Religion Fiction … A Continuation …
Lifted From: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World
Children brought up in a religious environment, according to a recent BBC story, are more prone to believe in fictional characters. The story, based on research from my alma mater, Boston University, suggests that if children are taught to believe miraculous stories at a young age, they will more likely believe that fictional figures are based in reality too.
Undoubtedly this will be seen as yet another brick in Montresor’s wall by those who can find no good in religion. The reasoning will go something like this: believing in no religion is the “neutral” position. If we raise children in a religious context, we are inclining them toward a fictional belief system and making them less likely to reason their way out of it. Therefore, we should raise children secular.
Even in the BBC story there are dissenting voices. Perhaps children who learn about Jesus find Thor a more compelling character. Perhaps they are open to possibilities that logic shuts out. Our brains have two hemispheres for a reason. I often wonder whether it is possible to be fully human while ignoring about half of what evolution gave us to work with.
Logic tells me that religious belief serves a survival function. And my creative side still appreciates the possibilities that my Manhattan brain is forced to shut down every day when I punch the clock. If there’s nothing more than work, perhaps believing in fiction serves a valuable function after all. But I suspect this is playing right into the rationalists’ hand. Pass me another brick, will you, Fortunato?
The jury, however, is still out on the nature of reality. Even for materialists. Gods of the gaps tend not to survive very well. The question is actually much larger than that. We don’t know the nature of ultimate reality. We’re not even sure what reality is yet.
Can a parent who believes in God, after the experience of growing to maturity in a heartless universe, be blamed for teaching their children the same? No humane parent raises their child purposefully teaching them falsehoods. Yes, some children are damaged by religious upbringings. Some are damaged by materialist upbringings as well.
What seems to have shifted, in my humble opinion, is the popular perceptions of religion. What used to be understood as the foundation of a civil society is now challenged as a harmful fantasy that encourages children to grow up into terrorists or non-functioning adults.
The belief that we can raise children with no biases, however, is clearly fiction. Until we have the full truth, there should be room for both Gilligan and the Professor on this island. But then again, I was raised to believe in the divine world, so what do I know?
*** *** *** ***
I am a child of the 1970’s,80’s and beyond. Now in my late 40’s I can reflect on what I have learned so far, and be able to look back on what I learned early on. If you grew up in this period of time, then you will get all these references that I am about to write about.
I come from a Catholic background. And back in the day there was much family and prayer, saints and church. But aside from all of that there were many outings and adventures.
The first movies I remember were Old Yeller, Bambi, and the much anticipated Star Wars. We went to see the very first installment at Twin City Theatres in New Britain Ct. I’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.
And as I look back on 47 years of life. we can safely say that George Lucas gave the world something to believe in. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …
CUE Music ….
I never thought about religion or God when viewing these movies. Fictional characters were larger than life. Luke, Leia, Obi Wan and of course Yoda. Then you had the dark side represented by Darth Vader. Those movies were stories for the ages.
Faith – Power – Good – Evil – The Light – and The Darkness – Family Etc …
I would not realize what that meant for a very long time. And cannot be seen unless in retrospect. From this side of the story and not the earlier. As the next two motion pictures came out, the story filled out and we got a few steps closer to the depth and gravity of the story.
I remember sitting in the Falls Theatre, I was a teen ager by now, watching Return of the Jedi and I had a spiritual experience watching Luke being tortured by the Sith Lord. And Darth coming to his rescue. I felt emotions that I could not name, however they were occurring at that time.
That whole series of movies were existential and spiritual for me. There are no two ways about it. They certainly made an impact in my life and the way I chose to live it after all these years.
The whole cosmic universe of Star Wars was a teaching in religion and faith from a distant galaxy. I know that now, having studied the worlds greatest religions in university and spent 47 years getting to know God myself.
Over the decades we played with toys, you know we all had them. We built legos and star fighters. We had the figurines. And we believed that those people were indeed real because George Lucas brought them to our collective consciousnesses. Amid all that was going on in the world, we could escape into the universe of Star Wars when ever we wanted to.
I know we have all seen the Star Wars Trilogy and the subsequent prequels several times over, I know I have. What was more important was that in the 70’s and 80’s we got to live on Tatooine, and live the life of Luke and his family, like they were our family.
We learned all the teachings of Yoda. And I am sure we can all quote word for word every sentence he spoke from every movie he was in. I know for myself that I still cling to those words and I have applied them to my life and I use them in the work that I do today with others.
Do or Do Not … There is No Try !!!
