How did I miss this? Lauren Collins’ article in the Thanksgiving issue of the New Yorker about the curious case of Raj Patel, international economist and, according to some, the Universal Messiah? Really: a combination of Christ, the Mahdi, the Buddha, etc., as concocted by one Benjamin Creme, founder of something called Share International. His followers believe it, and keep waiting for his television appearances (on Colbert, for one, is totally down with that). But Patel and Creme both seem to know it’s bunk. Sort of. Anyway the story has got all the delicious ingredients of myth and personalities that I love to mythographize. Unfortunately I can’t link to it–you know how that New Yorker is–but I thought I’d use it as a leaping-off point for my first entry in a long while. Yes, I know it’s been a long while. I apologize. Please see the entry for “Myth of the Perfect Entrance” to understand why I am not all bowing and scraping. Anyway: the story. It’s gleefully written by Collins, who usually seems to profile powerful and/or controversial women, such as Cindy McCain. She touches on the part of the story I’m obsessed with–the unending quest to universalize all religions into one, simple, solvable system, and its somehow endearing tendency to fail. She writes: “‘The one’ has been many…” and goes on to enumerate a few of the universal saviors. But what does not get touched on is the crux of MM’s mission, the WHY. Why do creative souls keep drawing diagrams that connect Jesus, Noah, and Krishnamurti? Why are we convinced that anything has anything in common? Stephen Prothero, God be with him, has tried to call us out on this with his book: God is Not One. I kind of hope he succeeds, because I agree with him, but on the other hand I don’t, because I find the quest to unify everything entertaining and also sympathetic, and I don’t expect it to go anywhere. This week: universal messiahs. Stay tuned in a couple for universal languages, wherein I visit a tribute to the founder of Esperanto…
Oh, and meanwhile, in case you hadn’t heard: next week President Obama is going to appear on Mythbusters! I don’t care what anyone says, that guy rocks.