my responses follow # (I keep getting logged out when I try to do a quote response)
Well, OK, setting aside, for the moment, the philosophical, moral, logical and aesthetic objections already raised....
There is also the practical aspect: The sector is mature,
#I can see where you are coming from if you look at this from the perspective of the small town fire and brimstone bible thumpers that many are familiar with through their own families or popular culture. With my paternal grandparents being Bretheren, I know how creepy that whole thing feels.
The whole thing looks different if you broaden the perspective and consider it rather as this generic gathering thing humans do around a meme, ruleset, philosophy, with the added ingredient of an NPMR element, which is already taking place under TOEism.
Rather than mature, I see the legacy systems collapsing under accumulated unprofitable belief and new systems fractally emerging in the West in a Darwinian survival of the fittest way, which has been the process all along i.e. Scientology, the more religious yoga clubs, Opus Dei, Christian Evangelical Charismatic Fundamentalism is still going strong, and now we have this Atlanta North thing which is New Age organizing itself into a "spiritual Church apparent non-religion", something new to me.
#so the barrier to entry is high.
all of these legacy systems you are observing started with a guy/gal, then two, then a group and so on. Everything starts small and grows if it is profitable, if there is a void to be filled. The barrier, which is high, has already been breached by Tom forming the intent to do this and doing it. This is a very rare thing, and especially rare when a person of competence tries to do it rather than a sociopathic moron. Many religions begin with the rantings of a sociopathic moron, and then evolve in a profitable direction...so profound is the hunger for such things. Look around you and observe the absurdities that people will tolerate in order to fill their minds with answers. Ask yourself, is there a void that needs filling?
#Too, people tend to be more cynical about new religions than they used to.
Agreed. We should not call it a religion...lets call it "we have the Scientific truth and no-one else does". That's what seems to work. ; - )
The goal here is to construct a non-religion or a para-religion that unifies the mind, the left hemisphere, the frontal cortex, as well as the primal religious juices of the R-complex and the mysticism of the right hemisphere. In this way, it would address the objective of religion but be something fundamentally different or beyond.
For this I guess, we are looking for the low hanging fruit of open sceptics rather than trying to convert committed cynics - feedback will take care of them.
#Start-up costs can be enormous, in time, money and resources.
You already have four active nodes
1) Tom and Pamela's direct efforts
3) Ted's Forum
4) Lisa's regional group
5) other efforts I am not aware of
All of these self sustaining not-for-profit things are already taking place. This discussion pertains to Lisa's regional group model, and if it would be profitable to expand it to other cities, and what form and activities are appropriate for such gatherings. These people are doers...so far I and you are just talkers.
#It would take a marketing genius, everything else going, to pull it off.
The process is already unfolding. The question is how or if each one of us will take a seat and start rowing in some way appropriate to our circumstances. I suspect forming and supporting regional groups would be an obvious way individuals could step up and support the meme. Whether or not this is called a religion (which I think it is, but so what) or a cult (which it is not due to its universal message) is a red herring. If there is a void to be filled, small efforts will have large paybacks in terms of propagation of the model.
#But heck, you are familiar with religion, Randy, and being an economist, presumably familiar with the ins and outs of business....
By my observation I think the key is to ensure that no-one be permitted to use the institution as a "profit-centre", in keeping with the example that is already provided by the current team. Take for example the look and feel of TMI, which has the for-profit element of Hemisync (owned by Monroe's heirs), and the cooperative not-for-profit TMI institute, which has paid staff. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, far from it, but I think with TOEism we are reaching for something different.
I think as soon as you start collecting dues and having paid staff or some form of "priesthood", that is where most of the trouble begins. I would approach this sort of like TOE-Kosher, and look at institutionalizing this not-for-profit aspect that is already there.
Its like when MBTOE events accidentally generated a profit from the NC event - they volunteered to distribute DVDs for free in order to maintain the non-profit element. This principle should be baked in to the cake.
At the moment one permits the creation of an opportunity for someone to pay their rent from TOEism, the trouble begins, and this creates fertile soil and motivation for pushy egos to seek control. There is relentless pressure on institutions to serve themselves, rather than their members or clients.
#so: Why don't you put together a business proposal and see where it goes?
well, this is the core concept - continuing as we have begun, strictly as a non-business, and not giving in, even if it becomes very inconvenient and even if some aspects cannot be pulled together. Again, it is already happening, and the question is if anyone else is ready to get on the train.
The particular aspect I am interested in is this phenomena of regional groups, are they a good thing, what would they do, should energy be invested in them. I do need to walk the talk and try to start one in my area.
whether there is a profitable void here to be filled or not is up to the system, not you or I or even Tom. If there is not a profitable void, no amount of string pushing will accomplish it. If there is a profitable void, no amount of resistance will stop it.
Part of me thinks the era of physically gathering around a teaching is over and it is enough to interact in hyperspace, but it appears that people still have this impulse...maybe it is a generational hangover and will die out.
Speaking of practical aspects, one member here told me she would likely only remarry if it were to another TOE-head...well...how is that going to happen through cyberspace?
For myself, the para-religion big-bang of MBTOE began at that moment in NC when we went into group meditation and then as a group did a healing on someone in the room with a serious illness. Its not really possible to put into words...one of those you had to be there moments. Tom pacing at the back like a Zen master.
Does this PMR make my butt look big?