I have posted my updated performing schedule on my website. Tickets cannot yet be purchased for the Los Angeles shows and the Chicago shows. But I believe that by the beginning of next week that will be rectified. I do know that already the Spokane shows are selling well. Oh! And I am going to appear on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – the NPR show, on April 12th in Chicago. That should be fun.
I have been thinking about something someone said to me this weekend. And that is, “Maybe very few people are capable of not believing in God.” And I was so arrested by that comment and I have been chewing on it for the last two days. Hmmm… maybe very few people are capable of not believing in God. I have to say; I think I agree at this point. But I hate that so much. It makes me feel elitist. I cringe at the thought, and I am automatically recoiling at that idea.
Except, I might… sorta… agree.
I said to this person who said this, “But what about Sweden or all those Scandinavian countries where hardly anyone believes in God.” And he said, “Well, yeah. But I guess what I mean is supernatural ideas too, or New Age-y ideas or basically a reluctance to look at the world squarely without divine influence. You have no idea what those people (the non-religious Scandinavians) believe besides not believing in God. Maybe they don’t believe in God but they believe in faeries, like they do in Iceland, or that the ‘universe’ ‘means’ for them to do this or that, or that when they put a gnome under their pillow it always rains. Maybe people are just superstitious, or religious. Maybe that’s what humans just are. ”
Then I said, “But I cannot come to that conclusion. To come to that conclusion means that I am the silent superior one and I have no hope for humanity. It puts me in the most arrogant position. I don’t want to feel this way about those people – about people in general!” And my friend said, “You don’t think the people who are religious or New Agey don’t look down on you? You don’t think they feel arrogantly towards you?”
And he is right.
I think this came up because this weekend - with several friends - I watched “The Secret.” This is the movie that Oprah has been promoting on her show. Everywhere I drove last week, I saw ads on billboards for… The Secret. Basically the film takes the perfectly good ideas of “The Power Of Positive Thinking” but ads a lot of mumbo jumbo to it. Like giving the Universe a personality that wants “abundance” for us and “feels” the energy of our thoughts and puts a whole supernatural schpiritual schpin on the whole thing. It was so awful, it was so insufferable, it was so excruciating, I could barely watch any of it. If I had any energy I would go through the whole movie point by point. But I cannot. All I can say is, I thought Oprah was smarter than that. Not smart, mind you. But smarter.
I don’t know how we would have parodied this movie “The Secret” on Saturday Night Live because it is already a parody. One charlatan after another comes on and uses scientific jargon to “prove” that the universe is listening to your wishes and will fulfill them for you if only you ask. 90% of the examples of what someone might wish for are about material possessions, especially cars. A guy dreams of a big house (the picture of the big house was so cookie-cutter “mansion” ish, it was garish and fake looking) and lo and behold, he buys that house. Another man is tired of his debt and so he imagines himself getting checks in the mail instead of bill - and then he does! He gets checks in the mail! (No explanation of where they came from…) Worst of all, a woman who has ovarian cancer imagines herself healthy and poof! She is over her cancer! It’s just awful. It’s not only stupid and wrong, it’s dangerous. I was so depressed after watching it. And that’s when I had the discussion I recounted above. And I have been turning these ideas over in my mind ever since.
An acquaintance told me that she made her husband watch “The Secret” because she wanted him to be more positive about his career. I swear, if my spouse made me watch that movie and expect me to take it seriously, it would be a reason to break up. And then having that thought, I was flooded with memories of almost that exact same thing. Different boyfriends who would make me consider the most outlandish ideas and expect me to take them seriously – that Carlos Casteneda really was a shaman with supernatural powers and that giving up all personal power to a “higher source” was a good step in personal development. Oh! I would twist my mind up and back trying to find ways to still respect these guys. It was so hard. Now I wouldn’t have the patience for it at all.
So, this is what I’m mulling for tonight: I think it is too hard. I think it’s too hard for people to accept the random nature of life, and how vulnerable we are. All these ideas make people feel like they have some control over their lives, and that the universe cares about them. I mean, maybe life is too scary for most people to accept the reality of our vulnerability.
But what irks me is that people actually do have so much more control over their life than they realize! Movies like “The Secret” do damage two ways. On the one hand it tells you that life is not random and haphazard and that you can control the universe to make what you want to happen, happen. On the other hand, it discounts actual human determination and action to accomplish anything. Because all you have to do is sit back and let the “universe” hand you things.
Then my friend said, “What if religion is what allowed us to evolve? I mean, what if humans were able to beat out the Neanderthals because they were religious? What about religiosity in other species? It may turn out that ants are the most religious of all!”
Which had me aghast…. Again. Yeah… what if. What if.