Many feel that memetics is too abstract to assist deconversion. Here's an outline for a ritual designed to integrate it with three other ideas for a more tangible social emotional impact.
Give me you feedback, please.
MemeOut Outline: Directions for ritual actions in color
We're gathered here to remember how we've been infected by Dominator religious mind viruses and to celebrate our escape.
(1) Let us be grateful to Richard Dawkins for opening our eyes to memes.
Hold up The Selfish Gene
Passing the book around
Dominator Culture Religious Mind Viruses infect human hosts. They evolved to exploit exploiting our misperceptions, our longings, our pain and loss to drive their reproduction.
(2) Let us be grateful to Riane Eisler for opening our hands from fists.
Hold up The Chalice & The Blade
Passing the book around
Cultural Transformation Theory shows how violent Dominator hierarchies justify adults abusing children, men abusing women, and a few powerful men abusing all others.
(3) Let us be grateful to Eric Berne for opening our minds to the Victim/Rescuer/Persecutor mind games built into Religious Dominator Memeplexes.
Hold up Games People Play
Passing the book around
People seduced by these mind games settle for self worth based on invidious comparison instead of authentic self worth, "I'm OK, You're Not OK" instead of "I'm OK, You're OK". In Group/Out Group self righteousness passes for self affirmation.
Reality's rich tapestry is twisted to reduce every action into one of these:
Victims who feel moral superiority to their persecutors.
Hold up a bitter food
Bitter food represents the self pity stamps victims save up.
Taste and pass around the bitter food
The bitter taste hides lies of omission, responsibility for provocation.
Hold up a "hot" food
Spicy food represents the anger stamps victims save up.
Taste and pass around the "hot" food
The heat makes blaming and shaming easier, anger and rage help us to demonize outsiders.
Rescuers who feel moral superiority to victims and persecutors.
Persecutors who feel moral superiority to those they persecute by the trick of "cashing in" self pity and anger stamps. They get a guilt free pass for cruelty and destruction, because the demonized "deserve it".
Religious Dominator Memeplexes infecting competing groups perpetrate cycles of mutual hatred and destruction in symbiosis with each other, dividing and conquering the host species.
(4) Let us be grateful to Chris Hedges...
Hold up War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
...for opening our hearts to the terrifying human depravity of war, the secret dungeon in Dominator Culture's foundation.
Passing the book around
Affirmation (to music)
Cast off!! Religious Dominator Memeplex lies of omission. Cast away motion
Cast off!! their impossible promises. Cast away motion
Cast off!! their imaginary fears. Cast away motion
Cast off!! primitive (pause) Cast away motion
past-obsessed (pause) Cast away motion
magical (pause) Cast away motion
thinking which impairs us. (hitting forehead)
Impairs us from comprehending today's complex real world.
Embrace all humans!! Holding hands around the circle
Our small fragile Earth will either become a wasteland
for us all to perish,
or (raise arms together) it will be sustainable for people all races and ethnicities.
Hmmm… isn't "ritual" accepting a very integral part of the problem, co-opting rather than eschewing?
Also, if we are to cast off understanding of these things, how do we combat the problem of theocracy infringing on the secular head on?
"Victims who feel moral superiority to their persecutors."
Jessica Ahlquist, Steven Hewett for example.
"Rescuers who feel moral superiority to victims and persecutors."
The ACLU as proxy for those who wrote the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause.
Add to this:
I don't understand what you're saying.
isn't "ritual" accepting a very integral part of the problem, co-opting rather than eschewing?
Perhaps you and I don't define "the problem" in the same way. Are you defining the problem of religion as a triumph of emotion over reason?
To me that's an oversimplification. While it's true that religion relies on emotional manipulation of converts and members, and I see the emergence of reason as the beginning of secualrism, to me it's far more complex.
I consider how reason was able to arise, and think the mostly incoherent ramblings of Marshall McLuhan presented important clues. He claimed that exclusive focus of our attention through the eyes (suppressing other senses) to a completely abstract symbolic medium (print literacy) made a new way of perceiving and thinking possible. Prior to that technological point in history, people made sense of the world by juggling multiple sensory inputs simultaneously. Senses such as touch, temperature perception, hearing, and taste are hard wired into what Paul McLean called the primitive brain, the reptile brain and lymbic system. They don't process symbols, have no language, respond to stimuli rather than making plans of action, and they have the edge in operating much faster than our higher brain and taking instinctual control of behavior during situations of threat and high arousal. So, the argument goes, we never learned to separate the world into neat little separate variables which could be manipulated independently. Only when we got into the habit of dialing down the primitive brains and relying on our higher brains to process information for long periods of time, did we begin to use linear thinking (like the lines on a printed page) and insist on visual proof. In other words, subjective perceptions such as hunches, inner voices, dreams, and hallucinations no longer counted as evidence of reality. By insisting on visual evidence we separated subjective from objective experience.
