The Journey of a Non-Religious Man

It’s no secret to anyone who commonly reads this blog that I am not a religious person.  Never was in fact.  I never went to church as a child, never felt a need to believe in a deity.  It’s a simple statement: I don’t believe.

But there are people out there who just don’t understand it, who don’t accept it as being that simple.  In some way, they’re right.  Choosing to believe or not to believe sounds like a simple fork in the road.  You’re either one or the other.  But the reality is far more complex.

This week, I decided I would get a little personal and share with you my personal perspective when it comes to being non-religious.

 

First Contact

I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment in my life when I first ran into the idea of religion.  I know my grandmother on my father’s side is religious, although I doubt I first heard about it through her.  She’s never been one to push her beliefs.  I would guess, rather, that I probably heard a little about it at school or from peers, although I can’t remember for sure.

But I will tell you something I do remember: kids my age telling me I was going to hell.

See here’s the thing.  There are Christians in our culture today who love to paint themselves as on the decline or fading from relevance.  They like feeling like the victim.  But they don’t truly understand what it feels like to be…different.  To be singled out as someone who doesn’t belong.  I’m not saying that I have any great experience with that (being a straight, white male), but when it came to religion I would occasionally feel that draft between me and other people.

I’ve seen many different videos where someone comes out as an atheist to their Christian family and gets viciously attacked for it.  I’ve never seen a video of someone coming out as a Christian to their atheist family and getting attacked for it.  It might exist, but I’ve never seen it, and considering that many Christians love playing the victim card, you’d think it would have popped up by now.  There is a stigma a lot of people have against atheism in this country, where atheists are perceived as being bad.  That same stigma does not exist for Christians, mainly because they so heavily outnumber non-religious folk.

And I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that kids my age told me I was bound for hell.  My brother and I both experienced that in grade school.  But you know what?  I don’t really blame them for it.  It’s a case where the kids were just parroting back what they’d been taught.  Kids at that age are very impressionable creatures.  They take whatever is thrown at them and try in their own naive little ways to make sense of it.  You tell a kid about God, tell him that he is the only god, and he’ll run with that.  The same is true in the opposite direction, which is why I’m incredibly grateful to my parents for not pushing me one way or the other.  They’re both non-religious, but they never forced that on me.  But I assume that’s why kids would say such things, because they truly didn’t know any better at that point in their lives.

I suppose my early experience with the subject matter is to blame for my attitude toward religion later on in life.

 

Teenage Bitterness

It came out quite vividly in high school.  My attitude towards religion at that time became very caustic.  I was against it in all forms and believed that it did nothing but hold humanity back.  I could take the easy way out and just blame the natural chaos that being a teenager brings on your life, but I won’t.  I was angry.  I was bitter.  I was, at times, hateful.  I wasn’t always a great person, but that’s life.  If you were perfect all throughout, then it wouldn’t be much of a journey would it?

I remember at that time in my life I wasn’t just bitter about religion.  I was bitter about a lot of things.  The world seemed to be full of little more than a bunch of self-serving idiots who couldn’t care less about what their actions did to others.  It wasn’t just religious people, although they were often a prime target for my angst.  It was a time when the future seemed to be little more than going to school and then getting some crappy job that sucked all the pleasure out of life.

Yeah, it wasn’t a very pleasant time.  And few people really knew about it.  I was good at keeping it bottled up.

But, inevitably, it would lash out from time to time.  I remember a note I wrote on Facebook back around 2011, a mere four years ago.  It was basically one of those rant things that said little more than “RELIGION BAD ME RAGE”.  I have since made the note invisible to everyone except me, because it no longer reflects who I am today.  But I did not delete the note because it is a reminder.  It reminds me that I have changed, am changing, and will continue to change.  To forget your past is to be blind to your faults.

 

A belief in nothing?

I have commonly described myself as an agnostic in the past, although atheist would be closer to the truth.  A lot of people commonly misconstrue atheism to mean a belief in nothing.  In reality, all atheism really means is non-belief in a god or deity.  But some people like to take it a step further, insinuating that atheists have no morals because they, of course, don’t believe in anything.

Let me tell you what I believe in.  I believe in empathy.  I believe in morality.  I believe in being a decent human being.  And if someone is going to assume that I have no morality just because I don’t believe in God, then I say their worldview is warped beyond all recognition.  The spectrum of human existence doesn’t just stop at being a Christian.  It encompasses all beliefs from all walks of life.

