Here’s another one to file under Captain Obvious is obvious…
There are people I like, people I admire, people I feel are extremely insightful and worth listening to, but if I follow them on Twitter I know that they would drive me annoyed. How do I know this? Because I have done exactly that. I have followed these people, read their Twitter feeds, and become annoyed by their floodlighting. Of course, I probably have a low personal threshold for what is and isn’t floodlighting. Some folks might not mind things I do. Some folks default to hugs. I default to distant nods and maybe a handshake because anything beyond that is inherently suspicious. Other folks might operate their twitter like a traffic cop, muting people for a bit, listening for a bit. I don’t have the will, patience, or time to do that with the attention required. So what to do?
Answer: Follow other people who follow those people you like, and rely on that first group to filter the latter. And so far it’s worked pretty well. The folks I admire and find insightful remain so without drowning me in their moment to moment tribulations, squeegasms, and would-be stand-up routines.
I doubt it will come as any surprise that I have atheistic tendencies. If anything I’m an atheist that believes in mythology, or if I want to be pretentious and pretend I’m an Italian New Wave film director, “I’m an atheist with a nostalgia for religion“.
Mythology’s the stories we surround ourselves with and which shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world we live in. So, yeah, there’s Greek Mythology with Zeus and all that, but there’s also Christian mythology, and national mythology (like the Myth of the Frontier if you’re an American). Religion not only supplies one of these mythologies but builds a scaffolding around it in the form of texts, rites, community, personal practices, or shared references. When I say someone’s Culturally Catholic, Culturally Muslim, Culturally Buddhist, etc. it’s referencing their ability to navigate that mythological framework.
I joke about nuns. My buddy jokes about the Talmud. My other buddy answers his dad’s phone call with “as-salaam alaykum” while we’re sitting in a bar eating pulled pork sandwiches.
Some folks might see all this as hypocritical or cynical, but I find it all healthy and in its way respectful. Where it comes from is a maturing of religion away from one thing and towards another, a cultural identity, and more and more as I encounter ex-Mormons I wonder how long we are away from having people say “Yeah, I’m Culturally Mormon, but I drink coffee and support gay marriage.” Or they’ll sit over a beer swapping “war” stories about their missionary year. From a devout perspective they’ll be outside the fold, but from their own place it’ll be the framework they’ve inherited and can share, and as more and more people leave the fold, find life outside to be pleasant, and stay on good terms with their family and friends inside the fold, I won’t be surprised to see people saying culturally Mormon as a way of acknowledging their experiences.
I give it a decade. By which time we can all wonder about the Cultural Scientologists and puzzle out what their deal is.