Interview With FCoC Founder
This two-part interview was originally printed in two different issues of
a locally produced 'zine called "Cigarette Butts & Coffee Cups" and is
reproduced electronically for further enlightenment on the origin, purpose,
and intent of the First Church Of Cyberspace.
The original interview took place sometime approximately around September
of 1993. Since then, Reverand David Burdette has switched jobs but still
works on campus, and Reverand Ben Pollack has performed several virtual
marriages and one more non-virtual marriage (the Reverand Jeff Mercer and
his wife Jennifer Mercer). The Happy Pattersons are still happy and still
married, and Leonardo's is still a pretty cool place to hang out (usually).
Further questions in regards to the First Church Of Cyberspace can be
directed to email@example.com as well as firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Do Klingon's Eat Yogurt? **
An Interview With The Founder/
Leader Of The First Church of
by W.S. Murdock
Originally published in issue #1 of
Cigarette Butts & Coffee Cups
P.O. Box 90204
Gainesville, FL 32607
First Church of Cyberspace - (904) 335-6657
-Free for reprint, as long as the above is unchanged-
This interview was conducted in Gainesville, Florida on the patio of
Leonardo's, a good pizza place and just general hangout if you ever get to
Gainesville. The congregation referred to here is not the entire congregation
of the FCoC, just a sampling of the motley band that just happened to show
up. Present, but not necessarily included in the interview were myself,
W.S. Murdock, the Reverend Bang! the Clueless, Morris and Joe (better known
as the Happy Pattersons), Selena, Milo, Brian, the Reverend Glass Goblin,
India, and of course the ever so charismatic Reverend Sage.
By the way, while doing this interview, we did, indeed, succeed in scaring
all the other patrons off of the outside patio area.
As the tape got rolling, I asked the only question necessary, Sage being
the charismatic one he is, and that question, of course was "Why?"
Sage: Well, that's kind of an interesting story...
Bang!: Sage's always been shy, and never been able to get the girls, until
he came up with "the plan".
Glass Goblin: you see, this religion thing, there's chicks in it.
Sage: Yes! It was to help me meet women! But seriously, a friend of mine,
last year, on a spur of the moment whim, Brian can attest to this, he was
there... We were walking down the street in Ft. Lauderdale, there's only one
street there, so you know which one I mean, and all of a sudden my friend,
Mitch, who was in a very good mood, he was a minister of the Church of the
Subgenius, and the founder of his own schism there of, turned around and
slapped me on the forehead as we were standing in the median and says "You're
ordained." So we went back to my house, and watched some movies, and as I went
to bed at about 3 in the morning, it occurred to me, the first amendment being
what it is, I was a legally ordained minister. So I thought to myself "hmm". A
few months passed, and he finally sent me my ordination certificate, I kept it
in my drawer; and one day, my girlfriend at the time was going through my
stuff and saw this ordination certificate and had two friends who were thinking
about getting married, say hi Joe, oh and Lee! Good you're here now, anyways...
she asked me if I would consent to marry Joe and Lee so I figured why not?
Murdock:So you're married to them?
Sage: No, although Joe is awful cute, and he cooks very well too.
Bang!: Boy, can he cook.
Sage: yeah, anyways, so what happened was, I got together with them, and I
said well, and we talked a little while, and it was agreed. But it got me
thinking, I felt really strange now that I think about it, I called Mitch, and
I said "Mitch, just so I can be sure here, you know, give me your background on
the church thing, and the first amendment bit, can I marry them? What's the
deal? have you ever married somebody? Has it ever been challenged?" I didn't
want some judge, five years from now, to look at this marriage certificate and
say that Joe and Lee aren't legally wed. So I was very concerned and we talked
about it for a while, and I called the clerk of the county court, and believe
it or not, the clerk of the county court actually said to me...
Bang!: Praise Bob...
Sage: The way the laws of the
state of Florida are worded, if any two people walk up to a third person and
say, "We think you're a very spiritual person, will you marry us?" Under law,
what they have just done is create their own church of three people, with that
third person as the priest and head thereof, and he can marry them. Assuming
of course, all other factors of the law are met, you know, marriage licence,
blood tests, if required, etc. But that's the way the first amendment works in
this country, so this made it a lot easier, and I sat down with Mitch, and
with three other friends, Mister David Burdette, an assistant registrar at the
University of Florida, Mister Sean Puckett of Hollywood, Florida, and Mister
Jeff Mercer here in this very town, who is infamous in the local computer
community as Jeff the Riffer, who, by the way, is one of the oldest active
BBSers [BBS: Computerized Bulletin Board System] in Gainesville and a bit of
an odd duck...
