sociologists' party joke gaia religion will outsell world party

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Mon, 22 Aug 1994 15:19:26 CDT

to believe in," I tell the gentleman from West Bengal, and some of them will
even go so far as to resort to founding the World Party, as conceived in A
Brief History of the Future, by W. Warren Wagar. The World Party has just
been founded in a telephone booth at the American Sociological Association
annual meetings in Los Angeles. But I met another sociologist at a party, the
kind where you get intoxicated, where we founded the [New Improved] Gaia
Religion guaranteed, given an equal amount, in hundreds of millions of dollars,
for the startup media blitz, from well-disposed capitalists, to capture a
bigger Market Share than the World Party, not to mention, sweep away capitalism
like the cleanser Stronger than Dirt.

The gentleman from West Bengal is in a hurry, thanks me yet again for
reminding him of his grandfather, the Sanskrit scholar, this having recharged
his Hindu spirituality, which is of course indispensable for pursuit of the
PhD in microbiology. I am silently greatful that there is another human being
on Earth as noncommunicative as myself.

The other sociologist drove me to the party friday night; he may yet switch
to Anthro, since anthropologists are more fun people than sociologists. He's
finishing an overdue paper for Classical Theory on "George Herbert Mead and
Virtual Culture." I say, "To make the Classical Theory Syllabus, you hafta be
a Dead White Male for over three generations. For Contemporary Theory, you can
be just a Dead White Male or Anthony Giddens, who has fooled many people into
thinking him still alive, but hard to tell from his last few books...."

Now, down to business. "Any two sociologists, even drunk or, preferably,
Drugged, can improve on the World Party, just founded by the World Systems
subcult, I mean, Section, of the ASA, by using a little sociological
ingenuity. We start with Name Recognition Advantage, specifically, the Gaia
Religion, because lizzy does not have enough income to pay for the legal work
required to own the legal rights to herself. We both know lizzy, the former
mousy, shy, speech-impedimented Elizabeth N. Hubbard, who from Mainframing,
Hardest Core Computer Abuse Disorder, mutated into the notorious Doctress
Neutopia, infamous Netpest, Nuisance to thousands. Everyone at the party
we are going to, whereof the other sociologist is one of the hosts, knows
lizzy, and the "founding-type person" of list <> not
merely will send e-mail to lizzy, he will actually get a prompt answer.

I'd been working on the design for weeks, and laid it out:

"Anyone who founds an even faintly Marxistoid political party in this
day and age is *clueless*," I say. What will work, if anything, is a new
Universal Religion, but one which has the following properties: It is a
faith which flies up its own nose, precluding faith in itself, proclaiming
contradiction, that is to say, Universal Mutual Disagreement, in combination
with universal mutual love, as Holy, but where you have got to be sincerely
committed to disavowal of Inequality to get converted. With a simple, one-
sentence-ish Profession Of Faith, on the order of the Muslim's "There is no
God but God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God," except that anyone Converted
is eligible for Prophet.

"We want, that is, a revolutionary religion which *cures* both religion
and Inequality, and is at the same time a valid universal creed. Necessarily
related, as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam all started out as cures for
Inequality, neglecting however, to provide for cures for themselves. This
is extremely difficult; you can use religion to cure Substance Abuse, but
you can't cure the religion you substitute for it, which can lead to much
worse abuse, has even been a leading contributory cause throughout history
of violent crime and starvation.

"This 'lovolution' and 'massgasm' that lizzy babbles about, but never spells
out, would take the form of everyone Converted arguing on streetcorners, which
is simultaneously an expression of mutual love, you see. The culmination of
the Principle of Semic Stomp. But, first things first. Meaning, the Conversion
Ceremony, lizzy's got no sense of Religious Experience. I, at least, from eight
years of Hebrew School, know the feeling about Holy Things, still feel
*terrible* about dropping a book on the floor because it *might* contain a
mention of the nonexistent God, and to this day, as I was taught, *never*
write in one, that's Sinful, Sin, as you know, is what uses God as a crutch.

"The Convert swears a modified version of the Aragon Oath, from the twelfth
century. For any religion, you need something Old, something New, something
Borrowed, something Blue. Later, we'll think up something Blue. The Aragon
Oath reads: 'We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who is no better than
us, that if you respect our rights and privileges, we will be your good and
loyal vassals; and if not, not.' Modified to read, 'I, who am as good as you,
swear to you, who are no better than me, that so long as you fulfill your moral
obligation to disagree with everything I say, I shall love, you as you disagree
with everything I say, and love me; and if not, not.'
"The recitation of the Profession of Faith follows:
"'Begin Transmission:
'Lo, I am the Gaia Messiah, and wheresoever two or three of you be gathered
in My Name, let no two of you agree with one another or with Me; forasmuchas
we are all the Same, we are all Free to be Different; go ye and be Free.
'End Transmission.'"

Why the Transmission is, of course, that nobody in this society can function
religiously without a smidgeon of Alienation.

This is good for five minutes, maybe as much as ten minutes, of laughs at
the party. Nobody likes 'Gaia Religion,' not even me. "We can call it
[Withheld]ism, after [Withheld]'s living room floor. On which, Tuesday night,
we watched a video from a Chicago Channel 9 two-part broadcast, 'with 50
minutes of footage never before shown,' of a horrible movie, Dune, made from
a tedious cult novel, also called Dune, by a semitalented semiliterate, Frank
Herbert, based loosely on the careers of Muhammad ibn Abd-Allah (570-632);
al-Hakim (b. 985, Fatimid Caliph, 996-1021) who disappeared into the desert,
"No trace of him was ever found," whose Second Coming is awaited by the Druze
Religion; and ibn al-Wahhab (1770-1808). The latter two nobody present had ever
heard of; nor has Frank Herbert, of course. The people at the party still won't
listen to the story of al-Hakim, which is no surprise; but it turned out that
two of them worked for Amoco; some of the others use gasoline and heating oil;
and the story of ibn al-Wahhab and the original Sa'ud was of some relevance to
the fragile basis of the armenian way of life, contingent as it is upon the
Official Creed of Sa'di Arabia reamaining the "purified" Wahhabi variant of
Sunni Islam; and it was not wholly boring that the original Muhammad Ali, whom
Cassius Marcellus Clay renamed himself after, was the Albanian general who
snuffed ibn al-Wahhab and the first Sa'ud in 1808.

Miraculously enough, one of the people present was from Amherst NY, one of
the four places in North America named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, inventor
of biological warfare duting the Seven Years War, 1756-1763. (The Miraculous,
like Alienation, simply cannot be dispensed without for proper religious
functioning.) So, lizzy, should I ever come up to Amherst MA again, being
reminded both that the blankets on your couch look kinda old, and what was
in the blankets Lord Jeffrey Amherst distributed to the Native Americans,
specifically, The Small Pox, The French Pox, The Plague, and The Flu, I'll
bring my own. Otherwise, lizzy, now you belong to the ages, right up there
with W. Warren Wagar.

Daniel A. Foss