test is.

The Universal Life Church has all the rights and privileges associated with any other church. It’s got a little gold seal on the bottom of the certificate, and they don’t just put those on anything.

And a 1940’s law requiring that someone who performs a marriage be of a religion recognized by the state was struck down. That means any ULC minister can perform legal marriages, burials and baptisms.

And I am more than willing to offer my services to any couple interested in joining in holy matrimony. And while it may not be legal in Iowa, I would be honored to perform commitment ceremonies for homosexual couples. Iowa may not recognize you, but you will be recognized by the Universal Life Church, a church that doesn’t politicize the private act of civil union.

The ULC has but one doctrine – “we believe in that which is right.” Their mission statement is simple – “We want to be competent, to be proficient, to love our fellow man, to appreciate, to be honest, to be moral, to live positively and to be what we profess.”

Sounds damn good to me.

In fact, it’s exactly what I `ve been looking for in my quest to find a worthy religion.

It leaves the moral and ethical decisions about my life up to me, not to a bureaucracy of people who don’t know me, some whose ignorance is surpassed only by their blind faith in grossly outdated dogma.

To me, it’s very refreshing to think that for the same price as others spend on dinner and a movie, I’m buying sainthood.

So a word of wisdom – no need wasting your time going through the hassles and expenses of divinity school. Become a ULC minister. It’s sinfully easy.

The Rev. Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.