Friday, October 12, 2007

A Faith of Reason?

OK, I found this kind of creepy:

A few miles south of Lynchburg in Campbell County sits a large and attractive octagonal building which is home to one of most unique churches in the world. Founded in 1977, “The Spock,” as the church is called, is the world’s only church of Star Trek, a religion centered on the popular 1960’s television series featuring the adventures of a crew of interstellar explorers. “The Spock” promotes beliefs associated with one of the popular characters in the TV series, Mr. Spock, who was from a peace-loving race of aliens known as “Vulcans.”

The ideology of the church is centered on so-called Vulcan philosophy which includes the belief in pure “logic” and which emphasizes a lifestyle devoid of emotion. A huge stained-glass likeness of the church’s namesake is featured in the sanctuary, where churchgoers recite sequences of dialogue from the series and participate in what they call a “Holy Mind Meld.” Many church members wear stick-on pointed ears (mimicking those of the TV character) during services and at other church functions (in one case of excessive dedication to the “faith,” one member attempted to have his ears surgically altered but with disastrous results, requiring extensive corrective surgery).

Now, normally, I find myself of the same mind as Professor Steven Dutch on this subject:

Contrary to popular psychology, this is not a society where people are out of touch with their feelings. This society wallows in feelings. If anything, what most people in this society need is precisely to get out of touch with their feelings for a while. Beirut, Belfast and Belgrade were all creations of people who were entirely too much in touch with their feelings.

When film does show rational people, it is often as a caricature. The Vulcans in Star Trek are the type examples. They are regularly portrayed as secretly longing to have human emotions but unable to do so because of their conditioning. (The Vulcans nearly destroyed themselves before they learned to control their emotions. See Beirut, Belfast and Belgrade above.) Or when the characters simply proceed rationally (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) critics lambaste them as stiff and wooden. Considering the number of people in the arts who have destroyed themselves through suicide, substance abuse or self-destructive lifestyles, I conclude that many media critics are simply unable to relate to characters who solve their problems rationally without going into depression or hysteria, that unless a character has some defect requiring deep therapy, they simply aren't interesting to the critics.

Clearly, though, these "Spockians" are not acting rationally at all, since a rational person would be the first to admit that one cannot be rational all the time. In fact, the effort to do so is extremely irrational.