VIVA LA JOY. (_bulldoze) wrote,

Reverend Ivan Stang & the Church of the Sub Genius.

A friend of mine once told me that it was Reverend Ivan Stang who made it possible for him to marry a can of beer and become a pope in the same day and for a reasonable price. And our day in Cleveland, Ohio was truly a real treat, because we got to visit the home of Reverend Stang and his wife Princess Wei and explore the temple of Bob Dobbs that is their house.

Ivan Stang founded the Church of the SubGenius with Dr. Philo Drummond (who is now a DJ on the popular Berkeley radio show Puzzling Evidence) in 1980 with a satyrical pamphlet titled "SubGenius Pamphlet #1." What's formed in the 30 years following is an entire parody religion that, while no less real than any other religion, is thankfully only taken seriously to a dangerous level by a small chunk of people. Most followers of the Church of the SubGenius are such because of the humorous and lighthearted nature of the way it satirizes fanatic-based religion, conspiracy theories, and aliens.

The religion is based around one deity, a God of sorts by the name of Bob. Nobody knows exactly who Bob is or what exactly it is that he knows that we don't, but the playfulness of it all is somewhat of a relief in the world of thinking about religion and knowing those who take it and themselves too seriously. As Stang himself said, "Bob isn't interested in your sins, unless it's one he hasn't heard of yet." Stang's attitude towards the whole concept of religion is that it's his job and duty to piss off the fundamentalists, and it seems at this he's had tremendous success, if in nothing more than his devotion to the joke of it all. The big lesson we learned from the Reverend? "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

Nowadays Stang is able to make a living promoting and "practicing" this comedic religion. Any Joe can walk up to their home and pay their $35 to become an ordained minister (or Sir, or Pope, or Princess, or pretty much anything you want) of the Church of the SubGenius. He markets his belief in the cause (or lackthereof) but with the lingering fear that some people in the world of religion take this stuff too far, and his greatest concern is of its potential transformation into a cult. Being that so many people in the world will eat whatever bullshit is spoonfed to them, Stang realizes that this concern is a legitimate one, but hopes that in the grand scheme of things, it can be used as a tool to help people to stop every once in a while and laugh at reality's joke that is organized religion.

Reverend Ivan Stang & the Church of the SubGenius.
Cleveland, Ohio.

Reposted from The New World Manifesto.

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