By Evan SlaterIt's easy for us surfers to believe we're on to something special. From our first whitewater to our final curtain call, surfing works in mysterious ways. It can serve as a gateway to eternal life (just ask Doc Paskowitz, who will still paddle circles around you.) Our daily baptism ("The only thing that washes my troubles away," says Matt Archbold.) Our confessional booth (Nothing is more honest than a 20-footer on the head.) And, of course, it can serve as our sanctuary, our church and our connection to the Supreme Being itself. (See Tom Blake's Voice of the Atom and your next 8-second tube at the pointbreak in this photo.) It's no surprise, then, that in this age of relativism, dudes are claiming us as an official religion. (See "Keeping the Faith"in this issue) It's only natural (or supernatural) that something this pure, this good and this gratifying eventually becomes a form of worship. And who's to say that the act of waveriding – or Aquatic Nature Religion, as it's now called – is any less valid than the countless other faiths out there? Certainly not us. We do, however, have one word of caution before you abandon all your other belief systems and devote yourself to becoming a High Priest of Pipeline or a Mullah of the Mentawais: just don't become like the rest of 'em.Because as enlightened and "holy" as we all feel when we're having the session of our lives, there's about 6 billion other people out there who think they're on to something just as valid – if not much, much more. A gateway to eternal life? People blow themselves up over that one. And I don't think anyone will be strapping a bomb to himself with visions of virgin Trestles in the afterlife anytime soon.No, if surfing truly is your spiritual outlet, like it seems to be for so many of us, then we suggest it serve a much simpler function, something religion was supposed to do in the first place before people starting killing each other over it. "Faith," it says in Hebrews 11:1, "is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen." For surfers, that substance – at least on this planet — is just a solid forecast away.
Also, check out this video on our website: “What energy do you worship?” Its a thought provoking short film, comparing various types of religious worship, to the worship of nature and the energy of its oceans.