This is probably the single best thing I have read at the Savage Critics. It's difficult to excerpt, so please just read it.
This brings us to one of the central paradoxes of religion, if you ask me--religion draws its power from the religious impulse, but it must contain the religious impulse in order to survive. There must be something that distinguishes the priests from the masses to which they administer, a closeness to something chosen as the vestment of spiritual power and, for the religion to survive, it must be the religion that defines what that thing is, not the masses. Moses and Jehovah raged against the building of the golden calf; The Catholic church burned any number of monks for heresy; the Pope decides what's a mortal sin, not the masses. Similarly, although the sports and comics industries need their fans to survive, a contentiousness exists between the owners and fans: the DeBartolos decide where the 49ers call home, not the fans; Joe Quesada decides whether Spider-Man stays married, not the fans. (And yes, I just compared the Pope to the DeBartolo family and Joe Quesada .) Although there are other factors in the struggle--sports teams, religions, and comic companies have all proven all susceptible to the lure of short-term profits--you cannot underestimate the not-quite-conscious battle for control that occurs between the insane and divinely inspired ones and the keepers of what they covet. For desire to remain desire, it must promise satisfaction and yet must also always go, in some crucial way, unsatisfied.