God in the Machine

Literally "God in the machine", Deus Ex Machina originally referred to Greek plays, where the "gods" would be lowered onto the stage with ropes in order to provide a quick resolution to the story. Today, Deus Ex Machina refers to any improbably and/or overly convenient character or mechanism that comes out of nowhere and saves the character(s).


"I don't get it, Big Dan..." -George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A quick lesson in what you believe.

In my college psych class, a buddy of mine and I pulled off a semester-long project with the working theory that "believing a thing is true can often make it true." In other words, our perceptions and stories and opinions shape reality as much as reality itself. For more on this topic in cinema, see the movies Big Fish and Secondhand Lions. Mostly Big Fish.

Anyway, in the project, we told office members to select one of their own for a "target." Then, from the moment they came in that day, folks made "random" observations concerning their health. That is to say, secretary X looks fine, but we all tell her at different times "Are you tired?," "You don't look well," "you should take the rest of the day off; you seem a little sick," etc.

In (you're gonna love this) 100 percent of the 19 office settings we studied, the "victim" reported feeling unwell by day's end.

So, how does that transfer to, say, political or religious beliefs?

Well, Republicans only care about the rich. They kill for oil, at least partly because they love war. Democrats hug trees, hate guns and wish Jesus WOULD come back so they could nail him to the tree again.

With me so far?

Ok, fellow Christians: Jesus is the Son of God. His death and resurrection means you can go to Heaven. Um, HOW?? Even if Jesus was sinless on earth, even if He did rise from the grave, how does that magically mean YOU get to go to Heaven???

The simple truth is that, at the heart of it, under all the doublespeak, we believe things very often because we have heard them very often. Tell a kid growing up in Sunday School that it's true often enough and he confuses repetition with belief.
(NOTE: I believe that the Jesus thing is true, and have my own, personally-earned reasoning)

So tell enough people often enough that the media has a bias, pull a few proof-text quotes from the Times, and voila! A new reality emerges. People react to it as a tangible thing. They write and DON'T write based on this perceived bias, perception equaling reality in the marketplace.

So here's your homework:

-Do you really think anyone on the other side of the political fence "hates America"?
-Do you really think Republicans are just like Nazis?
-Do you really think Clinton lying about an affair with an intern could "erode the morals of America" and "lead us to anarchy"?
-If gays marry, explain again how YOUR life will change.
-A: Jesus died, was resurrected, B: ???, C: You go to Heaven for eternity. Fill in step B with a logical means of connecting A and C.

Now, go sit down for a bit. You look terrible.

Are you sick?


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