23 July 2010


Being non-religious, even anti-religious, is difficult. In a culture that is pervaded with religious symbolism and appeals to religion especially.

There's two ways to deal with it that I've found.
1) Don't care, make up your own interpretation of meaning. Or perhaps just enjoy the artistic value of something in spite of its religious overtones or mentions. Lots of classical music and art is in this theme for me, though it's much less so with literature (anybody who liked Brothers Karamazov and Heart of Darkness is probably not the most likely person to attach a lot of liking to a lengthy religious intoning by a novelist). Lots of rap has these appeals as well. I presume some country music does the same for people like that sort of thing.
2) Look into what other people think it means, and then put your own spin on it.

So the Wire opens up with a gospel like blues song as its theme.

It's pretty heavy on the "literal" religious images (such as religion has literal images). But those religious images seem to be fairly universal for most of us. We suffer from "temptation", things that we want but maybe shouldn't have. We have to walk through places in our lives that we don't and didn't want to go in the first place, and so on. I suppose you could blame that at some external force and deal it with it that way by calling on further external forces to presume to help take these problems away for us.

But since this was the theme for the Wire, I never saw anybody asking to take something away in that way on there, much less see a problem wished away in this manner, or even the burden eased that way. And I can't say I've ever seen that work for anybody else out in the real world either. People do something themselves usually (maybe with some external help from people they know, if they ask or if it seems needed), and they either take the credit for themselves or they blame something else for their successes and failures. There isn't a whole lot of mystery to it that requires the majestic symbolism and appeals to cosmic forces to explain. But it doesn't make the actual dealing with the things any easier for the people involved to know this. And in a sense, it does mean that we have to keep things down in a hole sometimes, maybe to pocket them for later in acts of patience or mercy, and maybe to draw them out like a poison by ourselves where they are pains that we don't want to expose or share.

Some people draw strength from the presumption they are not alone when they do this, and that's their purpose for faith. I'd rather give or draw strength to and from people because they are alone than play make believe that they're not and wait for them to get the point and start moving the pieces around the board for themselves. I'm not seeing much getting done that way.
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