Sage: Anyways, what happened, was we all got together, and we decided we
had the makings of a pretty good theology in our common beliefs. None of us
were really very religious in our birth religions. Both David and Jeff were
raised Episcopalian, Jeff's father is actually an Episcopalian Minister, which
is kind of funny, because, being a bishop, Jeff now outranks his father. Mitch
and I are both Jewish by birth. The bulk of my own philosophical training is
rather esoteric, I studied a little bit of HIGHLY esoteric Judaism up in New
York, the Kabbalah, you know, the Golden Dawn type stuff, but eventually gave
it up. Anyways, so we got together and we were like, wait a minute, organized
religions aren't working for us, why don't we form our own rather disorganized
one, and so, I decided that I would... After the church was quote, unquote,
formed, the next day on the steps of the Hippodrome theatre, in Gainesville,
Florida, I performed my first marriage ceremony. At dawn the next morning, as
I woke, I wrote up a proclamation proclaiming the First Church of Cyberspace
in existence. Which brings to mind the interesting philosophical question:
"Do Klingons, in fact, eat yogurt?"
Joe: No, They're not that cultured.
Sage: Oh lord, for this punchline we are about to receive, may we be truly
grateful... Ummm.. the whole point though, well, you get flack, which is the
opposite of slack, in fact. Most of the flack I got, actually, was from my own
family, in fact my mother outright asked me "What? being Jewish isn't good
enough for you anymore?" I swear she did. And I looked at her, and I said
"Well, actually mother, mmmm... No." The whole point of any religion, organized
or not, is to bring comfort, it is to give you the comfort that, even if you
don't have the answers, there are some out there. Judaism wasn't cutting it for
me. So I had to give it up, don't get me wrong, I'm still proud of my heritage
and my culture. But I must make it very clear that it is not just the religion
of my birth of which I'm rebelling, it is all forms of organized religion that
has claimed to have answers that they will not reveal to the masses. That
bothers me. I thought the whole point of religion was to bring comfort, but
ok, maybe there aren't answers, maybe you'll never know them, but could you be
up front with us about that please. I respect anyone who is a sincere believer
in their own religion. One of the few doctrines that our church believes in
is that "The Path to Enlightenment is a personal one". There is, however, one
sin, "Thou shalt not, without cause, harm another." One, count em, one, that's
it, but there are corollaries, the corollaries are liberally borrowed from
Robert Heinlein, the one big one is "Harming yourself isn't a sin, it's just
stupid." Now there is a sub-corollary to that, that says "Harming yourself in
a deliberate attempt to harm others is the worst kind of sin, because it's
also hypocritical." Beyond that, we're pretty flexible. Celibacy is not
required. Celibacy is, in fact, frowned upon.
Glass Goblin: As you will see, the structure of this interview, will
reflect the structure of the church itself.
Sage: yes, which is none, if any. The other two commandments we follow is
that of Dr. Timothy Leary's neurological age, and those are "Thou shalt not
interfere with thine neighbors right to alter his consciousness at will." and
"Thou shalt not be barred the right to alter your own consciousness."
Bang!: I think that can be shortened to eat drink and be merry.
Sage: Which is precisely why we're here.
Bang!: But wheres Mary?
Sage: Eat drink and beat Mary?, yes, thank you Bang!. As the name of the
Church implies, it is, in addition to being a physical one, a virtual one. My
immediate ministry, as it was, my circle of friends, the ones who come to my
house at all ours, eat of my food, drink of my beer, sleep of my couch. Beyond
that, my ministry is my [Computerized] Bulletin Board, I think, in fact, that
the computer age is the past, present, and future. One of the main goals of
the church, so to speak, is to increase the quality of computer education out
there. The whole point of increasing the quality of education is that
information must flow. There are people out there who should know better, and
are just messing with the whole idea of the virtual community. There are God
knows how many computers out there, and all of them have the capacity to
become little altars, if you will, and there are people who would stand in the
way of that, and that puzzles me to no end. There are people out there who
believe that information is not a good thing to be passed on. It is a matter
of people just being intelligent and responsible, and I know those are catch
words in today's society for morality, it's the whole Christian pray-work-
study ethic, and that's wrong, we are at a juncture in human society, we have
the will to make ourselves as unto the very gods we worshipped for years in
mythology. And to say that that is wrong, scares the hell out of me.
