In the beginning...

Dear Court-nee,

I really enjoy the writing on your blog. I'm hoping you can answer
my question. How does one go about starting up an invented religion
based on Volcano worship in the Pacific North West?

Ersatz Prophet

Dear Ersatz,

What a great question!  Starting a religion can be a fun and profitable way to weather this economic downturn, as well as a great way to meet new people.  (Well, not new people -- existing people that you just haven't met yet.)  In particular, you will meet gullible people with desperate lives who are seeking Something.  Oh, and IRS agents.  (Note:  It's unlikely that young lovely virgins will be drawn to this particular religion, due to the volcanos.)

Starting it is as easy as pie:

1.  Come up with a story.  Make it complicated and unbelievable but believable at the same time, if you know what I mean.  Give it a lot of charm, a bit of bad stuff happening for a reason that can be known (and that reason, duh, is that Someone didn't believe the story, forward the e-mail, send you the money, whatever it is.)  And most of all, give it hope.   Believing in the story should offer your followers some of what they long for:  health, true love, immortality, wealth, or at the very very least, a feeling of Insider-ship. 

2.  Have a weird personal experience that draws attention to The Story.  This can be as simple as a tortilla that burns in such a way to give credence to the whole thing (as in, OMG!  If you look at my tortilla just right, you can see the SHAPE of a VOLCANO!!!!) , or something that takes work, like going on an epic journey.  The Time Tunnel that connects Chinook with Goat Hill might be just the place.

3.  Celebrate the Story.  Create rituals that Your People can do together to feel like part of something.  Think along the lines of basic joyful things people do:  sing, dance, eat, drink, and most of all, being merry.  Put your own spin on them, so that dancing, for example, seems like something new and unique to your religion.  Gotta belong to do that dance.  I wanna belong!

4.  Create a product line.  Develop distinctive jewelry, clothing, or artifacts that will constantly remind your followers about The Story.  Make it something cool, like the Bagwans' coffee bean necklaces.  Who didn't want to dress in magenta and wear that necklace?   I would also like to see some sort of a snow globe with an exploding volcano in it, but I realize that this religion is bigger than me and my needs.

5.  Invite people to believe.   Feel free to use YouTube, Facebook, or just an old milk crate on a street corner to tell The Story, and ask people to trade their money for all that hope you have to offer. Don't feel bad about The Ask -- they want hope more than you need their money.  If you've done the other steps well, this will be like floating downstream. 

That's it.

I know what you're thinking, Prophet.   You're thinking, I knew all that -- I just want help with the story.  Prophet, We all want help with the story.  If I could think of a whole story, don't you think I'd be writing a book instead of this stupid blog?


  1. Dear N'3lvra,

    Is this Betsy person that posts your replies your assistant or is there a legal reason that you are unable to post these yourself?

    Just Askin'


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