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Foundationism as presented in the science fiction television series Babylon 5 is an Earth religion, one of several that appeared around the time the Centauri made first contact with the Earth Alliance in 2156.
Beliefs and practices
The intent behind the new religion was to get back at the roots of all the Earth religions, past the doctrines to the core of each belief system to find out what they have in common, and proposes that they are more similar than most would have thought. It further asserts that the core message of existing religions often get lost when politics and money and nationalism get in the way of things.
One of the core tenets of Foundationism is that God is too big to be defined by words and that the closer one gets to defining God, the further away it gets. A principle Foundationists have been known to compare with Zeno's paradox.
Foundationism also teaches its followers that if they are not careful, a person can (metaphorically) lose themselves in the world; by becoming more busy with things than with themselves, spending their days and nights living someone else's agendas fighting someone else's battles and doing the work they are supposed to be doing, but every day there is less and less of that person in it all. Until one day the person comes to a fork in the road and because they are distracted and not thinking, they lose themselves. They go right, and the rest of them, the really important part of you, goes left. The person will not even know they have done it until they finally realize that they do not have any idea who they are when they are not doing all those things. To deal with this crisis of self, Foundationism adopted the Australian Aborigines rite of passage known as "Walkabout". The person having discovered they have lost themselves would leave everything and start walking and keep on walking until they (metaphorically) meet themselves. The person would then sit down and have a long talk with their "self", about everything they have learned and felt until they run out of words. The last part being vital, on the principle that the truly important things can not be said. If the person is lucky, they will look up and there is just them. Then they can go home.
- Stephen Franklin: In 2260, following an addiction to stims and the realisation that he did not know who he was when he was not being a doctor and decided to go walkabout. The experience did not go as he expected, though he did come to the realisation that the core of his problems was his tendency to define himself based on what he was not, rather than what he was. When asked what he was he said: "Alive. everything else is negotiable."
- Andre Sabot: A former priest in the foundationist church, who went on to join the doomsday cult Sacred Omega.
- Leon Henderson: A doctor and a foundationist priest who inspired Trace Miller to study for the priesthood.
- Trace Miller: Began his association with the foundationist church by doing scutwork as a way to make ends meet, though over time, Leon Henderson made him think a lot about doing God's work and inspired him to begin studying to be a foundationist priest. That was until he and God had, in his words, a "falling out."
- Whenever Franklin would talk about his Foundationist belief, he would often preface it with "I was always taught...". This may indicate that he was raised as a Foundationist by his parents, rather that adopting it on his own. To date though, neither scenario has been firmly established as canon.
- By the 2250s/'60s Foundationism was still a relatively obscure religion as Ivanova, a reasonably well educated, well read, well travelled and open minded person hadn't heard of it until Franklin mentioned it to her in ("In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum").
Behind the scenes
- J. Michael Straczynski has stated that he has written a document that covers the history and principles of Foundationism, but has to date been debating whether to release it or not, partly for fear of being "elroned". Either way, he has said that if it were to be released, it'd be done as a separate thing and kept apart from the show.
- JMS had originally stated that Foundationism was formed around the turn of the 21st Century, though its later mention on the show modified that to roughly coincide with Earth's first contact with alien races.
- To celebrate the halfway mark in limited edition run of Babylon 5 Scripts, Volume 7 contained a postcard on which was printed a passage of text from "The Foundation", signed "Never Surrender Dreams".