Talk:Church of the SubGenius

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Good article Church of the SubGenius has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 31, 2012 Peer review Reviewed
November 9, 2012 Good article nominee Listed
November 18, 2012 Peer review Reviewed
Current status: Good article
WikiProject Comedy (Rated GA-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Comedy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of comedy on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 GA  This article has been rated as GA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Religion (Rated GA-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Religion, a project to improve Wikipedia's articles on Religion-related subjects. Please participate by editing the article, and help us assess and improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the wikiproject page for more details.
 GA  This article has been rated as GA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors
WikiProject icon A version of this article was copy edited by geraldshields11, a member of the Guild of Copy Editors, on 23 March 2014. The Guild welcomes all editors with a good grasp of English and Wikipedia's policies and guidelines to help in the drive to improve articles. Visit our project page if you're interested in joining! If you have questions, please direct them to our talk page.

Praise Slackers[edit]

This is a blessed thing ya'll got going here. May the dobbs head never frown upon your slack.. - Pope Sinphaltimus Exmortus of F.E.D.C.O.M.S.

non GA-review review[edit]

  • Regarding the opening sentence, is it appropriate to call it a "religious organization" if it doesn't get federal tax exemption status? Wouldn't "fake religion" or something be more appropriate?
  • " Its central deity, "Jehovah-1", is accompanied by other gods drawn from ancient mythology and popular fiction and it describes a grand conspiracy that has brainwashed most of the world and seeks to oppress Dobbs' followers. " - a bit long of a sentence. Maybe split into two?
  • Did Ivan Stang legally change his name? That's implied by the , but I wanted to make sure.
  • The "Origins" section would be nice if it was changed to a "history" section. Has anything of note happened since the 1970s?

All in all, a good read. I'd like a few examples of how the "religion" has been used, namely the Peewee Herman one got me interested. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 04:39, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

