Reading Billy Graham’s mail again

August 10, 2011

It’s been a while since I did that. In fact, it’s been so long, I’m doing two.

Kids will be heading off to school again soon and Billy Graham is offering up his brand of “useful” advice for when whey they get there, be it grade school or grad school. First letter:

I’ll probably be in college when you get this, and to be honest I’m scared to death. I’m not worried about the classwork because I’ve always been a fairly good student. But I’m shy and have a hard time making friends, which worries me. How can I get over this? — S.L.

Before I get to Graham, I’ll give S.L the advice my grade 12 class was given by the daughter of our physics teacher who’d just finished her first year of university. In every class, just go ahead and introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. It’s the easiest way to make friends. And you get the added bonus of having people to get notes from if you have to miss that class for any reason someday. Of course this plot fails on the days when all of you ditch the class in exchange for a coffee fix, but no plan is perfect.

If it’s a residence you’ll be living in, there will be roommates or people in your dorm that you’ll take a shine to easier than you might expect and make more that way. There’s also the option of checking out clubs and organizations on campus if you can add any into your schedule. If you wind up having to work somewhere while you study, you’ll make friends easy enough there, too, once you feel relaxed enough to open up around them.

I used to think I was shy and friend-deprived, too, but I’ve since realized that all I really need are a couple good ones and I’m good to go. Maybe you’re a little like me.

Does Graham provide any advice that useful? His response to this letter is titled: “At college, seek out other Christians on campus” and here’s what he writes in addition to that:

You’ve probably discovered that people can be quite different from one another — and one of the ways they’re different is in their personality. Some are bold and outgoing; others (like you) are shy and retiring (and most of us are somewhere in between). Don’t, therefore, go through life wishing you were someone else.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try to break out of your shell and become more outgoing? No, of course not. Not only would you miss out on many of life’s good experiences, but you’d also miss the opportunity to be a friend to people who need your help and encouragement.

And with God’s help you can change. That’s why the most important step you can take is to commit your life to Jesus Christ. Turn your fears over to him, and ask him to help you overcome the negative side of your shyness.

Seek out other Christians on your campus. Not only will their fellowship help you spiritually, but their friendship will also help you socially.

Here’s the thing. The advice S.L. is given doesn’t encourage him or her to get to know people who are actually different beyond mere personality. Unless S.L. is stuck at a Christian college, there’s no sensible reason to limit one’s potential circle of friends to one particular group of people. By doing that S.L. would definitely miss out on many of life’s good experiences. New foods. New music. Hobbies and games. Cultural differences. College should be the ultimate eye-opening experience, not “everything just as it’s always been.” The whole point of going is to learn new things, isn’t it? What new can you learn if you don’t risk exposure to different thought processes and ways of life?

Shake the tree of life on which you hung every assumption and see what falls away. Doing so will make room for something better to grow there, I guarantee it. Befriend a Buddhist. Pal around with pagans. Meet some Muslims. Approach a known atheist. Hell, seek out the satanists if you care to or match wits with the witches. They could be a fun bunch for all you know.

But not if you go by Billy Graham, of course. Sucks to be so limiting.

Letter two speaks of limitations of a different kind, our inability to contact deceased loved ones:

My aunt raised me, and when she died last year I felt like a part of me had died with her. Now, a friend of mine says she knows someone who can put me in contact with her spirit. I guess I’ve always been suspicious of such things, but why shouldn’t I give it a try?

Because it’s pure hokum and psychics exist to sell you a lie you’ll believe can make you feel better. Honestly, it’s really no different from Graham and his ilk repackaging the concept of heaven every week and selling it to you, yet again, for the great low price of your tithe or donation. Does thinking about it every day make it more real, or does the constant craving for a heavenly future just reflect the desperation people feel in their daily lives when there seems to be no relief on the visible horizon?

Why do I urge you to stay away from this person? The reason is because at best you’ll be throwing your money away, since her supposed powers may well be fraudulent. But at worst, you could find yourself becoming involved with occult spiritual powers that are opposed to God and can only deceive you and hurt you. The Bible is clear: “no one be found among you … who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10,11).

He was doing well at the start. I think the majority of Christians get around the “consulting the dead” thing simply by pretending Jesus isn’t. Like so:

Most of all, however, my prayer is that you will open your heart and life to Jesus Christ. He came to give us peace — peace with God, peace with each other, and peace within our hearts. Discover his peace by giving your life to Him today.

