Thursday, November 26, 2015

Arjun and the World's Strangest Pickup Line

Boca Raton, Florida, May 2003

Arjun was a student in my Sociology of Religion class in the spring of 2003, the semester after Tom the Young Republican: college age, South Asian, short, dark skinned, handsome, with a tight, solid physique.

He didn't talk very much in class, gave short, halting answers when called on, and turned in a series of nondescript, C-level essays.

Until we got to the lecture on New Age Religions.

Seems that he was devotee of the Urantia Book, written between 1925 and 1934 by seven spiritual beings, who  delivered it, page by page, over 2000 in all to Chicago physician William S. Sadler and his disciples. At first they wanted to keep the amazing revelations to themselves, but finally in 1955 they consented to publish it.

There are no churches, ministers, rituals, or dogmas of any kind.  People meet in small study groups.

In my brief research for my Sociology of Religion lecture, I didn't, see a lot of moral instruction or discussions of our ultimate purpose n the universe.  It's mostly a compendium, an Encyclopedia Galactica.

The government, politics, demographics, and economics of the hundreds of planets in our universe (and other universes), with the jobs and duties spelled out as precisely as any human resources handbook.

Gabriel is the Chief Executive of our universe, Nebadon.  Beneath him are the Supreme Council, the Council of Supreme Santion, and a number of High Commissioners, Celestial Commisioners, Most High Assistants, and so on.


Well, it goes on like that.  For volume after volume:

"Spiritual status is the measure of Deity attainment, Adjuster attunement. The achievement of finality of spirituality is equivalent to the attainment of the maximum of reality, the maximum of Godlikeness. Eternal life is the endless quest for infinite values."

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Of course, our job in Sociology of Religion is not to evaluate the worth or validity of a religion, but to look for the sociological factors in its membership.  Why do people follow it?  How do they practice it?  How does it fit into the rest of their lives?

Arjun knew: "I grew up Hindu," he told us.  "There's no evidence that the gods exist.  But the Urantia Book is scientific.  It's concrete.  It's about real life, not myths.  If you read it, you'll know."

You can't argue with someone about their beliefs in the classroom, so I let it slide and moved on to another New Age religion.

But after class Arjun approached me.  "Have you read it?"

"The whole thing?  Well, I do have to research more than 30 religions in this class..."

"I can show you the most important parts, that deal with the life of Jesus Christ."  He hesitated, and looked down at the floor.  "Are you free later?  We can get a cup of coffee, and talk about it...."

Every student who belongs to a proselytizing religion tries to convert me, and besides, I have a rule against socializing with my current students, so I politely refused.

A couple of weeks later, Arjun appeared at my desk after class again.  "Ron Tramontino, the head of our Urantia Study Group, is giving a talk on Saturday.  He's a great guy.  He runs a karate studio and writes books.  Maybe you would...."  he trailed off.

Was he still trying to convert me?  Regardless, I don't socialize with current students, so I said, "I'm busy Saturday, sorry.  Another time."

At another time, he brightened.  "When?"

"Um..well, after classes are over.  Next summer I'm free."


He finished the class, got a C, and vanished.  I didn't think anything more about it until a couple of weeks after finals, when I was busy prepping for my summer school class.  Arjun knocked on my office door.

I thought he wanted to petition for a higher grade, but instead he said, ", now that classes are over, may I call you Boomer?"

"Sure, I guess."

"I know you like karate, so I got tickets to the AAU National Championships, at the Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale."  He paused.  "And afterwards I know a place that has Nepali food."

Finally it dawned on me -- Arjun was asking me for a date!

Well, he wasn't my student anymore, and he was cute, so why not?

I braced myself for more discussion of the Urantia Book, but instead Arjun talked about sports -- he was a devotee of judo, karate, and mallauddha, or Indian wrestling.  A little boring.  I actually tried to push the conversation back to the Urantia Book, or at least a New Age topic, but he didn't seem interested.

He was living with his conservative Hindu parents, who knew that he was gay but didn't approve, so we had to go back to my house to spend the night.

Nice physique, nicely shaped Bratwurst, a little reserved in bed.  He just lay there.  I had to do all the work.

We dated for a few weeks, mostly going to boring martial arts tournaments.  Arjun never wanted to talk about the Urantia Book again, no matter how often I brought it up.

Had he just been using it as a very weird cruising line?

See also: Cruised by a Young Republican.

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