The opening sentence was much more like you suggest before Mark Arsten did his radical rewrite of the article. As far as your reasoning goes for it, however, I don't agree. Whether or not an organization, church, or other religion or religious institution chooses to take advantage of US Government IRS regulations surrounding the potential charitable status of such an organization is irrelevant to whether or not something can be considered a "religious organization" or not. In this specific case the church has decidedly chosen to NOT take advantage of such a potential for status. Centerone (talk) 05:49, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
For reference, before I started my rewrite, the opening two senteces were: "The Church of the SubGenius is a "parody religion"[citation needed] organization that satirizes religion, conspiracy theories, unidentified flying objects, and popular culture. Originally based in Dallas, Texas, the Church of the SubGenius gained prominence[citation needed] in the 1980s and 1990s and maintains an active presence on the Internet." Mark Arsten (talk) 13:13, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments, I think I've taken care of the first three. There have been some developments over the 80s, 90s, and 00s, but they're scattered throughout the article as it is. I could try to consolidate them into one section though. Your last suggestion is a good idea, it will take a little more looking on my part though. Mark Arsten (talk) 13:13, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Much better first sentence. I don't think a unified section is that needed, after giving the article a second look. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 22:03, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't like the current first sentence at all. First, it IS a religious organization, secondly it does not 'promote ironic beliefs' this is a phrase that makes it sound as if it's own beliefs contradict themselves.. if anything where irony can be used, it can be said to parody other religions by pointing out the irony and the absurdity in their beliefs through satire.Centerone (talk) 03:51, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, what you or I think is totally irrelevant here, all that matters is what reliable sources say. I believe the ironic beliefs part is well grounded in academic sources, for example Kirby p. 43 and Cusack p. 88. For one of many examples of ironic beliefs, see the bit about the second commandment in the "Instructions" section. Mark Arsten (talk) 13:14, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
It's not a matter of what I _think_, it's a matter of what and how "promoting ironic beliefs" comes across, what it means and implies. It's one thing to "have an ironic sense of the world".. or to instill a sense of irony in people, or to point out ironic beliefs and belief systems through parody and satire, or even to act in an ironic way in order to highlight the absurdity around us. The phrase "promoting ironic beliefs" simply does not come across in the right way, and potentially implies the opposite of what is intended. Also, in the case of it being a religious organization it is not what I _think_. Centerone (talk) 19:48, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
I'll respond in two parts: A. I'm not sure I agree with your view, but I'm open to an alternative phrasing. How do you suggest describing the belief system promoted by the group? What do you think of "promoting an ironic world view"? B. I'm concerned by the divergence of terms used to describe the group by academics and journalists. I (and the article) am not saying it isn't a "religious organization", but given the lack of consensus, I think it would be best to chose a term that can't possibly be disputed. The perspective that it is a "religious organization" of course should be given due weight in the body. Mark Arsten (talk) 01:30, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Whether one takes the religion seriously or not, it is a religion and the organization which supports it is a religious organization. If you look at wikipedia's entry for religious organization it is defined this way: "Religious activities generally need some infrastructure to be conducted. For this reason, there generally exist religion-supporting organizations, which are some form of organization that manage: the upkeep of places of worship, e.g. mosques, prayer rooms, other similar edifices or meeting places. the payment of salaries to priests, ministers or religious leaders. In addition, such organizations usually have other responsibilities, such as: the formation, nomination or appointment of religious leaders, the establishment of a corpus of doctrine, the disciplining of priests or other people with respect to religious law, the determination of qualification for membership, etc." It seems to me that the organization accomplishes most if not all of these things. Just like someone stressed about how important it was to have a higher standard of saying who was affiliated with a religion or not, it seems important to not let critics and analysts define how you refer to a religion, when at very least it clearly meets a very basic and straightforward definition for those terms; many people may be critical of many religions, but we don't let those people define how we refer to them. Centerone (talk) 05:39, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
I understand that it seems to you that they are a religious group, but can you offer any sources that say there's a consensus to describe them that way? My reading of the sources is that most academics and journalists are divided as to whether it is a religious organization or an elaborate parody of such. (See Cusack p. 109) Mark Arsten (talk) 14:01, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
First, this is not a debate as to whether they are a religion or not. This is about the term "religious organization" vs. just "American organization". You totally ignored my statement in your response. I ask whether you disagree that they provide some structure for religious activities? Do they not do the following things? 1) they provide for the payment of salaries to religious leaders 2) They provide the for appointment of religious leaders 3) they provide for the establishment of doctrine 4) they provide for the determination of qualification for membership. etc. etc. Centerone (talk) 16:23, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
So, is your argument based on reliable sources? I'm willing to entertain it, but changes to the article really should reflect the sources. Mark Arsten (talk) 16:30, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually, do you want to go to WP:3O with this? It might be a good way to resolve it? Mark Arsten (talk) 16:34, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
You keep talking about "the sources", but in many cases, in regards to a religion, the only reliable source is the religion's own texts and rituals, and public statements from those religions' leaders and the organizations themselves. That being said, I agree that external sources are good for things like coverage of a public event, quotes from someone specific, statements by people, various details, etc. I highly recommend you read: I think it will explain to you why I object to this approach on this specific point, as well as other issues that may exist with your external source approach to your rewrite of much of the article. Centerone (talk) 17:03, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, yes and no. Religious leaders are reliable sources for their own opinions, which should be given due weight in an article. The statements of religious leaders and texts must adhere to the WP:ABOUTSELF guideline for the limitations of self-published sources. Secondary (external) sources (WP:SECONDARY) have to be the foundation for this, or any other, article though. I tweaked the first sentence again to reflect the divergence of views, what do you think? Mark Arsten (talk) 17:21, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Wow. What do I think? Did you even read or spend any time thinking about the Wikipedia page on religion policy that I linked to? WP:RELIGION Your 'compromise' is to include a perjorative term and not to wikify religious organization? I'm flabbergasted. Centerone (talk) 17:28, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
OK, weird.. Wikipedia:Religion and WP:RELIGION redirect to different places obviously I was talking about: Centerone (talk) 17:35, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
My compromise includes the Church's official view and the dissenting views of some commentators. We can go back to "organization" though if you would prefer. I thought representing both major views would be a compromise, yes. Wikipedia:Religion is not a guideline or policy: "The proposal is definitely still in development and under discussion, and has not yet reached the process of gathering consensus for adoption." The links I gave about the relation of primary and secondary sources are firmly established policy. I repeat my offer to go to WP:3O, is that agreeable to you? Mark Arsten (talk) 17:47, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Some minor comments on a read-through, as prompted on my talk page.