In order to do that, he’d have to be around in some way to receive it. Is he really, or is this just a pleasant fiction believers buy into to make themselves feel better? Aren’t those who pray to Mary or the Saints also guilty of “spiritist” activity? It’s defined as “The belief that the dead communicate with the living” so anyone who thinks a biblical figure, martyr, or relative is capable of guiding them from heaven must be guilty of it, too. Therefore, anyone who thinks Jesus is, is also guilty.

Funny how that one gets a diplomatic pass when it comes time to warn people about the dangers of being deceived, though, eh?

British Humanists want accurate census

March 4, 2011

and are hoping those who fill out their census information later this month take extra care when they get to the lines about religion. They’ve got a site up to promote their project (The Census Campaign) and I quote from British Humanist Association in October:

Announcing the new campaign, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘There were more Jedis than Jews counted in the 2001 census, but just as inaccurate a result was the conclusion that 77% of us are religious and only 15% of us are not. These misleading statistics are used to support policies that entrench religious privilege and increase discrimination on grounds of religion in our society and it is vital that the 2011 census results in accurate data for that reason alone.

‘The flawed wording and the positioning of the religion question in the Census in the context of ethnicity encourages people to respond as if they have a religion, and especially over-inflates the “Christian” category. People are counted as Christians who may never have been in a church, who don’t believe in god and who, if asked, “Do you have a religion?” would say, “No”.

The signs and banners they wanted to put up to state their concerns were going to read, “If you’re not religious for God’s sake say so” but according to Independent, that wording has now been changed to “Not religious? In this year’s census, say so” which is a better way to make their case, if you ask me. It’s less goofy and more straight forward and doesn’t make it look like god might actually exist to swear by.

The Carrick Gazette reports that starting today bus ads will be up in

London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and Exeter.

Three posters planned for display at railway stations with the original wording have been refused by companies owning the advertising space who viewed them as too likely to cause offence and will now be circulated online, the BHA said.

Andrew Copson, BHA chief executive, said: “This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous. The blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.”

The BHA argues that the result of inaccurate census answers to these religion questions will create misconception over the number of Christians there actually are. The end result of that might be more money earmarked for faith schools and public religious groups. Policy makers, churches and journalists will never take the data and interpret it as merely “an indicator of broad cultural affiliation,” as it’s phrased on their site.

It does start to sound like the questions will be easy to “get wrong” as it were, and rather than get answers that reflect what people think and do today they’ll wind up being answered as what people think they ought to think and do. People shouldn’t think they need to affiliate with a particular religion just because they went to church once. People shouldn’t have to answer in a way that leads them to pick an affiliation if they don’t actually have one. It’d really be interesting to see how that section is worded.

And it turns out that wiccans and pagans are concerned about the wording of this census, too, and for a similar reason. I wonder how many people will put “Druid Network” as their religion this time around.

A question with a very obvious answer

January 29, 2011

The question is this:

How many organizations and associations would a 20-something have to join that might come close to equaling the kind of social connection made available through full activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The obvious answer: One.

The elitism inherent in that question is laughable. It comes from an article in the Mormon Times about what technology is doing to face-to-face relationships. It’s an interesting question, which is why I was going to read the article in the first place. I just had to pause and laugh when I reached that paragraph, and then I had to start up a blog post so I could inform readers of something to laugh at.

All the article winds up concluding is that people should be looking at getting more involved with their LDS church instead of spending their nights on Facebook or Twitter.

Would even a volley of Twitterific messages — at 140 characters or fewer — pierce a heart? A soul? An intellect? Perhaps no more than fleeting elevator chitchat. Probably less.

Even if one isn’t aiming for meaningful conversation or reflective dialogue online, though, there’s still something innately spiritual about connecting with the real world.

“I have never seen an electronic hug that worked worth a darn,” said Stephen Weber, institute instructor and a former bishop from Orem, Utah, who now is at the New Haven institute in Connecticut. “And last time I checked, kissing is just not as exciting on Facebook.”

