Month: April 2017

Consensual reality

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“A long time ago a bunch of people reached a general consensus as to what’s real and what’s not and most of us have been going along with it ever since.”
Charles de Lint

The world as we experience it is a group project. The way each of us sees things includes a major filter. But how others see the world is also powerful.

Children have the world explained to them by the close adults when they are very young. They have an experience, and Mother or some other adult is there to explain things. “Don’t go in the street or you’ll be hit by a car.” “If you use a knife you’ll cut yourself.” This is easily reinforced with an occasional experience where the explanation is why something happened. “Fluffy died because she got old.” or “Santa didn’t bring the poor kids any toys because they didn’t eat their vegetables.” (when she’s been pushing the vegetable thing).

We get a bit older and we start getting explanations from other kids, some of which they came up with on their own, like the famous bits where Lucy tells Linus that snow doesn’t fall, it grows, the snow in the air is just blown around. Kids get many strange ideas  based on limited experiences. Religion is a way of explaining how the world works- you get that from family and at Sunday school. Get a little older, and in school teachers are offering their world view- rules and reality now become more arbitrary: “Your name goes in the top left corner of the paper” “George Washington never told a lie.” Somewhere along the line, especially if these various stories conflict, you realize that sometimes the kids (or uncles) are making things up just to see if you’ll believe them. You learn that some people just have different explanations for how things work; for the first time, you have to decide who you’re going to believe. Dad says that dreams are just made up stories your brain has, and Grandma says that they can be messages from the angels. You see a ghost and mom says you imagined it.

The decision on whether you believe what you experienced yourself, or whether you’ll accept someone else’s explanation is huge. You learn that if you try to argue about it, or even mention other ways of looking at some questions, someone may get cross with you. You learn to keep some of these to yourself. We call this growing up. “Going along” certainly makes your life easier, but sometimes uncomfortable.

One of the big things they teach kids in kindergarten is how to work together, to “play nicely”, to follow directions. In some schools, questions are encouraged, in others, they are discouraged, but it’s always easier to get a group of kids to do the same thing if you make it worth their while to go along. Some people learn that it’s so much easier to just do what their told, that they get in the habit of accepting whatever seems to be the dominant idea, or the idea of the person with the greatest power, and get on with their lives without asking questions.

 

Other people, like the “curious cat”, seem incapable of just taking someone else’s word for something. We all know people like that. We may BE people like that. It seems to be inborn, more than taught. It still comes down to trying to figure out how the world works, why things happen one way sometimes, and another way in another set of circumstances.  One could say that there are “cat people”, who MUST find things out for themselves, and there are “dog people”, who’s greatest comfort and joy is going along with what the others around them are doing. No matter which is the source of your joy, accept it, because it’s yours. Both have their advantages, and they are built in- it would be hard to change them anyway.

We’ve seen how people will hold onto faith in their own worldview even in the face of “proof” that convinces others. We seek out explanations, whether in science or in religion or in posts on social media that support our world view.

Having your view of reality challenged is really uncomfortable for most people. You may have heard the story of how the indigenous people of the Americans had no concept of large sailing ships, so they “couldn’t see them”, or how if your language doesn’t have a word for a concept, it’s hard for you to wrap your mind around it. We need certain tools, like words, to provide handles to grasp ideas.

But we can learn to change our ideas. Some people encourage us to do so, to do things that scare us, to entertain thoughts that make us uncomfortable. While sometimes we get past the discomfort and discover that we now live in a bigger, more varied world, the process is still uncomfortable. This is not something you do to someone else, although you can help make it less uncomfortable, and show them that the other side is safe. That their world will still be a good place, that the good things they had in it will still be there, but there will be more to enjoy. But the choice to expand into the new mental space is theirs. Help them, ease their way, or they will resist the changes and find greater evidence that the new information is WRONG.

