Ep 299 – Infants on Road Trips: The Weirdness

Written by on August 26, 2016

Matt and Glenn continue their in-car post-Sunstone discussion — this time about magic, marijuana, and three patterns.  And rituals.  And what it means for something to be weird.  And other things.  And Matt demonstrates the gracious way to embrace defeat, and ignorance, and shame.  Darkly.  Again.  And sometimes Glenn writes really weird episode descriptions.  Like this one.  Again.

  1. Ryan Gregson   On   August 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Argh, I wanted to jump into this conversation so bad. I felt like the distinction that wasn’t being made was the difference between a ritual and a magic ritual. Wedding – ritual, consecration of oil and blessing – magic ritual. Is that fair? And I think that goes a long way in picking out what makes some rituals weird and others not. Perspective is definitely a huge part of it, the inside/outside. But the supernatural aspect, whether present or not wss the aspect you guys were dancing around but weren’t seeing eye to eye.
    I’ve still got about twenty minutes left, so maybe you guys touch on this, but I had to get that off my chest.

    • Glenn   On   August 26, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      The thing I wish I would have made more clear is that ultimately the supernatural ritual vs. non-supernatural ritual doesn’t really matter. What gives a ritual transformative power is human consensus. It is agreement – the social contract people enter into that changes their perception of a person/object as having been “transformed” whether there is anything supernatural about that transformation or not.
      Is a wedding a supernatural ritual that transforms two single people into one married couple? You may say no, it isn’t. But why, then, is that ritual so often tied to religion? If it is officiated under the supposed auspice or authority of God, is that not a supernatural element to it? And at the end of the day, does it really matter how supernatural it was or wasn’t? It is a human creation, meant to imbue meaning into life. Supernatural implications or not, it is still a traditional human expression, very common among all peoples and cultures, that can connect us through OUR shared humanity rather than seperate us through THEIR percieved weirdness (and our implied percieved superiority by virtue of not being weird like them weird weirdos). Although that is ultimately a matter of concensus as well.

      • Ryan Gregson   On   August 26, 2016 at 11:55 pm

        Great points. And in fact immediately when I resumed the podcast, you specifically made the distinction between magic and non magic ritual. But like you say, is that a meaningful difference? Maybe not. But maybe there’s really only no difference to those who don’t ‘believe in magic’. To us, baptism is baptism. But to a missionary, there’s only one real baptism that has ‘power’.
        Maybe this touches on that whole cultural relativism discussion? We see shamanism as ‘weird’ in our culture. Is it just because it’s different from our western medicine? Or is it also because it has little to no scientific basis. Not that that’s a reason to disrespect (sorry for the R word) that culture. I agree with what you say, that ritual is a human expression we all share, but not all of them claim to make a *real* difference.
        Maybe the weird label is the issue. I’ll have to go back and see why the word was brought up in the first place.
        Anyway, this is difficult to discuss typing on my phone. Interesting topic.
        Going on a road trip tomorrow. Need an infant to hash it out.

      • Ryan Gregson   On   August 27, 2016 at 12:09 am

        And of course now you’re talking about the cultural relativism. I should listen to the whole podcast before I comment.

      • Randy Quentin Meyers   On   August 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm

        I would like to hear a discussion on the Book of Mormon’s hit after hit in its verses about Gifts, Miracles, and why the True Restored Church was going to certainly have these and not deny them like all the then contemporary protestant and the popular American sects, —-contrasting this with any tbm members’ generally weak justifications for lack of- or redefinition of- miracles, gifts, prophesies, and seering, in any of the supposed prophets, seers they claim to have and uphold as such.

      • Omi   On   August 30, 2016 at 5:44 am

        yes this is a most curious contradiction. Mormon chapter 9 is all about how bible-scale miracles (not just “sister got ill with flu and then became better” or “I found my lost key”) happen all the time for God’s people every dispensation. if miracles cease, you have not faith.
        So then how come no TRUE miracles in the church of Jesuschrist of latter day saints? the only conclusion, for we read atruth in book of mormon (as stated above), is that no one NOT EVEN THOMSA Monson! has true faith.
        how distressing!
        makes me want to become a rock watermormon.

  2. AnotherClosetAtheist   On   August 30, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Glenn – you said something that really jumped out at me: the idea that religion may have started as a way to try to control the world around you. I’ve had the same idea bouncing around in my head. I don’t know if it was an original thought or something that I learned elsewhere.
    Do you have any information more in-depth about this? I’ve had the opinion that religion attempts to do three things: (1) Explain the world, (2) Predict the world, and (3) Control the world. Creation stories explain, prophecies predict, and prayer/rituals control.
    I don’t know if this is an out-of-date notion about religion, and you seem to be smarted up on it. Would love to hear anything more you can shed on this.
    I really wanted to avoid a Three Pattern™ out of pure principle, but it didn’t work out this time.

    • Omi   On   August 30, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Neurosis is anxiety stress caused due to one’s internal desired reality not matching actual reality. Neurotic thoughts/actions are attempts to cope with this dysjunction.
      Religion is formalized and institutionalized neurosis.it is an exercise in collective self-imposed mental illness.

  3. Tim   On   August 30, 2016 at 3:32 am

    It seems like most people I know have no interest in unpacking all the different meanings and implications of commonly used words like “weird” or “respect”. Once you have those conversations to establish mutually understood definitions, it’s easier to have deeper conversations about thorny subjects. Since most people have no interest in unpacking loaded or slippery terms, most public discourse dead ends in people talking/shouting past each other. And the more polarized the topic, the greater the chance of communication breakdown. Sam Harris spends a lot of time breaking down terms and definitions, and I admire him for discussing the most incendiary questions imaginable. I also find him most believable when he admits to being wrong and changes his position. It is evidence of freedom from dogma. After towing the line of indefensible official church positions for too many years, it’s liberating to say “I guess I was wrong” or “I see your point” and just change your mind. Kudos to you, Matt. I admire you even more now. Also, Sam Harris hosts interesting discussions, but it’s a lot more fun listening to you guys.

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