Mar 15, 2003

Justin and I spent the day together, not doing much of anything out of the ordinary. I wanted to go to Framingham this afternoon to check out a home theater system at Cambridge Soundworks, so I looked around there while he watched Monsters Inc, which was actually playing on the very system I wanted to check out, then Toys R Us was right next door, so we went over there to look around, and they had the one Rescue Heroes robot guy that he hadn’t been able to find at Walmart, so we got that, and that was about it. Otherwise he played some computer games while I watched the recap of the sixth stage of Paris-Nice on OLN, we went out to lunch at McDonalds, got the drycleaning, went to the post office, etc. etc., nothing too strenuous.

This Elizabeth Smart thing seems to bear a mention. While it’s nice to hear about something other than Iraq, and actually a story with good news for once, I would tend to think it would get just as much airplay even if there was no impending war. What I find interesting about the whole thing is that here again is a case of someone doing something in the name of religion. The presumption has always been that without religion society would break down as the threat of eternal damnation or whatever would be taken away as a deterrent from commiting some heinous act. This may be true for petty things, but I tend to think that most people faced with proof of the non-existence of god would probably just sink into oblivion rather than go out and trash their surroundings. It’s sort of the Detroit syndrome, it seems people are more likely to riot over proof of the existence of god rather than non-existence, for some reason. But anyway, although this by no means the norm or even that common, every so often there’s a high profile instance like this Elizabeth Smart thing where the perpetrator is doing something for religious reasons which is deemed illegal and immoral by society as a whole. Much like terrorists think its ok to kill thousands of people because their religion is correct and the other people’s is not. The only comment to be drawn from this is that it tends to support the theory that religion is not necessarily a panacea, or opiate or whatever, that we may think, at least not for everyone who is drawn to it. And the fact that Ms. Smart herself seems to have been deeply religious, from a sheltered background, and probably something of a goody-twoshoes, probably worked against her in that she didn’t have the acuity at her disposal to see her situation for what it was and try to do get out of it, but instead chose to play along, which inevitably led to brainwashing, which incidentally would seem to be easier to do on somebody of that personality and belief. Although I didn’t know them then, I would be inclined to think that if at age 14 Beth or Nancy or Dawn or some other intelligent, strong-willed, but not necessarily non-religious girl was subjected to a similar situation, they would have found a way out of it. This doesn’t intend to speak ill of Elizabeth Smart herself, just of the religious fervor that got her into that mess, and religious myopia that kept her in it.

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