And if you think I’m being dramatic, go to Google and type in “atheist”.  The little box that appears above the search results lists “nihilist” as a synonym.  Really?  A nihilist is someone who basically believes that nothing has meaning and all values are baseless.  If I sound ANYTHING like that you can just ignore what I say from here on out because obviously I have already failed.

 

Acceptance

And yet, despite all of the ranting I’ve done thus far, I don’t hate religion anymore.  After going to college for a few years, I began to understand something.  Everyone else is trying just as hard as I am to make sense of this chaotic existence.  Often, they simply choose a different path from me, trying to find understanding in religion.  It comforts them, because it provides them answers to the questions that plague them.  It gives them faith, a belief they can hold on to and find strength in.

I am just not one of those people.  And I understand and accept that.

This is going to sound a little condescending, but I find the answers that religion provides to be just a little too easy.  Even in our brief span of existence on this planet, we have come to grips with some of the more frightening realities of it.  Lightning used to be an angry god, but now we understand that it is all just charged particles in the air.  There’s no real malice behind it.  It’s just doing what it naturally does.

And that’s why I don’t believe in religion, because often it provides the answers until another truth is revealed.  The torrential and destructive hurricanes were once the wrath of Poseidon, and now they’re just the result of tremendous air pressure out at sea.  So much of what young humanity didn’t understand was chalked up to the will of inscrutable and immensely powerful beings because we had no other answer.  It was our coping mechanism, our way to make sense of what didn’t.  So to me there’s no reason to believe that these things we now consider as acts of God won’t just be explained as something else in the future.

People would probably fight me on that but you know what?  I don’t want to fight.  I just want to live.  I want to wake up every morning to see the sky, to breathe the air, to feel the wind that blows off the lake that neighbors the city I now call home.  I want to pursue my dreams.  I want to experience what this world has to offer, and I don’t want to waste it getting in petty fights over whose beliefs are more right.  Which is not to say that I am not open to debate on these things.  Debating is not fighting, a distinction a great many people seem to forget in this day and age.

Our lives are but a brief blink in the grand history of the universe.  I plan on making it the best damn blink I can.

 

Thanks so much for reading.  This got a little heavier than I was expecting it to, but it often happens with these things.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week everybody!

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The Cycle of Outrage

So I came across an article earlier this week that I think highlights a problem we have in our country today.  I’ll just post a link here for those who want to see it in full.

Recently, there was a terrible tragedy in our country.  On July 16th, in Chattanooga Tennessee, a shooter shot and killed five United States soldiers outside of a military recruiting center.  It has since been reported that he was doing online research for militant Islamist “guidance” on the matter, and may have believed that his actions would wash away his sins.  It’s not entirely certain that this was the case, however, and in reality we may never know for sure.

However, that is not what I am here to talk about today.  Instead, I want to talk about a smaller controversy that came out of it, one that may only exist in a small corner of the internet.  But it’s a symptom of a much larger problem.

For those of you who haven’t read the article I linked earlier, the gist is that the author is outraged because the Empire State building was lit up green less than twenty-four hours after the shooting.  The green colors were celebrating the holiday of “Eid al-Fitr”, which is the end of Ramadan in the religion of Islam.

“The amount of disrespect for the Marines just murdered by an Islamic terrorist is truly saddening,” the article says.  “It’s hard to imagine this is even real life.”

You know what?  You’re right.  It is hard to imagine.  Maybe because it isn’t meant as a sign of disrespect?  Just a thought.

As a rule of thumb, I generally don’t put much stock in people who use the phrase “Obama’s America”.

I will cut this guy some slack though.  All he is really doing is posting a transcript from another article here.  But therein lies the problem.  Instead of actually doing research and looking up information on the subject, the author of the first article simply posts a block of text from the other article and essentially proclaims it as truth.

The second article in question raves about how the lighting of the Empire State Building is akin to celebrating violence and surrendering to the will of Islam.

“This is not tolerance. This is surrender,” the second article says.

Okay, fact check time.

The Empire State Building changes its lights all the time in celebration of different events.  In fact, there is a process an organization has to go through to be considered a “Lighting Partner”.  This process includes submitting an application and having the request pass through a review process.  Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that even if some scumbag submitted a request for the lights to be green simply in honor of the shooting in Chattanooga, it is impossible to conceive that the process would be completed, authorized, and put into motion in under a single day.  Knowing how most businesses work, the paperwork probably has to pass through multiple people before it even gets to whoever can authorize a review process.