Yoda, you seek Yoda, Take you to him …
Yoda was a teacher, and I am positive that the world is a better place because of him and the other teachers of the stories. Escapism, either good or bad, can lead to spiritual awakening or another. And I believe that my horizons were broadened in the experience of these stories.
God or the universe, what ever you called it then, existed. I believe that those movies fueled the hearts and minds of millions over the decades. I think it was a bit special to be of the generation to have experienced Star Wars in Theatre as they were released.
Today’s generation, only get them on dvd. They did not get to see the movies on Big Screens. When they did the digital reload of the films, I got to see them on DVD, I own the collection today.
I don’t know if the impact of these films were or are as great as when they were first released. Times were different. We did not have the internet or social media, and today’s kids are too engrossed with technology to sit for a long period of time and concentrate on anything that isn’t connected to Twitter, Facebook or a Cell Phone.
I know that my love of music, from the 70’s onwards was part of my lexicon. The movies were as well. And when finally cable tv came to Florida when I was a teen ager, we got to see much more film and programming.
Things were much simpler in those days. We had each other. We had family, we had friends, whom we shared our greatest treasures with. Music, Film and TV.
In the last fifteen years, Peter Jackson gave us the Hobbit and all those stories. I read them in school, and I have the books in my library, but I did not take to them like I took to Star Wars and other stories.
We had the Tween movies of late.
And then there is Harry Potter.
Harry Potter. Do you dig him like I do?
I fell into Harry Potter because of my therapist who’s office was decorated in Harry Potter Sheik. When we were talking I gravitated towards him, because I felt like an orphan and I was alone in my life and I really needed certain direction.
When I learned that Harry and I shared a birthday in common, I was hooked. It is also J.K. Rowling’s Birthday as well. I have every book and related story that was published. All the monster books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and of course all of the books, and every dvd that was produced.
I remember the day the first Harry Potter movie came out, I was living on South Beach and I bought two tickets and I had to watch the first one by myself, however hard a good friend tried to go with me, I insisted we take in the second showing together.
I think I had the first three books by the time I moved here to Montreal in 2002. And Montreal does books very well. Each subsequent release was an event to partake. The book stores were decorated, the employees dressed up and there were hundreds of people who would come to partake and be sorted into houses and then wait for hours until the midnight release time to get your next book.
Harry Potter is another Story for the Ages. No matter where you live, or who you are, unless of course you derided magic and everything to do with Harry, you got hooked, at least I did.
I got to grow up all over again.
I even have my own wand that my therapist gave me when I moved here. Harry Potter fandom is not isolated. The world was taken by him and the story.
I loved reading. And if you search Harry on my blog here you will find hundreds of entries about him. When each book came out I would sit a read through the entire book in one fell swoop. I did that for all of the books.
And to this day, I have several Harry Potter books along side my bed at arms reach so that I can read certain chapters over and over again. I loved Harry, but silently I always rooted for Ron Weasley. The stalwart sidekick who always got second billing.
Hogwarts was a place we could all believe in.
The battle for Good over Evil.
The importance of Family and of Memory.
The value of Friendship and Honor.
The incalculable potency of certain magic.
If you’ve read the Deathly Hallows, then you understand these things.
Like Star Wars, for the older set of folks who are reading, Harry Potter was of this age, something to cling to, to honor, to love and to cherish. We all know what house we belong to.
I am a Gryffindor… I was sorted a long time ago.
And I think we all strive to be a little like our counterparts from the stories. And I think we carry a little of each character/person into our daily lives.
So what does God have to do with any of this?
Do you believe in God? Did you believe in the Star Wars Universe? Were you a Trekkie? Are you a Potter Head? Do you have a favorite story or set of books you would carry with you to your grave and believe strongly in the story, its characters and the words on the page?
Does your faith in God battle with the Gods and Characters of Fiction?
I say that if you have a solid faith in God, or in the faith you practice, then none of this should shake that foundation. That has been the battle for the last ten years for some, people get all in arms over religion and faith, that any little chink in the chain rattles them to high heaven. God forbid …
Can you find or did you find room in your religious/spiritual lexicon to include all those favorite characters you have read in your lifetime as a belief system?
And does the fictional world augment or detract from your religious/spiritual life?
Can both exist in the same space/mind? And if it can how has it impacted the life you live and the way you work with and or relate to others?
I just thought that this was an interesting post, originally found on his blog. I said as much, in fewer words there the other night.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you like it, give it a thumbs up.
More to come, stay tuned …