Monday, March 05, 2007

 

Selective Belief and Magical Thinking

I've started reading Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys." Neil's writing is so clear, so wonderous and magical, that when he writes that a character is a god, well, I simply can't not believe him. Human beings are extraordinarily adept at suspending disbelief and engaging in magical thinking. I know I've written about this before, but it's an idea that won't let go of me. I think it's because magical thinking makes life interesting (among the many other things that make life interesting). What I've noticed lately about magical thinking is that people make personal judgements about which things they'll suspend belief about and which they'll say are a bunch of bogus gobble-de-gook. For example, the Discovery Channel has a new program called The Lost Tomb of Jesus in which archaeologists claim to have found the tomb of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, complete with bones. Many Christians are freaking out about this because they believe in the ascension, that Jesus, body and all, ascended into heaven. Well, if Jesus went body and all, then there very well couldn't be bones left, could there? Magical thinking. Now, if you were to ask these same Christians about sacred pagan rites, they'd fall over themselves blustering on about how full of crap pagans are. They wouldn't believe in the pagan rites, although they might attribute them to devil worship. No magical thinking when it comes to the rites themselves, magical thinking galore in attributing them to the devil. Selective belief.

How do you practice selective belief or magical thinking?

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