Of course, this is only if a request was submitted to make the lights green, and in this case there was no request.  “But why,” you ask, “were the lights green then?”  The answer is simple.

On the lighting request page, this line appears:

“The Empire State Building maintains traditional lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al-Fitr, Hanukah and Christmas.”

That’s right, the Empire State Building lighting up green is nothing more than the celebration of an annual holiday.  In fact the building will not light for religious figures, organizations, or other religious holidays aside from the four listed in that quote.

Basically the author of the second article is just making stuff up.  He’d rather stand around, stomping his feet and being outraged over something that isn’t even happening.  This is our state of affairs these days.  People would rather just get angry over things without taking the time to think it through.  Instead of realizing that the Empire State Building does this every year, he whines about they wouldn’t light up for other events that he considers important.

The Empire State Building refused to light its crown in order to celebrate Mother Theresa’s 100th birthday. But Eid? Of course! What possible justification could these craven quislings have for such betrayal,” the article asks.

Maybe if you bothered to read their policies, you would have the answer to your question.  But I’m sure that would have been too hard for you.

I realize I may come across as snarky and condescending, but honestly?  I don’t really care.  I’ve seen so many different people  immediately raise the alarm over something that isn’t even an issue.  The Empire State Building isn’t “surrendering” to Islam.  It’s doing what it has done for a long time.  In fact, the building has been changing its lights to recognize occasions and events since 1976.  There’s no greater conspiracy here, just plain old ignorance.

But the line in the article that really gets me, is this:

“Of course, not every Muslim is responsible for jihad attacks, but until Muslim communities in the U.S. start fighting actively against the jihad doctrine that justifies all this violence, Islam shouldn’t be celebrated.”

It’s not like Muslims in the United States have publicly spoken out against the violence in the Middle East.   It’s not like American Muslims have served in the United States military and died in combat.  That’s never been a thing…

Oh wait, it totally has.

This is what bothers me about that logic.  It basically perpetuates a double-standard that we have in this country.  All Muslims are basically held accountable for the actions of extremists.  But do we do the same thing with Christians?  Do we hold them accountable every time the Westboro Baptist Church signs its hateful tune?  Do we hold them accountable every time some Christian bombs an abortion clinic?  Hell no.  If we even tried that, Christians in the country would be up in arms and fighting against it like it was the greatest affront to their religion in centuries.  But when a Muslim does something bad, it’s totally okay to label them all as bad.  They’re just a minority group in this country and don’t matter.

I am honestly fed up with this nonsense.  If you’re going to get pissed about something, you damn well better be sure there’s actually something to get pissed about.  If you go off flapping your mouth without having any reason to do so, the only thing it does is make you look like an ignorant idiot.  Or at least it should but it seems like there’s far too many people willing to jump in and flout someone’s baseless outrage.

If people would just take their time and look deeper, they might find that this thing people are getting upset about might be nothing more than hot water.  It’s so easy to take the first source you read at its word.  And in today’s increasingly digital world, more and more voices are out there than ever before.

Keep your mind open and question everything.  That’s my advice to you.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

 

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” – Abraham Lincoln

Raising the Minimum Wage

In my state of Minnesota, we passed a law last year that would gradually increase the minimum wage to 9.50 for large employers by August 2016.  I consider this to be a good thing, as for the longest time I’ve noticed that the bare minimum wage of 7.25 is not nearly enough for people to survive on one job alone.  I do work only one job right now, but I’m lucky to have great parents who continue to support me.

So when politicians started discussing the minimum wage increases, I was quite happy.  But there were a lot of people out there who were against it, which confused me.  It’s more money for workers.  Why would anyone be against it?

One of the arguments I’ve heard against minimum wage is that it will be detrimental to small business owners, causing them to close their doors because they can’t afford to pay their workers.  Well at least in Minnesota, the wage change I mentioned is specifically only for large business owners.  So things like corporations, retail stores, and places like that have to bring their minimum wage up to the state’s standard.  Mom and Pop stores, I imagine, would be exempt from that.

Besides, that argument is bunk because numerous financial experts have studied the situation and have come to the conclusion that raising the minimum wage will not have any detrimental effect on businesses.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s one argument I’ve heard time and time again when it comes to this topic, one that has incredibly insidious undertones to it.

It goes something like this: why should McBurgerFlipper get a raise?  They don’t deserve it.

