Climbers, surfers, skiers, cavers, paddlers, and mountain cyclists: it’s high time to form the recreating we do into a Religion. Why not!? Globally, religious fundamentalism is on the flow. The tide rises on humanity’s need to explain and justify and, ultimately, to control the various Believers whatever it happens to be they believe in. So why not the Recreating Outdoors Church – ROC – so you can put ” I am a roc” bumperstickers on yer SUV.
This religious movement would distinguish itself those folks who power their recreational vehicles into the wilderness. You know the type towing trailers with all-terrain quads, propane generators to power the Wii ( so the kids have something to do) , inflatable hot tubs to rest their gelatinous bodies in when they’re done with a day of killin’ shit be it time, the environment or fish and game.
The Roc would be distinguished from the Mechanized Ghastlies because any religion needs something to preach against. The Roc will have to have its Climate Changer, it’s Glacial Melter, it’s NoReuse, NoReduce, NeverRecycle baddies so we can have a dark side against which we contrast our wondrous brilliance.
Festivals, such as the Alpinist Film Fest, would no longer just be for the community to simply get together, they would be glorious events with ecclesiastical purpose. We could have puberty rituals reinstated and celebrated publicly at these festivals. All the youth of the Roc would line up and get circumcised or pierced or just sent out to spend four days alone with the wilderness with no iPod, laptop or cel-phone. Old time climbers, known as Old Hairy Unwashed Rocs, would finally receive their due. Washed and unhairy Rocs
(WUR’s) would line up to kiss the feet of the OHURs and say nice things to them even though they are getting fatter and not able to send hard anymore. WURs would make sacramental offerings to the OHURs like beer, scotch, and chocolate to ensure nice weather for planned trips.
Of course there will be the Really Real of the Real Roc – those who, like the naked raw vegans sweeping the streets as they walk so they don’t kill bugs, believe all recreation must be done in the total absence of mechanized anything. From their yurt made from found-wood and hemp, they’ll cycle to the mountain destination, layer up with homespun and knitted dog-fur sweaters and pants, solo a route and be able to cycle home in time for a meal of raw potato and carrots grown where last year’s outhouse stood.
Different outdoor disciplines would be codified into books of worship as the golden tablets are brought forth. Factions would, of course, all claim Truth but indeed would find common ground in fleece clothing (except, natch, for the nutjobs wearing dog-fur). Affiliation with several Movements would be expected but some would eschew anything but their own Pure Passion. These disciples would be able to sign their name with PP after it. They would be also known as “peepees” for their singular vision.
Family culture, always important for any religious fervor to persevere, would be an important part of the Roc. Indoctrination would start in the womb. Mothers would be encouraged to pursue their activities right up to the date of the BabyRoc being born. Wall-births would be encouraged for zealous female rock climbers with an option being to haul up a blow-up pool to El-Cap Towers in order to have a water-birth. The following day the new mom could send the headwall of the Salathe. For moms-to-be who are ice-climbers, the winter-water-birth option would be considered wildly extreme and therefore highly desirable.
Filming it would naturally be encouraged.
Nevermind ten commandments, there’d be about 113. Or more. Everyone could fight about them but Roc membership would be predicated on knowledge and understanding of these commandments so that there would never be a time in the beer parlour afterwards when Rocs were at a loss for conversation.
Commandments would have subclauses and modifiers so Rocs could fundamentally do as they please while continuing to serve a higher order. For example, Rocs would be commanded not to destroy the environment. This would be Commandment Number Four. But, amendments to this commandment would include ( but not be limited to ).
a.. You can dig some useless dirt and plants from a coolio crack you wanna send.
b.. Similarly you can can scrape stupid lichens from rocks to make them easier to climb on.
c.. Degradation of cliff areas from overuse by climbers is okay c’os it’s not a place a lotta folks are gonna see so who cares.
d.. You can drive yer SUV as far as you can get it to go c’os the road is already there.
e.. Leaving coils of poo in the wilderness is okay c’os poo is biodegradable.
f.. Flying halfway around the world to a really distant land for a climbing trip is okay c’os you worked so hard to deserve it.
This religion would make for clear and purposeful tribal identification among wilderness recreationalists. With written user-affiliations, members would sanctify their own purposes in the wilderness. Praying to a singular creator or a pantheon of gods and goddesses, godlets, subgods, icons and idols, members of the Roc would always have a reason to be outside recreating. This would lend total respectability to the pursuit of hedonistic activities like climbing, surfing and skiing. No longer would Mum be able to say ” Gettajob goddammit”. The response would be “Mum? I’m in divinity school. I’m gonna be god-like.”
And that dumbass question “Why do you climb?” could be answered simply with a beatific smile and everyone would nod sagely and understand: You climb c’os yer god-like. It is written. Wow.