Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Do Not Put Your Party Stuff Away—Another Celebration is Afoot


J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, avatar of the Church of the SubGenius was said to resemble Ward Cleaver.

No need to put the paper napkins and plates away, the grill, the lawn chairs, the well-stocked coolers of adult beverages just because Independence Day has come and gone.  Keep the party rolling by joining devotees of the Church of the SubGenius in celebrating their high holy day—the anniversary of the failure of cult founder J. R. “Bob” Dobbs’s prophesy of the End of the World on July 5, 1998 and the rescue of his followers by spaceships from Planet X for union with alien sex goddesses.

That day came and went without apocalypse or rescue, but devotees gather on this date each year to try and figure out or explain what happened or on the off chance that Bob Dobbs just miscalculated his calendar.  And they party.  Lordy do they party.

 All sounds perfectly reasonable to me.  If you are confused, read on and I will explain.

According to the holy documents of the Church of the SubGenius an alien/Elder God named Jehovah 1 first contacted Dobbs, a salesman said to bear a striking resemblance to Ward Cleaver, in the late 1940’s and over a period of time engaged him in instruction and tried to enlist him in a powerful conspiracy.  Jehovah 1 was said to be related to the Elder Gods described by H. L. Lovecraft in his Cthulhu Mythos but not quite as evil as Yog-Sothoth. 

At any rate Jehovah 1 eventually was confident enough in Dobbs to imbue him with great powers including the ability to time travel and disembody himself.  Eventually Dobbs rebelled at the plan for him to lead a great conspiracy to brainwash humans to make them work for a living.  Instead Dobbs founded a counter conspiracy movement.

Dobbs had apparently studied world spiritual communities including Sufism, Rosicrucianism, and the Fourth Way and had even traveled to Tibet where he met and conversed with the Yeti and was told that those who would come to his new religion were really decedents of the mystery creatures of the Himalayas.  Dobbs and wife Connie outwardly embodied all of the gender archetypes of the 1950’s and are an embodiment of the Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati.  And, oh yes, Dobbs may have been born and died hundreds of times.  All of that should be perfectly clear.

Sometime in the ‘50’s Dobbs disappeared from the Earth, presumably on time travel adventures but also possibly cavorting with the lovelies of Planet X. 

Ivan Stang (Douglas St. Clair Smith was one of the founders of the Church of the SubGenius and is now the owner and proprietor of the for-profit cult which some say is just an avenue to make Stang rich, get him laid, and lead to world domination.  Got a problem wiith that, pal?

In the 1972 Dobbs opened up telepathic communications with Philo Drummond (born Steve Wilcox) who introduced Ivan Stang (born Douglas St Clair Smith) and, and Dr. X (born Monte Dhooge) to the World Avatar in that great American spiritual center, Dallas, Texas.  With Stang as the group’s Sacred Scribe of Dobbs the newly formed SubGenius Foundation issued its first publication, a photocopied SubGenius Pamphlet #1 in 1979.  The pamphlet announced the impending end of the world and the likely death of its readers and criticized Christian conceptions of God and New Age spirituality.

The new religion started picking up adherents among the alienated, dissatisfied, cynical, and unwashed who celebrated opposing the Great Conspiracy by the power of Slack—which will allow them a free, comfortable life without hard work or responsibility, which they claim as an entitlement through sex and the avoidance of employment.  These teachings attracted artists like underground commix icon R. Crumb who early on began illustrating Sub Genius propaganda and including references in his other work.  

Local groups of members of the Church of the SubGenius are called clenches and host periodic events known as devivals, which include sermons, music, and other art forms. Devivals most frequently take place in bars, entertainment venues, and outside.  Unconventional behavior, nudity, and offering sex and money to Church leaders are encouraged. 

The Church of the SubGenius described in one easy graphic.  See?  It isn't so mysterious.

At Devivals the Five Instructions of J. R. “Bob” Dobbs’s are sometimes discussed—or not.  They are:

To shun regular employment and stop working.

To purchase products that are sold by the Church, which its leaders teach was founded by Dobbs to gain wealth.  Unlike most religious groups, the Church is for-profit.

To rebel against law and order.

To rid the world of everyone who did not descend from Yetis Dobbs, 90% of humanity, making the Earth clear.

To exploit fear, specifically that of individuals who are part of the Conspiracy.

At intervals the time traveling Dobbs contacted church leaders with new information that changes church teaching or accounts of reality.  Members are also encouraged to experiment with church dogma and invent new truth which may or may not become part of the mythos.  This is known as the Sacred Doctrine of Erasability by the Church and members attempt to follow Dobbs by eschewing unchangeable plans.

By 1999, now headquartered in Cleveland where Stang had relocated, the church claimed 40,000 members with 10,000 ministers who sent in $35 a head for their credentials.  The church also sells numerous products such a tee shirt to its members and the general public through a website—they were pioneers of the internet—and social media in addition to extensive publishing.

From very early in the church’s development it heralded Dobb’s prophesy of an apocalyptic event on July 5, 1998 when aliens from the Plant X would arrive, swoop up all of the decedents of Yetis—by a coincidence all dues-paying members of the Church of SubGenius—to take them to an orgiastic experience on Plant X while destroying the rest of population of Earth in suitably horrible calamities.  Preparation drills were held in mass Devivals in ’96 and ’97. 

On the appointed date hundreds gathered at clothing-optional campground in Sherman, New York.  When the appointed time passed without the arrival of the sexy aliens, church leaders simply announced that they had perhaps misunderstood Dobbs and had inverted the numerals of the year so that the real date would be 8991.  Or alternatively, that the date was correct but that somehow Earth and Mars had switched positions and the aliens arrived on an empty Mars.  Or maybe it was something else altogether. Who knows?  Who cares?  The largely naked devotees shrugged and continued to party.

Regular Devivials now include nudity, public sex, drunkeness, and general debauchery...in the name of all that might or might not be Holy.

Since then, annual gatherings have been held to celebrate the non-arrival of the aliens.  These mass Devivals have become three day festivals of alternative music, art, sexual depravity, and cultural weirdness.  The events are often compared to the Burning Man Festivals in the western deserts.  Those who cannot make the big celebration make do with local Devivals, which is where your barbeque comes in, if you don’t mind Aunt Tilly stripping naked and cousins engaging in intercourse in the bushes.

There are cynics who claim that X Day and the Church of the SubGenius are simply elaborate frauds and con games.  Others think of them as enormously elaborate satires on both conventional organized religion and enterprising cults.  In this respect it has been compared to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on a much more elaborate scale.  Still others believe that it is an anarcho/subversive cabal similar to the Discordian Society inspired by Robert Sheas and Robert Anton Wilsons Illuminatus Trilogy.  Others hope that it is exactly that.

But who am I to cast aspersions on any ones faith? 


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