Sunday, August 17, 2008

Close that mind

A few months ago, my wife Kirsti was watching an episode of Oprah. On it, they were dealing with people who had various phobias, and how it was possible that they had them because of "past life trauma." To Kirsti's credit, she only watched about ten minutes until she turned it off and said, "Okay, I can't take it anymore."

I was busy doing something else, but I heard enough of it to get me to think about it a bit. The one thing that Oprah kept saying about it was that one should be "open minded" about this sort of a thing - perhaps a trauma in a past life really is what was causing this otherwise unexplainable phobias.

Nuts to that crap. I'm going to declare right here and now that it's NOT good to be open minded to that sort of a thing. Your brain should shut like a steel trap and not let any of that hogwash get inside. Now, if there was actual, verifiable evidence that people even HAVE past lives in the first place, then I'd say it's time to open your mind a little. Otherwise, the very notion is stupid. I mean, just how open-minded should you be? Should we also consider that maybe certain phobias are the result of a leprechaun being up your butt? Why not? Why is that any crazier than past life trauma? There's about as much proof for leprechauns as there is for past lives. Come on now, you don't want to be closed-minded, do you?

The thing is, I know that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. It's about damned time that rational people (and yes, I'm both saying and implying that if you're open to the idea of past-life trauma, then you are irrational) started speaking up about these sorts of things.

Luckily, some people seem to be finally speaking out. Looks like Bill Maher has a movie coming out in a few months called Religulous. He's not just taking on the far-out silly things though - he's taking on the mother of all craziness - religion. And let's face it, religious belief is nutty. Imagine if when you were growing up, your parents told you all of the Bible stories in the same context as fairy tales. Do you really think that there'd be something about the stories of Noah, Moses, Jesus, etcetera that would make you go, "Hey, wait - these seem a little more logical and realistic than those other ones!" Of course you wouldn't.

The thing is, if it wasn't for the religious right sticking their noses in everybody's business in this country, then I don't think this sort of a movie would be necessary. (In all fairness, Muslim terrorism is also prompting a backlash against religion in general as well.) Are some people going to get offended? I sure hope so. Why should you get to say any crazy thing you want and then expect people to just shut up about it? If I told you that invisible aliens were the cause of diarrhea, you'd rightfully tell me that I'm a loon. Why should the religious be given all sorts of undue respect? Especially when their (okay - some of them) beliefs are subverting science education in this country?

This is a free society. You're free to believe whatever you want. I'm free to tell you that what you're saying is whack-a-doo. Here's hoping that Maher's movie does better than that travesty called Expelled. I predict that it will - mainly because religious people will get their shorts up in such a bunch about it that they'll draw all sorts of attention to it.


nonmagic said...

I can not WAIT to see this movie. There is some controversy about it already. People are saying that he deceived people into doing interviews with him, telling them that they were going to be in some movie about spirituality and then in walks Bill and blows them away with religion questions.

Personally, I don't care what he told them to get them to say what they did, I'm just glad he got them to say it on film.

Ohhhh....don't even get me started on Oprah-ism....I can not stand that woman.

nonmagic said...

Btw, I'm still reading the story you wrote. This is really good stuff, seriously.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I did a post some time ago about Oprah called "Oprah is a demagogue". I think it's on my old MySpace blog though.

Still reading it? Wow...I was just going through it and you're too kind. While I'm genuinely happy with the structure of the story, it definitely has a lot of first-draft mistakes in it. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. I imagine that a few parts of it would sound familiar to anybody who's ever gone to Ray's blog.

nonmagic said...

There are some things you just read, like the book I'm reading right now by Steven Pinker that are interesting, but by no means grab you and give you nothing to really ponder.

There was a couple of lines in the opening of your story that really grabbed me and I've been pondering them for a few days.

I write too, but sporadically and more as a therapeutic tool. I always throw away everything I write or lock it away on some blog somewhere and forget it.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Well, that's about the best damned compliment I could get, so even if the rest is shit, then that's saying something.