On Tuesday, March 6, the Coen brothers’ comedy “The Big Lebowski” opened, and the world went – meh.
20 years later, there are annual Lebowski Fests in Los Angeles and Louisville, Ky.
Hefty tomes have been written on the film by critics, academics, theologians, and philosophers.
There’s even a religion, Dudeism, based upon the Zen values of its protagonist, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges.
There are more than 350,00 officially ordained Dudeist Priests.
What is Dudeism?
Dudeism may harken back to the original form of Chinese Taoism.
The originator of Taoism, Lao Tzu, basically said “smoke ’em if you got ’em” and “mellow out, man”.
Although he said this in ancient Chinese so something may have been lost in the translation…
Dudeism is the name for an archetypical lifestyle of taking it easy and not sweating the small stuff.
There is no canon or gospel, just the ideas of “abide” and “don’t be uptight”.
There’s no hierarchy or church services.
As the Dudely Lama wrapped it all up :
“Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.”
The Dude – Mystical Jewish Archetype?
Cathleen Falsani suggests in her book The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers that the Dude is a lamed-vovnik.
A lamed-vovnik is a Jewish mystical idea of 36 righteous souls who hold up the fate of the rest of the world on their shoulders.
Nobody knows who they are, and they don’t know that they are a lamed-vovnik themselves.
They may appear as fools, bums or lost souls.
For the sake of these 36 wise fools, God preserves the world even if the rest of society has degenerated to utter barbarism.
As Cathleen Falsani writes :
“The Dude is a simple, unsuspecting fellow… A mellow, pot-smoking, bowling burnout who lives alone in Los Angeles—the modern Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows what’s right and what’s wrong and isn’t afraid to stand up for the cause of love and peace.”
The Dude Abides, and so should all of us.