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Learning To Love The Pitch.


As a young teen, I invited missionaries from several major and minor religions to present their pitches to me in our family living room. I loved to see how they sold their beliefs, through brochures, and slide shows, and question and answer sessions. I loved to think about how their differing answers led to different values. Clearly, these missionaries had found games worth playing. To be frank, some seemed happier than others. Those who were preaching the imminent end of the world seemed to operate out of grim duty. Those who were selling eternal life with one’s perfected family seemed to feel they had a jewel to share, and beamed with enthusiasm

I compared and contrasted the pitches. I thought about their advantages and disadvantages. I thought about the way the religions had sprung up with answers to the questions left open by older religions, or with other competitive advantages. I began to see the process of historical development of religions as an evolutionary one, based on a competition of benefits. To me, religions were brands!

In college, I extended my exploration of competing belief systems to include philosophical, psychological and political systems.

At the heart of all of this turbulence was a relatively unchanging human being, but all the attempts to capture and codify all human aspirations and values seemed ultimately to fail, at least in the sense that they left open significant whitespace for competition to emerge.