What is the difference between sales and evangelism? Don't worry! It's a rhetorical question; I'll do the work.
In conventional sales, you end up exchanging money for an particular concrete product. If you feel like it, you can palm it off on some other sucker, and recover at least part of your investment. In any case, you need only buy once, and you get something for it, which the salesman has previously obtained. From the point of view of the salesman, this model is suboptimal.
As Burroughs observed in his discussion of the Algebra of Need, drugs provide a helpful model of sales perfected, by selling themselves, and converting consumers into an extension of the sales force, with virtually no marketing campaign required, and they almost guarantee repeated business that is insensitive to the normal constraints of the household budget, national economy, etc. Addicts will spend what they do not have. From the salesman's point of view, the details (debt, theft, prostitution, etc.) take place in a black box whose output is money, and input is Junk. But Junk is illegal, requires an elaborate production and logistics apparatus to support it, and is sensitive to competition, supply and demand, and other inconvenient truths of economics. So we still do not have a perfect model of sales. We've cut marketing out, but overhead is still high, and fluctuations in sales figures are likely.
In religion, you exchange money for a Notion, and are arguably worse off than you were before you had it. In the process you gain a tendency to continue paying for the same intangible product regularly, and in excess of a sensible budget. You gain also a tendency to recruit others to spend as much as you - with, again, no need to increase inventory, because there isn't any. As with Junk, the customers become the sales force, and the product sells itself. Competing products are actually attacked - and sometimes utterly destroyed - by the existing customer base. Some would say the consumer doesn't have to spend anything for this product, which floats free as a whim from mind to mind. In that case, I wonder precisely how it is that the preacher has food, clothing, and lodging? And let us be candid - the preacher has these of better quality and more reliably than the parishioners. As Nietzsche said, the priest is always a beef-eater. At the very least, the community as a whole is paying out, somehow, and those who get, as it were, free samples are selling like mad to those who will pay.
Religion is simply sales perfected - sales without overhead. Something for nothing, indeed.
January 14, 2011 09:15 PM PST
IB: thanks a lot for the kind comment. I've always felt that prostitution and even slavery are built into considering money the measure of all values....
January 11, 2011 06:23 PM PST
Wow this is amazing. It is almost as if the prostitution and drugs isn't really that much different from religion. Only difference is which is socially accepted.
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