October 03, 2002

A Stephen Gaskin quotation

"Religions only look different if you get them from a retailer. If you go to a wholesaler, you'll find they all get it from the same distributor."
--Stephen Gaskin

I read this quotation in the signature file of a message someone sent to the Pagan Unity Campaign Political Action Committee [PUCPAC] mailing list. I had never heard of Stephen Gaskin and I thought the quotation was well-worth looking him up. My search found many sites, among others Stephen Gaskin resources, I thought worth reading.

Going back to the quotation, and if you�ll pardon the military analogy, different religions are like the various branches of the armed forces: the Navy and the Air Force travel in different vehicles, have different rituals, structures and uniforms, but they both answer to the same Commander in Chief (except, of course, in some "countries" where sometimes one branch fights another for control of the government, but that is a different story; I'm talking about serious countries here). It would be inconceivable for the Navy to say that flying planes is evil and to attack the Air Force because they fly planes instead of sailing ships. They are supposed to cooperate and support each other in pursuit of common goals.

Now that I think of it, some religions even use military analogies themselves, and refer to "the armies of the Lord", "[adjective for the followers of a particular religion] soldiers". Well, soldiers should not fight sailors, airmen* or marines... [* I'm afraid that women in the Air Force are also called "airmen".]

But many religions act more like corporations peddling the same product: God. "Our God is better than theirs, and besides only we can sell you the proper instruction manuals to use Her. If you worship Her according to any but our instructions, anywhere but in our institutions, She will not love you and you will be doomed to eternal suffering. Don�t gamble with your salvation, use only our brand of God. It's just better."

Like the four elements Water, Air, Earth and Fire, the fifth sacred thing, Divinity/Spirit is freely available to all who seek Her, and cannot be owned.

Attempting to trademark God is probably the ultimate folly in the long sorry history of human hubris.

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