Monday, January 31, 2022

Shmuckiness and Christianity

In my recent posting "Sunk Cost Prolongs Idiocy", I noted that adults don't learn (because it requires conceding ignorance), or change (because it requires conceding wrongness), or improve (because it requires conceding inadequacy). We must feel stupid to become smart. But we'd much rather be idiots than feel like idiots. This explains the vast preponderance of idiots…and also the epidemic of zany self-overestimation. 

But there's an exception. One proposition poked through and persuaded people - loads and loads of people! - to eagerly acknowledge shortfall and seek closure.

Christianity became the greatest success of the past millenium by marketing the proposal that you are a sinner, but (the "Good News"!) you can be saved, if you merely let go and let God (that specific credo is a late arrival, but it's a goodie, as even a crusty old Indian swami I knew had to admit).

Christianity played a certain angle, targeting a specific sense of shortfall people were willing to cop to - especially once the movement reached critical mass. And, just like me baiting delicious yummy cupcakes, it came with its own easy solution - one far less daunting than learning, changing, or improving. Surrender’s literally a no-brainer (and it really does work).

The Church somehow persuaded millions of humans, who normally cling to lofty self-images, to concede their shmuckiness (aka sinfulness). An incredible feat, akin to making dogs dance on hind legs. No wonder it was a smash hit!

Of course, it no longer works. Hasn't for a while. While Christianity remains a potent tribal identity (like rooting for a football team), the meat of the thing - "I'm a sinner submitting to salvation" - has been largely erased from the picture and replaced with things like prosperity gospel, i.e. "I DESERVE THE VERY BEST!"

As rich, comfortable, narcissistic moderns, we've sealed all gaps, glimpsing no self-shortcomings. "I am neither miserable nor a sinner. I am not, in any way/shape/form, a shmuck." That level of self-delusion, ignoring mounds of evidence, is what modern society deems healthy. Now that we’re all immaculate, we project the palpable sense of shortfall back onto the World itself, which, it goes without saying, TOTALLY SUCKS.

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