The Church of Yew

An argument for surfing as a religion

A tropical Mexican pointbreak, ain't it just divine? Photo: Stoner



Of all the wacky ideas I’ve heard in my life, possibly the wackiest came from an unlikely source: George Downing. A friend told me that at one time George was trying to make a serious bid to have surfing declared an official religion. When I initially heard this, I thought it was one of the silliest things I had ever encountered.

Now I’ve changed my thinking. In fact, I’ve done a complete 180.

I owe much of my change of heart to Wikipedia. To define the term “religion”, the site used the following words and phrases: Worship. Prayer. Universal belief systems. Claims of spiritual transcendence. Specific narratives, symbols, traditions, and sacred histories. Something that gives meaning to life and drives behavior. Rituals, feasts, funerary services, music, and art. Mantras. Purposeful choices to live lives of poverty to be closer to it. Pilgrimages.

And then the lightning bolt struck me: Surfing is more religious than religion is.

So given this divine revelation, let’s take it another step. Let’s claim it. Let’s give this religion of surfing a name. I don’t know, something appropriate, maybe slightly irreverent or fun…like how about The Church of Yew? And then maybe we could have cool sayings like Yew Dukefari, in acknowledgement of our patron saint of Aloha.

I’m totally serious. In fact, I’m actually starting to feel a bit rapturous just thinking about all this. Well, that and the potential tax-exempt status.