Some readers have been so taken with The Book of Daily Afflictions, that they have begun to create their own spiritual circles, centered around the book’s message and teachings. In living rooms and rented halls across America, like-minded folks have been coming together in self-organized gatherings under various names, among them: the Church of Skeptical Mysticism, the Temple of Ironic Faith, the Companions of Compassionate Nihilism, and the Brotherhood of Brother Void. In these gatherings, The Book of Daily Afflictions has been used much like a book of psalms. Someone will read the whole affliction out loud, and everyone assembled will repeat the closing affliction line together. Participants have designed their own rituals and made their own rules. Some are more Apollonian, with additional readings and spirited discussion. Others are more Dionysian, using testimony, chanting, and chaotic stomping.
If you begin a circle in your area please send us an email, as we’ve established a clearing house for these efforts here on-line.
Membership in the Church confers upon you the right to place the title “Brother” or “Sister” (or “Cousin” — for those of ineffable gender), before your first name when signing important legal documents. Not that you couldn’t have done this before.
The Sacred Text of the Church
The Book of Daily Afflictions is not unlike a book of psalms. Though dark, ironic, and irreverent, these afflictions are sacred poems that elevate and educate the spirit. Anyone acquainted with the many other books of daily meditations available today should find the format used here familiar. Each entry has a heading, a quote, a short message, and a closing meditation that you can repeat throughout the day. Likewise, the book’s intentions are in perfect harmony with the best self-help traditions. It offers inspiration, practical advice, and food for thought, as you navigate the jungle of existential terror and paradox that begins anew each day.
A Philosophy of Affliction
The Church of Skeptical Mysticism follows the path of daily affliction, not the path daily affirmation. While both are affirming in their own way, they follow radically different approaches to affirmation. Daily affirmations bathe you in light and manifest all that is positive. They promise that you can attract what you wish for by visualizing it. Afflictions make no such promises. They remind you that when you feel desperate and alone, you are. Afflictions mobilize the suppressed power of your dark side. If your inner child can help you cry again, just imagine what your inner critic, inner bigot, and inner psychopath can do to you.
You can’t avoid suffering. The right affliction, however, can make your suffering more meaningful. It won’t tell you the answer, but it can deepen an unresolvable question; it won’t help you find yourself, but it might help you to realize that you’re irretrievably lost. A strong affliction is profound yet painful. It reminds you that the truth will set you free, but first it will hurt like hell.
What afflicts one person, however, may not afflict another with sufficient severity. As you make your way through this difficult life, you must find the afflictions that are right for you. For only in darkness, light; only in paradox, truth; only in affliction, affirmation.
Patron Saints of the Church
“Become who you are.”
Rainer Maria Rilke.
“It is inside human beings that God learns.”
“When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten.”
“There is hope but not for us.”
“Work out your own salvation with diligence.”
Sample Church Service
Call to Affliction
Downloading of the Scripture
Opening Psalms [photo]
Upgrading of the Technology
Bestowing of the Ironic Blessings [photo]
Laying on of Hands [photo]
Sermon: Can Hopelessness Change the World? [photo] [sermon]
Killing of the Buddha [photo] [official statement]
Closing Epiphany [photo]
The Church of Stop Shopping (& Bombing) [link]
The Church of Euthanasia [link] (the black sheep of this family of churches)
The Church of the Subgenius [link]
Reverend Jen [link]
Tofu Roshi [link]
Swami Beyondananda [link]
First Church of the Last Laugh [link]
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence [link]
The Nuclear Saints of America
The Church of False Profits