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Get Your Priorities Right

By Carl S ~

There's a reason I haven't been writing so much lately. I've gone back to building models. No, they aren't the ones in kit form. I built many of those over the decades. These are different. They're oldies, rail cars, the type once used as a “touring bus” of its day. I bought the plans for it ten years ago, and have been imaginatively modifying it ever since. Once, at a train show, I had one operating. A man was watching it run and asked me, “You modified that, didn't you?” It turned out he was the original designer. (Years later, I remembered the source of my inspiration: a magazine article about third world children creating their toys out of industrial products washed up on their beaches.)

The wonderful thing about a hobby like this, as compared to writing about religious beliefs, is that I get a tangible result. Sure, there are responses to those commentaries, but they're not something I can hold in my hand, in three dimensions. There are perks in visualizing; even after it's finished, it has further possibilities. Plus, I've learned through trial and error, how to get desired results. You can even get satisfying results you hadn't planned. The problem about a hobby is, as a friend and I found out, the hobby can become obsessive, as you get involved in compulsive ideas of how to make your product more clever, satisfying, and functional. The hobby can take over your life, even to the point of neglecting the enjoyment of life itself, and to the extent of neglecting others you need to care about.

It's all about creativity, isn't it? Creating entails overcoming obstacles. Without obstacles, there wouldn't be solutions, or satisfaction. From our experiences, we can see that a creator who could make something without any obstacles would find creating just too easy, definitely unsatisfying. There wouldn't be any difference between something he or she created and something which created itself. There's no fun in that. The biblical flood story is about a creation the creator found unsatisfying, so he destroyed it, like any frustrated animal tearing apart its structures. So he does it, and leaves it up to whoever, whatever, is left, to re-create it as best it can. And that's the story. It's an old story with Humanity: destroying in order to rebuild, to re-create.

Without obstacles and challenges, there would be no pursuit of knowledge, no progress, and life itself would mean merely existing. For non-sentient beings, Nature doesn't work that way. Take, for examples, male bower birds, and all male birds, creating fanciful structures and plumage in order to mate, having the satisfaction of making something so attractive to the females that sexual gratification (usually) follows. Making babies is creative, and getting to that point means overcoming obstacles. So it goes with males of each species, whether we're citing their structures, bringing of gifts, showing off how strong they are, even looking and acting ridiculous, etc. But, whether male or female, we create for self-satisfaction, to impress others, or for pleasure. In doing so, we establish relationships. It's unavoidable.

Faiths and philosophies were built on the imaginations of those who wrote before them, who had more leisure time than work time.What does a creative imagination have to do with religion, especially Christianity? Let's take the Gospels, for example. They're a collection of tales and teachings. Since most scriptural scholars assert “Mark” was the first written, because of its simplicity, those following were elaborations on it. What of religious tales and teachings before them? Faiths and philosophies were built on the imaginations of those who wrote before them, who had more leisure time than work time. (Others, affected by opioids and/or brain abnormalities, created their own.)

You might say that philosophy and theology are really hobbies, open to vivid imaginations, while dealing with real and hypothetical problems. Each of them create a “what if ... therefore,” hypothesis. The difference between them is that each religion creates its own fictional reality, its own imaginary world separate from, yet acting on, the material world. It then makes its dogmas, and declares, “They're all absolutely true, therefore...” and tries to persuade or force humanity to agree.

Religions are immaterial hobbies created by minds free from working, free at leisure to enjoy and ponder. Every religion becomes a hobby for its most serious followers, a product to feel superior about, an escapist pleasure of self-deception and persuasion that takes over the lives of clergy and their followers alike. The obsessive hobby of religious beliefs takes precedence over caring about others. (Indeed, as Jesus asserted, it must, and that includes one's own family members.) The shaman hobbyists of religion have to be psychologists, to be acutely aware of the fears, hopes, and vulnerabilities of their listeners, to exploit them. They use established methods to accomplish alleviating fears and bolstering hopes, and they have to be inventive building on them. It isn't enough they are steeped in the ancient art of persuasion and spin-doctoring dogmas. They must also be personally clever in order to survive and make their livings. Their hobby is entertainment with the satisfaction of being believed.

For those who are still in religion, a warning: Let the hobby belong to you; not you to the hobby. After all, it's your human relationships that really matter.