Re: virus: "Religion"?

Ken Pantheists (
Fri, 09 Aug 1996 12:28:48 -0700

This is turning into quite the thread.

I think I may have got Reed's goat in my last post. I probably should have used more
smiley faces.

Reed Garrett Konsler wrote:

> >I think the warning lights that are going off in people have more to do
> >with the people than the list.
> Come on, Stephen. Speaking in tautologies is a sign of intellectual
> laziness.

I wasn't aware I was needlessly repeating myself. If WI was, I didn't intend to.

> If you've already made up your mind on this issue but don't want
> to spend the time arguing it then that's OK.

Just posting my opinion. I'll argue it if you want.

> But you must realize that
> while it's obviously true that each of brings our own perceptual framework
> there is at least an implied author to this page/list.

Hmmm. You're right.

So, are you saying that what's lacking in this CoV corporate image is a point of entry
for its members to have a say in what is presented to the world?

That seems to be a fair request.

> What is in a name?

Hmm-- two ways to take that. Is it a Montague or a Hatfield who's doing the talking

Let me first say that I am not the one to argue whole heartedly for the Church name.
When I first came across David's page I was really urked by the whole concept. In fact I
sent a string of e-mails berating him for the whole thing. I thought it was a silly,
posing and hypocritical. He was on vacation at the time so did not respond to those
messages, I thought he was really mad. When he got back he invited me to the list.

Since that time, I've developed a soft spot for the quirkiness of the name, because I've
come to appreciate the satire.

This is what Church of Virus has come to mean to me.

It's not a church, but we have tackled some big questions in the past regarding
spiritualism, the unknowable, Truth, what it means to be a human being, moral
responsibility. And we've done a pretty good job of it. In the medieval ages we would
have been monks (and monkettes) arguing similarly with what rhetorical tools we had

Would we have covered the same material if we were called something else? Maybe, maybe

Would we have gotten the laugh we got when that spammer mailed an ad for a 1-800 number
for the "parish"?

Secondly, and this is only because I have a great appreciation for irony. The name is
self effacing. It implies that no matter how scientific one can get about one's memes,
you can't escape them. You are always in one kind of church or another.

> >When a person studies art they (I hope) also study the history of
> >religious art. This helps illustrate the relationship between art and
> >the expression of the sublime. I could not imagine teaching or being in
> >a class where a person said, "I'm just not comfortable talking about
> >religion because *I've* thrown it all away in favour of something
> >better."
> Of course. Again, I don't accept the implicit rhetorical question. How,
> exactly does this relate?

I used the above example to illustrate how restistance to an idea can be driven by one's
ego. Religious art demonstrates human expression of all those vast, deep, penetrating
questions as they are experienced through a system of thought/belief. It would be
foolish to ignore it just because you don't hold that belief.

The point was not aimed at anyone in particular. It was just a reminder. How much of
one's resistance to an idea comes from a concept of oneself?

I think that a person who is truly intellectually curious doesn't throw themselves
around a room. If I'm offered a weekend chanting workshop with some Buddhist monks, I
would refrain from constantly reminding them that I'm not Buddhist and that I don't
believe in anything that they are doing. Not only would it be rude, but it would spoil
the experience of sitting and chanting.

> Sure, you can say: "we didn't
> want them anyway...this is a test..." I'm sorry, but I have to say
> "Bullshit!" to such things. If a friend told you nobody was comming to see
> a play you were in becuase the name disturbed them what would you do?

Oops, I knew when I said that to David last weekend that it could be interpreted as an
exclusivist point of view.

I'm glad you used a theatre example to illustrate your point.

I have been in plays that many people would not come and see because of the name.
"Saliva Milkshake" by Howard Bentley comes to mind. It is a play about a guy who meets
an old girlfriend. What he finds out through the course of the play is that she is a
member of the IRA and has bombed a train, killing all kinds of people and she wants him
to set up an alibi for her. The final twist: she sets him up to take the wrap.

My point is-- the internet, like the theatre is not a broadcasting medium, it is a
narrowcasting medium. People come to you. I am very comfortable standing behind projects
with names like "Saliva Milkshake", and I don't mean to be insulting if I do. With
low-cost projects I don't have a problem if people don't come. It's kind of a holiday--
a gift to the people who I know will like it. An environment where I feel comfortable
taking risks artistically and intellectually, without worrying if I look or sound dumb.
And I know I don't have to put up with hearing "Aaaahh!, there was *swearing* in that

> I guess it depends on how vital the name was to the message you were trying
> to communicate, huh? I mean, if there was a "principle" involved you might
> be willing to go down with a defiant glare and a comment on the inability
> of people to cope.
> Something like "get over it".

Again, I'm sorry if it sounded too flip.

My comment was my way of saying people in general are too sensitive about the term
church and the baggage is their's to deal with.

As for a "principle"-- I don't see myself as having anything to go down for. I don't
care if we call this list Bob. But as long as David administers the list on his time,
I'll put my two cents in to say that he can call it what he wants.

> We are reminding people of the very memes you are trying to replace.

Yes. As Robert Wright says-- we are acknowledging the fact that we are puppets before we
attempt to decipher the logic of the puppeteer.

> time you use a trigger word you remind people of their indoctrination.

Again, I don't mean to speak for David, but I think that is one of the principles behind
his choosing the name.

> Maybe, with great effort, you can use this process to disinfect them by
> appropriating and redefining the language. But I don't think we're
> anywhere near that stage yet.

Well, I think you *can* appropriate and redifine language-- very quickly these days.

Language is way more fluid than you give it credit for.

One of the fastest methods is through camp and satire.

Who has not seen Monty Python and had their concept of Spam changed for their entire

But I was not aware that the purpose was to disinfect people. I thought the purpose was
to give people the power to choose and to exercise critical awareness. I'm probably
splitting hairs-- that may be what you mean by disinfect.

> But, hey, I just post here.

Don't do that. That's a controlling behavior pattern.

You know your value.

IMHO, if it is the desire of the list members to attract more people and the term
"church" is a big problem, then there should be a drive within the membership to create
a new corporate image. Maybe some of the members who have graphic arts skills can work
up a concept and submit it to Dave? I may have just put David on the spot with this
suggestion, but it's my opinion.

P.S. I am looking forward to a 1st annual Church Picnic and Bake Sale though.

Ken Pantheists                          
Virus Theatre           
TooBa Physical Theatre Centre