That means I need to point out that involvement with any social group, be it friends or something more organized will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be a church. I never used to do a hell of a lot beyond work and show watching but then I started bowling with some girls from work and got invited to join their birthday group and then got the idea to hunt for local Freethinkers and then joined the Skeptics group that was a sideline of that, and then dated a really terrific guy I could communicate with (when he was around and phones were working). I hunted for more opportunities to do that with other people after we split and now I’m spending one or two nights a week with Badger, who is good fun, too.

The point is, I’m hardly at home alone anymore and it’s pretty cool. It’s nice to be involved with groups and having in-person social interactions. I did so much net-chat stuff in university when I should have been having in-person social interactions.. I already went through what kids today are now experiencing in terms of addiction to text messaging and the like. I got over it; maybe some of them will be able to do the same in time. Once they figure out what’s more important…

This needs to be read

September 24, 2010

Oooh, boy, have I learned that lesson.

You know that brave, fake face you put on to show the world while you’re torturing yourself on the inside? Did you know that everyone else has one, too?

Embrace that you have weakness. Because everybody does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.

Here’s your wake-up call:

You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.

You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle.

You aren’t the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.

You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

You aren’t the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.

You aren’t the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can’t figure out why.

You aren’t the only one that questions your sexual orientation.

You aren’t the only one who hates your body.

You aren’t the only one that can’t control yourself around food.

Your husband is not the only husband who’s [sic] addiction sends him online for his sexual fulfillment instead of to you.

Your wife is not the only wife that is mean and vindictive and makes you hate yourself.

You aren’t the only one who makes promises that deep down you know you’ll never be able to keep.

You aren’t the only one who pretends it doesn’t hurt when other people do that to you.

We’ve really done a number on ourselves, with the quest for perfect faces, perfect bodies, perfect kids, perfect jobs, perfect lives. I understand there’s always going to be pressure to measure up and it’s next to impossible to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to others, but at least if we can all sit back sometimes and realize the futility of this, maybe we’ll be motivated to do all that less often.

I think that’s a worthwhile ambition. Don’t you?

Morality Movie Monday – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

September 20, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write about this one which I watched a while back. Done in 2004, it winds up being a strange little story about a couple of people who each have a strange little procedure done to themselves so they can forget about each other. But, the story is told in such a way as to make that a bit of a surprise to discover. So yeah, I guess I might have spoiled that now, if spoilers can still exist for movies that old…

I’ll explain what I remember was important, plot-wise. Jim Carrey plays Joel and Kate Winslet plays Clementine, the woman he falls head over heels for. Twice. There’s a bit of a hitch the second time, though – neither one of them remembers the fact that Clementine deliberately had every memory of Joel wiped because she didn’t want to know him anymore and Joel was so distraught and upset over that, he later tried to do the same.

Mary (Kirsten Dunst) works for this company (that seemed less legitimate and more fly-by-night, I might add) but later discovers her boss (the always delightful Tom Wilkinson) had pretty much convinced her to go through the same treatment to get over the fact that he was never going to leave his wife and to forget she ever was in love with him. She doesn’t want to believe that shit went down, but it turns out the procedure was recorded. This is the turning point for everyone, because she quits the job and raids all the files on her way out, and delivers the vital recordings to every single person who thought that company was doing something good and beneficial to help them deal with pain.

I know I’ve said this before, but there’s nothing wrong with a little repetition if it helps a body remember something important: great or painful, experiences make us who we are. We got where we are today based on how we dealt with those experiences. Ideally, we’d all learn from a very early age how to deal with rejection and fear and loss and hurt and longing in better, more constructive ways. But we don’t. We’re ignored. We’re set aside. We’re told to shut up and cut out the tantrums but many of us aren’t shown how to get over whatever that little disappointment might have been, be it no toy at at the store or having to go to bed, or not getting to go out with friends on a school night. Probably because our parents never learned either.

So when there’s a really big disappointment, we’re lacking vital mental tools that would help us deal with that in a way that would help us grow as people instead of cripple us for years.

I hope memory erasing doesn’t become a reality. I can see it getting abused. I can see people being in charge of these machines believing they are doing a good thing when they’re really making things worse. How can you learn from a bad experience if you take away all memories you have of it? You can’t erase the memories of everyone around you at the same time, so they’ll all remember that crazy relationship that sent you around the bend a little, even if they are sent letters from the company requesting that nothing ever be said. Like that’s a promise easy to keep, or even worth keeping.

