This article belongs to Social Groups theme.

You’ve heard of the Indy 500? I’m part of the Jerry 500 - which means I’ve traveled 500 times to see that guy (Garcia) play guitar. But these are the sacrifices one must make when the allurement of a new configuration arises. A price must be paid. Even if you only see your friends every weekend to play poker - money is involved. Cash, time, and energy are the prerequisites to create a social club. I suppose one could just throw a blanket over some chairs, call it a club and invite society in"but that is so childish.

Me, I spent the best part of two decades climbing into VW vans whose life expectancy was limited to begin with--expecting miracles. Travelling the US and Canada I followed maps, rumors, bogus road signs and police roadblocks in hopes of catching a Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia show. By sheer repetition I began to recognize faces, dread combinations, dog’s owners and eventually, names. Like a wandering herd of deer looking for something tasty to nibble on we grazed the parking lots of America. Meatball, ATM, Safflower, Lucy in the Sky, Tuna, Dread Lars, others, hundreds I knew but never talked to.

I found talk boring. I didn’t want to know about anyone’s past, nor did I want to divulge my own. At first I was without much life experience, but soon that gave way to marriages, divorces, miscarriages, and death. I was at the shows to get lost in the music, to find myself within, and to leave without (getting busted).
Sure I wore tye-dyes and had dreads, but it was a social club and not a cult. Of that I’m sure. I know a cult when I see ‘em. For example, see what I have gleaned (re: cut and pasted) from dozens of websites:

An ex-race car driving buff, Claude Vorilhon, is contacted by an Alien who renames him "Rael" (messenger) and gives him the scoop on humanities origins and our soon to be end. Sound like a bad acid trip you once heard about.
Vorilhon said he was on his way to work as a journalist at a car racing magazine in a small town outside Paris on Dec. 13, 1973, when something prodded him to drive to a volcanic crater. There, he said, he saw flashing lights and a 23-foot-wide flying saucer in the sky. Upon landing, he said, a four-foot-tall alien emerged from the craft, renamed him Rael and told him he was the son of Yahweh and the brother of Jesus. (Jerry Garcia once looked at me and I felt like I was from another planet).

The alien visitor told Vorilhon that life on Earth was created in extraterrestrial laboratories by the Elohim, an advanced people from space. He said humans will one day be gods themselves, creating life, traveling throughout the universe, and spreading it to other planets. (All this sounds surprising familiar to the works of Zacheriah Sitchen, the Scientologists and the Mormons)

Within 25 years, group scientists may develop technology to create a full-grown human clone in just hours and the mind of the cloned adult would receive instant knowledge via the ''uploading'' of information directly from the brain of another person. The ultimate goal is to give eternal life to humanity through cloning. The next step that will be discovered soon is what we call accelerated growth process to accelerate cellular multiplication. Vorilhon expects ''step 3'' to materialize around the same time. Through advancements in neurological science and computer technology, he said, within 20 to 25 years scientists will be able to download the contents of an aging person's brain and then upload them into a clone's brain, he said. When you are about to die, you create an adult clone of yourself -- young -- and download your memory and personality inside this new body, and like that you can live forever.''

After scientists in Scotland produced a newborn sheep called Dolly from sheep cells in 1997, Vorilhon founded his company that is dedicated to cloning. Indeed, cloning plays a major part in the Raelian religion's belief that one day scientists will engineer an endless circle of human life. Since its inception, Clonaid, originally registered in the Bahamas, has stirred up hope, outrage and scandal Clonaid's venture was partly financed by Mark and Tracy Hunt, the Charleston, W.Va., parents who put up $500,000 to create a cloning lab in a former high school in the nearby town of Nitro. But now Vorilhon says he has 2000 couples willing to pay $200,000 each for a cloned baby.

The Raelians, led by Brigitte's Bossilier (one of the top scientists, though only a "bishop" in the cult) and Claude Vorhilon, believe alien experimenters created the human race 25,000 years ago using DNA technology. The cult preaches the power of group sex and asks for up to 10 per cent of members' earnings after tax to help build an ‘alien embassy'.

Vorhilon says: "Children should be taught to have sex purely for pleasure without any emotional commitment to the sexual partner."

He adds: "Women particularly should have sex with one or more individuals of either sex as long as those individuals agree, since contraception has freed women from fear of pregnancy... Sect members should, at the same time encourage those they love to seek sexual gratification with others. Sect members should also continue to sexually gratify a loved one who does not oppose them having sex with others.

"Sect members should also not reject but have sex with another person if that person wants to gratify them sexually.

"Sect members can have heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual sex in couples, threesomes, foursomes and ‘moresomes'."

Actually, the Raelian experience does sound a bit like a Dead show.
The sect's HQ in Canada is called UFOland"complete with a replica of the flying saucer Vorhilon insists he saw.

The Vatican said the claim was "an expression of a brutal mentality, lacking all ethical and human consideration" and noted the group had provided no proof. Ironically, the Vatican has given "no proof" in over 2000 years.

If they ever clone Jerry Garcia I might find myself risking life and limb touring the country just to hear the fat man play guitar. Until then, my social group has disbanded.