Monday, February 13, 2017

Christian Gematria

What a dazzling line of bullshit this guy spins.  (As the DJ who played the song the other day said, the soldier neglects to mention the games of Strip Poker he also organized.)  He should have run for office, and taken the public for everything they had.

I'm mystified by the popularity of routines like this, which go way beyond 1950s country music hits.  It seems to go beyond their usefulness as mnemonics, which often is undermined by their complexity.  People often talk as though they reveal hidden mysteries in the words or numbers used, and such beliefs aren't limited to toothless hilljacks who didn't finish second grade; numerology has fascinated highly intelligent and educated people from Pythagoras onward.  Since the mystic significance of numbers turns up in parts of the Christian Bible, the churches have never quite managed to extirpate speculations about such things.

This connects to something else I've been thinking about and may write about at some point, namely the ways that people read.  Michael Rosen wrote an interesting post suggesting categories for the way pupils approach, respond to, and interpret the texts they read in a classroom texts.  Often when I'm arguing on Facebook and other social media about what a book or article or other text means, I realize that other people aren't reading the same way I've learned to do.  Those ways aren't necessarily wrong -- they're often ancient and, in certain traditions, respectable, even academically -- but they help to explain why people misunderstand each other.  "Deck of Cards" also provides a glimpse into a different mindset that I reject, but need to understand better.