The idea is to learn from our experiences and hopefully not make the same mistakes twice. How can we ever hope to better ourselves if all we do is aim to forget what we did? How can we ever hope to better society if we collectively choose to forget or ignore the outcome of something that happened? Do we wind up doomed to repeat past failures when the lessons aren’t learned the first time around?

Religions aside, it’s all for a good cause…

September 9, 2010

Couple different stories – one away, one local.

Praise bands got together for a food fundraiser recently in the Mississippi Valley.

“It’s important, helping all of the people who are not as fortunate as we are,” Jacob Canty, 15, of Davenport said..

Proceeds will assist New Hope’s food pantry, part of Churches United of the Quad-City Area’s food ministries, and other hunger-relief efforts. The first event occurred in 2008, and the money raised then went to flood relief.

Coordinator Tony Kingsley of Davenport hopes to make the battle an annual event.

“It’s not really a battle. It’s a way to get all the praise bands together,” he said.

In years past, the food pantry would attract larger crowds on the last two Thursdays of the month – when people’s food stamps had ran out. However, with the quivering economy, pantry volunteers are busy keeping up with demand every Thursday.

“New Hope is just a small church, and the food pantry serves lots of big families. We serve all walks of life for the food pantry,” Evangelica vocalist Linda Canty of New Hope Church said.

This is a fine thing they do, even if religion has to be part and parcel in the food delivery. At least they’re putting something together that benefits their community’s physical health as much as the spiritual.

Yorkton, Saskatchewan, had a major flood occur on Canada Day (which I forgot about when I tried to request a CD from there..their library was hit hard and what little they could salvage worth loaning out is only available locally at the mall until further notice). They held a few fundraisers of their own, concerts included.

More than 700 tickets were sold for the night. On Monday, the preliminary total showed more than $30,000 raised, with liquor and silent auction sales still being counted.

“It was a total community effort,” Kohlert said. “Everybody was more than anxious to work for the cause.”

A second flood relief concert was held two nights later by “The Rock” 100.5 FM. All performers at this concert were from the Yorkton area.

“We’re a radio station, so we love promoting local Christian artists,” said the station’s general manager, Dennis Dyck.

Two artists, Rayanne Ottenbreit and the band Wired by Fire, participated in both of the weekend’s shows.

Originally planned as an outdoor concert, rain forced the event inside to Heritage Baptist Church, but turnout was still strong. Over 200 people were in attendance.

All money at this event was collected through a free will offering. Proceeds for the evening totaled about $1200, to be split between the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

“We’re very pleased,” said Dyck.

The Red Cross is at least a secular organization so yay for that. I wonder why Mr. Dyck had to be so specific about the kinds of artists they promote. If I’m ever in Yorkton, I think that’s going to be the last station I’ll tune into if that’s all they play. But anyway, congrats to the people in Yorkton and area that could put some money towards helping out. You done good, gang.

This just ruined my favourite movie ever

July 18, 2010


Kind of kills the romance when you over-analyze it like this…but sadly, I have to agree with her. My FSM, that’s a bad movie to give impressionable little girls. What was Disney thinking?

“Let’s make a racially profiled crab sing show tunes!” probably.


Another piece of childhood ruined.

Sure, men are to blame…

April 20, 2010

This winds up being something of a continuation of a previous post, since it looks like this letter to the editor is a rebuttal of a letter I wrote about here. So, the letter from Tim Van Hoffen Fenwick, entitled “Man, not religion, is responsible for suffering”:

Since secular humanists like facts so much, here are a few. Fact: we are a secular humanist society when it’s convenient, if we invade another country it’s because we’re Christian.

I wonder if he’s being facetious here. Or maybe he’s an American. Doesn’t Canada do more peacekeeper work than actual invading? It’s not like there’s any intention of a long-term takeover, surely. Then again, I don’t keep track of what our military does in Afghanistan, or wherever else “we” go. I have no idea what they’re up to. But are they going because they’re Christians, or because some higher-up told them to pack their gear and get a move on?

Fact: To be a Christian is not a label, you must try to live as Christ lived. Hitler: not even close!

“Christian” is too a label, and if everyone lived like Christ lived, everyone would be broke, bearded, and wearing linen underwear while starving in the desert.