  • "and it has been likened to a 1950s era salesman,[1] Ward Cleaver,[4] or Mark Trail." -> you might want to either re-arrange this, or add a few words to explain who Cleaver and Trail are so as not to insinuate they're 50s salesmen. Then again, I'd buy knives from Ward Cleaver.
  • Paul Mavrides? I have the complete run of the Freak Brothers lying around, remind me to double check whether there's any direct mention of the Church in there.
  • "(Unlike most religious groups, the church is for-profit.)" -> I don't know if I like that this is a sentence to itself, rather than an addendum to the previous sentence.
  • "1980s' "greed is good" mentality" -> I previously had an issue with frequent hypercorrection of a similar phrase in another article (Twin Peaks being described as "1990's highest-viewed show" or the like); losing the apostrophe would subtly change the meaning but not much (a mentality of the 1980s rather than belonging to the 1980s) but would avoid it being tweaked here and there over time.
  • There's maybe an instance or two where phrases like "Some SubGenius members" could drop the "some"; it seems needlessly vague or weasel-wordish. The same applies when a figure is mentioned without being named; for example, "One church leader drew a parallel between their group's predictions and aspects of well-established religions" could, if possible, be phrased as "Xty Y, a church leader, drew..."
  • "8661, the reverse of 1998" -> 8661 is 1998 rotated, not reversed (8991 would be the reverse, surely). Perhaps "an inversion of 1998"?
  • "X-day celebrations have been held annually since 1998;[40] at these events, the non-appearance of the promised aliens is celebrated.[18] Cusack casts the productions as carnivalesque[40] or an echo of ancient Greek satyr plays.[20]" -> append this to the previous paragraph.
  • "Although it has gained a significant online presence, it was successful before then." -> although "then" is implied to be "the 1990s" mentioned earlier, perhaps "Although it has gained a significant online presence, it was successful before the advent of internet communities" or the like would work better.
  • I don't really know how serious the field is so I don't know what RS material is out there, but the comparison to DIscordianism makes me wonder if parallels have been drawn between the concept of SubGenius "slack" and Dudeist abiding.
  • Don't know if "Bibliography" really works as a heading as it includes video material too; it also leaves open the possiblity of it being confused for a reference section. Perhaps something more direct like "Publications by the Church of the SubGenius"?
  • Overall interesting read, but I doubt I'll be convinced to convert any time soon. GRAPPLE X 20:38, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
    • Thanks for the review, I'll get on these soon. Sorry to hear you won't be converting though :) Mark Arsten (talk) 01:30, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

'Fictional character'[edit]

While 'believed by some commentators to be a fictional character' is better than "is a fictional character".. I am still disturbed by it. Are religions defined by the commentators, analysists, and critics? Furthermore, what does the actual complete quote and for that matter the greater essay of the reference say? It is not available to everyone, and is not quoted here. The title of the Kinsella reference is "Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong's Hat". Legends and Folklore are _not_ the same as "fiction" in at very least connotation. While Wikipedia:Religion may only be a proposed policy, I believe we should pay attention to it's spirit and intent. Otherwise, if we take this approach with this article, then we should similarly take an equal and similar approach to other articles on religions. After all, couldn't a large percentage of religious stories, characters, and events be considered fictional? Or at least have been "believe by some commentators to be fiction".. Jesus, the burning bush, etc. etc. one could list a huge list of things and call them all fictional, even finding extensive references on such matter. Just look at Christ myth theory.. however, we don't make it a prevalent statement in the articles about Christianity, etc. that what the article refers to is just fiction. The intent of and spirit of Wikipedia:Religion is important. At very least "legendary", "mythological", "apocryphal", etc. are better terms than "fictional". Centerone (talk) 01:12, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

