IronGhost, Not sure if you will ever check up on this thread again but just in case you do...
No offense but I have to say that your story is a bit odd in itself because of the fact that you where hired by these people for this job. Now I'm criticising your skills and abilities, you are indeed a brilliant writer and what not but wouldn't you agree that you seem like a random choice to be offered this type of job? And if you are the most qualified for this type of 'job' it seems kind of odd that they would hire only one person...I would expect, that in creating an effective false religion, one's best bet would be a colaberation of writers, marketing experts, advertisement, sociologists, psychologists, even theologist perhaps. Sure your special...but you can't be that special. One middle class income guy by himself being put in charge for a brand new religion?
That's all irrelevant however because I half expect your religion or better yet the experiment is the article itself. There are parts of your story that directly appeal to the UM audience such as conspiracy, aliens, and Ouji(sp?) boards that are just parts of the story that don't seem to have to with the point at all but seem to be included to sway the interest of the readership.
However I don't actually believe in those two claims I just made, but I have a real question. I understand you can't name or go into detail about your religion, but is it a 'religion' in the traditional sense? I mean is it just a religion in the sense that there is a website somewhere with the lessons and believers on message boards or is there actually something like church's of some form somewhere and communities existing in real life.
Hey, Cadatek, thanks for your post, and your kind words and thoughtful comments, I apologize for taking some time to get back to you to address your questions.
I'm also somewhat hestitant to comment to "necropost" as you say, especially in my own columns because I don't want people to think I am gaming the system for my own aggrandizement, but more than 18,000 people have read this column (and tens of thousands elsewhere on the Net, and this particular piece has produced just such a monstrous avalanche of e-mails that's it's simply impossible for me to answer everyone individually (sorry about that everyone), so this is a good way to provide answers to a lot of people at once, I hope.
Anyway, to your points:
Probably the last thing these people wanted was a team of experts working on this project because of the very nature of the project. If they would have had multiple psychologists, theologists, etc., as you say -- well, for every additional person you bring into the inside development of this religion, you create another weak link in the secrecy chain -- that is, another person who's silence you would have to worry about down the road.
As I said, the development of this project, or religion, was something that had to be limited to as extremely few "insiders" as possible -- and they wanted someone who could develop this organizational structure -- and then take that primary secret to his grave -- which is what I will do.
You also refer to my work as a "false religion." I realize that I said that I created my religion on "bull$**t, but I think calling it a "false religion" doesn't quite hit the mark. I would say my religion is as legitimate as any other existing religion today -- one could make the argument that any existing traditional religion is "false" -- and people do that every day. For example, many Christians frequently call all kinds of other religions "false" all the time.
Recently Brit Hume of Fox News chided Tiger Woods for being a Buddhist, and strongly suggested that Woods' belief system was not adequate to deal with his person problems, that he should turn Christian etc. So, I think you can see what I mean. Any religion can be discounted as false -- but that's all a matter of opinion and faith, I suppose. No religuious system existent today is ultimately "provable". So in that regard, the religion I created is no different than any other -- not more legitimate or no more false than any other.
You also ask, "Why me?" I really don't know the answer to that, but I can provide some insight.
Much of my career, not all of it, but much of it has been spent working in the shadows, so to speak, as a ghostwriter, and over the years, I have developed a reputation inside the industry for being fiercly loyal and secretive about the people whose books I wrote, and which they wished to take full credit for. So that's the first thing they wanted.
Second, they wanted someone with a known track record for being able to create communications that would influence large numbers of people, and my background as a government public relations officer provided that. I also have an educational background in sociology.
So I wasn't really a "random choice." I was a known quantity within certain circles -- and I was recommended for the job by a past client who knew of these people, and knew what they wanted to accomplish, and my past client flet my abilities and background were a perfect match for this kind of work.
Third, as to my credentials for developing theological systems, that was something I had to prove and deliver -- and if the proof of my ability to do this beforehand was not known -- the proof was delivered in the final product and would be known afterword.
That is, they were taking a certain risk on me, but it wasn't really a risk, because if it turns out that I failed to develop a viable theological system, they would have been out some time and money, that's all. If I would have failed, I assume they would have sought eleswhere for expertise, and went with some kind of "Plan B." They have plenty of money.
So I let my work speak for itself. I developed a religious system, presented it to them, laid it out for them, I knew it would work, and upon learning the system I had created, they felt it would work too. So they were satisfied. If they were not satisfied, they could have tried something else.
You ask, would by religion be considered a religion in the "traditional sense." I think the answer to that is mostly "yes" although I would say that my system contains innovations never before seen in any other religious system. I think what is a traditional, legitimate religion and what is not is in the mind of the believer, so to speak.
Yes, I have seen at least two Web sites devoted to my new religion, and I have already seen a few attacking it -- which I anticipated, and actually, I hoped that others would attack my system, because that was part of the leveraging process that would help feed energy into the religion and keep it alive and growing.
I mean, that's just common sense. Beforehand, I throught: "All religious systems come under attack and criticism. So will mine. Therefore, what system can I put in place that will cause this to benefit my religion?"
And so I incorporated something for that, and I think it's working well.
So I hope I covered all the bases here and answered all of your questions, and those of others as well.
P.S. -- Yes, I realize that this is a kind of story that seems talor-made for the UM audience, but there's no mystery there. Way back in 9th Grade English class, one of the first things you learn about writing is to "know your audience." When you write something, you try to put it before the right audience. I felt UM was the perfect audience for this story.
Also, I've spent a lot of time on UM, and I find the people here to be not only amazingly skeptical, but among the toughest, smartest audience you can find anywhere. I didn't want to present this story to a bunch of gullible New Agers in some flaccid UFO rag or some other such publication -- I think the excoriating and often brutal and rankorous criticism throughout this thread proves what a tough audience this is -- which is my kind of audience.
I wanted to tell my story to people who would understand it.