Back when anthropology was a real discipline practiced by serious people — e.g. before Franz Boas unleashed his disciples on the world — anthropologists distinguished between religion and folkways. Religions have an intellectual component, an interpretive tradition; “shamanism” or what have you doesn’t. Take a gander at one of the pre-Boas classics, e.g. Lucien Levy-Bruhl‘s How Natives Think. “Natives” have their creation myths, of course (that seems to be a human universal), but their lives are so suffused by magic that the term “magic” itself doesn’t even really make sense. Levy-Bruhl says, for instance, that natives call a path which has fallen into disuse “dead.” In other words, everything has its genius loci; when the spirit departs, it becomes dangerous, and the path dies.
You only get proper religion in cities. The Romans had their “gods of the hearth,” sure, but since all gods were originally nature gods their religion, like all religions, got more and more “theological” as the city got bigger and endured longer. It’s no surprise, then, that the world’s major religions all developed in heavily urbanized areas. Nor is it surprising that Christianity, the Jewish heresy par excellence, made rootless cosmopolitanism one of the cornerstones of the faith.
The one is a logical extension of the other. Out in “nature,” where life is short and brutal and death is always lurking just over the hillside, the “supernatural” is an everyday experience. How else can I explain the fact that the lion looked right at me, but didn’t eat me? It was the juju of this particular path, or the totem I was carrying, or the dance I did before leaving, or whatever, take your pick. There’s no “logical” explanation for it, but since humans are hardwired to find connections, if we can’t find one we’ll invent one.
Life was short in ancient cities, too, but nobody got eaten by lions in the subura. Instead, people in cities died of disease — a far more mystifying death, because you can at least see the lion. Similarly, out in “nature” it’s obvious why we starved to death — the fields are right there, and you can see the dead crops. In Rome, the wheat came from Sicily, if not Egypt. You’d already be on your deathbed from hunger before you heard that there was a plague of locusts on the Nile. “Appeasing the gods,” in other words, was a much trickier proposition, and the higher up the social scale you went — the more materially secure you were, in other words — the tougher it got.
Hence, theology. Only a culture that had been heavily urbanized for thousands of years could come up with Original Sin, or the caste system (with its origins in the idea of reincarnation).
Extend it out another couple thousand years. Two hundred years ago, we were so materially secure that we felt we could dispense with gods entirely. That it was the persistence of belief in “gods,” in fact, that perpetuated what little misery remained.
But a funny thing happened: We’re still miserable. We should be deliriously happy — we have everything anyone could ever possibly need. We’re so prosperous that our poor people die of heart disease. We carry devices in our pockets that deliver every conceivable entertainment. There is no corner of our globe that can’t be reached in 24 hours. We have stuff just lying around the house that mighty Ozymandias, King of Kings, would’ve traded half his empire for — aspirin and air conditioning, for instance, and that’s just the first letter of the alphabet. Throw in “antibiotics” and he’d trade you the remaining half, without ever even needing to get to “B.”
If we’re unhappy, then, we have only ourselves to blame; God checked out in 1883. But that can’t be right, so we’ve concocted a grotesque series of god replacements, each more elaborate than the last. “Intersectionality,” for instance, makes the bizarreries of medieval theology sound completely reasonable and totally sane. You can’t appease gods that don’t exist, so you have to rejigger the entire material world — only when it’s impossible for anyone, anywhere, to be unhappy will you stop being unhappy.
In effect, it flips theology on its head. The great thing about religious belief — properly religious belief, theological belief — is that it almost entirely ignores the outside world. Life’s in the struggle, which is why “natives” always seem so happy even in the midst of great material deprivation. Urban dwellers have to deprive themselves, and that’s why theology is so great — you can never actually win in the struggle against yourself, so since it’s the fight that gives life meaning you’ll never lack purpose.
Our intersexual genderfluid overlords, though, can’t do that, because the fundamental presumption of #wokeness is that you’re the exemplar this sick sad world needs to follow. Your behavior can’t be wrong, even if it’s obviously self-destructive. Hence the entire industries devoted to telling the #Woke that the very things that are making them miserable are, in fact, making them deliriously happy. It’s not that you need to change; it’s that the world needs to change — the entire Earth and everyone on it needs to get with the program already, so that you’ll feel better about being so much better than they are. When you consider that this is the entire point of modern higher education, and that there are now over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt in America alone, you can see just how urgently Humanity needs to get its shit together and get #Woke. Free college for everyone!!
Seriously — that’s how they “think.” Liberalism is the validation business. Look at it that way, and what they do makes more sense.Loading Likes...