Young minds exposed to neurological
freedom and the free spray of elec-
tronic information suddenly blossom
like flowers in the spring.
-Dr. Timothy Leary
** Do Klingons Eat Yogurt? Part 2 **
An Interview With The Leader And
Congregation Of The First Church Of
by WS Murdock
Originally printed in issue #1 of
Cigarette Butts & Coffee Cups
PO Box 90204
Gainesville, FL 32607
First Church Of Cyberspace - (904) 335-6657
-Free to reprint as long as the above is unchanged-
This is the second of a two part interview with the leader and members
of the First Church of Cyberspace. Once again, present, but not necessarily
included in the interview were myself, the Reverand Bang! the Clueless, Joe
and Lee (the Happy Pattersons), Selena, Milo, Brian, the Reverend Glass Goblin,
India, Cherokee Morgan (who was left out of the last intro, and this, being,
my sincerest apologies, which she adamantly expressed were not nessecary, but
she's getting them anyways in an attempt to embarass her, go out to her), and
the Reverend Sage. If you are perplexed by the title of this interview, and
would like to have a copy of the first part for your very own (yes, for your
very OWN!), you can send me a regular sized SASE, and i'll gladly send you a
Sage: For those of you just joining in, I took a break, I stepped
around the corner for a soda, I'm back now... and I am gradually becoming more
and more convinced that an interview with my entire congregation present was
not an entirely good idea, so let me add a few things in, that because of the
general kibitzing I haven't had the time or the inclination to say. So far
I've pointed out that we have a rudimentary moral code, we have an admin-
istration, we are legally incorporated within the state of Florida, we have
one commandment, and we have a pretty basic administartive structure. There is
more to a religion than that. We have a basic cosmology and it goes something
like this: There are two basic paradoxes which one could subscribe regarding
the relationship between God and man. The first is that the Creator created
us, you know, the whole Genesis thing, the second is that we created the
Creator, and he is a figment of our imagination. It doesn't matter to us
either way, which ever one you want to believe, and I'll tell you why. If the
Creator created us, then obviously he/she/it, whatever, is responsible for the
fact that we have a three pound universe trapped in our skulls. That lump of
grey matter that is enabling me to speak to you and enabling you to listen to
or read these words... If we created God, then we did so for a focus of our
hopes, our fears, our dreams, our awe of the universe, all that stuff that
made primitive man look up at night, and say "Whoa, why are there stars?" One
way or the other, God and our intelligence are inexplicably linked, and it's
amazing to me that there are so many churches that teach you to worship with
out that three pound grey matter, without using your head. Obviously, if the
one thing that seperates us from other animals is our intelligence, then we
are intended to use it, the New Testament has an instruction that we should
not pray to the heathens using vain repetitions, and you can go to any, ANY
Baptist church in America and hear the Amens ringing out for NO reason, just
because someone said something that strikes a chord. Ministers today say Amen,
and even I've been guilty every once in a while of tossing out "bless you"'s
like a "have a nice day" in California. There should be more to that, and its
sad that there's not. We are intended to be intelligent, and the whole point,
I feel, of this growing drive for purization, high-tech medicine, smart drugs,
is that we are gradually expanding the space between our ears to where it IS
the universe, it encompasses it all.
Joe: Isn't "space" a bad choice of terms.
Sage: Well, the FILLED space between our ears, I didn't say empty
space, although there are some people who do meet that definition.
Sage: I wasn't talking about you. You have deliberately emptied your
mind to taste of my cup of tea.
Glass Goblin: Hence the name Bang! the Clueless...
Bang!: I want you to know the lengths I have gone to to AVOID
theological learning, just because I AM Bang! the Clueless...
Sage: Well, hey, it works for you, thats the whole point. Bang!,
you're just as enlightened as you're likely ever to get...
Sage: Hey, you're pretty enlightened.
Bang!: And I'm getting more so every day...
Sage: You've accepted the fact that shit happens...
Bang!: It does?
