When you sign a marriage certificate, a legal document, that’s when you know you’re a legit ordained minister.
The Rabbi Dude abides!
Yesterday, I officiated my first wedding as a Dudeist minister. The ceremony began at 2 PM. By 2:10 PM, Jennifer Dale and Philip Stinger were declared husband and wife.
What made it a Dudeist wedding? Nothing more than my presence as an ordained Dudeist minister. The bottom line is that two people, standing before family, friends, and a few neighbors who happened to be standing in their driveway, witnessed two people declare their love for each other and their intention of making a go of it.
Catholics, Protestants, Jews–any religion does the same thing. They each have their rites and rituals, their words, their prayers. But in the end, it is all the same thing.
I was honored to be a part of it, especially in light of the fact that their first minister, Jeremi Kirkhart, ordained in the universal Life Church, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 34 back in November.
Prior to the wedding, Jennifer related the story of asking Jeremi to officiate. His fee? $1.25. Equally touching was Jeremi’s standard response to the generic question “How are you doing?”
Loving life; living the dream.
I was presented with two coins totaling $1.25 and a pocket watch inscribed “LOVE LIFE; LIVE THE DREAM.” In my sermon, my simple words to them was to be each other’s best friend and sole companion, and grow the bond of love between them.
Their words to me were a reminder. No religion that professes love and life is a joke. Nothing in life is more important than your dreams. Nothing is more sacred than your life.
So, to Jennifer and Philip, a long and happy life. To their family and friends, know that you are blessed.
And to all else who read this: Love life and live the dream.
Life events can often start with the best intentions and wind up in tragedy. Or start in darkness and end up…well, somewhere else. This story is the latter.
I met Jeremi Kirkhart on the first day of new hire training at my current job. It was July 19, 2010. He was an imposing figure, the kind of person by appearance alone that would cause you to cross the street if he were walking toward you. He was tall, not six feet, bald, with a thick black moustache and goatee. It was in talking with him that the concept of Appearance vs. Reality came to light. He was thirty-three. He was a single father with full custody of his daughter who he adored. He was an avid reader. He had a dry sense of humor. And he had a mastery of language where he could turn a phrase so easily. He wrote but sparingly.
I made some attempts over the last year to get together with him for anything creative or artistic. Writing a book or a play. Making a short film. Anything. I felt as though that whatever project we would initiate would be something outrageous and fantastic.
The opportunity is now gone. A little over a week, Jeremi Kirkhart died of a massive heart attack at the age of thirty-four. The world around him, the family and friends that were his circle, is lessened by his passing.
My co-worker, Jennifer Dale, had worked with Jeremi at a previous job. He was to have officiated at her wedding in April, 2012 since Jeremi was ordained in the Universal Life Church. She asked me to take his place.
“Wow!” is the first thing that comes into your mind because you are being asked to do something very significant for an individual as well as take the place of a really wonderful man. When I got home that night, my wife recognized the honor that I had been given. But she reminded me in all of this to stay true to who I was. If an online religious certification meant embracing values that were not my own, I would not be honoring anyone.
I am Jewish and as such, any organization that proclaimed Christian concepts would not be a match for me. On top of that, I would be insulting and mocking those who did hold those particular values dear to them.
A simple Google search: HOW DO I BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER ONLINE. There were plenty of results, which may not surprise many people. I started clicking on web sites. Finally there was one that struck me as being more suited to my mentality.
For those who have seen the movie The Big Lebowski, it will be easier to conceptualize. Their website describes it as “an ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness.” How cool is that?
So for Jennifer’s sake, I became ordained. Upon receiving confirmation via e-mail, I forwarded it to her. At work the next day, knowing that I was Jewish, she dubbed me as “Rabbi” Dude.
In discussing this with my neighbor, the Rev. Cindy Watson who IS the actual pastor of West Heights United Methodist Church here in Wichita, she advised me that in the state of Kansas ANYONE can officiate at a wedding. Nevertheless, I will not take my ordination lightly.
For Jennifer, who is venturing into marriage, and for Jeremi, who deserves recognition and remembrance, on certain solemn occasions, I will embrace my alter ego, “Rabbi” Dude.