Web Site

The Church of the Sub-Genius http://www.subgenius.com

A friend of mine did his college thesis on "Religion in America." While his peers wrote papers on the life of Joseph Smith or the changing face of Voodoo, my buddy decided to write his on a certain church based in Clearwater. When his thesis adviser, the dean of an Ivy-League university, got caught with a copy of Dianetics on his desk, madness ensued. Though the dean cleared everything up with The New York Times, and my friend managed to escape from the college with his academic standing and diploma intact, he found that some research contacts were a little harder to dismiss. The zealots still call him.The moral of this story is that cults are funny. They're so funny that eventually people get tired of ridiculing existing ones and create elaborate new religions for the sheer purpose of having more material to satirize.

At least, I think that's the intention. With the Church of the Sub-Genius, it's a little difficult to suss anything out — and they like it that way. The seemingly impenetrable labyrinth of pages on their Web site glorifies in camp, '50s-style line drawings and propaganda-pamphlet parody that would make George Orwell proud.

The inscrutable cadre of Sub-Genii seems to have grown out of an early '90s Usenet group. Their gospel is derived from a conglomeration of misinformation about their prophet, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs (as featured in Sublime's Forty Ounces of Freedom CD). It focuses on the eminent salvation of the enlightened Sub-Genii when an irascible alien god-being finally gets down to brass tacks and wipes the Earth clean of an evil conspiracy so devious that it is unaware of its own existence.

Hey, no one said sacred amusement was easy to come by.

For $30, you, too, can become a member of Bob's inner circle, and an ordained Sub-Genius minister to boot! Nothing like a religion that lays it all out on the table. "This is YOUR chance to get in on the ground floor of a huge, lucrative cult — NOW, while rates are low."

Salvation guaranteed or triple your money back! Are they serious? Or even serious about the joke? Tough to tell. Be entertained, be awestruck, be fundamentally disgusted with the amount of free time some people have — just go, and Bob bless.—Defrocked Diana Peterfreund

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