This article never says that Dobbs is fictional, just that he's believed to be fictional by those outside the church. We are not defining a religion based on the views of commentators--we're defining the views of commentators based on what they say. To a certain extent, you're comparing apples to oranges here. The founders of different religions have varying degrees of acceptance as historical figures. For example, everyone agrees that Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard were people who really existed, but the same can not be said of Christian Rosenkreuz or Abdul Alhazred. Descriptions of individuals have to be taken on a case by case basis. In this situation, we'd be failing our readers if we led them to believe that Dobbs is generally accepted to have been a real person, or that Ivan Stang is open about making the whole thing up. P.S. You can find all the book sources on Google Books, the quote you asked for is "those familiar with the Church of the Sub-Genius (sic), what some would call a postmodern parody religion, know that its purported founder is J. R. "Bob" Dobbs, whose fictional biography describes how he founded a UFO cult in Texas." Mark Arsten (talk) 23:14, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
The article DID say that Dobbs was fictional. It was your prose, and it stood for a while until it was changed a couple of times to arrive at it's current version, which was my point. It is now better than it was, but I still had/have some issues with it. Your edit did infact say: "It teaches a complex belief system that focuses on J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, a fictional character whom the group reveres as a prophet. " That quite clearly declares that Dobbs is a fictional character in a prominent way in the lead. On the 26th of october someone edited it to replace the "a fictional character with "a figurehead". You then removed that edit, but then about two edits later replaced that phrase again, I believe by someone's bot. I reverted that robotic edit, as the statement worked without the phrase, and then you edited it again to the better, but still partially objectionable phrase. I'm not saying that we _shouldn't_ tackle the topic. I'm just saying that we should give this religion the same respect we give other religions and deal with their public statements, pronouncements, and philosophies in a manner consistent with the way others are handled on wikipedia. Looking at the quote that you offer I would say that it doesn't say that the author or others believe that Dobbs is fictional, it says that Dobbs' _biography_ is fictional, and that he is 'purported' to be the founder.Centerone (talk) 09:46, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
In regards to the book sources being on Google... I know that the books are generally on google books.. but not everybody can see them, I know that I haven't been able to. I don't know if you're accessing it from a setting, account or location that has a subscription or something (perhaps a business, library, university, or other type of account or access?) but when I try to access the references on MOST of the pages I get something to the effect of "this page is not in the free preview". If you can suggest some way to access Google Books in a free and easy manner that would resolve this problem, I would appreciate it.Centerone (talk) 09:46, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
You're confusing the issue here--we need to accurately represent the views that commentators have voiced about this group, just as we should accurately represent the views of the church's own leaders. We shouldn't censor our presentation of either. I'll tweak the fictional comment slightly, to reflect that it's the church's statements about Dobbs that are fictional, although I think your objection is frivolous. Mark Arsten (talk) 11:47, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Church of the SubGenius/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Hahc21 (talk · contribs) 01:13, 29 October 2012 (UTC)


Prose comments

  • On X-Day
  • "Steve Bevilacqua, the Church's business manager, drew a parallel between their group's predictions and aspects of well-established religions."
    I feel that it is a bit incomplete. Would you expand a bit on which that parallel was?
Checked the source again and rephrased a bit. Mark Arsten (talk) 23:56, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
  • On Publishing
  • "The Church of the SubGenius emerged on the Internet in May 1993,"
    It would be good if you explain a bit how they emerged. What they did that promted this exposure on internet? [as an example]
I took another look at the source, and I think it's saying that their website first came online in May '93. Mark Arsten (talk) 23:56, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
  • "Their holy books are disordered"
    Do you really mean "holy"? :O [optional]
Hmm... that's a good point. Changed "holy books" to "core texts". Mark Arsten (talk) 23:56, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
  • On Comparative religion
  • "The American journalist Michael Muhammad Knight likens the Church to the Moorish Orthodox Church of America, a 20th-century American syncretic religious movement."
    It'll be good if you expand a bit onto how he likened both (how he made the comparison). [optional]
It's a little tricky, since he describes them each separately, but I've added a brief (and somewhat vague) note about how he summarizes them. Mark Arsten (talk) 23:56, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the comments, I've taken a shot at handling them. Mark Arsten (talk) 23:56, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
    Great. I am done with the article. passed.
GA review
(see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose):
    b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references):
    b (citations to reliable sources):
    c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects):
    b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales):
    b (appropriate use with suitable captions):


Symbol support vote.svg · Symbol oppose vote.svg · Symbol wait.svg · Symbol neutral vote.svg

ΛΧΣ21 01:21, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Great article[edit]

Wow! I never thought I'd see the day when the subgenius article would be factual. Kudos to Mark Arsten (talk · contribs) for all his great work. Having a real article on the church is obviously difficult as the people that know the truth (i.e. church members) will stay in character to the nth degree—believing anybody that is not a pink will automatically know the truth, which is obviously false. This makes it difficult for reporters, researchers, etc. to get factual information.

My knowledge of the church is 30 years out of date, so maybe it's not relevant any more, but... I think something should be mentioned about Pinks. They are non-church members (i.e. the rest of the world that the church mocks). Also, I think it would be good to mention the people's real names. Rev. Ivan Stang is really Douglass St. Clair Smith and Philo Drummond is Steve Wilcox. Here's an RS for Wilcox.