The problem with this origin of science and reason is that this shift in how we pay attention was never intentional or consciously done. It was an adaptation to the use of a technology, which by the way has been supplanted today. Reason depends upon unaware patterns of sensory input. I practical terms this means that the reason memeplex contains boundary conditions which aren't reasonable, they're gut feelings. People have a nonverbal intuition, an immanent anxiety if you will, that participating in emotionally arousing things such as rituals, fight songs, drumming, dancing, swaying, etc. will cause them to loose hold of reason and to be manipulated against their will.
How does this translate into ritual use here. I was negligent in not describing the mindful ritual background for the prescribed actions above. First, all of the participants in such a ritual need to be introduced to the ideas beforehand and have a chance to question them. I usually also give an orientation, an overview, of why taste, holding hands, passing things, and music are important. What functions these other senses serve. The idea here is that we want the primitive brain to comprehend what the words mean too, so feeling and thinking can be on the same page. An all word experience is not as meaningful, it's all higher brain. We strive for wholeness, for emotional communication and social bonding. It's made clear that no one is expected to say or do anything they haven't first analyzed and decided that they agree with it. Also, when I do something like this, afterward there's a session where people share how they felt, if they want, and have a chance to critique everything.
I don't understand why you would interpret "cast off their impossible promises", for example, as "cast off understanding of their impossible promises". This means we reject heaven as an impossible promise, for instance. I don't get what you mean here.
"I consider how reason was able to arise, and think the mostly incoherent ramblings of Marshall McLuhan presented important clues."
Ouch! …he's one of favorite thinkers, …perhaps my own understandings of his wonderful aphorisms are incoherent? I guess I have to wait and see.
"He claimed that exclusive focus of our attention through the eyes (suppressing other senses) to a completely abstract symbolic medium (print literacy) made a new way of perceiving and thinking possible. Prior to that technological point in history, people made sense of the world by juggling multiple sensory inputs simultaneously."
He also made the same points about television (eyes and ears) and predicted the "global village" you and I are conversing on right now.
As well, he also spoke of how these convergent technologies could enhance our ever shrinking world, not just replace it, as long as we remained connected to each other.
He was a brilliant man, one of my heroes, then again I may be biased as I'm Canadian, and he was (as a "disembodied head" notwithstanding) always more to the forefront on our Canadian televisions than anywhere else.
I'm more in the camp of Sam Harris when it comes to "replacing" things like "ritual" and "religious sense of common community" with one of our own. A complete paradigm shift, rather than just a replacement with a priority to the greater good rather than just the comfort of belonging.
I think we have a good start in those of us committed to the type of activism already established, and the non-ritual based gathering for common cause of the secularist trend that started 3 centuries ago.
What I fear is the complacency of those who seek a replacement for what they find lacking having abandoned religion, because it's still putting self-interest, rather than the greater good as the motivation for "being part" of a community. There is more at stake than self-fulfillment.
In my short time here, I have been often discouraged by the promotion of this site by some, as a haven, rather than a rallying point. If this is indeed the purpose of this site, I'll be happy to seek a more common purpose elsewhere. This isn't to say that I want to discourage those who seek comfort from their feelings of isolation in their own life's circumstance, but -> this cannot be overcome without actually doing something about it.
Again, McLuhan looms largely in this, because we are more than just an avatar, more than just a solitary source of text on a screen, …we are part of a global village.
As Mr. Minchin said:
McLuhan heavily influenced me too. Nevertheless, when you try clarify much of what he says in plain language, it's not so coherent. The "incoherent ramblings" slur was defensive on my part, because he's now held in such disrepute, but I use his ideas.
Creating a sense of community motivates me too. But I find contemporary examples woefully dry, lecture like, hierarchical, and uninspiring. *sigh* I'm in the Alain de Botton camp. To have a global village, it might help to articulate our common identity and celebrate discard of religious memeplexes. Just like a pledge of allegiance has a function in articulating a common national identity, a ritual like this has a function in articulating a common secular horray-we're-free-from religion identity. Saying it out loud, in a group, with hand motions, consolidates ideas with feelings and helps us to internalize them. We can't only think and protest, in the fullness of life. We also need bonds of the heart.
