3/28/2014 | Share this article: View Comments
To solve the puzzles in life or fabricated, you have to look for the clues and put them together. If you have just enough, you can build a case. If you don’t have enough, you can still begin the process, so that others can join in the search with you. Together, you can solve the puzzle.
Some puzzles have been around for ages. Serious puzzles for which no one seems to have the answers and for which countless men and women have made up their own answers, and those answers are accepted because no one feels the puzzles are worth solving, or they're content to accept any answers that feel good in lieu of real solutions. I'm one of those detectives who is discontent to accept just any answers, when they impress me as being nothing more than fabricated b.s. One reason for this attitude is the joy I ﬁnd in discovering explanations that solve puzzles simply by being persistent at looking for clues. But sometimes, I just stumble over them. One person's discoveries, another person's stumbling block. Let me begin by listing some of them, all related to emotions:
In Thomas Cahill‘s book, “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea,” subtitled, “Why the Greeks Matter,” page 80 is enlightening. ”The Muses could be capricious in awarding their favors and vindictive in withholding them. Thus Homer‘s need to placate his Muse regularly, lest she withdraw his gift of inspiration. Inspiration and truth were two different things, however. The success of a poetic performance lay in the emotional transformation it wrought on its audience. The Muses didn't care whether what they inspired was true or false as long as it grabbed the listeners.” Read that again, only this time substitute the term “God” for “Muse” and “Muses.” Wait a minute! Doesn’t that sound like religions, with their emphasis on “emotional transformation” over rationality and truth? Doesn’t “the end justifies the means” apply here? Isn’t this how all religions operate, with lies and truths co-mingled for emotional effect? How often have we heard the truth of a believers faith deﬁned as, “l know in my heart”?
Well, I read Cahill’s sentence about the “emotional transformation” to a church-goer. She said that emotions are really true, not false. This got me to mentioning the song “Cry,” with the verse, “When waking from a bad dream, don't you sometimes think it’s real? But it's only false emotion that you feel.” I think emotional responses are neither true nor false - but the manipulation of emotions can be true or false. The reason: emotional reactions may be responses to false alarms, false fears, false hopes - all used by practitioners of faiths for their manipulations, and all justified for the advancement of their faiths.
Entertainment is what it‘s all about - whatever it takes to make the audience feel good.Entertainment is what it‘s all about - whatever it takes to make the audience feel good. In show business parlance, “People will kill to get into the show.” For example, the new movie promoted by the Religious Right, “The Son of God,” has no regard for truth at all. It’s pure emotional manipulation, as was “The Passion of the Christ” preceding it. Take the “Left Behind” series of books. Pure fantasy pretending to be based on actual fact, appealing to and manipulating the most righteous and biased emotions, a la the Nazi propaganda system. Truth is indifferent for such ends. It's all entertaining, though, and in all these examples, that's what the audience wants. (l have watched good old Jimmy Swaggart put on his pop act.)
Entertainment demands that religions must continually supply fresh material; hence religion creates its own reality tied to the powerful desire to escape from reality. But, even reality has to be interpreted through dogmatic fantasy to stay entertaining and keep the business operating. But don’t tell me it's anything but entertainment, because, if we notice, whenever stark reality stands cut on its own, it usually gets rejected in favor of the fantasy creations.
I stumble across information from many sources. On the I.D. Channel program, “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?” was a true story about a woman who got romantically involved with a guy for years. She was in person, relating her history with him, as the program played out. He would disappear for weeks or months during their relationship. In the end, it turned out that he confessed to being a bank robber and was arrested. At the end of the program, after admitting that she was deceived by him the entire time, she was still in love with him. I ran to grab something to write down her remark about this. She said, “I was head over heels in love with him, even if he was a made-up person.” My goodness, how many are “in love with Jesus,” even if he is only a made-up person?!
Tim R. writes of his experience of “being saved” - one of those frequently related conversions so often seen on this site. He says, ”That night, I decided I would pray to be saved. I walked down to the front where the preacher, my aunt, and cousin all led me in a prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. It was a very emotional experience for me. I believed I was truly saved.” Again, I ask you to re-read what he has said, only this time substitute “Allah, Mithra, Apollo, Baal, etc. into my heart.” Get it? It was a “very emotional experience” for everyone believing in them who did so, too. Do those emotions last, any longer than the gods did, or did the believers just keep up the practice of striving to maintain those emotions? (And what the hell do those emotions have to do with either reality or morals?)
Okay, so religious faith-rituals are all about the “emotional transformation it effects on the audience.” You might say that the emotional triumphs over the rational, which the believers must ﬁnd boring and thought-provoking, which is not entertaining, which takes thinking, which isn't fun. (They’re spoiled that way, don’t you think?) But this causes problems; for, if emotions are sanctiﬁed, how do religious leaders reconcile the mixed message of, “If it feels good in the Holy Spirit and in Jesus, it's good, go for it,” with If it feels good, don’t do it,” as in “Don't have sex before marriage.”? But, according to those same criteria, if it feels good, do it, and repent later. After all, repenting feels good too. (In some Islamic societies, males and females are separated; females are covered from head to toes. This policy leads to homoerotic tendencies - which are forbidden and punishable.)
When people are unwilling or unable to distinguish between entertainment and reality, they set themselves up for emotional manipulation and confusion of mind. They make their emotions available for dictators, clergy, and radical movements of all stripes. When they are willing to follow those emotions they can use them to deny rights, destroy, to feel justiﬁed in threatening the lives, rights, and properties of others who do not share their entertained emotions.
Wow. That’s costly entertainment!