This argument is sometimes also prefaced with some talk about how someone in the military earns such-and-such amount of money.  This seems like a fair enough point…until you look deeper.

Military service people get all kinds of benefits.  Often, their rent is paid for them.  They can get up to more than 200 dollars in food allowance money.  The army will also help pay for a soldier’s college education, offering money in the form of scholarships, grants, and education benefits.  So basically, even though an army solider might not be paid all that much, it’s made up for with the benefits they get, which is not comparable to a fast food worker, who gets basically nothing.

So back to McBurgerDoodle.  There seems to be this very nasty stigma surrounding fast food workers in this country.  People tend to consider them as lazy slobs who have no dreams or ambition.  At least, that’s what the attitude around them getting a wage raise seems to tell me.  Why else would people be so vehemently against it?

It points to a recurring thought process in this country that greatly worries me.  And that’s the idea that if you’re poor or having a hard time making ends meet, it’s obviously because you’re lazy and didn’t work hard enough.

In other words, those in poverty deserve it.

Maybe this argument would make a little bit of sense if the wealth gap in this country wasn’t absolutely enormous.  And considering that the wealthy elite often pay less on their taxes than those in the middle class do, I find it ridiculous that people still adhere to this line of logic.  “Well they should have worked harder,” they’ll often say.  Yeah, because it’s all about hard work in this country.  Being born into a rich family does nothing for your status in life.  Starting off in a greater economic position has no impact on your ability to make money.

Oh wait…

This is the thing I really don’t understand.  How can people be so damn callous?  These are your fellow human beings, people who share the same basic DNA as you.  And all you have to say to their condition is “they deserve it”?  Does it somehow make it easier to live your life if you just ignore the simple idea that they might not have any other choice in life?  Does it make it easier for you to sleep at night if you just think that McBurgerNugget is a lazy, self-absorbed waste of space who chooses to do nothing with their life?

I’ve never worked in a fast food place in my life, but I’ve known several people who have.  In fact, my roommate of nearly three years at my last apartment used to work at Taco Bell up here in Duluth.  And you know what?  He once quit and tried to find a new job, only to end up going back there because the job market in this country is in a bad state right now.

And he hated it.  How else would you feel if you had to stand on your feet for more than eight hours in a single day?  How would you feel having to memorize every single menu item by ingredients and exact weight?  How would you feel having to run the drive-thru in the dead of winter when it gets down to twenty degrees below zero?  Because these are all things he did, all things that he had to do.

It’s easy to look down on the McWhopperWorkers of the world (yes I know that the name keeps changing…just roll with it), especially when you’ve never worked in a fast food joint.  There’s a reason I’ve avoided working in places like that.  Everyone I’ve known who worked in a fast food place couldn’t wait to move on and find a new job.  Sure, it’s a decent job when you’re in high school and need experience, but later in life it’s not enough.  Living on your own and working a minimum wage job like that is nearly impossible.  But of course, those are sometimes the only options people have.  It would be so easy if all of us could get a full-time job that paid at least fifteen bucks an hour, but the current job market doesn’t allow for it.  I have a four-year bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and I still found myself applying at places like Kohl’s and Target.

The point I want to make here is that its easy to look down at the people who are serving you your value meal or what have you, but empathy goes a long way.  Maybe they didn’t have a choice, and maybe they can’t afford to move anywhere different because they can’t save up enough money.  It’s a trap people often fall into because that’s just the way things seem to work these days.

And it’s not going to get any better if we keep snubbing people who live below us on the wealth line.  So please, just stop.  Some of us are just worse off than others, and that’s a fact that they often cannot change.  When did the idea of just being sympathetic toward our fellow human beings become so obsolete in this country?

The first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that there is one.

 

Well that’s all I have this time.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and have a wonderful week everybody.

Christianity: On the Decline in the United States?

I mentioned last week that I didn’t want to do a post entirely about the gay marriage ruling because I couldn’t find a good focal point for it.  This week I’m slightly backpedaling on that decision as the topic I want to talk about is directly related.  I once again stress that this is simply my opinion, and not intended as an attack on religion in any way or form.  With that said, let’s get started.

At this point it’s been almost two weeks since the Supreme Court ruled the gay marriage was legal in all fifty states.  And since then, there’s been a loud outcry from some within the Christian community.  Some have been insinuating that Christianity is losing relevance in modern culture, that their religion is shrinking.  At first I thought it was just a bunch of “poor me” nonsense in reaction to the ruling but I became curious as to the actual statistics.  So I headed off to the Pew Research Center’s website to find out exactly what Christianity’s state of affairs in this country was.

