The Great Material Continuum
Writers have created many beautiful concepts to pull readers into their imaginary stories. Harry Potter uses his magic wand, Scooby Doo munches Scooby Snacks, Deadpool cannot die, Neo enters The Matrix, and toys are alive in Toy Story.
I wanted to explore a literary invention developed for Star Trek. Writers created the race, Ferengi, and while initially loathsome, they evolved over several episodes into a quirky, likable, ultra-capitalistic race. In one episode, the writers described a Ferengi religion, which was not based on superior beings but on the economy. The following is a quote from this website:
“The Ferengi saw the universe as having millions of worlds, all with too much of one and not enough of the other, with the Great Material Continuum flowing through them all like a mighty river, from having to want and back again. As such, it was the force that bound the universe together. You had to have your ship navigate the Continuum with entrepreneurial skill and grace to get everything you desire. This meant that material taken from one area had to be replaced or paid for through another means while avoiding obstacles and pitfalls. If one region had a shortage of one type of good but a surfeit of another, while another region had too much of the former good and a shortage of the latter, then the Great Material Continuum would carry the excess of the one region to ease the dearth in the other.”
On the surface, the concept is not too interesting. Still, the more I thought about it, the more I began to understand that The Great Material Continuum might be one of the most creative literary inventions ever. So, let’s dive into my bonkers thoughts.
What kind of religion would a mega-capitalistic society require? A capitalistic one. Yes and no. The Great Material Continuum challenges its followers to go further, try harder, be flexible, be ruthless, learn from failure, embrace victory, and begin again. No superior beings, temples, rules, commandments, holy books, priests, scriptures, or guides exist. The Great Material Continuum at its face and core is the unwavering belief that the perfect deal exists.
I find the level of clarity to be unique. It is a pure belief that endless interacting circles of inventory float through the universe, and if a person believes in The Great Material Continuum, they can become one with the economy. However, the concept is more profound. Profit is the Ferengi’s ultimate desire, yet The Great Material Continuum does not mention the word. It is the passionate vision that a perfect transaction is not only out there, but every Ferengi has it within their being to achieve it.
Let’s examine an earth religion. If you pray to X and do Y, your prayers might get answered. It is up to the followers to see and understand the result. This effort is not necessary for followers of The Great Material Continuum. It provides tangible results you can put in your bank account, translating into logical and instant gratification.
Earth religions require hours of study for their followers to understand passages in the religious books fully. Let’s examine this quote I found on a “top 100” Bible verse site: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24” And this one from a “top 100” Quran quote site: “There certainly has come to you a messenger from among yourselves (i.e. Prophet Muhammad). He is grieved by your suffering, anxious for your well-being, and gracious and merciful to the believers. — 9:128” We could compare, debate, and discuss these quotes for hours. What is the real meaning? How does this affect me? Which religion is better? You will not find that kind of ambiguousness within The Great Material Continuum. You know the path you have followed when the deal concludes.
Let’s get creative. How about a mathematical (science fiction) society? Their religion is called “the perfect equation.” It proclaims the ultimate proof. (I made a math joke.) That’s the same literary invention as The Great Material Continuum. Right? No, because there is no tangible challenge. Where is the risk or the reward? To do math? Kids hate math but love money because it can buy candy. And there is the hook. Money is universal but elusive.
What does it all mean? Should we put on costumes like the fictional Ferengi’s and become merchants? No. The true meaning behind The Great Material Continuum is that writing and examining the result is fun.

You’re the best -Bill
March 13, 2024
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