So David Malki drew something typically cute today.
I expect those might, indeed, sell. This said only half facetiously. But then, I suppose, an appetite for blatant fan service is hardly a crime unique to believers.
(Fan service, for anyone who’s never heard the term, is essentially pandering to tastes, giving them exactly what they want; forgive me if all the readers here are the sorts of media savants who know this already, but anyway, for anyone who just might not… In original use, it usually implied titillation, scantily clad women, that sort of thing, as it came out of anime and manga worlds in which this did tend to be the way it was done. The term has since acquired a more general meaning, and a little more flexibility.)
Being told what you want to hear, seductive, manipulative content, playing to sexual appetites or ego, it’s all in the game. And in a lot of games, really. And I sometimes think a lot of good could be done if together with the critical thinking classes (or within them) I dream a proper education should include, this could be pointed out: when someone is telling you exactly what you want to hear, stroking your ego or some other bit of you that doth tend to respond particularly positively to such attention, do try to bear in mind at least just what their motivation might be… And keep an eye on what their other hand is doing.
Being told you’re on the path of righteousness, pure, better than the rest, a people apart, to inherit the world or a heaven in which harp virtuosity is a given or to be delivered into an eternity of nights of pleasure with a copious supply of virgins upon the event of your demise, these, in one area in particular, have been the traditional carrots to go with the sticks. There, I suppose, the psychology is a little more complicated than the boobs and butts of manga fan service; it’s a little more multidimensional, in practice: a sort of a vise (as in those things with jaws, as I suppose there could be confusion, here)–at one end, the self-denial and the ascetism, by which you prove yourself to yourself and your peers, and are conditioned to commit, a commitment you must and will rationalize as having been worth it, at the other, that reward of telling yourself you’re better, purer, part of the chosen. And so are minds held to swear themselves to doctrines which, absent such manipulations and social pressure, would generally not greatly impress anyone as making much sense.
… well, there’s that and the social pressure. What would your grandma think, dear? And you do want the rest of this very Christian community actually to patronize your business, yes? And you don’t want to be subject to whispering suspicion? Well, then, we hope to see you in the pews, this Sunday.
By way of introduction: I’m AJ Milne. I’ve been online, writing on belief and unbelief for some years, now. A lot longer than I really intended, incidentally. As I don’t think I ever really meant to become an atheist writer at all. I’d have been happy to have just been a writer who happens to be an atheist, but, well, here we are. Perhaps I’ll get into the story of how all that happened. Someday. When I work out what it is.
Anyway, these have tended to be my subjects, especially. Among a few others. But especially, of late: why people get pulled into religions, why they stay. Social pressures, manipulation, the bread and butter (if you ask me) of how it is such apparently incoherent and thus theoretically easily rubbished things as religions do manage to survive–or have so far–all the same.
… and, of course, the payments exacted for remaining too visible an unbeliever, too vocal a critic of established or striving religions. As this is, I think, something of an outgrowth of the same set of phenomena.
And I’m happy to be here among this group. So thanks much for the invitation, and I’ll do what I can to keep up the standards thus far set.