Besides Smith and Wilcox, there was a third person who helped found the church, but for the life of me I can't remember their name or pseudonym. They were only part of the church for the first few weeks/months if I remember correctly. If anybody remebers it would be helpful in finding a reliable source for that info. Thanks. (talk) 00:45, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks a lot for the compliments and the source. I'll look into adding information about the pinks and the names. Mark Arsten (talk) 00:53, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Face-smile.svg Thank you (talk) 01:23, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Found it I found the third person. It was Monte Dhooge (a.k.a. Deacon Lamont Duvoe a.k.a. Dr. X). Now I don't know if this is factual or not you can never tell when the subgeniuses are "in character" but the supposed "truth" was that Smith and Wilcox, and Dhooge created the whole subgenius thing in 1978. There's a document with a very small fraction describing the real story. You can find it using "news" link in the search below.
There are a few short paragraphs in the middle of this document that tell the history of how the church came about and the various early ideas. I was unable to find an RS source for this info, but I wanted to include it here for future reference in case Stang or Drummond decide to 'fess up to a reporter that is able to confirm it. I used Google's cached version and searched the document for "Dhooge" and it was about in the middle. It's short, but interesting reading. Regards. (talk) 02:06, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
It looks like Dhooge was involved for longer than a few weeks/months as I originally thought. But he did drop out early from the subgenius scene. This might help with some of the history. (talk) 03:15, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks again, I'll take a look at it. Mark Arsten (talk) 02:52, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Perfect image[edit]

I know its an interpretation, but i think we can get away with using the image i placed here


to illustrate this article. its just like bob, and since we cant use HIM, this would do.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 05:57, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

What are you talking about? Centerone (talk) 09:36, 22 September 2013 (UTC)
I think what Mercurywoodrose wants is to use the image as an example of Dobbs imagery but I am only a pink. Geraldshields11 (talk) 22:36, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
exactly. even a pink is right twice a day:)Mercurywoodrose (talk) 00:09, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Issues as of Dec 2014[edit]

I'll be tackling these over the course of the next days/weeks, but wanted to throw on the talk page in case anyone who was active in 2012 or 2013 cared to comment before corrections started to appear.

  • "SubGenius literature describes a grand conspiracy that seeks to brainwash the world and oppress Dobbs' followers." The Conspiracy is specifically outlined as oppressing SubGenii, not "Dobbs' followers" (
  • "The group holds that the quality of "Slack" is of utmost importance—it is never clearly defined, but attaining it involves the avoidance of hard work and the embrace of leisure." This is a false assertion on two levels: firstly the clear definitions presented of "rewardian" vs "emergentile" (see as primary reference, take and as user-genreated reference) put a lie to the "attaining it involves the avoidance of hard work [..]" clause. Secondly, while Slack is difficult to define because it is different for every SubGenius, it is not ineffable. See and definitions of contrast such as
  • "[...]was the publication of a photocopied document, known as the Sub Genius Pamphlet #1[...]" Pamphlet #1 was printed, not photocopied. There was no space between "Sub" and "Genius" in the original (or any subsequent) printings. It is referred to as Pamphlet #1, but also known as "The World Ends Tomorrow And You May Die!"
  • "[...]as an extraterrestrial, who contacted[...]" extraneous comma.
  • "References to the Church are present in several works of art[..]" The list missed DEVO's video for the song "Love without anger" ( )
  • The whole "Instructions" section has problems I'll have to articulate later, but not the least of which is painting all SubGenii as Holocaustals, ignoring the Ivangelical schism.
  • "Steve Bevilacqua, the Church's business manager[..]" missing "at the time", as he is no longer.
  • There more lacking, such as no mention of schiziming , and while the Doctrine of Erasability is mentioned, there's no reference to every utterance of an ordained SubGenius minister becoming canon.

jzp (talk) 02:01, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Hi Jzp, thanks for taking a look at the article. I have a few suggestions to keep in mind when editing. Before you begin adding material to the page, make sure you familiarize yourself with our policy on sourcing and original research. Wikipedia articles should be based on independent 3rd party sources whenever possible, rather than the personal knowledge of Wikipedia editors or primary sources. Essentially, this means that even if you know a fact is true, you need to cite it to a reliable source. While primary sources, such as church literature, can be cited as the source of straightforward facts, we're not allowed to add our interpretation or analysis of them to the article. Let me know if you have any questions. The Call of Cthulhu (talk) 07:45, 17 December 2014 (UTC)