Fact: There is no such thing as generic education; much of what is taught in school will always be influenced by religious perspective. Fact: Having a educational choice when it comes to curriculum is desirable. Why not perspective?

Is he advocating for a strong religiously-inspired curriculum here? I think religion needs to be pulled even further out of school than it is already. They can get that stuff after school if their parents want to give it to them. Religion has no place in math, health or science.

I’ll concede that it needs to be acknowledged for current events, if only as a means of explaining why people do what they do. For example, oil might be a motivation, but what faith fallacies are fed to the masses to justify all the violence required to get it? And history has to include religion, because so many people have guided their thoughts and actions by their belief systems, no matter how wrong and flawed they were – including Hitler.

Fact: the lowest common denominator to “avoidable” human suffering is not God or religion, it’s man. Fact: When it comes to oppression, if man can’t use religion to get what he can’t have, he will use something else. Science can be abused more readily than religion.

Sure, like money, or brute force. Or by killing two birds with one stone, i.e.) selling rifle sights secretly inscribed with bible verses. More often than not, they’ll utilize the wonders of scientific progress only so they can bolster them with a shitload of religious claptrap and remind people that God wants only one side to win – our side.

Fact: As Christians we believe that we are commanded by God to tell others about Jesus Christ. So I guess my question is, as the head of the religious order, the Niagara Secular Humanists,

Humanism is not a religion, it’s an ethical philosophy and not bound by dogma, ritual, or supernatural entities to guide morality. It’s closer to the “lowest common denominator” concept than Christianity is.

why monthly preach its gospel? It can’t be because you believe the world will be a better place without God. There’s no facts to support that, and then who ya gonna blame?

We’ll blame ourselves instead of a devil or a scapegoat. That at least would be an improvement. The reason there are few facts to support it is because few cultures have existed without some notion of a religion to back it up. We can, however, point to the least religious countries in the world (Estonia, Sweden and Denmark) and see how they’re doing. (H/T Daily Atheist for the link)

Men (and women) are to blame. That’s because our societies use Christianity, this man-made religion, to justify doing terrible things and those doing those things will still label themselves Christian and be proud of themselves. The Christian God is a god born of oppression and domination and slavery and war. Toss Jesus Christ into the middle of it and sing your kumbayayas until your heart bursts with joy if you want to, but that is fact. The bible demonstrates it, the Crusaders lived it, and presidents like George W. Bush preached it on a daily basis to a country willing to believe it.

I think the world would be better off without religion. Maybe then we’d see people as people, rather than rivals or heathens in need of soul saving. Maybe we’d be more willing to compromise, to give in, to live and let live. Maybe we’d help more, smile more, think more, visit more. Maybe we’d cease comparing our lifestyles in terms of better or worse, more right or wrong than someone else’s. Maybe we’d lose the chips on our shoulders, the selfishness, the greed. Maybe we’d care more about rescuing this planet instead of waiting impatiently for another life to begin on some other mystical plane of existence. And maybe all the assholes and bastards and sexually deviant child molesters would actually be held accountable for their actions. Maybe we’d get real equality and justice.

To be completely frank, I don’t see how we could do worse.

Pop culture vultures

November 11, 2009

If the entertainment world was a billiards table and every pop culture reference were a stripe or solid sitting on it, I’d be the cue ball that careens around the table yet drops into the dark corner pocket of cluelessness without ever knowing what I missed.

That’s not an entirely accurate analogy, but it’s close enough. I see movies (eventually), I watch some television (albeit a season or seven behind everyone else), and I have the internet. I’m never totally unaware of what’s popular in any given moment, but it might require a very annoying internet meme to be passed around the interwebs like a plague before I find out why.

What I do notice is that notoriety has become more interesting to our culture than behaviour that would actually be deserving of praise. On the rare occasion when I flip through a gossip mag or check a site, they’re all reporting on who’s doing drugs, who’s the babydaddy, and who flashed the camera flash again. She looks fat, he looks homeless. She’s still trying to “collect the whole set” of World Children, and he slept with someone who’s only reknown by proxy. So how come we still have to get news about him and a reality TV “star” who fell from grace? Who really gives a damn about any of them?

Although Andy Warhol is credited with saying “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” I’ve discovered he later refined the concept. He’s referring to Studio 54 (the actual club, not the movie based on it) here:

It’s the place where my prediction from the sixties finally came true: “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” I’m bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is, “In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous.”


