Foundationism is a fictional religion in depicted in the 1993 – 1998 American science fiction television series Babylon 5. It is presented as an Earth religion, one of several that appeared around the time the Centauri aliens made first contact with the humans of the Earth Alliance in 2156.
Beliefs and practices
The intent behind the new religion was to get back to the roots of all Earth religions, past disparate doctrines to the core foundations of each belief system to find out what they have in common, proposing that they are more similar than might be expected. It further asserted that the core foundations of these religions often get obscured by politics, money, nationalism.
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 one gets: a principle Foundationists compare with Zeno's paradox.
Foundationism also teaches that, if careless, one can (metaphorically) lose oneself in the world. A person can become too busy living someone else's agendas, fighting someone else's battles, and doing work others expect them to be doing. Eventually the person will come to a fork in the road and, because they are distracted, will lose themselves. Part of the person goes right, and the rest, the really important part, goes left. The person will not realize they have done this until they finally discover that they do not have any idea who they are when they are not doing all those things. To deal with this crisis, Foundationism adopted the Aboriginal Australian rite of passage known as "Walkabout". The person having lost oneself 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 latter is vital on the principle that truly important things cannot be said. If the person is lucky, they will look up and just be themselves. 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."
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 the text were to be released, it would 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".