June 25, 2003

Afraid of What?

Mike asks, in the comment section of the last post:

What are these people so afraid of? Freedom of thought?
It's tough to say, since we're talking about a diverse group of folks.

But let me thow a couple of things out.

Fear is a big motivating emotion for a lot of inexplicable behavior. But I wonder the same thing you're wondering.

My first thought along these lines is that these people imagine filling their children's minds with the ideas of their religion. Religion is a kind of idea virus, a meme.

The cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter is another meme, and it spread awfully far awfully fast. Some people who embrace a certain meme feel that they are at meme warfare with other memes. While we often think of meme warfare as applying to things like consumer products where advertising slogans battle it out for our mindshare, some people feel the same way about their religion. To someone like myself who feels religion is a very personal thing, it's baffling, but some people have externalized their religion and only get validation when they feel their meme is spreading. My meme can beat up your meme, or whatever.

I think that, for some people, the witchcraft aspect is not the foremost aspect of how they feel inside. However, it's what you hear the loudest because it's both the weirdest and for some reason they think they'll frighten enough other people with it to get attention.

Back on meme warfare, memes fight to survive in the jungle of ideas. If these people feel their meme is losing, they are scared sh--less. There is a call to arms and it's time to attack the other memes (popular culture is full of them, all dangerous) before these memes kidnap the next generation.

But it takes a lot of energy to keep a good meme down. There is enough respect for freedom of thought that what we end up having is a pretty diverse meme marketplace.

I have to imagine that these people would be a lot happier, fulfilled, and wise if they turned that energy inward. Instead if evangelizing there religion meme, they ought to examine how they can transform their own personal meatspace into a more dogma-compliant mode. To throw around some buzzwords.

Speaking of religion as meme, this site is devoted to the Christianity Meme. From that site:

American Values and Ethics

In many cases, the propagation of the Christianity Meme is at odds with American values and ethics. The People for the American Way have kept watch and chronicled the threats to American values and ethics by religious groups and others. Here, we describe the Christianity Meme's suppression of fairness, equality and freedom of expression, separation of church and state, and abuse of political power. When pressed, "True Christians" will tell you that American principles are less important than the moral principles of Christianity. If there is a perceived conflict, most Christians will consciously violate American ethics. These same Christians have been elected to positions throughout American government and are working on the Christianity Meme's behalf to tear down its obstacles.

I would shy away from picking on Christianity in particular. However, some of these people do feel it is their destiny to spread their meme via government office. You'll hear them often declaring America as a Christian nation. That would bother me a lot less if these people acted more like the Christians I respect. But, alas, the people I respect don't spend their time trying to impose there meme on others.

Posted by James at June 25, 2003 9:32 AM
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I submit for consideration the "Jedi meme."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2757067.stm

"The 2001 census reveals that 390,000 people across England and Wales are devoted followers of the Jedi 'faith' made famous by the blockbuster films."

Posted by: Patti M. at June 25, 2003 11:12 AM

I think it's great that this brouhaha may have helped them reach a previously tough to reach demographic.

Posted by: JP at June 25, 2003 12:07 PM

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