And you know what?  I was actually surprised.

Growing up, it was hard not to notice that most of the people around me believed in something I didn’t.  It occasionally put me at odds with my peers, and I even had some kids as far back as elementary and middle school tell me that I was going to hell because I didn’t believe.  I don’t blame them for what they said.  They didn’t really know any better at that point.  They were just parroting what their parents and the other adults around them said.

But I digress.  I did notice as time went on that it became easier and easier to talk about the fact that I was nonreligious.  I thought a lot of that was just me growing up and becoming more comfortable with who I was.  But as it turns out, the culture was shifting along with me, something I became more aware of during college.

The Religious Landscape Studies preformed by the Pew Research Center shows something rather interesting.  They conducted two large surveys of more that 35,000 people each, one in 2007 and another in 2014.  After comparing the surveys, they came up with the figures and how much membership of religious and nonreligious groups has changed.

In particular, Christianity has dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent, a drop of nearly eight percent.  You can see the full chart below.

 

Pew Research Religion Chart

 

 

So it is true that the number of Christians in the country has been in the decline in the last seven or so years.  Honestly the drop was sharper than I anticipated.  I knew on some level that Christians didn’t have the same numbers they did when I was growing up, but I figured that the drop wouldn’t have been as significant as it was.  But there is something I would like to point out.

While it is true that the number of Christians has dropped, it is still a majority force in this country.  It may be a nearly eight percent drop, but at 70.6 percent Christians still make up more than two-thirds of people in this country.  There’s this strange trend I’ve seen among some Christians where they like to paint themselves as being marginalized or even victimized because of the Supreme Court ruling.  Often this comes in the form of some story about a Christian small-business owner refusing service to a gay person and then being set upon by the government.  “Well if it’s all about equal rights, then what about my rights,” they often cry.  Never mind the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution basically says that business owners are not allowed to discriminate against people based on such things as skin color or sexual orientation.

That would take research, and as we know some people in this country just hate doing research.  Why do that when you can just follow the flow?

(I realize that the above sounds incredibly bitter, but I’ve found it to be true for a significant number of people.  It becomes far too easy to fall into one of two overly simplified stances on an issue.  I’m talking about stances like all cops are bad, all protesters are thugs, all Christians are homophobic, and so on.  Often when you look beneath the surface of an issue, you find that it is far more complicated than you realize.  I just wish some people would actually take the time to do that instead of giving in to knee-jerk reactions.)

Admittedly it is true that Christians have declined in number and the number of people who identify as nonreligious, atheist or otherwise, has increased.  But this hardly constitutes a marginalization of the Christian people.  Like I said, Christians still make up over two-thirds of the population in this country.  That percentage is most likely going to decrease in the next couple of decades, but that’s normal.  Cultures shift all the time.  Groups will often decrease in size only to increase in size at a later time.  I would hardly say that Christianity is in danger of dying out or anything like that.  I think people hit the “panic” button long before it was due, if ever it was.

This country was never a Christian nation, no matter how many people insist that it is.  When one of the reasons for breaking off from your parent country (Britain) includes a frustration with the rigid orthodoxy of the church, you don’t turn around and create a nation founded under one religion.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Besides, the declining number of Christians has no effect on your ability to believe what you want to believe.  This country was meant to be a place for different ideas, different faiths and different lifestyles.  One group should not have absolute power over all others.  Much of our country’s history has been us learning this lesson time and time again.  Let’s not make that same mistake with religion.  Let’s accept each other for who we are and not force our way of thinking on everyone else.

We’re all just clutching desperately onto a tiny planet in a small part of a larger galaxy that is spiraling through the universe at over a million miles an hour.  We might as well make the best of it.

 

And that is all I have for this week.  Thanks for reading.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week everyone.  For those of you who want to look at the Pew Research Center’s study in full, here’s a link.

The True Story: Is Being Canon Important?

Before we start I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the same-sex couples who got married over the weekend following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing gay marriage in all fifty states.  I considered doing a post all about it, but I couldn’t find a good focus for it.  Besides, I’ve already talked about the subject numerous times and I would rather avoid saying the same things over and over again, as I am want to do occasionally.

