March 31, 2010

Once the Messiah, always the Messiah


Raj Patel, author of in the Garden of Eden.

Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved," in the Garden of Eden.

In a follow-up to this bizarre report on MobyLives about Melville House author, Raj Patel (Stuffed and Starved), being declared the messiah by followers of the New Age religious sect Share International, the Guardian reports here that despite Patel’s emphatic denial on his website, followers still do not believe him.

In a perfect Catch-22 of logic, the Messiah’s disavowal of his Messiah-hood is part of the prophecy, hence further confirming that Patel is indeed the Messiah. He can’t win for losing. “Indeed, the situation has invaded his everyday life,” writes the Guardian, “such as when two devotees traveled from Detroit — some 2,400 miles away — just to hear him give a short public talk.

“‘They were really nice people, not in your face, really straightforward — these people do not look like fanatics,'” Patel told the Guardian, “‘I gave the talk, and they hung around at the end and we had a chat….I said: ‘I’m really flattered that you came all the way here, but it breaks my heart that you came all this way and spent all this money to meet someone who isn’t who you think he is….It made me really depressed, actually. That evening I was really down.”

Though Patel must struggle with the unwanted attention, inundated with questions, emails, messages of support and even threats, his friends and family are very amused.

“‘They think it’s hilarious,” Patel told the Guardian. ‘”My parents came to visit recently, and they brought clothes that said “he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”. To them, it’s just amusing.”‘

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.