Monday, April 1, 2013

Lucy's Football

I was briefly engaged, in high school, as illustrator for the "literary" magazine.  It didn't last long because I had to catch the first bus home to babysit, and when I stayed after school for the production sessions I had to walk home.  Not bad if it wasn't raining, but those books were way heavy.  Believe it or not, I toyed with doing something like the above based on what I was hearing but not buying in my constricted world, but could find nothing to pair it with -- there were mostly moral/devotional pieces or poems about rain -- and I knew it would only lead to bad consequences, without doubt.

I've since tried to remain skeptical without being cynical, not always with success.  It's a lonely corner.  They say about 40% of Americans believe that God is in charge of the weather.  A larger number also believes in angels than in evolution -- which makes no sense, because evolution theory is not something you believe in.  This week we're inundated with belief tropes, mostly religious:  "The Bible" miniseries on HBO is a huge hit, and all sorts of re-enacted ancient rituals swirl (in very odd costume) around Easter week and the new pope.  Belief is mixed in thoroughly but confusingly, like a mystery drink ingredient.  What evidence actually tells you this is a time of year to celebrate?  All I can find is that Spring, hesitantly this time, comes around again due to the observable mechanics of the solar system and our senses are about to be delighted with warming breezes, an explosion of flowers, and animals bounding about full of energy again.  Is that not sufficient?  Why roil your mind with savage Bronze Age stories, mixed up, added to, twisted to fit agendas, and raised to such a level of abstraction that people must simply believe, because there is no evidence or common sense left.  They say belief is just frozen thought; probably the remains of uncertainties and fears from long ago.

Remember Hans Blix, the U.N. expert with over 20 years' experience in his field, not finding any "weapons of mass destruction" in Saddam's Iraq?  The idea that the weapons were there anyway was successfully sold, and most Americans believed it.  Now, a smaller majority believes that the war was not worth it and was based on false premises.  After hundreds of thousands of casualties, a wrecked nation, and probably trillions of our dollars, the fine result of belief in action as opposed to evidence and common sense was that Iran and China won.  All that oil Cheney and the Texas oilmen and Bush friends were itching to get their hands on?  Eighty percent of it going to China now. 

A recent movie, The Master, provided a fictionalized portrayal of L. Ron Hubbard and his Scientology/Dianetics cult, and a fascinating window into what people will believe.  He was objectively a paranoid schizophrenic, but extremely charismatic and energetic, and after many failures and brushes with the law, quite successful.  In developing blind belief and sucking wealth from his adherents, that is, not in accomplishing anything useful.  Despite being based on an impressively large body of complete lies and made up baloney that are easily disproven, the organization has not evaporated but is as rich, powerful and secretive as ever.  We can think of a few others that were founded in and operate in the same way, but people believe, through every age, that the football is being held for them just as promised.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing what the winter months will bring out. Gotta have faith that it gets better because that is what everyone says. If not you'll just be babysitting the rest of your life.