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Oliver Benjamin                            
in Allah and Mohammed. The Buddhists…”
Bidden cut him off again, “Big deal. Besides the names of their
prophets, what’s difference between them? Aside from their logos
and architechure and silly hats, of course.”
“I don’t know, really,” he confessed. He had never really thought
about it.
“Then let me be the first to tell you: nothing. They all offer the
same exact product: identification within a group and a simplistic
worldview that provides peace of mind and self-esteem. Each religion
is just a brand name, like Biddenbrooks or The Coffee Vine. The
details don’t matter. As long as they have good salesmen and nice-
looking franchises they can profit handsomely and grow just like any
business. We’re no different from them. Still, some are more popular
than others. It’s all purely tribal, goes back to our oldest instincts.
People used to identify themselves by scars or body paint. Then they
did it through religions and flag-waving. Now they do it with their
cars and individualized espresso drinks. If you’re losing money it’s
only because people don’t particularly like your brand. For whatever
reason. It’s not your fault. Look at the Zoroastrians. Look at the Jain.
Look at the Mayans. Even the Jews. Good religions. Bad marketing.”
Thompson was now practically shaking. What Bidden said to
him was offensive on so many levels that he had half a mind to storm
out of the meeting. But he still had his stockholders to think about.
“We’re only losing money because you’re intentionally stealing
our customers!” Thompson snapped.
“And you’re stealing ours,” Bidden replied, “It’s a two-way
“But we can’t compete. You’re too goddamn big.”
“You don’t have to compete with us. Let us convert you. Then
we’ll both benefit and we won’t have to fight any longer. You know,
everyone always talks about what a shame it is that religions are
fighting each other all over the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was
only one creed? Wouldn’t it be great if the world was all one country?
There wouldn’t be any wars and life would be much simpler. This is
what everyone is working towards aren’t they? Science is now the
universal explainer. The United Nations, the European Union,
NAFTA, ASEAN—countries are slowly becoming agglomerated into
great multinational wholes. Why should businesses be any different?
We don’t need twenty brands of coffeeshops. We only need one.”
“And that would be Biddenbrooks,” Thompson said.
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