ChaliceChick mentioned how much she liked the recent Boston Legal, a show I've never watched. And this morning, in my email appeared a note from my former brother in law Dick, who gave me permission to put this out there.
I just love watching the show Boston Legal. Usually I’m all alone in the room as I view it so I can laugh out loud uninhibitedly. I also cry--lots of crocodile tears--with joy and cathartic empathy as those buffoonish characters recite their lines and make their ways ever so awkwardly through their pretend lives. I laugh/cry at their humanity. They are all misfits, yet they show love and tenderness for each other in every episode.
I study religion. For 40 years I was a participant and for 20 years I’ve been an observer. I read, fascinated by Jews, Moslems, Mormons, Evangelicals, Buddhists, Witnesses and so on. I read about ancient history and current trends, about archaeology and modern politics. Mostly I’ve sought the answer to the question, “Why?”, because as universal and natural as religion seems to be I can’t escape the conclusion that it is all delusional. It’s a delusion that gives joy, comfort, guilt over misdeeds and answers to the unanswerable. Institutionalized, religion becomes a most effective means of behavior control over populations and has been so used since we first formed tribes. The human brain is so thoroughly compartmentalized that even the most analytical scientist can suspend his disbelief and participate in religious delusion if it makes him feel good. That’s how it is and it ain’t going to change any time soon.
Last night I watched the season premier of Boston Legal. It was perfect. I was alone in the house and my isolation was further enhanced by wearing headphones. I whooped and hollered and cried and catharted all over the place. For a time I was transported to an imaginary parallel universe where even arrogant, self-centered characters as well as the kind and decent ones are compelled by some internal guidance mechanism to do the right thing—to show compassion and kindness and forgiveness to each other. Then came the epiphany. Was I participating in my own chosen delusion? Some remnant of my childhood beliefs in the fundamental goodness of mankind? The product of spending too much time around caring, loving people? Perhaps THE Liberal Delusion??? Of course! That’s it! In spite of all evidence to the contrary I have chosen to see the good in people. I have chosen to believe that kindness and decency is normal human behavior and that cruelty is an aberration. It’s my delusion and I’m sticking to it. It feels good and gives me hope. What can it hurt?
Dick Gilmore 9/27/2007