I just want to say that this is a truly historic moment, one that brings us more in line with the socially progressive nation that we like to envision ourselves as.  We still have plenty of issues, but at least for now there’s one less of them.  Well, let’s get to the post shall we?

 

When I was still in college, one of my professors brought up an idea that I thought was interesting.  We were discussing interpretation of literary works.  Up until this point, I had previously believed that if the author said that the story was one way, then it was the only way it could be.  But our teacher brought up an interesting point.  Sure, she said, the author is the one who wrote and imagined this piece of work.  But why is he or she the ultimate authority on what it means?  Isn’t the nature of art one that defies singular interpretations?

And I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it made sense.  The author may have been the one who originally came up with the work, but it doesn’t necessarily render another person’s interpretation of that work any less valid.

This is, of course, within reasonable limits.  No one is going to take the guy who says that the story in Of Mice and Men is actually about a couple of time travelers seriously.  You can’t just make up something and expect it to fly.  You have to be willing to base your interpretation on at least something in the work itself.

Art is not objective.  It is entirely subjective, based on the whims and thoughts of the person who experiences it.

This then, brings me to the nature of being canon.

Canon, in terms of literature and fiction, refers to a kind of “truth” in a way.  Basically, certain stories are considered official parts of the greater universe or franchise, and others are not.  For example, the episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation would be considered canon within the Star Trek universe (for the most part).  But a fan-written story based off the characters would not be.

I can think of no greater case study for this than Star Wars.

In the Star Wars canon, there are the two trilogies: the original (four, five, and six) and the prequels (one, two, and three).  Then there is an entire expanded universe full of stories that take place after the original trilogy ended, in between the trilogies, and even long before the timeline of the movies (for example, the Knights of the Old Republic series of video games).  At least, this is how it used to be.

Things changed once Disney took over the license.  With the announcement of another trilogy taking place after the original movies, people were ecstatic.  The super fans were wondering what stories in the expanded universe they would pick from, and there were a lot.  But then Disney made another announcement.  For the new movies, they were officially throwing out the expanded universe stories, thus rendering them not canon.  And the fans freaked out.

It was at least a couple of years ago now that this happened, but I remember hearing and reading comments to the effect of “well, better go burn my Star Wars books now that they don’t matter anymore.”  People took the announcement hard.  I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who was a huge Star Wars fan (still is), and he fell on the complete opposite side of the issue.  He thought that the people proclaiming that they should burn their books were being completely stupid.

And I completely agreed.

The question I want to pose here is, does canon really matter in the long run?  I mean we have things like biblical canon, but that’s a whole different matter that brings religion into the mix, with different considerations that need to be taken into account.  But when it comes to something as pop-culture as Star Wars, does it really matter whether or not some company considers these expanded universe stories canon?  There are plenty of circumstances out there like this where franchises will ignore certain plots or details from earlier stories, intentionally or otherwise.  We are human beings after all, and far from perfect.

But if you enjoyed the story, if you followed a character’s path from beginning to end and truly grew attached to them, does it really matter if a company like Disney suddenly says that the story no longer fits into their version of events?  Isn’t your own personal enjoyment the only thing that should affect you?  I mean, I get it.  People thought it would be cool to see those stories adapted on the big screen, with flashy special effects and all that.  But really?  Might as well burn the books?  Isn’t that a bit of a childish thing to say?

“Ugh mom says I don’t get desert until I eat my vegetables, so I guess I’m not eating at all!”

See what I mean?

When it comes down to it, I value personal enjoyment of a story far more than I value whether or not it fits into some artificial canon.  It is nice when stories sync up, when events in one story can influence stuff in another, because they can play off each other and create even grander stories.  Marvel has become very good at this in recent years, tying pretty much all of their movies together in a tight network of canon.  But they do well because the individual stories of each movie are also enjoyable by themselves, not just because they fit into some overall grand plan.

And that’s what I’m trying to get at here.  It shouldn’t matter if the story ties in or not, or is even considered a “true” story of the universe.  If you watch/read the story, follow the characters, and enjoy the rising and falling action, shouldn’t that be enough?  We’ve already established that art is subjective to a person’s personal views and interpretations, so wouldn’t the importance of canon be subjective as well?  Just because Disney says that the expanded universe stories no longer matter doesn’t mean that the books are now somehow not enjoyable pieces of fiction.  If you spent the time to read them, then that’s what should really count in the end.

It’s true what they say.  It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Thanks for reading.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week everyone.