Lo and behold, the Chef has broken his vow of keeping up with this column. However, this wasn’t because I ran out of material to write about (for Frank’s sake, it’s only day four). It was because of a sinus infection or cold or somesuch plague that made my head feel more clogged than Luther Vandross’s arteries after downing a couple of Luther Burgers with extra Oreos, coupled with generic cold medicine that gave me all kinds of hallucinations (Equate brand is not your friend). Fortunately, I’ve recovered from the Captain Trips and have reached an understanding with the giant pink elephant in the corner – he won’t disturb me while I write, and I won’t look at him while he’s changing his shorts. Maybe one day he’ll start paying rent. At any rate, the article a day is back in action, and I have a couple of articles to make up.
One of the Chef’s longstanding dreams is to one day start a weird cult to bilk rich, gullible, and none-too-bright celebrities out of their money. After all, it worked for L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the pox on both spirituality and rational thinking that is known as Scientology. Remember, the way to make a million dollars isn’t by writing books – it’s to start your own religion (or words to that effect). Well, it isn’t by writing books if you’re a no-talent hack like L. Ron or myself, at any rate. Neither of us are exactly gifted with literary brilliance, as you can tell by how he turned to selling fake religion and by the ginormous stack of rejection slips from every reputable (and a few disreputable) literary magazine on my desk. So naturally, I just might be inclined to start my own “religion” (well, cultâ€¦but, as the Maitre d’ is fond of saying, the difference between a fringe cult and an established religion is a few thousand years).
For years, I’ve been kicking around different ideas that might be 1) attractive to a large – preferably affluent – portion of the population, 2) sound just reasonable enough to satisfy those pesky laws that keep the tax man from taking away your goodies, 3) have built-in excuses for people to give large sums of money to me – er, the church, and 4) are different enough from the crowd of other weird fringe cults to stand out, while remaining close enough to mainstream theology to not scare away the normals.
This is, of course, the sort of thing that gets you sent to the “special” level of Hell. Don’t try this at home, kids.
The Maitre d’ has been pestering me for some time now about starting a web site dedicated to listing my prospective cult ideas. I lieu of that, I present you now with some of my ideas for “hooks” for cults, including what I think may just be the most workable and sinister one yet. Sadly, Scientology has already taken the “it looks like science, it sounds like science, but it’s not really science” angle, with their fake psychology or debriefings or whatever they call them and their talk about unlocking all of the pain buried in your cells’ memories (I’ve got to hand it to L. Ron – his was an innovative idea), but there are still a few stones left unturned in prying money out of people looking for spiritual answers.
In kicking around ideas for my prospective cult – er, church, I briefly considered going with one of the more fundamentalist flavors of Christianity, complete with speaking in tongues and publicly condemning liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, abortion, women wearing pants, people who play Dungeons & Dragons, and anyone who’s ever watched a Pauley Shore movie. And scoring extra points with the Big Guy for talking about the impending Apocalypse and One World Government. Remember, you can’t spell “fundamentalist” without “fun”! (Or “mental”, for that matter.)
The truth is, although that kind of thing has a large following, the people who attend churches like the First Full Gospel Pentecostal Evangelical Free Will Baptist Assembly of God (they do get all those great adjectives in their names) tend to be on the lower end of the economic spectrum. However, as Pat Robertson will tell you, there is an advantage in numbers. If you can get enough semi-senile old ladies to send you a portion of their retirement checks to help you stay on the air, you can make a pretty big chunk of change sowing hatred and bigotry.
The problem is the market has become oversaturated. Despite the fact that no one of consequence really listens to the Falwell/Robertson crowd (another crowd on the far left fervently believes otherwise), there are any number of small-time imitators locally, and most of them already have their claws and/or tentacles wrapped around the gullible portion of the local populace. So that particular slant is right out.
Next, I considered starting a cult of evil. Devil worship is very big in Hollywood these days (again, according to the esteemed Pat Robertson), and it does make a nice counterpoint to the Christian side of things. I always did have a weakness for the underdog, and Old Scratch is, if you talk to most Christians, the ultimate underdog. All the guy wanted to do was take over the universe – was that really so bad?
Okay, stupid question.
However, worshiping Satan might be just a little unpalatable to most non-Bohab audiences (and the Bohabs are only into it if they’re being sprayed with fake semen). Despite making some inroads in rehabilitating himself in recent years, Lucifer is still persona non grata in most counties in Tennessee (as well as most other states outside of New Jersey). Even going so far as suggesting that the account we have of his actions might be a little biased because it’s written by the Other Guy is frowned upon. So, Satan’s right out. What about another entity of evil, though?
There’s always the possibility of Xenu. Whoops, sorry – if you haven’t paid for the seminar, you just keeled over dead when you heard his name. My apologies. If you’re not up on your Scientology, Xenu is the ancient evil responsible for such terrible things as genocide and psychology. Yes, you read that right. And you should at least have a fucking nosebleed or something from reading Xenu’s name three times now, unless John Travolta has lied to me again. (The first time was when he said, “Battlefield Earth is going to be one of the greatest movies ever made.” He has not been forgiven for that one.) Granted, worshiping Xenu would probably be more of a cult of appeasement, a sort of religious protection racket (“Give me your money or I will shout his name again!”). Granted, the “turn or burn” Christians already have that sort of thing covered, but it might work.
Then there’s always Cthulhu. Sure, he’s a fictional deity from a bunch of science-fiction horror stories. But so’s Xenu, and look at how far it’s gotten him. He gives Tom Cruise nosebleeds with his name alone (Katie needed the money to have her mustache waxed again, so Tom had to skip that seminar). A Cthulhu cult would be ripe for the picking, if it wasn’t for his nature. The whole “cultists get eaten last” thing isn’t much of a reward to the faithful.