The Doom of a Blasphemous Culture…

…is not that it becomes all badass and Goth and dark and scary and cool with lots of umlauts and heavy metal aesthetic and intellectuals with severe glasses discussing Bergman films in cafes.

It’s that it becomes unbearably lightweight and brainless:

For instance, behold the Missionary Church of Kopimism

“Since 2010 a group of self-confessed pirates have tried to get their beliefs recognized as an official religion in Sweden. After their request was denied several times, the Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – is now approved by the authorities as an official religion. The Church hopes that its official status will remove the legal stigma that surrounds file-sharing.

All around the world file-sharers are being chased by anti-piracy outfits and the authorities, and the situation in Sweden is no different. While copyright holders are often quick to label file-sharers as pirates, there is a large group of people who actually consider copying to be a sacred act.

Philosophy student Isak Gerson is such a religious file-sharer, and in an attempt to protect his unique belief system he founded The Missionary Church of Kopimism in 2010. In the hope that they could help prevent persecution for their beliefs, the Church then filed a request to be officially accepted by the authorities.

After two failed attempts, where the Church was asked to formalize its way of praying or meditation, the authorities finally recognized the organization as an official religion. The Church’s founder is ecstatic about this news, and hopes that it will motivate more people to come forward as ‘Kopimists’.

“I think that more people will have the courage to step out as Kopimists. Maybe not in the public, but at least to their close ones,” Isak tells TorrentFreak. “There’s still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change.” (http://torrentfreak.com/file-sharing-recognized-as-official-religion-in-sweden-120104/)

““For me it is a kind of believing in deeper values than worldly values,” said Isak Gerson, a philosophy student at Uppsala University who helped found the church in 2010 and bears the title chief missionary. “You have it in your backbone.”

Kopimism — the name comes from a Swedish spelling of the words “copy me” — claims more than 8,000 faithful who have signed up on the church’s Web site. It has applied for the right to perform marriages and to receive subsidies awarded to religious organizations by the state, and it has bid, thus far unsuccessfully, to buy a church building, even though most church activities are conducted online.

As regular church attendance drops among the 9.4 million Swedes, the Church of Sweden has been selling off disused churches, but it has not yet responded to the Kopimist bid.

“We have something similar to regular priests,” said Mr. Gerson, 20, who claims a permanent link to the divine through a Nokia smartphone. “We call them ops, or operators, and their task is to help people with things like meetings. There are not that many rituals. We are a tolerant community.”

Asked whether he believed in God, Mr. Gerson replied: “No, I just believe in our values. It’s just a belief in holy values.”

The Kopimists rose out of Europe’s growing piracy movement, which was born in Sweden about a decade ago. In elections to the European Parliament in 2009, the country’s Pirate Party got 7.1 percent of the vote, though in national elections the next year its share plummeted to less than 1 percent.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/world/europe/in-sweden-taking-file-sharing-to-heart-and-to-church.html)

I can’t help but think of Screwtape’s lament over the insipid fare modernity provides hell’s banquet table in Screwtape Proposes a Toast.

Also, this poem by Chesterton comes to mind:

THE SONG OF THE STRANGE ASCETIC
G.K. Chesterton

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have crowned Neaera’s curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have piled my pyre on high,
And in a great red whirlwind
Gone roaring to the sky;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And a richer man than I:
And they put him in an oven,
Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,
The riddle that I write,
Of why this poor old sinner,
Should sin without delight-
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that do not have the faith,
And will not have the fun.

Could there be a more boring doom than making your life be about cyber-piracy? People will of course reply, “Don’t be so humorless. Obviously they don’t seriously believe that CTRL+C and CTRL+V are sacred symbols.” Of course they don’t. And yet the State, instead of saying, “Ha! Cute! There’s the door.” actually treats this like a serious issue in religious pluralism. In short, they declare belief in the sacred a joke.

But there are real sacred things–like God and human dignity. When you deny the reality of the sacred altogether or elevated trivial crap to a an ultimate “holy value”, you blaspheme. And when you blaspheme, you make yourself vanishingly small and trivial.

  • Irenist

    This blasphemous joke sect is silly, but it’s a pretty clever hack of the software of the legal system. As long as our Congress-critters and industry shills like Obama keep supporting disasters like the defeated SOPA and the very dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership (which would enshrine something like SOPA into a hard-to-break-free-from treaty) which is being negotiated by industry flacks behind closed doors at the moment, legal hacks like this are going to continue to keep happening in Sweden, here, and anywhere people care about intellectual liberty. I disapprove of the blasphemy, but I approve the instinct to Resist the Tyrant.

  • B.E. Ward

    Hey, I like Bergman films!

  • Ted Seeber

    I’m not so sure that they aren’t serious.

    A long time ago, so long ago that it seems another lifetime now, I was known online as the Marxist Hacker.

    Rule One of the Hacker’s Ethic was “Information wants to be free”.

    To such people, especially ones born *after* 1983 and the invention of the Modern Gui with WordStar- ctrl-c, ctrl-v (Copy and Paste) really is a virtue symbolized by the keypresses to order a computer to copy. It really isn’t that different than the minor Protestant heresy of the printing press.

    But I think the Kopimists really need a server farm, complete with decent cloud storage and little to no security, rather than a church building.

    And like the atheists and neopagans, they’re mainly an adolescent beginner theology.

    • http://austrolibertariancatholic.wordpress.com Martial Artist

      I can’t imagine that they couldn’t assert that the building housing their server farm is their cathedral/parish meeting space. Given their lack of much of a developed theology or sense of liturgy, they can just invent it on the fly.

      When I read they couldn’t find a building, my first thought was call the server farm their chapel (or whatever term would satisfy the bureaucracy.

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith T&oum;pfer

      • Ted Seeber

        Well, they’ve got as much developed liturgy as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do, which is to say, none.

        About the closest thing I ever experienced to liturgy in that culture was the Olympic Disk Swapping Contest- back in the days of 5.25″ floppies that only held 92k- and 32k Ram computers requiring at least 3 swaps to copy a disk. The boys with Ataris had an edge in that one- their disk drives were spring loaded, and could be easily modified with a ball point pen spring to shoot a disk 3 feet when you opened the drive door.

        Of course, if the Swedes are as strict as the Obama Admin, their server farm will not be able to share cyberspace with any other entity’s websites and it will be password protected to keep non-Kopimists from logging on, and firewalled with a VPN. So I guess they’d at least have entry rights.

        I wonder if Microsoft would sell them a site license?

  • Imrahil

    Nothing new under the sun. Indeed while this joke may be blasphemous and at any rate the Swedish state’s attitude is totally ridiculous, at least it does not seem dangerous at present.

    Scientology was just the same joke, excepting the lack of danger.

    • Mark Shea

      All blasphemy is dangerous to the blasphemer.

      • Imrahil

        Sure. You see what I mean, though.

  • enness

    They may think they’re being daringly cheeky…what it really is is a transparently, offensively stupid excuse to enshrine the culture of ripping people off.


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