Sunday, February 21, 2021

A woo-woo follow-up.

Free Photos | Pixabay
I want to thank everybody who commented, both here and on Facebook, on my post last week about my weird experiences. I was gratified to get so many responses. (Okay, I didn't get as many responses as I got on this week's viral Facebook post -- "who's the most famous person you've met?" -- but still.) And I'm certain others would have commented if they'd seen my post (thanks, Facebook...) or if they'd felt comfortable talking about their weird experiences in public.

Because a lot of us aren't. One of the stories I shared last week, I'd kept to myself for 30 years. People think no one will believe them -- or that others will think they're crazy. Depending on their religious persuasion, they might even be accused of consorting with the devil.

Our society doesn't give us a useful frame of reference for these experiences. Science is no help; you can't reproduce a weird experience on command. Look, I am a big booster of science.  How else would we have gotten Perseverance to Mars this week? How will we ever be free of this virus without medical breakthroughs like vaccines? 

But science doesn't have all the answers. 

I heard that: "Yet." Well, maybe. Or maybe there are some things science will never be able to explain. Especially if scientists insist on approaching weird occurrances with a materialist mindset. You can't force a ghost to materialize, after all, or allow someone to hear a voice from the Otherworld that's speaking only to you.

And as John Beckett mentioned in his blog post today, the frames of reference we do get from society aren't helpful. A whole lot of them are from fiction -- TV, movies and books -- and the woo-woo just doesn't work in (pardon the expression) the real world the way it does when someone's making it up. I am here to tell you that a real-life Naomi Witherspoon could never demand that a goddess show up in her living room Right Now and have the goddess actually show up. That's just not how it works.

I mentioned religion a little while ago, and I'd like to go back to that for a second. A number of the folks I talked with about last week's post are refugees, if you will, from a fairly mainstream religion they consider to be a cult. They associate tales of the woo-woo with certain practices they experienced in this church, and it has made them skeptical, or more accurately disbelieving, of anyone who says they've had weird things happen to them. That's an avoidance response, and it's a reasonable coping mechanism for someone who has been traumatized. I've read about people who have had similar reactions after escaping from an evangelical church. 

The recovery process for an abuse victim is long and not a lot of fun. But recovery is possible. And as part of the process, it might be worth thinking about whether two things could be true at once: that cult leaders, whether they founded a religion or not, are charlatans who have abused a lot of people and that magic is real.

Thanks again to everyone who commented last week. And if you're still working up to talking about your weird experience, I'm still listening whenever you're ready.


These additional moments of bloggy woo-woo have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Keep wearing a mask and social distancing! 

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