There's a place for activism and a place for haven. If our community isn't broad, it doesn't work. Don't knock self interest in this mix, or self-fulfillment. Why should Atheist Nexus have one narrowly focused purpose, like a work group, rather than joyful diversity? Even work groups include maintenance as well as task. (If you're unfamiliar with group process, this information should be available by search.) Atheists seem more comfortable with task than maintenance.
So often people deconvert intellectually, but can't throw out the emotional/social religious baggage. This ritual is designed to assist them.
Love the Tim Minchin poster, BTW.
"I'm in the Alain de Botton camp."
Wow, I should probably stay out of this then, most atheists I know …even very well known ones, despise him. I do too, intensely. He is the epitome of "counter-productive". I have doubts that he's even an atheist (I'm not alone on this one either).
"Why should Atheist Nexus have one narrowly focused purpose"
This was the point I was trying to make! Compared to the amount of "fluff" content on A/N, activism, actual community building and "coalition" is virtually nonexistent here.
I've even been attacked for trying to start a group that actually does something other than post cat pictures, talk about baseball or talk about TV shows. I'm wondering if it's even worth the time and effort trying anymore, it's very discouraging. Very reminiscent of the implosion of usenet.
Maybe that's why almost all of the well known atheist activists with profiles on A/N have abandoned the place. Maybe it's why Richard Haynes stopped blogging here last year.
No Ruth, I don't think it should be all about activism, I just think it should be more than just a glorified chat room.
It's ironic to me that you complained about having your "Hanging with Friends" group listed in back pages under a group that actually promotes an actual community effort. It seemed like you felt slighted. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy your group, I contribute to it from time to time, I just think that it's a sad commentary, that so many see this as just a kind of FaceBook app without theists.
I doubt I will blog here any more, I've spent as much as 8 hours compiling content for posts, only to see that kind of effort be superseded and moved down-page by someone posting a blog about random thoughts or four sentences and a link to an off-site blog, or three sentences about a topic with 10 active threads spread across forums and groups.(edit, after posting this I checked, haven't looked in a while, guess what I found?) Tell me, is it worth the effort when so many are posting so many topics barely on the periphery of atheism at all? Two or three times a day the activity feed is flooded with a poster replying, "I like this a lot" to as many threads as they can.
That's community building?
No, I'm not like Steve, I'm not going to try to hijack other's groups to tell them how unimportant they are, because I don't think or believe this, …but to see the "let's do something about this - now" posts, threads and groups being flooded out by LOLcats? Seriously?
Do we really need two groups devoted to coffee? Three to Dr. Who?
Divide and conquer is always a great strategy, unless a group does it to themselves.
I guess I think there's a fine line between feel-good comfort and feel-good complacency, …and I know one thing about complacency, …it's a leading cause of "sneak up on you" ass bites.
Atheist Nexus has no structure to separate the chaff from the wheat. Our top members list is based entirely on volume, for example, without any human input. We have no feedback mechanism to sort the most respected blogs from the vast blog pool. I can see how this would be discouraging and make activism harder. It does set up trivial concerns to compete with serious ones. We would do well to institute some mechanism whereby members feedback on the most important and urgent blogs, groups, and discussions led to their top visibility and recognition.
This is an issue of changing the site to be more responsive to members. Please introduce it to the Forum about Atheist Nexus. You are the second person who has brought this issue to my attention today, and both of you felt discouraged from participating. Brother Richard should know. It's time we upgrade.
The vast majority of our users are not even members. Thousands just read what others post.
I for one, am a big fan of what you have contributed Richard. I read all of it.
Nexus really does need help organizing groups. Any input is welcome.
Activism is vital but comes in many forms. Many a young mind has the potential to be converted by basement cat!
There's already a site for this, why the need for redundancy?
"I also see great benefit in having a sort of social hub for those new to the atheist community especially, where people can get to know others and discover a place for themselves. It would also be productive for these friendships and alliances, and even respectful debates to lead to action for the benefit of all."
Agree 100%, …this is a niche site, all niche sides need a section for off-topic content, …but, domination of off-topic content at a niche site is not healthy for the site's niche purpose.
"I wonder if it would be feasible for the site dev(s) to add group categorization? Perhaps categories such as Activism, Literature, Social, and New Atheists? Just a thought."
This is part of the solution, yes, probably the biggest part. The way things are set up is fine unless there is "shaping" happening contrary to purpose, Hierarchical data categorization can reflect agglomerate or divisive clustering, right now I see the latter driving the shaping. Not so sure this is either intended or spontaneous as it looks like it's caused.