But will we be famous for any worthwhile reason? Will it be our choice, or random unexpected happenstance? What is the Star Wars kid doing these days? Did Ghyslain Raza’s parents have to sue the parents of the kids responsible for his unwanted infamy? Maybe, maybe not. But those asshole students did not ask Gaza’s permission to take something he made for fun at school nor did he know they’d post it online so the whole world could mock his high nerd factor. Those kids didn’t even know who Gaza was. Newsweek has a great article about Gaza’s experience (among others) and how the internet is proving Warhol right.

For people who use blogs and social-networking sites like diaries, putting their personal information out there for the world to see, this presents a serious risk. “I think young people are seduced by the citizen-media notion of the Internet: that everyone can have their minutes of fame,” says Barry Schuler, the former CEO of AOL who is now the coproducer of a new movie, “Look,” about public video surveillance. “But they’re also putting themselves out there—forever.”

Shaming victims, meanwhile, have little legal recourse. Identifying posters often means having to subpoena an anonymous IP address. But that could lead nowhere. Many people share IP addresses on college networks or Wi-Fi hotspots, and many Web sites hide individual addresses. Even if a victim identifies the defamer, bloggers aren’t usually rich enough to pay big damage awards. Legal action may only increase publicity—the last thing a shaming victim wants. “The law can only do so much,” warns Solove.

We are long past the point where people will forget what we’ve done. We may sink into blessed oblivion for a little while, but everyone, everywhere, may be only one click away from the world’s attention.

How do you want to be remembered?

Saskatoon Freethinkers meet up

October 13, 2009

I found their group through Facebook and figured it was worth joining that for updates about meetings and things. They’re having a general meeting next Sunday so I RSVP’d myself. I suspect it’ll be worthwhile to get involved and meet other like-minded folks in the area. I could use an improved social network, as well.

I finally got a copy of Connected from the library and it’s depressing the hell out of me.

The book is by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler and it’s all about social networking and how that evolves and influences everything from marriage chances to emotions to obesity of all things.

As near as I can figure, my ability to get a date rests in the lap of my friends’ friends. If my friends don’t have any eligible friends they feel like dropping my name on, I’m less likely to meet anyone. Not that two strangers can’t meet randomly and hit it off, but these researchers have followed the stories of numerous people (and looked through reams of data on human habits going back decades) and have hit on something a bit different than Six Degrees of Separation. They call it the Three Degrees Rule. What we do affects our friends (one degree) who affect their friends (2 degrees) which kind of will affect friends of theirs. Word of mouth style communication and even work related success can travel this network but it’s usually limited to three degrees. Another ripple out from the original person and there’s very little original influence to be had. They call this the network-instability explanation

There’s also intrinsic decay where the usefulness of the information will fade over time (who to vote for etc.) especially since passing the information takes time, too. Or, if you’re like me and rarely check email, all kinds of intrinsic decay crap goes on. Sometimes I don’t find out things have happened with friends until it’s too late to enjoy the party or whatever. Assuming friends even bothered to email me, knowing what I’m like…

They also considered an evolutionary-purpose explanation for this, too. Since humans evolved to exist in relatively small social groups, it was likely everyone knew everybody (or at least knew someone who knew someone else). We’ve developed this three degree existence because it worked well enough to never need a wider circle of influence. Maybe this will change in time, too.

This winds up being a great argument to toss as those silly goosies who think atheists suddenly become amoral without a god. How could we, given how connected we are to everyone around us, how we’re influenced by so many people whether we’ve met them or not? How could we suddenly stop being influenced by the socially healthy construct of our communities? Avoiding violence and theft and rotten behaviour helps everyone. It’s flat out impossible to avoid being influenced by people unless you can hermit yourself somewhere and avoid all communication with everyone in every way. That includes body language. We get just as much from facial expression and posture as we do from speech. We just process it differently.

Every experience you have will affect someone else. Everyone you talk to today has already talked to so many other people who may have said something nice or done something mean in return. Their emotional feelings when you see them will automatically rub off on you. And you, in turn, will pass it to the next person who sees or speaks to you.

I’ll probably find something else to write about in regards to this book before I have to return it. It’s fascinating reading.


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