On heretics and popular culture. Lord knows I’m one…providing, of course, that He even exists.

October 6, 2014


“Serves ye right for Tweeting about thy Lord!”

I’ve had a mild case of heresy all my life. Like alcoholism or diabetes, there is no cure. In some ways there’s not even a treatment. I just sort of deal with it.

So, what does mild heresy look like? First of all –and this is an important distinction-we rarely act upon our heretical instincts. That’s good for society and us. We may, however, flirt with our alleged defect, like writing a blog post about it. Here a mild case of heresy mimics symptoms of the provocateur.

In the broadest sense mild heresy is playing the Devil’s advocate. It means entertaining the possibility (or downright committing to it) that dissenting to what is considered normal belief is, in fact, the correct view. Zigging when others zag. Not believing what a majority of others steadfastly do. It is the contrary, unpopular and often dangerous opinion that marks a heretic.

The original heretics were those who dissented from the Roman Catholic Church. They paid dearly for doubting the Lord’s existence. History was rough on heretics. Thankfully, today I will not be pulled apart by my arms and legs for being agnostic. Though I do risk being de-friended on Facebook. Whatever. I do not believe in a Christian God or, for that matter, any of the deities that have edifices built in their name. Is this heresy?

In the 18th century a bunch of heretics went against their King and God, creating a place in which to live and worship freely aka The United States of America. Today, in this country, a lot of folks do not fully trust their leaders or governors. Power corrupts. Yet, we elect them anyway. However, we also mandate term limitations to mitigate dictatorships. Is hating (even mild hating) the government heresy? The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Protesting is a patriotic act.”

Let’s dive into deeper water, shall we?

A heretical view is that racism and prejudice (hot button issues right now) are “normal” human behaviors. People have always organized themselves by tribe and naturally are predisposed to rally around their own kind. Pretending otherwise, the heretic believes, is pabulum. All men are not created equal and never were. Hardly a welcoming thought but it might explain a host of good and bad human behaviors, like why so many Asians are engineers or why white men can’t jump. The heretic (in this case racist) would simply say: It is what it is. Why are we so fixated on making it seem otherwise? It helps to bear in mind that not very long ago believing all men (and women) were created equal was heresy. Big time.

Life is a teeter totter. What is normal belief today will be heretical tomorrow. Or is it the other way around?

Advertising likes to bob and weave the strange waters of popular culture, occasionally making waves as well. Back in the day ad campaigns vaunted the status quo. There were considerably less media outlets for it, so being homogenous made sense. Now there are myriad platforms supported by advertising, reaching all sorts of indigenous tribes. Provoking specific populations requires stronger more provocative messages, sometimes heretical.

Thank you for indulging me on this post; I know it’s an odd one. But consider the source.


One Response to “On heretics and popular culture. Lord knows I’m one…providing, of course, that He even exists.”

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