Special to Milky Way Today
by Religion Correspondent, Lloyd Preservus
(Intercepted by Etherwave Surfer David E Romm circa 1994 CE [YML 25], minor emendations by Baron Dave Romm circa 2013 CE [YML 44].)
Everyone has a vegetable, spice and a condiment, which both reflect and rule aspects of your life.
You determine this by taste and experience: eg Eggplant/Ginger/Relish.
BE-fit, The Bowman-Emerson Fannish Inventory of Type:
Everyone's personality revolves around these four axes:
People are designated by their four letter Type: eg, PFZW, and if an axis is smack dab in the middle that designation is an X, eg. XSCJ
Romm's Corollary to Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced philosophy is indistinguishable from religion.
Dateline: Year of Our Moonlanding 5,271,009
The hostilities between by the Curry System and the Fijagh Empire have concluded with the Broccoli/Hyphen Accord. While the big news is the end of the longstanding conflict which has caused the death of several billion people and three indigenous races, it is also signals the end of the religious conflict which has dominated the last two millennia. Much has been written about this conflict, but a brief overview of the root causes is warranted.
On Old Old Earth, two of the biggest phyla of pre-electronic hardcopy were Cook Books and Diet Books. The people were lost in the spiritual garden. Vegetololgy started as a series of Fanzine articles and testifying at Conventions by Founding Farmers Elise ("I Yam what I Yam") Mattheson and Sharon ("If it doesn't have onions in it, it better be dessert") Kahn. That the Root of Vegetology was nourished in the fertile soil of the BE-fit purview was later a cause of both indigestion and common ground. Soon, seedlings of thought had spread to the pulpits and talk shows all over the planet. Disbelievers were weeded out. Secular authorities tried to halt the growth of Vegetology with anit-stalking laws, but the flock kept coming to the Farmer's Market for spiritual nourishment. The religion can be summed up with this major tenet: You are what you eat.
As the religion grew and flavored more and more lives, cults and sects spread. The Fruitarian Heresy, after much strife, was allowed into the Recipe of Life. The Ovo-Lactorians claimed further restrictions on diet, but were constantly at odds with Jews for Cheeses. The Fiber Sects, the Oat Quakers and the Bran Davidians, tried to keep all life regular.
BE-fit derived from the proto-cult of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. The religion's catechism is a series of questions that determine where you are on four major personality axes. It started out as a system for modeling and interpreting behavior, not a religion. But then again, so did Dianetics. The original epiphany was by First Editors Jeanne Bowman and David Emerson, hence the name. They saw the how George HW Bush got burned, and was revealed to them that a test to indicate how you thought about issues relevant to Fandom was good. It's hard to believe now, but at the time of the revelation, Fandom was barely known outside of a small group and Fans had little political power. The original range of questions was developed by Editors of the Flame Steve Glennon and DavE Romm, and honed by Glennon, Romm, Emerson and First Consulting Editor Barb Jensen. Introduced at Reinconation III, in Year of Our Moonlanding 24, it was an immediate sensation. The first True Believers and the necessary balance of the Doubting Unbelievers were revealed there.
Soon, BE-fit had expanded from a way to help Fans communicate with each other to a Way which Believers could establish their Special E-Mail Account with the Creator. They were granted Net Privs with the Sysop of Cyberspace. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time; 'Beefies' and 'Fitters' were on the Fast Lane of the Information Superhighway.
It is difficult to call variants on BE-fit 'heresies' before the Dimensions of Life were established, but some did create false axes. There were attempts to add a Dog/Cat axis, but that can be determined in one question. Those who claimed the axes were too specific to Fandom were thrown into the Myers-Brig. One of the early tries at reconciliation was the genetically altered Vegetable/Spice/Condiment triple axis, but this got poor ratings during Sweeps Week.
After these humble and occasionally violent beginnings, the religions grew, supplanting local worship. Religions based on achieving an afterlife died off when contact with the Flatliner race determined that God did not communicate through one book, but by interactive media. By seeing a virtual afterlife, people could get a good read on how their life was going. After a few millennia, those diehards waiting for the Third Coming just couldn't find dates, so their race died off. Any religion based on ancestor worship found that there were too many people at family gatherings who couldn't get along. Recombinant DNA and nanotechnology made dietary restrictions irrelevant. Religions based on reincarnation couldn't find enough people for caste parties.
By the time of the first Meganium, Vegetology and BE-fit had become the dominant religions throughout Known and Suspected Space. These religions do not, now, seem mutually incompatible. There was no reason that, for example, Fourth Meganium Over-President McMoishe, a Celery/Pepper/Chutney, couldn't get along with Junior Executive Al-Ras O'Tomisha, a MSZW, but you know how it goes. They both kept admonishing the other until hostilities broke out, and the Scold War lasted over 5,000 years.
The Curry System established itself in the last Meganium by distributing favors among the followers of of Vegetology. It dominated the Spice Trade between Andromeda and the Cauliflower Cluster. That brought it into immediate conflict with the growing Fijagh Empire, who wanted to have a mustard-tasting panel at their Conventions. At first they didn't care that much, as Befitting their J axis, but after a few hundred years of store-bought yellow mustard, the leaders began to get testy. The Concom held an Organizational Meeting, and it was decided to go to war. The Curry Chefs responded with a Bamboo Shoot. Slowly, the conflict simmered, coming to a boil and adding other religious disputes as side dishes and apazines. At last, the stalemate in the Twiltone System forced peace talks last year, leading to the Broccoli/Hyphen Accord. The peace talks reached fruition despite initial disagreements about which hotel to use, and what kind of dip will be used at official functions.
Most major rhubarbs are more politically based than religion based, of course, and this one was no exception, being about control of trade and resources. But some of the more radical elements really hate each other on religious grounds. The Spicy Vegetologists and the XXXX Milksops will probably never sit at the same table. Still, many people did expand their philosophies to include both, and there is once again Good Food in Consuites.
So let us rest under the Palm Tree of Peace, as the Opening Ceremonies of a New Convention of harmony begin.
Note: Originally published in Rune 85, March 1995 CE.