I just reread Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, where these terms appear. (Someone asked me if Vonnegut went to Friends. No, he did not. Steeped as I am in this project, I do nonetheless occasionally read other things). As I read about a karass, which consists of people with some kind of true spiritual bond, and a granfaloon, which is a false karass, a feeling of kinship based on nothing but happenstance (like all people who live in the East Village or all people from Indiana), I wondered if these Friends writers, and readers like me, form a karass or a granfaloon.
This is a bit tricky since these terms originate in a religion which is both false and fictional. But I am fine with suspending disbelief. New Yorkers or graduates of Cornell or Sweet Adelines might think they are part of a karass (and maybe they are) but they could be kidding themselves.
Probably we’re a granfaloon just because most things are. And yet. I see attitudes percolating through these works. Tolerance of those who are different. Outrage at injustice. Curiosity about the world. Empathy. Encouragement of activism. Introspection. Love of words. But then, I guess these qualities are true of everyone except utter jerks.
Still, they (the writers) do share something more specific. All have sat in silence in the Meeting House at one time or other. All have heard that there is that of God in every person. Powerful as these may be, they might not be enough to make us a karass.
And, of course, there is no such thing as a karass.