Sage: Yes, it does in fact happen, but anyway, backing up a tangent,
that's the basic cosmology. That's one of the key elements, I guess to any
religion, the fact that we do indeed have one. Now, I know I have stolen some
terminology, because it's what people use in the Christian faiths, we are
ministers, we are reverends, I am the Archbishop of Gainesville, you know,
poeple laugh at that. But thats the whole point, one of the things I've
stolen from the Sub-Genius is that you take the religion seriously, but you
don't take the seriousness seriously. In other words, be as serious as you
need to be, but no more, because when you get too serious and too stuffy,
thats when you have crusades, thats when you have Jihad, thats when you have
Spanish Inquisitions, and nobody wants that.
Milo: or expects it...
Sage: or expects it either..
Various members of congregation: nobody expects the Spanish
Sage: but anyways, you very quickly reach a point, once you become
serious, that anyonw who is not as serious as you is obviously the enemy.
Glass Goblin: In which case your seriousness has become ridiculous.
Sage: Yes, exactly, and so, the easiest way to defeat that is to be a
little ridiculous from the very beginning so you don't fall prey to the "die
heretic" syndrome. Now, you may have noticed that we're not a very serious
bunch, we clown around alot, I seem to be the butt of at least half od the
jokes, but I make the other half, so its okay. I have yet to excommunicate
anyone, though I have been really tempted once or twice. There are some people
who look at our behavior and say "these are a bunch of lunatics and why should
we want to be associated with them?" And the bottom line is, you should want
to be associated with us because we ARE a bunch of lunatics, we are NOT
apologetic about it, granted, ocassionally we step out of line and outright
offend people. I hang out on several computer networks, the deabtes fly fast
and furiously, I HAVE recieved threats of physical violence from born-again
Christians who have nothing better to do than threaten me because I don't
meet up with their definition of a minister. Its as if somewhere along the
line, some of the basic faiths in this country think that they put a
trademark on certain forms of expression. Like, I can't call myself a minister
because I'm not a Christian. I was born Jewish, therefore I can't possibly BE
a minister. Hey, it didn't stop Tony Alamo from bilking lots of people out in
Texas and California. I know I've gone to great lengths to denounce the Judeo-
Christian thing here, and I want to make it clear, hey, whatever floats your
boat. I mean, I know a lot of happy Christians, and I know that sounds like
an old Dennis Miller routine about the thousands of happy young Christians,
but its not. It's a matter of, look, if you're happy, and you do the social
grace of not interfering with my own quest for happiness, well, we can get
along fine. Now, I know that alot of people look at that and go "oh, so I
shouldn't interfere if you decide to slice up a kitten on my lawn." No,
that's not what its all about...
Bang!: Yeah, you dice kittens, not slice..
Sage: Uh, yeah, anyways, It's like, I don't want to cause you and
significant amounts of stress, I don't want to slice and dice small furry
animals on your lawn, or even strangle them for that matter. People get
uncomfortable with displays of any religion that is not rooted in the whole
Judeo-Christian mainstream, how many of those here tonight consider themselves
Pagans; let the record show that there are 5 1/2 hands raised, and yet these
are all people that are here tonight, these are people who are congregates,
they may not be believers, but they are at least here to share our warmth, our
comfort, and maybe walk away having learned something. Ok, how many people
here tonight consider themselves Christian; let the record also show 2 hands
raised, 2 of the same hands raised when I asked who here considered themselves
Pagan,and that's fine. To me, thats fine and thats the whole point. There are
people that shall remain nameless, on certain computer networks I frequent,
BUD, that happen to believe that you cannot be both Christian and Pagan,
despite the evidence that there are people out there who actually are, this
astounds me! Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it best through the mouth of Sherlock
Holmes, when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how
improbable, must be true. There are people out there who are going to defy
your catagorizations, there are people out there who are going to defy your
mainstream social consciousness, and these are the poeple that disenfranchise
the "we're", but I try to say, hey look, you are not alone, and it's not a
matter of me congregating these people into an Army, it's a matter of me
telling these people quietly allow me to go on as I see fit, because look, if
you need someone every once in a while that will provide a shoulder for you to
lean on, somewhere you can scream or cry or do whatever, or just hang out and
not feel like you're a complete and total lunatic compared to everyone else
around you, thats fine! I'm here. And compared to most of my friends, I'm the
complete and total lunatic. Well, present company somewhat excluded.
email@example.com / March 18th, 1996