It is natural for us to have similar views of the world, and comfortable, but the reality we share can be viewed from many perspectives, and learning to see things from the other point of view brings our reality into synch with that of others. We don’t have to play the same notes, but it’s less jarring to be in harmony. And if you have seen a ghost, is it easier to convince yourself you haven’t or simply not try to convince who don’t believe? If they see one themselves some day, maybe that’s soon enough.

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Sociology of Religion on the New Normal

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Please join Tchipakkan and Thor Halverson on the New Normal 8 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 8-9 p.m. edt.

If you missed the live show, the link to the podcast is here.

Where does Religion come from, and what happens to it along the way? Let’s face it, “Someone out there” talks to us, gives us useful information, and things move around. We see things, hear things, feel things. We can pretend that this doesn’t happen, but it’s bad science to try to explain it away rather than figure out what’s going on. These voices and inner messages may come from our ancestors (that’s how some identify themselves) or pixies causing trouble (one explanation). Humans have psychic experiences, and in pre-history religions developed as much to explain these experiences as to explain “natural phenomena” (the usual justification for religion).
Sociology is studying the role religion plays in our live. We will look at how religion has been used by humans, for example the Colonization of Belief. How religions like Christianity have relegated some religions into mythologies, devoiding them of religious status and practice and rights,.. treating them as dead religions, or “useless ridiculous beliefs”, regardless of whether those religions actually still have followers or not.

Once they are removed from religious rights and status, these beliefs lose representation and are removed from being considered in the cultural expectations and knowledge, only preserved as “folktales”. Granted, some current practitioners may be recreating practices, but that doesn’t negate the validity of their belief.

Religion has been used as the justification for war, for colonization, for eradication of other religions and peoples It also been used for political and social conformity, influence, and control. Religions borrow ideas from one another, although they rarely admit it. One thing is for certain, all religions evolve and change over time. If we are going to direct where Religion is going, we need to acknowledge that it does change, and see what makes it more likely to change and how those processes work.

Join the conversation!

Call 619-639-4606 between 8:05 and 8:50.

If you just want to listen (while doing other stuff on your computer), you can open a window on your computer to www.Liveparanormal.com, click the “Listen Live and Chat” listing under the “radio-listen/chat room” heading, and click “LISTEN HERE”
If you can’t tune in 8-9, Live Paranormal.com archives its shows by date, and I archive them by date, guest, and topic on my website: http://tchipakkan.wordpress.com/the-new-normal/directory-of-podcasts/

Hope you can join Thor and me tomorrow night from 8-9 at the New Normal on liveparanormal.com

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Shared Joy

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Humans are animals that congregate in tribes, some think of them as packs, others as herds. Anyone who’s been in a large crowd has felt how the individuals seem to meld into one organism, sharing fear, anger, or excitement. We are connected.

The reason we give gifts at holidays is not because we like getting more stuff, but because we crave the joy that comes when we’ve found something perfect for someone we love or admire.  Tolkien’s Hobbits understood that when they gave presents away on their birthdays.

When you can touch another person’s emotions, you connect- energy flows between you. Some people will fall back on making someone angryd: if they can’t make them happy, just to make a connection.

I love this word: Macarism: “finding pleasure in being the source of another’s joy.” I would love for it to become as well known as Schadenfreude “finding pleasure in the misfortune of others”.  But both recognize that we feel a need to connect with others. And when their joy gives you joy, and your joy gives them joy, it creates an every increasing pleasure that may spill out onto others as well.

When we share our sorrow, we also give the other the gift of trust, that we know that they will help if they can, and sympathize if they can’t. When we hear about others problems, we know that we haven’t been singled out for punishment, it’s just what happens sometime, and that our friends understand why we can’t feel happy at that moment. The situation may still be awful, but at least we know someone understands.

Connection, whether to other people, or to spirits, brings joy.

SIave

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Volunteering at CTCW

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You can get in free by volunteering, and there are even jobs to do before the con so you can spend the whole time there going to panels, workshops and other activities. Contact us to find out more!

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