Ask A Genius 423 – Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
October 25, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: This is about god or gods.
Rick Rosner: Or ways to believe in God.
Jacobsen: Then the ways of belief within this.
Rosner: You mentioned off-tape the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Jacobsen: Some of them aren’t meant necessarily to be mean in most aspects but as catharsis. Same with ex-Muslims who left fundamentalist Islam and lost their jobs, their family, their community, their faith, and may be restarted at 40 with a child after a rape, and so on. It is a catharsis.
Parody religions can be a catharsis.
Rosner: The mechanism could be the investigation of the arcana of a parody religion. It makes you realize some aspects of all religion are jokey and then feel catharsis about leaving it. It is social support.
Jacobsen: That’s the biggest thing.
Rosner: Growing up in Boulder, I encountered all sorts of culty religions. I did a job with people who felt as though they were involved with ‘higher dimensions’ through engagement with float tanks of a sort.
You could find a dozen or so beliefs that are not mainstream American beliefs, which is a different form of investment. You get support if you immerse yourself. In Scientology, that would be a tough religion to maintain.
Unless you had been doing it long enough to handle being out and about and exposed to critiques of Scientology by the greater culture. To be around Scientologists for 5, 6, or 10 hours per day, I remember being in college.
My first year, Church of Christ was big on my floor. They had activities for their people 6 days or nights a week. They wanted you constantly hit with the message and not hit with “why the hell are you doing that?”
I remember one girl. I came to my school during the second semester. I missed the whole soap opera of the first semester. I joined in the second semester. The whole floor was Church of Christ.
This guy was a cool guy, ex-football player. He got sucked into it. This girl liked him because he was still a studly guy. She followed him into Church of Christ. What was supposed to happen at Christmas break, you were supposed to tell them what town you lived in, what town you were going back to; they would make sure that you were hooked up to the Church of Christ in that town, so you’d continue to be hit with the message.
Somebody dropped the ball with the football guy. He went home for a month and wasn’t exposed to any Church of Christ. He was like, “What the hell? No Church of Christ for me. I am back to the Kavanaugh life of beer and babes.” He was blissfully free.
But the girl who went with him was stuck in there to be with him. She was stuck there. She was stuck in this oppressive and culty version of Christianity and was pissed because she didn’t get the guy that she liked.
Jacobsen: One thing, it is much harder, as this comes up, for women in those circumstances, because women tend to have less economic degrees of freedom. Not only in America, but it is also even exacerbated worse in more poverty-stricken areas, where men hold more of the cards.
That is an amusing case of being the case but also serious, then there are the ones that are more serious. It comes up in the secular community. Why so many men? Why so many white men? You can not the amount of dependence forced on women in those communities.
The socioeconomic traps for women, not simply “I didn’t get the guy and followed into the Church of Christ and got trapped.”
Rosner: Yes, the religions bend, you can find freedom in a culty religion if you’re willing to cynically gameplay. The televangelists who tell people that God wants them to have a private plane, so send them money.
Again, there was one guy on my floor. He was super-duper Church of Christ. He dressed in disco clothes a lot of the time. It was clothes that showed off his package. Gabardine pants that were 20% stretchy material that hugged his bottom half. Satin disco shirts too; the non-believers, we would ask him, “Why are you dressed like a disco king?”
He would say, “I want to look good for Jesus.” Ways of believing, you can immerse yourself in a boutique religion. You can believe with various degrees of commitment in a mainstream religion.
You can incidentally embrace the current scientism, vaguely believe science has all the answers and that the universe is a random process playing out – and nothing really matters: scientific nihilism.
Then there are a couple of ways that I believe. That I think people will increasingly believe in the future.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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